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FAQs- Studying at UNC-Chapel Hill

Carolina's a public school. How good can it be?
When do I choose my major?
Can I double major at Carolina? What about a minor?
How strong are Carolina's premed and prelaw programs?
Does Carolina offer research opportunities for undergraduates?
How do I participate in the Honors Program?
Can Carolina students study abroad?
What's the average class size at Carolina?
How large are first-year classes?
How friendly are Carolina professors? Is it hard to get to know them?
Will I receive credit for my AP or IB exams?
Why does Carolina require that every student have a laptop computer?
Why and when should I take the SAT Subject Test, Math 2?
What placement exams are required to ensure I enroll in the appropriate courses?

 
Carolina's a public school. How good can it be?

In a word, great. At Carolina we draw strength from several unusual and powerful combinations. We're both the oldest public university in the nation and one of the leading research universities in the world. We offer an elite education in a non-elitist environment -- a community known for its friendliness and its commitment to the public good. We pursue state-of-the-art research, including research in the basic and applied sciences, while maintaining the feel and the focus of an outstanding liberal-arts college. We serve our home state while opening our doors to the rest of the nation and the world.

Most of these combinations, to one extent or another, derive at least in part from our status as a state-supported institution. Taken together, they make us a better, stronger, and much more interesting place -- a place with a unique feel, a strong sense of mission, and a vibrant intellectual heritage.

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When do I choose my major?

We don't ask students to choose a major until their sophomore year. All first-year students, regardless of their intended major, enter the College of Arts and Sciences. During their first two years in the College, students take courses as part of an innovative curriculum designed to help them develop the curiosity, initiative, integrity, and adaptability necessary for success in the complex environment of the twenty-first century. During their sophomore year, students will either declare a major within the College of Arts and Sciences or apply to one of the University's professional schools, each of which has specific requirements for admission. The first two years in the College give students time to explore areas of academic interest and choose a specific department in which to complete their major study. Those students who definitely know their majors may begin working on prerequisites and major course work while simultaneously fulfilling Perspectives. By entering the College, all students receive the educational experience of both a liberal arts college and a research university. Read more about majors and departments.

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Can I double major at Carolina? What about a minor?

Because of the wide variety of majors offered at Carolina, students often choose to pursue a double major or a major and a minor. Some restrictions may apply within particular programs or departments. Many students also personalize their education by creating unofficial concentrations to complement their official majors and minors.

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How strong are Carolina's premed and prelaw programs?

Although we don't offer premed and prelaw as majors, many students enter Carolina with an interest in pursuing medicine or law. These students choose from any major while receiving special advising about the requirements for applying to these programs. The Health Professions Advising Office offers support to students interested in medicine, optometry, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and allied health professions. The Prelaw Advising Office provides similar resources to those students interested in pursuing legal degrees. With access to nationally ranked departments and award-winning faculty, students who perform well at Carolina tend to make strongly competitive applicants to selective medical and law schools across the nation.

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Does Carolina offer research opportunities for undergraduates?

As a leading research university, Carolina is dedicated to fostering and encouraging research among all its students. Undergraduates not only receive instruction in the classroom from experts within their fields; they also enjoy the opportunity to conduct research alongside those experts as early as the first year. The Office of Undergraduate Research helps link students interested in research with professors and projects in their areas of interest. The office also serves to acknowledge and celebrate research conducted by undergraduates. Other research opportunities are available through individual departments and professors. The Burch Field Research Seminars showcase the intimate connection between faculty research and undergraduate education. The seminars take faculty and 10 to 15 students to locations throughout the nation and world to explore and to conduct research first hand.

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How do I participate in the Honors Program?

Carolina's Honors Program is unique because it's both selective and accessible. Admission to the first-year Honors Program is initially by invitation only for about 200 students. There is no separate application; your application for admission serves also as your application for the Honors program, and all students who complete their applications on time receive full consideration. After arriving at Carolina, students may apply to the Honors Program after their first semester or during their sophomore year. While members of the program receive priority registration, any student with a B average or better may enroll in an honors course. Students who achieve an overall 3.2 GPA by the end of their junior year have the opportunity to do a senior Honors thesis. The flexibility of the program makes an Honors experience available to every Carolina student while acknowledging the outstanding performance of those students leading their class. Read more about the Honors Program.

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Can Carolina students study abroad?

Carolina students are strongly encouraged to make a study abroad experience part of their undergraduate education. Study Abroad at UNC-Chapel Hill offers a variety of programs that can fit the individual goals and needs of almost any student. With more than 300 programs in 70 countries around the globe, students may participate as early as the summer after their first year at Carolina. Programs vary in length from one summer session to a full year. A large number of the programs have no language requirements. Students of any major may participate in study abroad, and several programs are specifically designed for business or science majors. Carolina's study abroad office offers a significant number of exchange programs where students pay UNC-Chapel Hill tuition and fees to study at an institution abroad. Read more about study abroad.

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What's the average class size at Carolina?

Two-thirds of undergraduate classes at Carolina have fewer than 30 students. As a first-year student, you will be required to fulfill English, foreign language, and math requirements, and these departments place a 35-person cap on classes. New students also participate in First Year Seminars. These seminars are taught by faculty who are both active scholars and accomplished instructors and enroll no more than twenty first-year students. Also, any Carolina student may enroll in an Honors course with the consent of the instructor. Honors classes, on average, have about 15 students. For the approximately five percent of classes that contain more than 100 students, most meet twice a week in a lecture setting and once in a small group discussion or in a lab.

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How large are freshman classes?

Our Fall 2007 first-year class included 3,895 first-year students. This class was chosen from over 20,000 applicants. Eighty-two percent of the enrolling students are from North Carolina and 18 percent are from other states and countries.

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How friendly are Carolina professors? Is it hard to get to know them?

Not only is Carolina a premiere place for research, it's also a first-rate teaching university. All students, including first-year students, learn from scholars who are recognized by their peers as the world's leading teachers and researchers. These nationally recognized, award-winning professors are devoted to making themselves highly accessible to their students. In seminar rooms, in small groups meetings on the lawn, in the campus coffee shop, or in another city or country conducting field research, professors and students participate daily in exchanges of knowledge and ideas. All instructors hold regularly scheduled office hours where students may meet individually. They also encourage dialogue via email. Many students join faculty in activities such as field trips, discussion dinners, cultural events, and community-based learning projects.

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Will I receive credit for my work in AP or IB courses?

Students who obtain satisfactory scores on Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) higher level exams will receive appropriate credit and placement in those subjects. Individual departments, not the admissions office, determine the amount of credit awarded and the scores required. The majority of students enter Carolina with several hours of credit from AP or IB work. These students most often use the hours to gain flexibility in their schedules and to allow for greater intellectual exploration through additional elective courses. Read the list of AP and IB credits awarded at Carolina.

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Why does Carolina require that every student have a laptop computer?

The Carolina Computing Initiative (CCI), which requires that all first-year students own an Intel-based laptop computer that meets University specifications, strives to offer Carolina students the most up-to-date and advanced knowledge and resources in the world. Because of CCI, all students can search out new ideas and knowledge from their dorm rooms, tap into library resources from various locations around campus, and take their laptops to class to participate in Internet-based instructional innovations that enhance research and learning. For students who can't afford a computer, the program provides grants; since CCI's inception, nearly a thousand students a year have received computers at no or reduced cost.

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Why and when should I take the SAT Subject Test, Math 2?

Although we don't require SAT subject tests for admission, the Department of Mathematics recommends that enrolling students arrange to take this test. Many majors at Carolina require a quantitative reasoning course that you will not be allowed to enroll in without an appropriate placement score. AP and IB scores are not reported until mid-July, so it is safest to take the SAT Subject Test Math 2 to ensure your ability to register for a quantitative reasoning course. For more information, see the Math Placement and Credit overview and the Math Placement Test site.

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