What is UNC Chapel Hill Known For?
Do you know how to improve your profile for college applications?
See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now — it only takes 3 minutes and it's 100% free.
- Overview of UNC Chapel Hill Admissions
- Unique Aspects of UNC Chapel Hill
- What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
What is UNC Chapel Hill known for? The school is best known as the first public university in the United States and the only one to award degrees during the 18th century. UNC Chapel Hill also lays claim to the oldest collegiate athletic team in the Carolinas. UNC Chapel Hill is rooted in history—it’s such a foundational institution that many refer to it simply as “Carolina”—but the school faces forward, educating the next generation of great thinkers, creators, and innovators.
Overview of UNC Chapel Hill Admissions
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Undergrad Enrollment: 19,100
Acceptance Rate: 23%
Middle 50% SAT: 1320-1500
Middle 50% ACT: 28-34 (converted from SAT)
Admission to UNC Chapel Hill is competitive, especially for out-of-state students—for example, for the class entering in 2020, the middle 50% SAT score for out-of-state students was 1370-1540 compared to 1310-1500 for in-state students. Additionally, 82% of students entering the school in 2020 submitted AP or IB scores.
It’s not just academically that Carolina students stand apart—49% of the students entering UNC Chapel Hill in 2020 served as the president of their class or a club, 33% of them captained a varsity team, and 36% of them conducted research outside of the classroom.
Because UNC Chapel Hill is highly selective, a strong college profile and an superbly written common application essay, along with Carolina’s short answer prompts and fill-in-the-blank responses, are necessary to catch the eyes of admissions officials.
Unique Aspects of UNC Chapel Hill
UNC Chapel undergraduate academics are divided into two divisions that contain ten colleges, those are:
Division of Academic Affairs:
- College of Arts and Sciences (General College)
- Kenan–Flagler Business School
- School of Education
- School of Information and Library Science
- Hussman School of Journalism and Media
Division of Health Affairs:
- Adams School of Dentistry
- School of Medicine
- School of Nursing
- Eshelman School of Pharmacy
- Gillings School of Global Public Health
Through the ten schools, Carolina offers more than 70 majors and minors, ranging from American studies to studio art. The most popular majors at UNC Chapel Hill are biology, media and journalism, psychology, business administration, and computer science.
Studying abroad is extremely popular at UNC Chapel Hill, and more than a third of Carolina undergraduates study in another country before graduating. Carolina offers a variety of different types of study abroad programs to provide students with unique experiences outside the country while challenging them academically.
UNC Chapel Hill is one the largest producers of Rhodes Scholars; between 1904 and 2018, Carolina produced 44 Rhodes Scholars, the twelfth most in the nation.
What is UNC known for? Basketball. The UNC Tar Heels are one of the most recognizable and successful college basketball programs of all time. Carolina has won the NCAA Championship six times—the third-most all time, and one more than bitter rival Duke. Furthermore, the list of former Tar Heel basketball players reads like a who’s-who of NBA all-time greats, including:
- Micheal Jordan
- Bob McAdoo
- Vince Carter
- Rasheed Wallace
- James Worthy
- Brad Daugherty
- Jerry Stackhouse
The rivalry on the court between UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University is considered among one of the best in all sports; the two teams have been squaring off for more than a century. An interesting subplot in the UNC/Duke rivalry is that of a public school taking on the private school just down the road.
The best-known of Carolina traditions is to take a sip from the Old Well. The Old Well sits at the heart of campus and is the iconic visual symbol of the school—UNC uses it as a logo. Tradition dictates that a sip from the well will bring good luck to students and a successful academic year.
Another fun tradition of students at UNC Chapel Hill is to try to trace the origin of the name Tar Heel (Carolina’s nickname). Some date the name back to the Revolutionary War and the state’s production of tar, pitch, and turpentine, while others attribute the nickname to the courage in battle North Carolina soldiers demonstrated during the Civil War.
Another tradition at Carolina is participation in the Peace Corps—the university is commonly among the largest producers of Peace Corps volunteers. More than 1,340 UNC Chapel Hill alumni have served with the Peace Corps since the organization’s founding in 1961.
First-year students are required to live on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus. More than 8,500 students live in the university’s 32 resident halls. The majority of first-year students are assigned living arrangements in a First-Year Experience community which provides an academically and socially supportive environment for new students.
UNC Chapel Hill also offers a handful of Residential Learning Programs designed to provide an inclusive learning experience that connects lessons in the classroom with residential life. Carolina is home to four such communities:
- BLUE: a space and opportunity for innovation, creation, and collaboration
- First Generation: for self-identified, first-generation college students
- Pride Place: focused on the personal wellness and academic success of students of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions
- Transfer: provides a place for transfer students to transition to life at UNC
UNC Chapel Hill is one of the few flagship public universities in the country to practice need-blind admissions—Carolina doesn’t consider an applicant’s financial situation when deciding on admission. The university is also committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated financial need of its students.
UNC Chapel Hill established the Carolina Covenant in the early 2000s as a way to improve the success of the lowest-income students. Through the Carolina Covenant, students from families with a total income that is at, or below, 200% of the poverty guideline are given the opportunity to graduate college debt-free—financial support is provided through a combination of grants, scholarships, and work-study, none of which requires repayment.
Carolina is one of the top research universities in the United States; ranked by research volume and annual expenditures, it ranks as the 12th largest U.S. research university. The school conducts more than $1.5 billion of sponsored research annually and over 3,000 undergraduates produce original research.
For those looking to get out of the lab, UNC Chapel Hill is home to the Coker Arboretum. This 5-acre breath of fresh air features peaceful walking paths, several open lawns, trees, shrubs, and a variety of flowers that change with the seasons. The Coker Arboretum is open 365 days a year and is just a short walk from the Old Well.
The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has been a fixture on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus since 1949. The planetarium is open to the public and hosts a variety of programs—even for astronauts. Between 1960 and 1970, a large number of the astronauts who participated in the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz programs trained at Morehead.
Carolina is located in the Research Triangle, sometimes simply called the Triangle, an area anchored by three prominent universities: UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and North Carolina State University. The Triangle is also a hub of technology and biotech companies, including:
- Cisco Systems
- PRA Health Sciences
If you’re interested in attending Carolina but aren’t sure of your odds of acceptance, CollegeVine can help. Our free admissions calculator uses your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance at UNC Chapel Hill, along with over 600 other colleges and universities. In addition to helping you understand your odds of admission, our free admissions calculator can show you how to become a more competitive candidate by highlighting areas to improve your profile.