The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public, coeducational, research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States. Also known as Carolina, North Carolina, UNC-CH, or simply UNC, the university is the oldest public institution of higher education in the United States and is the flagship of the University of North Carolina System.


The University of North Carolina was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1789. Accordingly, Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, which serves as the northern border of the University's campus, is named after the famous eighteenth-century Enlightenment figure Benjamin Franklin. The university opened in a single building, which came to be called Old East. Still in use as a residence hall, it is the oldest public university building in the United States. Its cornerstone was laid October 12, 1793, near an Anglican chapel in what therefore became "Chapel Hill, North Carolina." Today, the University celebrates University Day each year on October 12. The first student, Hinton James, arrived on foot from Wilmington, February 12, 1795; one of the largest residence halls on campus is correspondingly named after him. He was the only student for two weeks.


By charter, UNC is the second oldest state university but was the first to operate in the United States as a state university. The University of Georgia was chartered first in 1785, but did not start classes until 1801. The College of Charleston opened in 1770, and was chartered in 1785, but was a private school until 1836, when it became a municipal college; it did not join the South Carolina state university system until 1970. The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693, but was a private institution until 1888. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, was chartered in 1766 and opened in 1771, but did not become the state university until 1956. Which of these schools should be called the oldest state university is a subject of debate; however, UNC is the only public university in the United States that awarded degrees as a public institution in the eighteenth century.

In 1932 UNC became one of the three original campuses of the Consolidated University of North Carolina (since 1972 called the University of North Carolina system). In 1963 the Consolidated University was made fully coeducational. As a result, the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina was renamed the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the University of North Carolina itself became the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


NC offers 71 bachelor's, 110 master's and 77 doctoral degree programs. Carolina enrolls more than 26,800 students from all 100 North Carolina counties, the other 49 states and more than 100 other countries. 82% of Carolina's undergraduates come from North Carolina.

UNC's library system has more than 5.6 million volumes and perennially ranks among the best research libraries in North America as judged by the Association of Research Libraries. The most recent association listings place Carolina 15th among 114 research libraries in North America. UNC's North Carolina Collection is the largest of its kind among state-oriented collections on campuses nationwide. Also, the Southern and rare book collections housed in Wilson Library are among the country's finest.

Among graduate programs, the School of Law, the School of Information and Library Science, the School of Public Health, the School of Pharmacy, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Analytical Chemistry program, and the Kenan Flagler Business School are especially highly regarded.

At UNC every freshman must take a philosophy course regardless of placement. Every freshman must also take an English course but can place out of two of them through high SAT Verbal scores. Those who do place out must take a communications class on public speaking. Honors students take creative writing or poetry instead to fufill the English requirement.

The first two years at UNC are in the General College where students take a variety of classes in every discipline. Social science, history, foreign language, aesthetic, mathematics, and natural science are the departments requiring at least two credits in order for students to graduate from the General College. The natural science requirement includes a lab in addition to its two required credits. The aesthetic requirement includes one literature and one fine arts course. The history requirement includes one pre-1700 course and one post-1700 course. These courses are known as General College perspectives and there are hundreds to choose from in each department to fufill the requirements.

All students must also complete a Cultural Diversity course that can range from something like Globalization Issues to Modern Asian Literature. UNC accepts many AP exams to fufill these requirements, but students typically must score a 4 or 5 to even to be considered for credit. After their sophomore year, students either enroll into the College of Arts & Sciences or choose a pre-graduate program such as medicine, business, pharmacy, dentistry, journalism, or law.

All students must complete a swim test and two physical education courses if not in a varsity sport in order to graduate.

The university has for decades offered an undergraduate merit scholarship known as the Morehead Scholarship, modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. The scholarship offers tuition, room, and board for four years. Also offered is the Robertson Scholarship, an innovative scholarship granting recipients the opportunity to attend both UNC-Chapel Hill and neighboring Duke University. Offered both at UNC and Duke, UNC recipients receive full tuition, room, and living stipends.


The school's sports teams are called the Tar Heels and the mascot is Rameses the ram. They participate in the NCAA's Division I-A and in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The University of North Carolina has won 36 team national championships in five different sports and 51 individual national championships: The women's soccer team has won eighteen national championships since 1981, the men's soccer team has won in 2001, the women's basketball team has won in 1994, the men's basketball team has won in 1924, 1957, 1982, 1993, and 2005.