|Latin: Universitas Carolinae Septentrionalis|
|Type||Public university system|
|Established||1789 (Chapel Hill)|
1972 (current structure)
|Governing body||UNC Board of Governors|
|13,564 (2008 Fall)|
|30,664 (2008 Fall)|
|Students||244,507 (2021 Fall)|
|Undergraduates||191,517 (2021 Fall)|
|Postgraduates||52,990 (2021 Fall)|
The University of North Carolina is the multi-campus public university system for the state of North Carolina. Overseeing the state's 16 public universities and the NC School of Science and Mathematics, it is commonly referred to as the UNC System to differentiate it from its flagship, UNC-Chapel Hill.
The university system has a total enrollment of 244,507 students as of fall 2021. UNC campuses conferred 62,930 degrees in 2020–2021, the bulk of which were at the bachelor's level, with 44,309 degrees awarded. In 2008, the UNC System conferred over 75% of all baccalaureate degrees in North Carolina.
Founded in 1789, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of three schools to claim the title of oldest public university in the United States. It closed from 1871 to 1875, faced with serious financial and enrollment problems during the Reconstruction era. In 1877, the state of North Carolina began sponsoring additional higher education institutions. Over time, the state added a women's college (now known as the University of North Carolina at Greensboro), a land-grant university (North Carolina State University), five historically black institutions (North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Winston-Salem State University, Fayetteville State University, and Elizabeth City State University) and one to educate American Indians (the University of North Carolina at Pembroke). Others were created to prepare teachers for public education and to instruct performing artists.
During the Great Depression, the North Carolina General Assembly searched for cost savings within state government. Towards this effort in 1931, it redefined the University of North Carolina, which at the time referred exclusively to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the new Consolidated University of North Carolina was created to include the existing campuses of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University), and the Woman's College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro). The three campuses came under the leadership of a single board of trustees and a single president, with "Deans of Administration" serving as day-to-day leaders of the three campuses. In 1945, the title "Dean of Administration" was changed to "Chancellor." By 1969, three additional campuses had joined the Consolidated University through legislative action: the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
In 1971, North Carolina passed legislation bringing into the University of North Carolina all 16 public institutions that confer bachelor's degrees. This latest round of consolidation gave each constituent school its own chancellor and board of trustees. In 1985, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, the nation's first public residential high school for gifted students, was declared an affiliated school of the university. In 2007, the high school became a full member of the university.
In March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNC System shut down in-person instruction at all of its campuses indefinitely. In an unprecedented move to limit the spread of the disease, institutions were asked to remove as many students from on-campus housing as possible, implement remote work wherever practical, and to transition to distance education.
For presiding professors of the University of North Carolina prior to 1804, see Leaders of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
|1||Rev. Joseph Caldwell||1804–1812|
|2||Robert Hett Chapman||1812–1816|
|-||Rev. Joseph Caldwell||1816–1835|
|*||Elisha Mitchell *||1835|
|3||David Lowry Swain||1835–1868|
|4||Rev. Solomon Pool||1869–1872|
|**||Rev. Charles Phillips**||1875–1876|
|5||Kemp Plummer Battle||1876–1891|
|6||George Tayloe Winston||1891–1896|
|7||Edwin Anderson Alderman||1896–1900|
|8||Francis Preston Venable||1900–1914|
|9||Edward Kidder Graham||1914–1918|
|*||Marvin Hendrix Stacy*||1918–1919|
|10||Harry Woodburn Chase||1919–1930|
|11||Frank Porter Graham||1930–1949|
(UNC Consolidation in 1931)
|*||William Donald Carmichael, Jr. *||1949–1950|
|*||J. Harris Purks *||1955–1956|
|13||William Clyde Friday||1956–1986|
(acting until 1957)
|15||Molly Corbett Broad||1997–2006|
|17||Thomas W. Ross||2011–2016|
|*||Junius J. Gonzales *||2016|
|*||William L. Roper *||2019–2020|
|19||Peter Hans||2020- |
An asterisk (*) denotes acting president. Two asterisks (**) denotes chairman of the faculty.
The legal authority and mandate for the University of North Carolina is contained in the State's first Constitution (1776), which provided in Article XLI
That a school or schools shall be established by the Legislature, for the convenient instruction of youth, ... and all useful learning shall be duly encouraged, and promoted, in one or more universities,
The state legislature granted a charter and funding for the university in 1789.
Article IX of the 1971 North Carolina Constitution deals with all forms of public education in the state. Sections 8 and 9 of that article address higher education.
The General Assembly shall maintain a public system of higher education, comprising The University of North Carolina and such other institutions of higher education as the General Assembly may deem wise. The General Assembly shall provide for the selection of trustees of The University of North Carolina and of the other institutions of higher education, in whom shall be vested all the privileges, rights, franchises, and endowments heretofore granted to or conferred upon the trustees of these institutions. The General Assembly may enact laws necessary and expedient for the maintenance and management of The University of North Carolina and the other public institutions of higher education.
The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.
Statutory provisions stipulate the current function and cost to students of the University of North Carolina.
Within its seventeen campuses, UNC houses two medical schools and one teaching hospital, ten nursing programs, two schools of dentistry, one veterinary school and hospital, and a school of pharmacy, as well as a two law schools, 15 schools of education, three schools of engineering, and a school for performing artists. The oldest university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, first admitted students in 1795. The smallest and newest member is the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a residential two-year high school, founded in 1980 and a full member of the university since 2007. The largest university is North Carolina State University, with 34,340 students as of fall 2012.
While the official names of each campus are determined by the North Carolina General Assembly, abbreviations are determined by the individual school.
As of Fall 2019
|Carnegie Classification||Founded||Athletics (Affiliation)||Joined system||Refs|
|Appalachian State University
(Appalachian State Teacher's College, until 1967)
|Boone, Watauga County||19,280||master's university||1899||Mountaineers (NCAA D-I, Sun Belt)||1972|||
|East Carolina University
(East Carolina College, until 1967)
|Greenville, Pitt County||28,651||doctoral/research university||1907||Pirates (NCAA D-I, American)||1972|||
|Elizabeth City State University
(Elizabeth City State College, until 1969)
|ECSU||Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County||1,772||baccalaureate college||1891||Vikings (NCAA D-II, CIAA)||1972|||
|Fayetteville State University
(Fayetteville State College, until 1969)
|FSU||Fayetteville, Cumberland County||6,551||master's university||1867||Broncos (NCAA D-II, CIAA)||1972|||
|North Carolina A&T State University
(The Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina, until 1969)
|NC A&T||Greensboro, Guilford County||12,556||doctoral/research university||1891||Aggies (NCAA D-I, CAA)||1972|||
|North Carolina Central University
(North Carolina College at Durham, until 1969)
|Durham, Durham County||8,011||master's university||1909||Eagles (NCAA D-I, MEAC)||1972|||
|North Carolina State University
(North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering, until 1963)
NC State or State
|Raleigh, Wake County||36,304||doctoral/research university||1887||Wolfpack (NCAA D-I, ACC)||1932|||
|University of North Carolina at Asheville
(Asheville-Biltmore College until 1969)
|Asheville, Buncombe County||3,600||baccalaureate college||1927||Bulldogs (NCAA D-I, Big South)||1969|||
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(University of North Carolina, until 1963)
UNC-CH, North Carolina, or Carolina
|Chapel Hill, Orange County||29,877||doctoral/research university||1789||Tar Heels (NCAA D-I, ACC)||1932|||
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte
(Charlotte College, until 1965)
|Charlotte, Mecklenburg County||30,146||doctoral/research university||1946||49ers (NCAA D-I, American)||1965|||
|University of North Carolina at Greensboro
(The Woman's College of the University of North Carolina, until 1963)
|UNCG||Greensboro, Guilford County||20,196||doctoral/research university||1891||Spartans (NCAA D-I, SoCon)||1932|||
|University of North Carolina at Pembroke
(Pembroke State University, until 1996)
|UNCP||Pembroke, Robeson County||7,698||master's university||1887||Braves (NCAA D-II, Carolinas)||1972|||
|University of North Carolina Wilmington
(Wilmington College, until 1969)
|UNCW||Wilmington, New Hanover County||17,499||doctoral/research university||1947||Seahawks (NCAA D-I, CAA)||1969|||
|University of North Carolina School of the Arts
(North Carolina School of the Arts, until 2008)
|UNCSA||Winston-Salem, Forsyth County||1,086||special-focus institution||1963||The Fighting Pickle (N/A)||1972|||
|Western Carolina University
(Western Carolina College, until 1967)
|Cullowhee, Jackson County||12,167||master's university||1889||Catamounts (NCAA D-I, SoCon)||1972|||
|Winston-Salem State University
(Winston-Salem Teacher's College, until 1969)
|WSSU||Winston-Salem, Forsyth County||5,124||baccalaureate college||1892||Rams (NCAA D-II, CIAA)||1972|||
|North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics||NCSSM||Durham, Durham County||680||residential high school||1980||Unicorns (NCHSAA)||2007|||
The enrollment numbers are the official headcounts (including all full-time and part-time, undergrad and postgrad students) from University of North Carolina website. This does not include the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, the figure for NCSSM is taken from its own website.
The following universities became four-year institutions after their founding (date each became a four-year institution in parentheses):
With the exception of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the institutions that joined the University of North Carolina in 1972 did so under their current name. As of 1972, all public four-year institutions in North Carolina are members of the university.
|North Carolina Arboretum||Asheville, Buncombe County||1989|
|North Carolina Center for International Understanding||Raleigh, Wake County|
|North Carolina Center for Nursing||Raleigh, Wake County|
|North Carolina State Approving Agency||Raleigh, Wake County|
|North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority||Raleigh, Wake County|
|UNC Center for Public Media (PBS NC)||Research Triangle Park, Durham County||1955|
|UNC Faculty Assembly||Chapel Hill, Orange County|
|University of North Carolina Press||Chapel Hill, Orange County||1922|
|UNC Staff Assembly||Chapel Hill, Orange County|