Paths to CALS

There's more than one path to CALS.

Find Your Path to CALS

More agriculture and life sciences graduates are needed to meet the grand challenges of feeding, fueling and clothing a growing global population.

In fact, we need 1,100 more students in our four-year programs, and 90 more students in our two-year associate degree programs just to meet the demand for CALS grads in North Carolina.

We realize competition to get into NC State is on the rise. And we are committed to helping all qualified students find a path to CALS.

We want you here – and we’ll help find the right path for you.

CALS student works with lettuce plants at the Horticulture field lab near the Arboretum.

Freshman Admission

The most common path to CALS is freshman admission. Roughly 44% of freshmen applicants were accepted to NC State in 2020 representing 99 of North Carolina’s counties, all 50 states and 33 countries.

  • We use a holistic admissions process for evaluating applicants.
  • We understand that leadership experience in organizations such as 4-H and FFA, an agricultural background, or participation in NC State pre-college or other programs are strong indicators for student success.


Fall Semester Admission Spring Semester Admission
Screenshot of video

"It's Not Where You Start; It's Where You Finish."

Students share why they chose NC State and how they found their path to CALS.

Watch the Video

Agricultural Institute

Need career-specific training to get ahead? Thinking of starting or taking over a small business? Then CALS’s Agricultural Institute is for you.

Agribusinesses and family farms all need the modern technical skills AGI can give you in just two years. You can even continue your studies at CALS after you graduate.

  • Direct admission after high school graduation
  • Two-year Associate of Applied Science Degree in six majors
  • Transfer opportunities to four-year program with AGI degree
Female student stands in front of fence in field.

STEAM, PackTrac and Community Colleges


STEAM – it stands for Student Transition Enrollment Advising and Mentoring – is a unique program to help students interested in agriculture get in to CALS. This path combines a summer session at NC State with a semester of classes at a North Carolina community college (or other institution).

  • Participate in a summer session at CALS
  • Take the first semester of classes at an N.C. community college
  • Get mentoring and personalized academic advising to make sure credits earned apply toward CALS degree
  • Guaranteed spring semester admission into preferred CALS program



PackTrac is a collaborative effort between CALS and 10 North Carolina Community Colleges providing specialized academic training and advising to students with a passion for agriculture and a desire to earn their degree from NC State.

Community College Partnerships

We partner with community colleges to provide a 1+3 and 2+2 admissions path to CALS. We provide personalized advising support for students while they attend community colleges to ensure a smooth transition to NC State.

We hear from many of our students, “It’s not important where you start, but where you finish,” and our transfer students finish strong – often out-performing many of our traditional 4-year students.

Three students talk while sitting on the lawn at Stafford Commons in front of Talley.

Pre-College Programs

ASPIRE to coming to NC State? We’ve got the program for you.

Many rural and small high schools don’t offer the college-prep classes that urban and larger high schools do. NC State’s ASPIRE – ACT Supplemental Preparation in Rural Education – program is designed to bridge that gap for rural high school sophomores and juniors.

Local teachers and Extension agents help students by offering ACT prep classes featuring the following:

  • 30 hours of ACT course instruction
  • Princeton Review ACT study manual
  • Princeton Review practice manual, with 1,460 questions
  • 4 full-length ACT practice exams with score analysis and breakdown