University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Carolina is a priceless gem, the birthplace of public higher education in America. World-renowned teaching and research, passionate student activism, first-rate athletics, all found at one of America’s most beautiful college campuses, has made Carolina a destination for some of the world’s best and brightest. In 1789, the same year George Washington became our nation’s founding president; the University of North Carolina was chartered. Only four years later, Carolina became the first public university in the United States to open its doors. Now in its third century, Carolina has evolved from the nation’s first public university to become a leading global university.

When I was looking at universities to apply to, I was searching for schools whose public service mission was just as strong as its academic mission. My college search came to an end the day I took my first step in the ‘Pit,’ the unofficial center of campus and heart of student activism, and I witnessed firsthand the student body’s enthusiasm and passion for public service, for not only thinking but doing.

Carolina recently opened the FedEx Global Education Center, a hub for international studies, and in the fall of 2007 Carolina’s own Dr. Oliver Smithies demonstrated Carolina’s global reach in winning the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. In 2003 UNC became the first university to guarantee that its neediest students would graduate debtfree when it established the Carolina Covenant. More than eighty colleges and universities worldwide have followed suit and adopted similar initiatives.

I love UNC. I love the quad in the spring and the arboretum in the fall. I love the Pit on a sunny day and Graham Memorial Lounge on a rainy one. I love Roy all the time. But what makes UNC truly special is not our beautiful campus, our distinguished reputation, or even our basketball team. It’s us—the student body—who make UNC what it is. —Eve Marie Carson, 2008, Former Student Body President

While Carolina has earned a reputation as a global leader in higher education, the university is first and foremost an institution of the people. With programs such as the Carolina Covenant, UNC has strived to make a college education affordable and relevant to all worthy students regardless of socioeconomic status. The university’s commitment to the people of North Carolina and beyond is evident in not only the diversity of its student body but in Carolina’s efforts through ground-breaking research to overcome society’s most pressing challenges, from climate change to world hunger.

The Student Body

That commitment to solving the world’s most daunting problems originates with the chancellor and the faculty, and permeates throughout the lifeblood of the university, the student body. It is not uncommon at UNC for students to join their professors in patenting an invention or publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. The Carolina environment fosters scholarly breakthroughs that are both bold and entrepreneurial in spirit. UNC consistently ranks among the top universities in the United States and is home to both a world-renowned business school and journalism school. About eighty percent of Carolina students graduate within five years after being exposed to a broad-based liberal arts education, completing a rigorous study in their academic major, and often studying abroad for a semester or two. To say that Carolina students are engaged would be an understatement. Whether sleeping outside in the “Pit” to raise awareness of local homelessness or spending a summer in rural India redeveloping contaminated land, Carolina students serve both locally and globally to improve the lives of those less fortunate. When asked by former student body president Eve Carson to sum up in a phrase what makes Carolina so special, former Chancellor James Moeser replied, “Excellence with a heart.” This is the Carolina Way.

The Campus

When not in class, the Pit, or the athletic field, you are likely to find Carolina students enjoying one of the most beautiful college campuses in the nation. While walking the winding brick paths, sitting on the old stone walls, or relaxing in the grassy tree-lined quads it’s easy to understand why they call this place the “southern part of heaven.” Rested atop North Carolina’s rolling Piedmont hills in the college town of Chapel Hill, UNC students enjoy crisp October nights blanketed in the red, orange, and yellow colors of fall. A few light snowfalls are not unheard of during the winter, leaving a dusting of white across campus from the Bell Tower to the historic Old Well. It’s not long until the chill of winter gives way to the blossoming of spring and students can be found sunbathing, tossing a Frisbee, or studying in the lush, green quads at the center of campus.

For students at Carolina education has no boundaries and no limits. The college experience is less about prerequisites, blue books, and double-majors, and more about curiosity, engagement, and progress. For those of you looking to spend all of your college years in a dorm room, a lecture hall, or a library, Carolina may not be right for you. Carolina students, faculty, and administrators live life in the fast lane and are engaged around the world. In sum, Carolina is about breaking down old barriers, discovering new truths, and never settling for anything less than “excellence with a heart.”

Attending Carolina is not an experience; it’s an adventure. Each fall thousands of students from across the country begin their journey from admitted applicant to engaged and impassioned Tar Heel. Carolina students tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems through research and debate, service and engagement, leadership and compassion. Always pushing full-throttle, Carolina students are active inside and out, in the classroom and in the lab, on the athletic field, and in the community.

Students at Carolina receive a world-class education, experience collegiate athletics at its finest, and form relationships with classmates who make up one of the most diverse student bodies in the country. As the nation’s first public university, Carolina remains committed to being the university “of the people” and therefore educates students from all walks of life at a rate affordable to all those who qualify for admission. Carolina provides not only an education but rich experiences, unforgettable memories, and life-long friendships. At Carolina expect not only a quintessential college experience but a wild ride full of late night study sessions and even later nights on Franklin Street. Expect to be not only a listener but a debater, not only a thinker but a doer, not only an activist but a leader paving the way for the millions of Tar Heels who have yet to reach the “shining light on the hill” we call Carolina.


Information Summary

Ranks 2nd in North Carolina and 71st overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 96.1
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $23,811
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 33 / 1480
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 15 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 97% / 100%
Enrollment Total (all students) 30,011


Recognized as a “public ivy,” Carolina ensures that all of its students receive a wellrounded education exposing students to both the hard sciences and humanities. At Carolina it’s not unheard of for Physics majors to discover an appreciation for Bach and Handel while Business majors develop an understanding of evolutionary biology. The new general education curriculum, “Making Connections,” was implemented at Carolina in the fall of 2006. The curriculum strives to cultivate the range of skills, knowledge, values, and habits that will enable graduates to excel in the rapidly changing and increasingly interconnected world.

Carolina students do more than sit in lecture theaters and take notes. Undergraduate students are encouraged and even expected to participate in faculty research or projects of their own design. Fortunately, Carolina’s fourteen-to-one studentfaculty ratio overall means professors are readily available to mentor their students in research. Recently, with the assistance of leaders in student government the Office of Undergraduate Research created the Carolina Research Scholars Program (CRSP). Participants in CRSP who successfully meet the program’s requirements will be recognized for their contributions to UNC’s intellectual and cultural climate with a designation on their transcript appropriately termed “Carolina Research Scholar.”

As a sophomore, I took an honors seminar called Morality and Law with Professor Gerald Postema and then became involved in undergraduate research through a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from UNC’s Office of Undergraduate Research. Since then, I have continued my research via independent study and other research grants and spent this past summer in South Africa conducting interviews with agents involved in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. —Diana Gergel, 2009, History and Political Science

First-Year Seminars

If you were expecting to spend your entire first year of college in large 300-person lecture halls you will be surprised to learn that Carolina provides students with the opportunity to connect with faculty by offering dozens of intimate, engaging courses called First-Year Seminars. The classes typically are limited to twenty students or fewer and are available to only first-year students, so you won’t have to compete with juniors and seniors for a spot. The seminars are taught by the university’s most distinguished researchers and most skillful teachers, and focus on advanced, emergent, and stimulating topics ranging from “Biologists as Entrepreneurs” to “The Economics of Sports.” You can check out more online at

General College

Most first-year seminars fulfill course requirements in general education, which is composed of a host of courses students must take in the College of Arts and Sciences. All students spend their first two years in the General College where they must fulfill a number of requirements such as English Composition and Rhetoric, Foreign Language, Quantitative Reasoning, Lifetime Fitness, Physical and Life Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts, and a Connections requirement. The courses offered within each requirement are broad and diverse allowing each student the freedom to pursue his or her own unique path of study.

Students also can place out of some courses or use selected Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests to earn credit. General College credits typically are earned during students’ first two years, though some upper-level general education requirements are required during junior and senior years. To meet the requirements of the General College and complete their major on time, students typically carry a manageable course load of twelve to fifteen hours. Full-time students must obtain special permission to carry fewer than twelve hours or more than seventeen.


UNC offers seventy-one undergraduate majors in nine professional schools. Students typically declare a major heading into their junior year, though students who enter Carolina with college credit, place out of courses, or carry especially heavy loads may begin working on a major earlier. When declaring a major, undergraduates either remain in the College of Arts and Sciences or enter one of four professional schools (dentistry or medicine), as well as Kenan- Flagler Business School or the schools of education, information and library science, journalism and mass communication, nursing and public health. Students can double-major at Carolina or can pursue a major and two minors.

Top ten majors (in order of descending enrollment):

  • Biology
  • Business Administration
  • Psychology
  • Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Political Science
  • Communication Studies
  • Economics
  • Chemistry
  • History
  • International Studies

Going Global

Over the past few years Carolina has made efforts to be recognized around the world as a leading global university. Today, Carolina offers its students the chance to choose from fifty-two different languages and take classes ranging from Mandarin to Swahili. Also, more and more students are taking advantage of the increased opportunities to study abroad or earn joint degrees with highly regarded institutions around the world. The new FedEx Global Education Center has brought international studies, resources for study abroad, and international research centers all under one roof.

For many Carolina students learning about another country or culture in the classroom is not enough. Fortunately, UNC has a strong study abroad program that enables students to tailor foreign experience to their academic pursuits and personal interests.

Students can choose from more than 300 credit-bearing programs in seventy countries and can opt for a semester, a year, or a summer session abroad. UNC students have participated in programs all over the world, including China, Jordan, Spain, Cuba, South Africa, and New Zealand. Numerous programs provide internships and service learning opportunities abroad as well as specialized courses taught by UNC faculty or courses taught at a local university. Carolina has one of the highest percentages among all U.S. public universities of undergraduate students studying abroad before they graduate—thirty five percent. Many students who did not study abroad while at Carolina have pursued international careers and fellowships following graduation from UNC. For instance, a total of 1,054 Carolina alumni have served in the Peace Corps.


Ranked one of the eight best in the country, the Honors program enables all Carolina students to choose from more than 120 honors courses in 30 disciplines. Accepted applicants are automatically considered for Carolina’s Honors Program, which admits around two-hundred incoming freshmen each year. In choosing these students, the Honors Program considers performance on standardized tests (SAT or ACT) as well as high school course selection and grades. If not selected, there are opportunities during the first two years of college to apply to join the Honors Program. Also, students not in the Honors Program may enroll in Honors classes, and although students in the program get first shot at the classes, honors classes rarely fill up before they open to general enrollment. Students not in the program can still graduate with honors by maintaining a high grade point average, usually higher than a 3.2 but determined by individual departments, and by completing an Honors thesis senior year.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Old Well :: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Morehead Planetarium :: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Old well :: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Now that you are convinced you have Tar Heel fever and want to spend the next four years of your life in Chapel Hill, it’s time to send in your application. Carolina’s admissions process is competitive. Carolina receives freshman applications from roughly 20,000 wellqualified students every year from all parts of North Carolina, the nation, and the world. From this large group of applicants, Carolina chooses a small number of the most competitive students, aiming to enroll a class of roughly 3,900. For those of you who are not Tar Heel Born or Tar Heel Bred and are instead applying from outside North Carolina, admission to Carolina is even more competitive. Out-of-state enrollment is limited to eighteen percent of the undergraduate class, or about 650 of the freshman spots any given year. Out of the approximately 20,000 students who apply every year for freshman admission at Carolina, almost 11,000 of these students are considered out-ofstate for admission purposes. Approximately 2,400 of these students receive admission offers making an out-of-state offer to attend Carolina one of the toughest to come by in the country. Fortunately, Carolina has a large and experienced staff that pores over applications, reading each application one by one. The admissions staff seeks students who excel not only academically but also in the arts, in athletics, in leadership, service, citizenship, and character. Now that you have a better idea of what you’re up against, here’s a rough guide on what it takes to get one of those thick envelopes containing your acceptance materials.

Academic Excellence

There is no single profile of an admitted Carolina student. However, if you want to earn an admissions offer from Carolina, a record of high academic achievement is a must. UNC requires that students complete specific high school course units as follows: • four units of English; • at least four units of college preparatory mathematics (two algebra, one geometry, and a higher level mathematics course for which algebra II is a prerequisite);* • at least two units of a single foreign language; • three units in science, including at least one unit in a life or biological science and at least one unit in a physical science, and including at least one laboratory course; • two units of social science, including United States history

In order to make yourself a competitive applicant, it is recommended that you enroll in course levels beyond these minimum requirements. To be considered for admission, the university also requires that students have pursued college-preparatory work in high school, and the Admissions Office recommends that students take as many Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses as possible. Carolina requires a high school diploma from an accredited institution and will not accept a GED or high school equivalency degree for freshman admissions.

In evaluating each applicant the Admissions Office also looks at test scores and class rank. Five students with perfect 1600s were among the 3,865 incoming freshmen in 2008. That class, on average, posted an SAT score of 1301, with out-of-state students averaging 1341 and in-state students averaging 1293. Students with an SAT under 1100 often are admitted because they have demonstrated outstanding ability in an area outside of testing.

While the average SAT scores and class rank of the admitted class have been consistently rising, it is important to remember that admissions officers at Carolina don’t base their decisions on test scores and grade point average alone. Carolina is unique from any other university in the country due to the energy, activism, and diversity of its student body. Leadership and public service exemplified in extracurricular activities, strong references, and a compelling essay will go a long way in convincing admissions officers you belong in Carolina blue.

Financial Aid

Carolina is consistently named a best bargain in national publications, meaning it offers an excellent education for a comparatively low price. While most Carolina students argue they get the best bang for their buck, a Carolina education would still be too costly for some students if financial aid and scholarships were not readily available. Fortunately, UNC is committed to meeting one hundred percent of students’ demonstrated financial need in order to ensure that every qualified student has a shot at a Carolina education, regardless of their finances. The university does so with a combination of scholarships, loans, and federal, state, and university grants, and private gifts.

Students who apply for admission are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships. If you wish, you may provide supplemental material for the Robertson Scholarship. UNC also sponsors National Merit Scholars; if you’re a National Merit Finalist, you’ll need to indicate UNC-Chapel Hill as your first choice in order to qualify. For more information on two of Carolina’s most prestigious privately funded merit scholarships, the Morehead-Cain and Robertson Scholarship, please visit or To apply for need-based aid, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA), and the CSS/PROFILE no later than March 1. Both forms are available online on the FASFA and College Board Web sites. More information about aid at Carolina can be obtained on the Web site for the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid at You can also contact the student aid staff Monday through Friday from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. at (919) 962-8396. The staff is eager to answer your questions and the office’s director, who was a first-generation college student, is a national leader in the effort to increase access for students with financial need.

Carolina Covenant

Carolina set the bar high for universities across the country aiming to provide qualified low-income students with a debt-free education with the establishment in 2003 of the Carolina Covenant. The Carolina Covenant is Carolina’s promise that its neediest students graduate without the heavy burden of loans. The Covenant funds the full financial need of each scholar for four years with a combination of scholarships, grants, and work-study jobs. Carolina graduated its first class of Covenant Scholars in May 2008. To be considered for the Covenant, fill out the standard financial aid forms. Students whose parents’ adjusted gross income does not exceed two-hundred percent of federal poverty guidelines (based on family size) will automatically qualify for the Covenant. You can find out more and view profiles of Covenant recipients online at

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 3938th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in North Carolina.


Walk around Carolina’s campus on a warm April afternoon and you’re likely to see dozens of students reading while lounging in the soft grass of Polk Place. Walk a little further to the Pit, the heart of campus, and you will see hundreds of students recruiting members for their student organization, passing out fliers for upcoming events, raising money for world hunger, or just chatting with friends between classes. Located between the student union, the main dining hall, the campus bookstore, and two libraries, the Pit is an ideal place to take a break, chat with friends, publicize a campus event, or just see what’s going on at Carolina.

Once class has ended and the sun has set, students can be found walking along the sidewalks of Franklin Street, the main thoroughfare in Chapel Hill, which borders the campus on the north. While the Pit may be considered the center of campus society, Franklin Street is without a doubt the heart of town and campus social life. Whether it’s grabbing a bite to eat at one of the dozens of restaurants or taking in the sights while perched on the balcony of Top of the Hill restaurant and brewery, students come to Franklin Street to kick back and have a good time.

Student Organizations

At Carolina students often take their involvement in student organizations as seriously as they do their studies. Carolina has more than 600 officially recognized student organizations, and if you still can’t find one that fits your interests, it’s easy to start your own. Social and political organizations such as the Young Democrats, College Republicans, and the Black Student Movement are very active on campus and sponsor events and initiatives open to all students throughout the year.

It was a big jump to Carolina from my all-girls high school of just 450 students. But I can honestly say that this was never an issue for me. Within weeks of my arrival as a freshman, so many other students, many of them upperclassmen, reached out to me. There is also such a wide variety of incredible groups to join that you often find yourself making lifelong friends even as you are working together for an important cause. —Monique Newton, 2009, Journalism & News Editorial The Campus Y, an organization that works to promote social justice, and UNC’s independent student government are two of the largest student groups. Student Body President elections, held every February, are often fiercely contested and candidates and their campaign teams have been known to pull out all the stops to earn the student body’s support. While Carolina is known for the political activism of its students, groups such as CHiPs, specializing in improv comedy, and the Clef Hangers, an esteemed group of male a capella singers, have entertained generations of Tar Heels.

Student Press

Carolina’s politically active campus wouldn’t be what it is today if it were not for the vigorous student press, namely, The Daily Tar Heel, covering every action and reaction on campus. The campus’s award-winning, independent student newspaper, commonly referred to as the DTH, circulates 20,000 free copies each publishing day making it one of the largest college dailies in the country. It has produced storied alums such as author Thomas Wolfe and Charles Kuralt of CBS. Carolina also has several publications funded through student fees, including Blue and White magazine, The Carolina Review, and BOUNCE, Carolina’s satirical magazine. The journalism school also produces a mostly student-run, award-winning television broadcast program called Carolina Week.

Community Service

When students aren’t in class, chatting in the Pit, or eating on Franklin Street you may find them hammering nails with UNC’s Habitat for Humanity chapter or tutoring local children with one of the Campus Y’s many active committees. The APPLES Service- Learning and the Public Service Scholars programs provide students with the opportunity to take courses that require off-campus community service and integrate what they learn in the classroom with the experiences students have while serving the community. Carolina’s largest annual student fund-raiser, Dance Marathon, is a twenty-four-hour dance marathon. In 2008, 1,000 dancers raised $321,938 for the N.C. Children’s Hospital; both of these were records. The marathon involves hundreds of students from across campus, and many fund-raisers are held throughout the year by members of the Greek Community.

Greek Life

The Carolina Greek Community is active both socially and in the local community sponsoring fund-raisers, charity auctions, and other service projects each year. Fraternities and sororities also sponsor various 5Ks and are well known for hosting several large parties thrown on the last day of classes. The Greek system, composed of fifty-four different Greek organizations and 2,800 undergraduate students, draws about fourteen percent of Carolina students. From mixers to semiformals, fraternities and sororities provide students with a great way to socialize and meet new people. However, you don’t have to go Greek in order to maintain an active and exciting social life at Carolina.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Imagine running with a few thousand other Tar Heels from your Hinton James residence hall past Kenan stadium, through Polk Place, past the Old Well, and finally to Franklin Street. You are quickly joined by tens of thousands of other screaming Carolina fans in the singing of “Hark the Sound,” Carolina’s Alma Mater. Make it into Carolina and what you have just imagined is likely to become reality following a Carolina victory over Duke in men’s basketball. The Tar Heel Nation lives, breathes, and dreams basketball. Led by Hall of Fame Coach Roy Williams, the Tar Heels run an exciting up-tempo offense, which helps create an electric atmosphere while playing at home in the always intimidating Dean E. Smith Center, widely known as the Dean Dome.

With basketball season lasting only a few months out of the year students are fortunate to have a host of other sports to cheer for and play. UNC teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference in twenty-eight varsity sports. While the men’s soccer team recently competed for a National Championship and the football team has recently secured a top-ten recruiting class, it would be hard for these teams to match the success of the women’s soccer and field hockey teams. The women’s field hockey team has appeared in the NCAA tournament for twenty-five consecutive years while the women’s soccer team, led by Hall of Fame Coach Anson Dorrance, has won nineteen national titles and developed athletes such as soccer celebrity Mia Hamm. The program has one of the most devoted followings of any Tar Heel team, leading the nation in women’s soccer attendance five times since 1998. For those students itching to get out on the soccer field, track, or back into the swimming pool, but are not up to meeting the demands of a varsity team, you are in luck because Carolina has dozens of intramural and club sports teams, including the highly competitive men’s and women’s club rowing and soccer teams. For those athletes who played competitive sports in high school and enjoy traveling, UNC’s club teams offer a wealth of opportunities. Club teams typically have routine practice schedules and are relatively well funded through student fees and fund-raisers. However, for those students who aren’t big fans of practice, intramural sports provide additional options. The campus offers numerous wellmaintained intramural fields, tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts, ropes courses, a golf course, miles of paths and trails, two pools, and state-of-the-art workout facilities.

Local Community

Town and Gown

Centuries-old homes, family-run businesses, progressive politics, and a close-knit community of about 50,000 people form what has been deemed a quintessential college town, Chapel Hill. After class many students can be found heading west down Franklin Street to the small neighboring town of Carrboro to retreat to their apartments, lounge on the grass outside Weaver Street Market, or enjoy Carrboro’s thriving arts scene.

It’s also not uncommon to see students heading east on Franklin Street on their way to Interstate 40. I-40 runs through Chapel Hill and can be used to reach downtown Raleigh, the state capital, in about thirty minutes or in Durham, home of Duke University, in ten minutes. Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Durham, and Raleigh make up what is known as the Triangle region of North Carolina, home to more than one million people. As part of the Triangle, Chapel Hill is located only a short drive from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and the internationally renowned Research Triangle Park.


While the more than 250,000 living Carolina alumni are no longer students at UNC, they’re Tar Heels for a lifetime. After graduating from Carolina, Tar Heels often look for the next opportunity to learn and grow, whether it’s through graduate school at internationally acclaimed universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, or Carolina’s own graduate programs. Other students choose to enter the working world and join world-renowned organizations such as SAS, Goldman Sachs, and the National Institute of Health. Fortythree Carolina graduates have gone on to win Rhodes Scholarships, and in 2007, thirtyseven graduates joined the ranks of Teach for America, making Carolina the sixth largest source of graduates chosen by the organization.

Prominent Grads

  • Mia Hamm, 1994, World-Famous Women’s Soccer Player
  • Charles Kuralt, 1965, Beloved CBS News Broadcaster
  • James K. Polk, 1818, Only Alumnus to Serve as U.S. President
  • Hugh McColl, 1957, Retired Chairman and CEO of Bank of America
  • Michael Jordan, 1986, Perhaps the Greatest Basketball Player Ever
  • Thomas Wolfe, 1920, Author of “Look Homeward Angel”
  • Andy Griffith, 1949, TV Actor, Comedian, Producer, and Grammywinning Musician
  • David Brinkley, 1992, Distinguished TV Journalist m Marion Jones, 1997, Olympic Track Star
  • Davis Love III, 1993, PGA Tour Member

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