The University of North Carolina System is the oldest public institution of higher education in the country. Initially, North Carolina had one public university, which is now the UNC System’s flagship institution—UNC-Chapel Hill. Today the UNC System comprises 17 world-class institutions. Sixteen universities cover every region of the state. In addition, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is a public, residential, coeducational high school for juniors and seniors who have special interests and potential in the sciences and mathematics.

Collectively, these 17 remarkable institutions form one extraordinary University. Attending the UNC System thus begins with a pivotal choice: which one of our institutions will you want to attend?

Each one is unique, with its own teaching and research profile. You can choose from large, comprehensive universities or institutions that offer a smaller, more intimate learning environment. Regardless of where you go, you’ll find that all of our institutions offer a wide array of educational and extracurricular activities. Each features supportive and creative faculty, actively engaged in teaching and research. Just as critically, each offers transformative learning opportunities.

Whether our students are studying in the classroom, abroad, online, or in the field, they develop critical thinking and real-world problem-solving skills. At the same time, they also learn the value of giving back to communities around our state.

Regardless of the university you choose, your education will put you on the path toward a gratifying life, with many more possibilities for personal and professional fulfillment.

Deciding Where to Attend

Finding the institution that will best help you achieve your ambitions is important to college success. There is much at stake as you ponder the options in front of you, so you’ll want to make an informed choice. Where is the institution located? Does it offer a program of study that appeals to your academic and professional interests? Does the institution boast a national reputation for research and teaching in a particular discipline? What is the size and makeup of the student body? Does the institution have a historical mission? What is the total cost of attendance? What scholarship opportunities are available? Which extracurricular activities does it offer?    

Throughout this website, you’ll find resources that will help you weigh your options. To begin, you can take a virtual tour of every one of our universities. The UNC System includes large and small institutions. Every one provides a top-notch education. At each university you’ll find degree programs that aren’t available anywhere else in the UNC System—in some cases, anywhere else in the region. So why not virtually tour all 16 campuses? Who knows—one of these 360-degree videos just might lead you down a pathway to a future career you’ve never before envisioned. 

Looking for a more detailed overview of the UNC System? This portal illustrates where all 17 campuses are located. The UNC System serves the entire state, from Murphy to Manteo. Do you want to study in a city or in a small town? Are you drawn to the west’s shady hollows, the piedmont’s rolling contours, or the east’s coastal dunes?  This page also provides direct links to each university’s website. Dig around on these sites. Finding the right place to go takes some thorough research. Take time to explore the many opportunities that are available across the UNC System.

If you already have clear intellectual and professional goals, the program and degree finder will be a useful tool. Here, a quick search will reveal which institutions offer degrees in the field you want to study.

How to Apply

There’s no denying that deciding where you want to study is an exciting process. On the other hand, applying for enrollment might seem a daunting challenge—but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

Visiting the admissions requirements page will help take the anxiety and mystery out of the process. Here you will find information about the UNC System’s minimum eligibility requirements and direct links to every institution’s admissions page.

The College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC.org) is a comprehensive online resource to help all North Carolina students and families plan, apply, and pay for college.

The UNC System is committed to serving students from all walks of life and at every stage in their intellectual and professional development. If you are an undergraduate student entering into—or re-entering—the System after having served in the military or having studied at either a community college or another university, visit the transfer student page. This page will direct you to useful information about how to apply to our institutions. Just as critically, it also explains how to receive credit for the coursework and immersive learning experiences you’ve already completed.

Are you interested in taking courses or even completing a degree without giving up your career or leaving your hometown? The UNC Online page is your direct link to every distance education course and degree program offered throughout the UNC System.

Paying for College

The establishment of the University of North Carolina in 1789 was a radical innovation in education, driven by one audacious goal: to provide every North Carolinian access to education that is “as free as practicable.”

Two recent initiatives, both funded by the NC General Assembly, have continued this state’s historical commitment to keeping public higher education affordable and within reach of everyone in North Carolina. Passed in 2016, The Fixed Tuition Program holds the price of tuition constant for students who remain continuously enrolled and on track to graduate on schedule. Initiated in 2018, the NC Promise Tuition Plan lowers the cost of tuition at three UNC System institutions to just $500 a semester.

As a result of these and other cost-cutting measures, the UNC System offers some of the most affordable opportunities in higher education anywhere in the nation. Still, a large percentage of students and their families seek grants and financial aid opportunities. These can help cover the total cost of attendance, including tuition, housing, textbook, and program fees.

Broadly speaking, assistance comes in two forms: gift subsidies and financial aid. Gift subsidies, whether scholarships or grants, do not need to be paid back. Typically, scholarships are awarded based on merit (e.g., academic or athletic talent). Grants, on the other hand, are awarded based on financial need. The term financial aid generally refers loans that must be paid back.

The Scholarships and Funded Opportunities page provides information about System-wide scholarships and other funded opportunities. In addition, this page features direct links to the institutions’ financial aid offices. Visiting these pages will help prospective students gather detailed information about the funding opportunities specifically available at the institution they plan to attend.