Recent Rankings and Ratings

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Several national publications regularly publish rankings that listed Carolina prominently in categories ranging from academic quality to affordability to diversity to engagement to international presence. Recent highlights include:

  • 1st among the 100 best U.S. public colleges and universities that offers students high-quality academics at an affordable price, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. For the 14th time in a row, UNC-Chapel Hill ranked first on Kiplinger’s list of campuses that provide the best value to in-state students. The magazine also listed Carolina second for the best value offered to out-of-state students. Kiplinger’s changed its methodology in 2012 to more strongly emphasize value because of the economic challenges facing higher education. For academics, the formula considered the percentage of students returning as sophomores and the four-year graduation rate. The magazine also favored campuses with low sticker prices and abundant financial aid, with bonus points for schools that keep student borrowing low. Carolina stands out in all of these categories. Kiplinger’s story, “Best Values in Public Colleges,” reported that from the 1990s through the post-2008 recession, “UNC-Chapel Hill has been a leader for academic excellence, low cost and generous financial aid – exactly the criteria by which we define value.”

  • 27th among the world’s top 500 research universities and 9th among U.S. public campuses, according to the 2015 U.S. News and World Report Best Global Universities rankings.


  • #1 on the “Top 10 Best Value Public Colleges for 2014” list published by The Princeton Review and reported jointly with USA Today. This list annually names the top public and private colleges recommended as the nation’s “best values” for undergraduate education based on more than 30 factors analyzed in three areas: academics, cost of attendance and financial aid.


  • The University ranks first in the state of North Carolina for Future Service Members, with an affordable annual tuition rate and ROTC programs for Army, Navy and Air Force.


  • 5th best public university in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 “Best Colleges” guidebook for the 15th consecutive year. 1st among public campuses for the 11th consecutive year and 13th overall in “Great Schools, Great Prices,” based on academic quality and the net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. Listed among outstanding undergraduate programs with “A Focus on Student Success,” for an exemplary first-year experience (seminars and other programs bringing small groups of students together with faculty and staff), undergraduate research/creative projects and service learning. Kenan-Flagler Business School’s undergraduate business degree program 7th overall and tied for 4th among publics.


  • 8th among public universities ranked in the top 25 public and private universities listed in the 2010 edition of “The Top American Research Universities,” produced by The Center for Measuring University Performance at Arizona State University. Evaluates top research universities with at least $40 million in annual federal research funding using quantitative measures such as endowment assets, private giving, faculty awards, doctorates granted, postdoctoral appointees and SAT/ACT range.


  • 9th for undergraduate and 12th for graduates among the “Best Schools for Entrepreneurs,” according to a 2012 survey conducted by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review. Top schools were recognized for teaching business fundamentals, staffing with successful entrepreneurs, and providing experiential or entrepreneurial opportunities outside the classroom.


  • Tied for 10th among research institutions producing Fulbright Students in 2011-2012, with 18 students receiving grants in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. That ranks 3rd among all public universities and 1st in the Southeast. Almost 1,700 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study have been awarded grants to study, teach English and conduct research in more than 140 countries.


  • Chapel Hill ranks 10th among Money magazine’s top 100 “Best Places to Live in America,” based on a survey of cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000. Money editors and writers rank communities based on housing affordability, education, arts and culture, safety, health care, diversity and the economy, including the fiscal strength of the government. “Locals aren’t exaggerating when they refer to Chapel Hill as a “town within a park,” says the magazine. The roads wind through tunnels of arching trees, and the area has a rain forest-like charm. “But Chapel Hill isn’t just a pretty face. It’s part of the state’s Research Triangle, which boasts one of the highest numbers of Ph.D.s per capita in the U.S. The town also houses the nation’s oldest public university, and interesting educational opportunities abound.”


  • 10th among “Best Value Colleges,” according to a 2014 ranking published by Forbes magazine. The ranking – assessing “where you can get the most quality for each tuition dollar spent” – was based on a formula dividing each school’s overall quality score by its average sticker price tuition (in-state for publics) and fees. Measures for the quality score included post-graduate success, which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; student satisfaction, which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates; debt, which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates; four-year graduation rate; and competitive awards, which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and scholarships like the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright.


  • 12th among national universities in The Washington Monthly’s 2014 College Rankings. Based on the magazine’s calculation of how well individual colleges and universities meet their public obligations in social mobility, research and public service.


  • Ranked among the top 15% of schools nationwide in 2014 on the Victory Media Military Friendly Schools list which institutions that support military student recruitment.


  • Ranked 38th overall on Forbes‘ Top College list for 2013. 7th place for universities in the South and 25th for Research Universities for 2013.


  • ashby_class_011

    Carolina attracts some of the brightest students
    from across the nation and around the world.

  • Among the “Best in the Southeast” featured in “2011 Best Colleges: Region by Region,” published by The Princeton Review. The Southeast list includes 133 institutions based on criteria including excellent academic programs and input from campus visits, college counselors and advisors. Also considered were student responses to a survey about their campus experiences on issues ranging from the accessibility of faculty to their fellow students. North Carolina was one of 12 states featured in the Southeast. Overall, 623 campuses were named to regional best lists – about a quarter of the nation’s four-year colleges and universities.


  • Among 41 campuses featured as “Best Buy Schools” in the 2013 edition of the “Fiske Guide to Colleges.” Based on quality of academic offerings in relation to the cost of attendance. Fiske researchers combined cost data with academic and other lifestyle information about each campus to determine which schools offer remarkable educational opportunities at a modest cost.


  • Among 43 public universities featured by PARADE magazine in its August 2010 “College A-List” rankings report for “Large Schools” based on recommendations from top high school guidance counselors across the country. Reported PARADE, “UNC-Chapel Hill has strong academics across the curriculum. … “The nation’s first public university is full of tradition, spirit, and smart, engaged, happy students who work hard and are very proud of their school.”


  • 9th among the nation’s top 100 institutions in federally financed research and development expenditures in fiscal 2010, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Spending topped $545.99 million; up from 16th in fiscal 2009. UNC-Chapel Hill rose 10 spots in the top 25 list since 2008. Currently, UNC ranks 4th among major public universities.


  • 28th in the total number of doctoral degrees awarded (440 total degrees in 2009), as reported by the National Science Foundation. Additional rankings include: 9th in doctorates awarded to black students, 2005-2009 (120 degrees); 18th in doctorates awarded to American Indian/Alaska Native students, 2005-2009 (seven degrees); 10th in doctorates awarded in the life sciences, 2009 (175 degrees); and 17th in doctorates awarded in the humanities, 2009 (66 degrees).

23rd among the top doctorate institutions recording the highest participation (nearly 39 percent) by undergraduates studying abroad in 2006-2007, according to a 2008 report published by the Institute of International Education. The report showed 1,467 UNC undergraduates studying abroad.


  • 26th in the 2010 worldwide university rankings, as measured by High Impact Universities in affiliation with the University of Western Australia. Part of a pilot project to benchmark the research performance of top universities. Carolina placed 13th for faculty in the arts, humanities, business and social sciences; 25th for faculty in medicine, dentistry, pharmacology and health sciences; 34th for faculty in life, biological and agricultural sciences; and 49th for faculty in pure, natural and mathematical sciences.



  • 63rd among the world’s top 400 universities in 2015-2016, according to the London-based Times Higher Education magazine. This ranking is based on 13 separate performance indicators designed to capture the full range of university activities, from teaching to research to knowledge transfer. Those indicators cover teaching, research, citations, industry income and international outlook.


  • UNC is widely recognized as one of the leading “green” schools universities. Carolina ranked 8th in the annual GreenMetric World University Ranking, launched in 2010 by Universitas Indonesia. For the second year in a row, Carolina ranked 8th in the world and third in the United States out of 301 universities. The Tar Heel Bikes share program and increase in the number of sustainability-related courses were noted among accomplishments and helped Carolina hold its standing. Those results reflect an online survey about the current conditions and policies related to green campuses and sustainability worldwide. Morrison Residence Hall was the winner of the first-ever National Building Competition sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program. The National Wildlife Federation’s 2008 National Report Card on Sustainability in Higher Education awarded UNC its most exemplary marks for sustainability activities in the state and among the country’s top eight. UNC’s many “green” courses, research programs, student organizations, and campus operations have been highlighted in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition,” published in collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council, as well as Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine’s “2010 Honor Roll of the Region’s Greenest Colleges and Universities” and the “2008 Green College Report” by kiwi.


  • 15th among the top 100 “Coolest Schools” survey in 2014 conducted by Sierra Magazine, published by the Sierra Club, to highlight America’s greenest campuses. Categories tracking the commitment to sustainability included energy supply, efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments and other initiatives.”


  • More than 25 degree programs or specialty areas from several schools appeared prominently in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools” report. Highlights included: School of Medicine, 2nd overall for primary care, 22nd for research, tied for 6th for rural medicine; Kenan-Flagler Business School, 19th overall for master of business administration degree programs, tied for 9th for Executive MBA; in the College of Arts and Sciences, 2nd for analytical chemistry; statistics, tied for 20th. MBA@UNC was ranked No. 1 in U.S. News & World Report’s first ever ranking of online programs.


  • 5th in the research category among the top U.S. universities for work in nano-and microtechnology. Small Times magazine ranked Carolina in its 2009 University Report and Rankings. The annual survey identifies which campuses are the best of the best in the field, based on a survey gauging capabilities and strengths in research and commercialization, as well as standing in a peer review measure.


  • 3rd among large colleges and universities contributing the greatest number of graduating seniors to Teach For America. Carolina made its debut at eighth on the top contributors list in 2008 and has risen steadily since then, climbing to fourth in 2011. This year, UNC contributed 75 graduates to the incoming teaching corps, tied with UCLA. Eight percent of UNC’s senior class applied to Teach For America. Throughout Teach For America’s 22-year history, 542 UNC alumni have taught as teaching corps members.


  • 14th among large U.S. colleges and universities for the number of alumni volunteering for the Peace Corps in 2013 . Sixty-two undergraduate UNC alumni are representing the United States abroad. Since the Peace Corps’ inception, 1,203 Carolina alumni have served as volunteers making UNC the 25th highest volunteer producing university of all time.


  • Among the top 15 doctoral-level U.S. colleges and universities most friendly to junior faculty, according to a November 2010 report from the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, a 160-member consortium based at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Based a survey of 15,000 junior faculty at 127 of the collaborative’s member colleges nationwide, on work-life criteria like tenure practices, clarity of expectations for tenure, and work and home balance. In all, 32 institutions made the list of outstanding campuses.


  • Kenan-Flagler Business School ranked 12th in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine’s 2013 list of the best executive MBA programs. It also was ranked 3rd for public undergraduate programs, 7th for both academic quality and student satisfaction, and 9th for internships. It received grades of A+ for teaching, job placement, and facilities and services based on student responses. Kenan-Flagler Business School has appeared in several recent best M.B.A. program lists: Forbes, 11th, based on return on investment, and U.S. News & World Report, 19th. Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked the executive MBA program (global) 11th. The Financial Times ranked Carolina 8th overall in the world and 4th in the United States for its customized leadership development and business education programs that help organizations address business challenges.


  • Ranked among the “Most Affordable Large Public Colleges” in 2013 on the Affordable Colleges Online list which is comprised of 100 top quality large public colleges that have an affordable price tag.


  • Among the top 100 U.S. colleges and universities awarding undergraduate degrees to minority students, according to a 2011 issue of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine. Carolina ranks 2nd for graduating African-American students majoring in area, ethnic, cultural, gender and group studies, 8th for graduating all minorities in those same major areas, 8th for graduating African-Americans in the physical sciences, 9th for graduating Asian Americans majoring in health and medical administrative services, and 10th for graduating Asian Americans majoring in area, ethnic, cultural, gender and group studies.