Program Overview



What is Honors Carolina?

Honors Carolina connects exceptional students who share a passion for learning with renowned faculty who love teaching. The program opens the door to everything one of the world’s top public research universities has to offer. Study in cities around the globe. Work with faculty mentors on ground-breaking research. Design your own unique educational experience. The only limit is your imagination and desire.

What benefits does Honors Carolina provide?

  • In the Classroom: Honors Carolina students receive priority registration for more than 200 Honors Carolina courses each year. These are small classes, taught by award-winning professors who encourage classroom discussion and hands-on research.
  • Outside the Classroom: Take advantage of opportunities to conduct original research with a faculty mentor; study abroad in cities such as Cape Town, London, and Singapore; and build personal relationships with professors, fellow scholars, and alumni by participating in special Honors Carolina events.


How can I join Honors Carolina?

When you are completing your application for admission to UNC Chapel Hill, you will be asked if you want to be considered for Honors Carolina. Marking “yes” will prompt you to complete an additional short essay (see more below).  Students who are invited to join Honors Carolina typically receive an invitation within two weeks of being admitted to the University.

There are several opportunities for currently enrolled students to get involved in Honors Carolina. Students may apply during their first year (January deadline) or second year (September deadline). Sophomore transfer students can also apply to join Honors Carolina at the beginning of the Fall semester. Learn more about applying to Honors Carolina.

How are students chosen?

When students apply to Carolina, they have the option of indicating their interest in Honors Carolina. Those who indicate their interest are required to submit a short essay (250 words or less) that describes their academic interests and the ways they believe Honors Carolina can help them pursue those interests.

A committee of faculty and academic staff make the final selections, relying heavily on essays and teacher recommendations to provide insight into each student’s intellectual curiosity, passion for learning, and eagerness to embrace challenges. There is no set formula of class rank and test scores that guarantees an invitation to join Honors Carolina.

How many people are invited to join Honors Carolina?

A select number of exceptional students are invited to join Honors Carolina each year. This year, Honors Carolina expects to enroll 450 incoming students, or about 10 percent of the first-year class.

When are incoming students invited to join Honors Carolina?

Students who are invited to join Honors Carolina should have a notice in their MyCarolina portal indicating their selection. Additionally, invitees are sent a congratulatory email from the Honors Carolina Associate Dean and a hard-copy invitation packet within a few days of the UNC admissions release (usually late January / early February for early action and late March / early April for regular decision).

How do I accept an invitation to join Honors Carolina?

If you have received an Honors Carolina invitation, click here to accept your invitation by May 1, 2021.

What if I didn't receive an invitation?

If you did not receive an invitation to join Honors Carolina and you’re planning to enroll at UNC as a first year student in the fall, you will want to apply to Honors Carolina in January 2022, after completing one semester in Chapel Hill. Click here to learn more.

Does receiving an academic scholarship automatically earn you an invitation to Honors Carolina?

Close to 40% of each incoming Honors Carolina class receives merit-based funding support. Students awarded one of the merit scholarships listed below will be invited to join Honors Carolina.

  • Carolina Scholarship
  • College Fellows Scholarship
  • Colonel Robinson Scholarship
  • Honors Carolina Scholarship
  • Johnston Scholarship
  • Morehead-Cain Scholarship
  • Morrison Scholarship
  • Pogue Scholarship
  • Robertson Scholarship
  • Tar Heel Merit Scholarship


When is the deadline to accept an invitation to join Honors Carolina?

When is the deadline to join the Honors Carolina first year residential community?

Where can I find a list of all important dates and deadlines?

Please visit our Key Dates + Deadlines page and download our Class of 2025 Checklist.


Do Honors Carolina students receive scholarships?

While more than half of Honors Carolina students receive merit- or need-based academic scholarships, an invitation to join Honors Carolina does not automatically include a scholarship award.

The Honors Carolina class includes a significant number of Morehead-Cain Scholars, Robertson Scholars, Carolina Scholars, Johnston Scholars, Pogue Scholars, and others.


What are Honors Carolina courses like?

Honors Carolina courses provide a challenging academic experience. Students are required to do more work — and more difficult work — than in traditional courses. They read more complex materials, wrestle with more intricate problems and reach beyond established understandings to discover new ideas.

Honors Carolina courses are typically small seminar-style classes that emphasize discussion, debate, and interaction between students and the professor. Click here to view Honors Carolina courses. 

How many students are typically enrolled in an Honors Carolina class?

On average, Honors Carolina courses enroll 22 students, and many have an even lower number of students. The small class size allows for more in-depth discussion and interaction between Honors Carolina students and their professors.

What type of Honors Carolina courses are available?

Honors Carolina offers more than 200 courses each year in nearly every discipline in the fine arts and humanities, the natural sciences and mathematics, and the social and behavioral sciences. View Honors Carolina courses.

How do I sign up for an Honors Carolina course?

Honors Carolina students receive priority registration for Honors Carolina courses and register online in advance of other eligible students. In mid-April, incoming students receive an email inviting them to review and select honors courses they might like to take in the fall. This information is used by the Honors Carolina office to enroll students in two or three courses following the May decision deadline. Click here for more information.

Once the semester begins, students seeking to add an honors course must do so in person at the Honors Carolina office. Special registration instructions for each Honors Carolina course are listed in each semester’s course descriptions and in the Class Notes section on ConnectCarolina. Click here for more information about registering for classes.


Does Honors Carolina sponsor events and activities outside of the classroom?

Yes. Honors Carolina regularly hosts special events that allows students to meet distinguished Carolina faculty and alumni. Click here for more information about special events.

What type of undergraduate research opportunities are available for Honors Carolina students?

Honors Carolina provides grants and fellowships to support undergraduate research and Senior Thesis Projects. After completing one academic year, Honors Carolina students may apply for summer research fellowships to work on a faculty-mentored research project. The program is part of UNC’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program

In addition, the Office for Undergraduate Research provides information about countless research opportunities available at Carolina, including courses that introduce research methodologies; research-intensive courses that devote a majority of class time to conducting original research and presenting research conclusions; and courses that use graduate students as “research consultants” to assist undergraduates with research projects.

What type of Study Abroad Programs are available for Honors Carolina students?

With Chapel Hill as a launch pad, Honors Carolina students can take advantage of opportunities to live and study in some of the world′s greatest cities. Honors Carolina runs Honors Study Abroad programs in Cape TownLondon, Washington, DC, and SingaporeClick here to learn more about Honors Study Abroad opportunities.

In addition, UNC’s Study Abroad Office offers more than 300 additional programs in 70 countries.

Honors Carolina also offers a changing roster of Burch Field Research Seminars in locations around the globe. Recent Burch seminars have focused on entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, renewable energy in Germany and the Netherlands, public health in Thailand, oral history in Kenya, and genocide in Rwanda. Scholarships are available to help students participate in these programs.


What do I have to do to remain an Honors Carolina student in good standing?

Honors Carolina students must complete 24 hours of Honors Carolina credit before graduation and maintain a 3.0 GPA (cumulative); during the first year, three of those hours must come from successful completion of an Honors First Year Seminar and another three hours from successful completion of a second honors course.  Members of Honors Carolina are also required to complete a two-course seminar sequence entitled College, Careers & Honors Carolina Life (HNRS 101 & 201), which introduces students to university life, explores the value of a liberal arts curriculum, and familiarizes them with the resources available through Honors Carolina; Part 1 is taken during the first year, Part 2 during the second year.  Click here to review all Honors Carolina requirements.

Are members of Honors Carolina required to complete a Senior Honors Thesis?

No. However, only students who successfully complete and defend a Senior Honors Thesis graduate with Honors or Highest Honors.

How are Honors Carolina students acknowledged?

Honors Carolina students who meet all program requirements before graduation will be designated an Honors Carolina Laureate in the commencement bulletin and on their academic transcripts.


Is special housing available for Honors Carolina students?

Honors Carolina students are not limited in where they can live. However, students who wish to join the Honors Carolina first year residential community will room with another first year Honors Carolina student in Cobb Residence Hall. Throughout the first year, students enjoy access to special Honors Carolina programming hosted within the residential community.

How do I join the Honors Carolina first year residential community?

Click here for instructions and additional information. The deadline to select an Honors Carolina housing option is May 15, 2021.