How to Get Into UNC-Chapel Hill

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May 24, 2024
6 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/6/24

Are you interested in learning how to become a UNC Tar Heel? If so, read on to learn how to get into UNC-Chapel Hill.

UNC-Chapel Hill has been a top choice for several hopeful applicants for a number of years. Commonly referred to as the first public university in the United States, it has a long history as a leading university in various subjects. UNC-Chapel Hill was first established in 1795 and has played an important role in many US historical eras, including the Civil War.

UNC students are commonly referred to as “Tar Heels,” which pays homage to North Carolina’s history of supplying materials to the US military. Today, the name is used in a positive light to represent the university’s pride in the military and state.

UNC-Chapel Hill continues to be recognized as a leader in innovative teaching and groundbreaking research. If you’re thinking about becoming a UNC Tar Heel, this guide will tell you everything you need to know. 

UNC-Chapel Hill Application Requirements & Admissions Stats 

UNC-Chapel Hill holds its students to high academic standards. By scoring a 1500 on the SAT or a 33 on the ACT, you’ll set yourself up for admission success. You should also maintain a GPA of 3.75 or higher. To stand out from the crowd, engage in meaningful extracurricular activities that showcase your interests and strengths.

UNC-Chapel Hill looks for a special type of applicant who engages with the world around them while staying true to themselves. As a result, they are particular when it comes to the admissions process. We’ll list some admissions statistics and application requirements for your consideration below.

Your application to UNC-Chapel Hill will be divided into two different segments. The first involves submitting your application online through Common App

This is where you’ll be expected to include information about the extracurricular activities you participate in, provide your admissions essay and two short answers, and any optional components, like applications for Global Opportunities (Global Gap Year Fellowship and/or Carolina Global Launch) or Honors Carolina. You’ll also have to pay a $85 application fee. 

The second segment of the UNC-Chapel Hill application is sending in your supplementary materials. This will help the admissions committee to further understand who you are as an applicant. It will provide a full picture of your achievements as a student, and the contributions that you have made in the classroom. We’ll explain each application requirement in detail below.

UNC-Chapel Hill Acceptance Rate

If you’re thinking about applying, you might be wondering: “how hard is it to get into UNC-Chapel Hill?” The answer to this question can be found by looking at the UNC-Chapel Hill acceptance rate. About 16.8% of students who apply to UNC-Chapel Hill are accepted each year, making it highly selective.

UNC-Chapel Hill acceptance rate compared to how many students Quad get's into the same school!

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into UNC-Chapel Hill.

SAT/ACT Requirements

There is no specific SAT or ACT requirement that you must meet to gain entry at UNC-Chapel Hill, as the school recognizes that a high test score is only one piece of the puzzle that makes up an applicant. 

However, you’ll want to be as competitive as possible to measure up with the sea of applicants UNC-Chapel Hill receives yearly. And because of the school’s popularity and prestige, the bar for competition between applicants is quite high. 

Over time, the average SAT score for accepted applicants has been between 1310-1500, and the average ACT score has hovered around 29-33. The incoming class at UNC-Chapel Hill had the following score ranges:

  • North Carolina residents: 1340-1500
  • Out-of-state students: 1400-1540
  • All students: 1400-1540

Successful applicants who wrote the ACT have had their scores converted into the stats above. 

GPA Requirements

While UNC-Chapel Hill states that applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply, you will need a higher GPA to compete with the many applicants that UNC sees yearly. As such, the average GPA of successful applicants is 3.75 and over.

For reference, 92% of the most recent class were in the top 20% of their high school class, whereas 74% of applicants were in the top 10%. 

Official Transcript with Completed Minimum Course Requirements

To get into UNC-Chapel Hill, you will need to have completed the following courses:

  • Four units of English
  • Four units of college preparatory mathematics (including algebra, geography, and one higher level mathematic course in which algebra II is a prerequisite)
  • Two units of a single foreign language (can include American Sign Language)
  • Three units in science (including one life/biological science, one in physical science, and one laboratory course
  • Two units of social studies (one in United States History)

If you cannot meet all of these requirements, you can still apply. However, you will have to note in detail what prevented you from completing the courses outlined above.

Letter of Recommendation

UNC-Chapel Hill only requires one letter of recommendation per application. It’s advised that the letter comes from a teacher who taught you in a core academic area (math, science, social science, or world language), and can vouch for your academic achievements, personal story, and potential.

Make sure to build strong relationships with your teachers throughout your high school career. When the time comes to ask for a letter of recommendation, your teachers will be more likely to write one for you if they know you and your academic skills well.

UNC-Chapel Hill Application Deadlines

Here are the deadlines you will need to follow to submit your UNC-Chapel Hill application on time. UNC accepts early applications for those that have the school as their first choice; it’s recommended that you meet these deadlines for a better chance of acceptance.

Deadline Early Application Regular Admissions
Application and Application Fee October 15 January 15
Supporting Materials and Test Scores December 1 February 15
Decisions Released January 31 March 31
Enrollment Decision if Admitted May 15 May 15

Source: UNC-Chapel Hill

Make a special note of these dates—you don’t want to miss them!

UNC-Chapel Hill Essays

As a part of the secondary application for UNC-Chapel Hill, you will be expected to include two essay responses. You will have a choice of selecting two of the following prompts, and answering each in 200-250 words:

1. Discuss one of your personal qualities and share a story, anecdote, or memory of how it helped you make a positive impact on a community. This could be your current community or another community you have engaged.
2. Discuss an academic topic that you’re excited to explore and learn more about in college. Why does this topic interest you? Topics could be a specific course of study, research interests, or any other area related to your academic experience in college.

Remember to be clear and concise, regardless of your chosen prompt. You’ll want to make every word as meaningful as possible while aligning with UNC-Chapel Hill’s values. This is also an opportunity for UNC-Chapel Hill, the admissions committee to hear your story, in your own words, so be sure to also remain authentic and true to yourself.

Since UNC-Chapel Hill is a big believer in diverse and inclusive communities, be sure to include examples of how you can best contribute to making that community stronger.

In addition to answering two essay prompts, you will need to answer these fill-in-the-blank style responses, limited to 25 words each:

  • One family, friend, or school tradition I cherish
  • If I had an extra hour in every day, I would spend it
  • If I could travel anywhere, near or far, past, present or future, I would go
  • The last time I stepped outside my comfort zone, I
  • People who meet me are most likely to notice, and least likely to notice

Being prompt while showing your personality and values is key for these responses. Make sure you practice your answers beforehand and refine them so that the admissions committee at UNC-Chapel Hill can better understand who you are in a short amount of words.

Tips for Getting Into UNC-Chapel Hill

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your UNC-Chapel Hill application, take a look at these keytips!

Challenge Yourself Academically by Taking Advanced Placement Classes

UNC-Chapel Hill looks for applicants who consistently challenge themselves and strive to improve academically. 

Enrolling in Advanced Placement classes, the International Baccalaureate program, or other college-level courses over the summer is an excellent way to show to the admissions committee that you have the drive to challenge yourself.

Participate in Extracurricular Activities

When UNC-Chapel Hill reviews candidates, they prefer individuals who significantly impact their community and engage in activities they are passionate about. 

Look for extracurricular opportunities that will make you stand out and demonstrate that you care about making a difference in serving the community that you live in. Examples of this can include being a Big Brother or Big Sister or working exclusively with non-profits.

For context, the recent admitted class had 74% of their applicants volunteering in service activities.

Be Yourself in Everything That You Do

One of the most important things you need to show in your application to UNC-Chapel Hill is your individuality. 

The admissions committee wants to accept students who leave their mark in everything that they do and make it uniquely them. Participate in opportunities, like passion projects, that will show UNC-Chapel Hill you exemplify individuality and authenticity, and they will surely provide you with an acceptance to their school.

Get In Touch with the Carolina College Advising Corps

To align with their duty of providing service to the communities that surround UNC-Chapel Hill, the school has a unique outreach program known as the Carolina College Advising Corps.  

This program recruits current UNC-Chapel Hill students to act as representatives and visit high schools across North Carolina. Their role is to assist students in every step of their college search and application, whether at UNC-Chapel Hill or not. They are there to meet one-on-one with potential applicants and answer any questions they may have about the admissions process, tuition, and more. 

If you are a North Carolina resident, getting to know your Carolina College Advising Corps and building a relationship with them is a great idea. They will guide you firsthand into best practices for admission to UNC-Chapel Hill.

FAQs: How to Get Into UNC-Chapel Hill

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of how to get into UNC-Chapel Hill, you may still have a few lingering questions about the admissions process. Take a look at our responses to these frequently asked questions to find your answers. 

1. What GPA Do You Need to Get Into UNC-Chapel Hill?

Because UNC-Chapel Hill is a prestigious school with many applicants per year, you must aim for as high of a GPA as possible. Typically, successful UNC-Chapel Hill applicants have a GPA of 3.7 or higher.

2. How Hard Is It to Get Into UNC-Chapel Hill?

With an acceptance rate of 23%, it comes as no surprise that receiving admission to UNC-Chapel Hill can be challenging. However, it’s certainly not impossible. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can get there!

3. Can You Get into UNC-Chapel Hill with a 3.5 GPA?

Yes, you can be admitted with a 3.5 GPA. However, keep in mind that this is lower than normal. As such, you’ll want to supplement for a lower GPA by committing to receiving high SAT or ACT scores, challenging yourself with advanced courses and strong extracurricular activities, and more.

4. Is Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill Harder to Get Into?

Duke University and UNC are prestigious schools that have rivaled each other for many years, largely due to their campus’ close proximity. Duke is harder to get into considering its low acceptance rate of 6%, compared to UNC-Chapel Hill’s 25.7%.

Final Thoughts

UNC-Chapel Hill is an institution with a strong reputation for academic excellence. Since the start of its legacy over 200 years ago, its values and curriculums in each school have pushed students and alums to achieve great accomplishments.

While gaining acceptance to UNC-Chapel Hill can be challenging, by following the tips we’ve outlined in this guide, you’ll know exactly how to get into UNC-Chapel Hill and be well on your way to becoming a Tar Heel. Best of luck!

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