He was subsequently found in some woods southeast of the university campus before midnight. The man challenged three officers with a gun and they fired in response, campus Police Chief Timothy Bellamy said.
The man's name was not immediately released. Police said he was not a student.
There were no injuries reported to others and a campus lockdown that began at 10:15 p.m. Monday was lifted shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday.
The officers have been placed on administrative leave while the State Bureau of Investigation reviews the shooting.
A school spokeswoman did not immediately respond to messages early Tuesday.
University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White said in an email to students, faculty and staff that the school would hold a town hall meeting later Tuesday morning to discuss the matter.
North Carolina Central is part of the University of North Carolina system with an enrollment of more than 8,000 students. The historically black school opened in 1910.