Instructions for Graduate Applicants
Welcome graduate applicants! We are pleased that you are applying for admission to the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School. Admission to Graduate School academic programs is competitive and students are selected on the basis of their academic preparation, ability, and program fit. For some programs, an on-site pre-admissions interview may be required. Early contact with your program of interest can be helpful in preparing your application.
Please see the listing of program contact information and application deadlines.
International applicants have additional application material requirements.
The Graduate School relies mainly on email to communicate with all applicants. Therefore, please include a current email address on your application and be sure to promptly respond to all correspondence.
Required Application Materials
Required materials for all applicants include:
- Graduate School online application »
- Application fee (non-refundable $85)
- Transcripts (complete, not selected courses)
- One unofficial transcript from each university attended must be uploaded within the application. Please do not mail transcripts as part of your admission application; we only accept unofficial uploads for application evaluation. If you are offered admission, one official transcript for each university attended will be required prior to the first day of the term.
- Current letters of recommendation
- The email address of three recommenders will be required within the application for electronic submission.
- Standardized test scores
- (GRE, GMAT, etc.; no more than 5 years old.)
- Statement of purpose
- Supplemental information (any additional information or materials required by the program; must be uploaded within the application unless specified otherwise by your academic program.)
- TOEFL or IELTS score (no more than 2 years old)
Financial Certification (U.S. Immigration requirement for entry into the United States)
A completed and signed International Student Data Form and Financial Certification Instruction/Worksheet in addition to the required documentation must be uploaded in the online application once you have been offered admission.
Once we have received all required application materials and fees, the review and evaluation of your application will begin. While the recommendations and test scores will likely arrive at The Graduate School at different times, it is your responsibility to make sure the online application is submitted and the fee paid prior to the program's posted deadline.
Minimum Graduate Admission Requirements
The minimum requirements for admission to a graduate program are:
- a bachelor's degree (based on a four-year curriculum) completed before graduate study begins or its international equivalent with an accredited institution
- an average grade of B (cumulative GPA 3.0) or better
Along with these minimal requirements, admission decisions are based on a number of factors, including academic degrees and record, written statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, test scores, and relevant work and research experience. All admission recommendations are made by each individual program or department.
Applications for admission to the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School are submitted via the online admission application. All required materials listed above should be submitted according to the instructions provided. Your application will not be reviewed until the application is submitted and the application fee is received. By submitting an application to UNC-Chapel Hill, consent is granted to university staff to obtain any additional or missing information as needed, including campus safety information.
Please be aware that each program has a specific application deadline. Most programs admit students for the fall semester only, however a few programs allow spring or summer session admissions. Please see the listing of graduate programs and their application deadlines for accepted terms of entry.
Each offered admission is specific for the term stated in the admission letter. If you do not register for classes you must apply again in a subsequent semester. Contact your intended program for questions about deferrals of admission offers.
Completed applications and application fees (non-refundable) must be submitted before the program's application deadline. Applications will not be accepted for review or consideration after the posted graduate program deadline has passed. International applicants should apply early in order to allow sufficient time for financial and visa document preparation. The Graduate School recommends that international applicants submit a complete application no later than December 1.
Fellowship and Financial Aid Deadlines
Most of the financial support available to graduate students is based within individual programs. In addition, a limited amount of financial support is available from The Graduate School and is based upon nominations from individual programs. In order to allow sufficient time for your program to nominate you for Graduate School fellowships, your application should be received before December 17.
If your program continues to accept applications after December 17, you are still eligible for their program-based support. Contact your intended program for complete information about available graduate student financial support and relevant deadlines.
The University awards loans and Tuition Enhancement Grants to graduate students who qualify, based on information provided in the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form due March 1. For more information, please visit the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid.
A non-refundable $85 application fee is required for each program to which you apply.
Applicants can pay their application fee one of three ways:
- Credit/Debit card (Visa/MasterCard). For security purposes, the credit card address manually inserted during the final payment process must exactly match the credit card billing address for a successful transaction.
- Check or money order. Mail-in payments are restricted to a check (in U.S. funds) that contains the pre-printed electronic routing numbers or an international money-order. All payments should be made payable to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After submission you will be instructed to print a payment voucher for your records and you will receive an email containing the mailing address. The voucher must be mailed with your check. The voucher and your application fee must be postmarked no later than your application deadline date or it will be returned. Applications that arrive without the required application fee will remain on file, unprocessed, pending receipt of the application fee. If someone is paying the application fee for you, please ensure they include your payment voucher as well.
- Fee waiver. There are several categories of applicants who may qualify for an application fee waiver. Please see Information on Application Fee Waiver requests. Upload a fee waiver request (for approved waiver categories only). Please do not mail fee waiver documentation.
Unofficial transcripts from all post-secondary education (including community colleges, summer sessions and extension programs) are required to be uploaded in the application. You should obtain a copy of your unofficial transcript version (obtained from a student account) since “official” transcripts do not scan well.
These unofficial transcripts must be complete (not select courses), include grades, be issued in the original language and be accompanied by certified English translations when applicable. Transfer credit posted on the transcript from other institutions is not accepted in lieu of transcripts from the institution attended. You may upload unofficial transcripts before mid-year grades are posted.
You should follow the instructions in the application for uploading unofficial transcripts, including:
- Applicants should either upload the document directly if it is in an accepted format or scan each unofficial transcript into a file that can be uploaded as part of the application.
- Make a low-resolution black and white photocopy of your transcript to help reduce file size.
- Transcripts should be scanned using the gray scale option for clarity.
- Your scanning software should ask you what resolution to scan your document, either before or after the scan. Be sure to scan at no more than 72dpi.
- Check file size and do not exceed 1024kb.
- Scan multiple page transcripts into one file.
- Preview your uploaded transcript(s) to ensure legibility so that the processing of your application is not delayed. If you cannot read the file clearly, please try another scanner or different settings and upload again.
- A transcript from each institution is always required.
Please do not mail paper transcripts as part of your admission application; we only accept unofficial uploads for application evaluation. If you are offered admission, one official transcript for each university attended will be required prior to the first day of the term. Instructions for how to submit official transcripts will be included in the admission offer letter.
Transcripts will not be kept on file in The Graduate School for admitted students who did not accept their admission offer from a previous admissions cycle or enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill.
A note on foreign degrees:
As part of the transcript submission, degree credentials are also reviewed. Assessment of a foreign degree, including those conferred from institutions participating in the Bologna Accord, is based upon the characteristics of a national system of education, the type of institution attended, its accreditation and the level of studies completed. The following guidelines indicate the level of study expected of international applicants prior to graduate enrollment:
- British patterned education bachelor's degree with honours
- French patterned education degree of diplme requiring four years of post baccalauréat study
- Germany university Diplom preferred. Applicants with very strong academic records may be considered if they have completed the Staatsexamen, a bachelor's degree after a 13-year Abitur, or at least one year of full-time study beyond the Vorprfung, Zwischenprfung, Vordiplom, or any other bachelor's degree.
- Other European countries: university degree requiring a minimum of four years of study
- Canada three year bachelor's degree from Québec; four-year bachelor's degree from all other provinces
- Latin America university degree requiring a minimum of four years of study
- India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal bachelor's degree in engineering or medicine; master's degree in all other fields
- Philippines five year bachelor's degree or four year bachelor's degree plus one year of graduate work
- Other Asian countries: university degree requiring a minimum of four years of study
Individuals with only 3-year degrees and others who do not meet the educational requirement for graduate admission are welcome to consider other admission options available at UNC admissions.
Letters of Recommendation
Three current letters of recommendation from persons qualified to evaluate your academic and professional qualifications are required. You should solicit recommendations from individuals who are familiar with your academic achievement and who can address your potential for success in this particular academic setting. If you have been out of school for a number of years and are unable to contact former professors, letters from other individuals who can address your achievement and potential will be accepted. We advise against using generic letters of recommendation such as those provided by campus career planning and placement offices.
The online application will prompt you to submit the names and email addresses for your three required recommenders. You are allowed to submit a total of six recommenders in the online system.
Email invitations will be sent to recommenders once you select 'Save' in the online application. You can also send reminder emails to your recommenders within the online application.
Please note you will not be able to change recommenders once your application has been submitted, although you are still able to send reminder emails via the online system.
Standardized Test Scores
UNC Graduate School Institution Code: #5816 (no department code)
Official GRE General Test scores (or GMAT, MCAT, etc., if accepted by your intended program) are required for applicants to all programs except Studio Art, Dentistry (except Oral Biology and Orthodontics), and Dramatic Art.
We recommend that you plan to take any required exams no later than October to allow time for scores to arrive in time for consideration for fall admission.
Standardized test scores must be official and reported directly by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). They must be current and no more than five years old.
When you register for any tests, you should indicate the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School (institution #5816) as a score recipient. If you did not specify the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School as a score recipient at the time of taking the test, you must promptly ask ETS to send your scores to us (institution #5816). No departmental code is required.
GMAT scores should be sent to UNC (c/o KFBS) Program Code D40-HL-(select appropriate major code).
While self-reported scores are useful for informal evaluation, the official report of your scores from ETS must arrive before final review and admission can be offered.
Please note: If you have already sent in your official test scores to UNC-CH upon submitting your application, expect a minimum of five business days in order for your test scores to be matched to your application.
Applicants who already hold a research or professional doctorate degree may be exempted from the standardized test score requirement. This waiver request must come from the program to which you are applying. Applicants near completion of a doctoral degree may request an exemption based on the receipt of appropriate degree verification status from the university Registrar of the institution. If the degree or official verification is not received, the standardized scores will remain a requirement. Please contact your intended program to determine if they will support this exemption.
International applicants must also submit official TOEFL or IELTS standardized test scores.
Statement of Purpose
All graduate programs require a written statement to be uploaded within your application. The form and content requirements may vary by program so before applying, please read the information and instructions specific to your intended program. Your written statement is a critical component of your application for admission and can sometimes be the determining factor in approval of admittance or financial support. Therefore, your statement should reflect your professional goals, as well as familiarity with the program and faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill.
All graduate programs require a resume or CV to be uploaded within your application. Your resume/CV should provide information about your work and volunteer experiences, research, awards, recognitions, and activities pertinent to your proposed program of study.
Campus Safety Information
Applicants for admission will be asked several questions regarding criminal pleas, charges and convictions, academic suspensions, and military discharges. If additional information is needed, you may be asked to submit information for a criminal background check, including a nominal fee. You must describe violations of law in your home country and in any other country in which you have resided. The term “law” includes codes, legal rules and regulations, and other criminal-type statutes or violations of municipal, local, provincial, state, federal, national, commonwealth, and other governmental jurisdiction. Failure to provide complete, accurate, and truthful information will be grounds to deny or withdraw your admission, or to dismiss you after enrollment. The same actions will occur if you fail to notify The Graduate School promptly in writing of such charges that occur at any time after you submit the application.
Once we have received all required application materials and fees, the review and evaluation of your application will begin. You may monitor the status of your application checklist through the application website.
For International Applicants only
Together with the instructions above, international applicants should also submit additional pieces of information with their application. The Graduate School understands it is difficult and sometimes confusing to apply to universities in another country, and we will assist you in clarifying requirements whenever possible.
TOEFL or IELTS Score
UNC Graduate School Institution Code: #5816 (no department code)
We recommend that you plan to take any required exams no later than October to allow time for scores to arrive in time for consideration for fall admission.
Standardized test scores must be official and are reportable for a period of two years from the date of the exam. Exam results more than two years old cannot be considered. Standardized test scores that are submitted to this institution are kept on file for only one year.
When you register for any tests, you should indicate the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School as a score recipient. If you did not specify the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School as a score recipient at the time of taking the test, you must promptly ask to send your scores to us. While self-reported scores are useful for informal evaluation, the official report of your scores must arrive before final review and admission can be offered.
The required minimum total score on the exams are:
- The internet-based TOEFL exam = 79.
- The paper-based TOEFL exam = 550 with a minimum of 50 in each section.
- The IELTS exam = 7
Some programs have their own minimal score requirements which are higher than those stated above, in which case these higher standards will be required.
Exceptions to the English Standardized exams are available for the three categories listed below:
- applicants from countries where English is the SOLE OFFICIAL language of instruction. (Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada-except Québec, England, Ghana, Ireland, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago, Uganda, and Wales.)
- applicants who have received or will receive a degree from an accredited university in the United States. (You must upload an unofficial transcript or verification of degree candidate status from that institution within the online admissions application. If you are offered admission, the official transcript must be received, or the English exam scores will be required to enroll.)
- applicants who have received or will receive a degree from an accredited university where English is the SOLE language of instruction. (If you are a degree candidate in a university where English is the SOLE language of instruction, along with your request, you must submit an official verification from that university that English is the SOLE language of instruction along with your anticipated date of graduation. If the degree or an official verification is not received, the English exam scores will again be required.)
Applicants in category 1 will automatically receive the exception. If you believe you qualify for a waiver of the English standardized exam under categories 2 or 3, you must indicate this request along with any required official verification letters within the online admissions application.
All newly admitted international students will be reviewed for their level of English proficiency prior to enrolling for classes. You will receive communications from the University regarding English language, writing, and speaking support services to support your transition to our campus.
International Student Data and Financial Certification
As an international student applicant, you are required by United States federal regulations to certify that you have sufficient funds to pay for your expenses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the entire length of your studies. Every international applicant offered admission, including applicants who may receive teaching or research assistantships or other awards, must complete and upload the International Student Data Form and Financial Certification Instructions/Worksheet (available in admission application.)
Required forms and documentation may be uploaded within the ‘International Applicants Only’ page in your application both prior to or after your application submission. The Graduate School does not require you to upload the International Student Data and Financial Certification and accompanying documentation before submitting the online application, although you may do so if you wish. You will only be required to upload these documents after you have been offered admission to a graduate program by The Graduate School. We do recommend, however, that you begin gathering the required documents now, in order to avoid delays later. You may also wish to ask the program to which you are applying whether they request these documents earlier. Please see the listing of graduate programs for contact information.
A current ESTIMATE of minimum expenses for one academic year (September through May) is indicated on the certificate. Please note, however, that annual North Carolina State mandated tuition increases often occur just prior to registration.
Processing the International Student Data Form and Financial Certification Worksheet is accomplished in the following steps:
Step One: All international applicants download and complete the International Student Data Form (page 1).Upload the completed form with copies of immigration documents as requested on the form. Please do not mail in forms or supporting documents.
Only if you are requesting F-1 or J-1 immigration status, complete steps one through six of the Financial Certification Instructions/Worksheet (pages2 & 3), sign the form, and upload it, along with your required support materials, within your application. Please do not mail in forms or supporting documents.
Step Two: After funding decisions have been made, your graduate program will access your uploaded materials, complete PART B (of page 3), and forward the necessary documents to International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS).
Step Three: The financial documents must be evaluated and approved by ISSS prior to creating the Certificate of Eligibility Form I-20 or DS-2019. If ISSS has questions regarding your financial documents, you will be contacted via email.
If additional documentation is requested you will be able to upload the requested documentation in your application.
Information for new international students is available on the ISSS website. Please do not contact ISSS regarding the verification of your documents, as answering numerous inquiries takes away from immigration document processing and may cause delays in receiving student visa eligibility documents.
Immigration Document Status
No action will be taken on your International Student Data and Financial Certification documents until you have been offered admission. You may check the status of your documents by logging into your application and accessing the ‘International Students Only’ page.
International applicants in need of financial aid may write to the Institute of International Education, 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, or review the IIE website.
The University's Office of Scholarships and Student Aid can only fund students who are U.S. citizens, nationals, permanent residents with I-151 or I-551 Alien Registration Receipt Cards, permanent residents of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Trust Territory or the Pacific Islands, and other non-citizens who have Arrival-Departure Records (I-94) showing “refugee” or “adjustment applicant” or official grant of asylum in the United States. Students who meet these requirements should apply for financial assistance before March 1.
For any additional questions, please review our Admissions Office Contacts.