University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
#75 Overall Influence#38 Desirability Rank

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States

By James Barham, PhD

The University of North Carolina (UNC) system is a large network of 16 public universities with a total student enrollment of around 240,000 souls. The oldest member of the UNC system is the flagship campus in the small, centrally located town of Chapel Hill.

Founded in 1789, UNC-Chapel Hill is about the 24th-oldest university in the US (depending on who is doing the counting) and is often considered to be the very oldest of all the public universities.

UNC-Chapel Hill comprises 13 professional schools, including the Kenan-Flagler Business School, the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Altogether, the schools offer over 70 courses of study.

The university has a student body of about 30,000 individuals.

UNC-Chapel Hill is associated with nine Nobel laureates, namely,

  • Physicist, Peter Higgs
  • Chemists, Aziz Sancar, Rudolph Marcus & Peter Agre
  • Biochemists, Robert Furchgott & Oliver Smithies
  • Molecular endocrinologist, Martin Rodbell
  • Chemotherapy pioneers, Gertrude Elion & George Hitchings

The school is also linked to a Turing Award—winner, Frederick Brooks.

Other prominent individuals connected to UNC-Chapel Hill include the following:

  • Mathematicians, Leo Moser, Alfred Brauer, Jane Hawkins & Ron Alterovitz
  • Computer scientists, Henry Fuchs & Michael Reiter
  • Poets, Lawrence Ferlinghetti & Donald Justice
  • Novelists, Thomas Wolfe, Walker Percy, Russell Banks, Armistead Maupin & Charles Frazier
  • Newspaper columnists, Joseph Mitchell & Frank Bruni
  • TV journalists, Charles Kuralt, Chris Matthews & Brooke Baldwin
  • Actors, Andy Griffith, John Forsythe, Jack Palance & Randolph Scott
  • Historians, Shelby Foote, C. Vann Woodward & Volker Berghahn
  • Archeologist, Lewis Binford
  • Chemists, Gary Glish, Leslie Hicks & Marcey Waters
  • Neuroscientist, Kathleen Gates
  • Geneticist, Francis Collins
  • Ecologist, Howard T. Odum
  • Orthopedic surgeon, Kevin R. Stone
  • Psychologist and author, Dan Ariely
  • Sociologists, Amos Hawley, Kenneth Andrews, Kenneth Bollen & Howard Aldrich
  • Economists, Charles Engel & Jianqing Fan
  • NASA administrator, James E. Webb
  • Former US Senators, John Edwards & Paul Wellstone
  • 11th President of the US, James K. Polk


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill NC 27599

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

23 per 100k

Violent Crime

2 per 100k

What is University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#40 World Rank #20 USA Rank
#45 World Rank #24 USA Rank
#38 World Rank #28 USA Rank
Political Science
#38 World Rank #32 USA Rank
#37 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#99 World Rank #36 USA Rank
#93 World Rank #36 USA Rank
#47 World Rank #38 USA Rank
#84 World Rank #39 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#68 World Rank #44 USA Rank
#87 World Rank #49 USA Rank
#139 World Rank #50 USA Rank
#96 World Rank #51 USA Rank
#100 World Rank #51 USA Rank
#85 World Rank #51 USA Rank
Computer Science
#141 World Rank #52 USA Rank
#100 World Rank #52 USA Rank
#86 World Rank #58 USA Rank
#114 World Rank #59 USA Rank
#171 World Rank #70 USA Rank
#154 World Rank #85 USA Rank
#138 World Rank #98 USA Rank
Social Work
#279 World Rank #100 USA Rank
Earth Sciences

Other areas of influence

#65 World Rank #53 USA Rank
Criminal Justice

Influential People

Who are University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Most influential alumni?

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Communications, Business, and Political Science. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s most academically influential people include Howard T. Odum, James K. Polk, and Francis Collins.

Howard T. Odum

American ecologist

view profile
James K. Polk
James K. Polk

American politician, 11th President of the United States

view profile
Francis Collins
Francis Collins

American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health

view profile
Walker Percy
Walker Percy

Southern philosophical novelist

view profile
Richard Lenski
Richard Lenski

American evolutionary biologist

view profile
Thomas Wolfe
Thomas Wolfe

American writer

view profile
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

American artist, writer and activist

view profile
Lewis Binford

American archaeologist

view profile
James Surowiecki
James Surowiecki

American journalist

view profile
Leonard J. Arrington
Leonard J. Arrington

American Mormon historian

view profile
Jeffrey Beall
Jeffrey Beall

American librarian

view profile
David Brinkley
David Brinkley

American journalist

view profile