Frequently asked questions about the Graduate admissions process
This page contains answers to a list of frequently asked questions about our admission process.
How can I apply to your department?
We only accept online applications. The application and detailed instructions can be found here: Instructions for Graduate Applicants
When does your department begin accepting applications?
The application program typically becomes available in the beginning of August for the following fall.
What is the deadline for application?
Application deadlines for the Fall 2017 class will be December 13, 2016.
It is also recommended that international students apply early (by December 1) in order to allow sufficient time for financial and visa documents to be prepared.
Exact dates change each calendar year and can be found here: http://gradschool.unc.edu/academics/degreeprograms/
When will I know your decision?
Acceptances begin to be sent out in late January and continue through early April.
Does your department admit students in the Spring Semester?
Only graduate students who are currently enrolled in another graduate program within UNC-Chapel Hill who are applying to a STOR M.S. program and do not need financial support may be admitted in the Spring semester. All other applicants can be considered for admission for the Fall semester only.
If I am graduating in the Spring of 20XX, can I apply for a graduate program at UNC for Fall 20XX?
Can I update transcripts as new grades become available?
Applicants can update their transcripts once by accessing their application and uploading the new document.
Can I update documents after submitting my application?
Only transcripts can be updated by an applicant.
What should I do if I have sent test scores but they are still shown online as missing?
Official GRE, TOEFL and IELTS results are not matched until after an application has been submitted. The process can take anywhere from 7-10 days. If an unusual amount of time has passed, please contact us or the Graduate School and we can further research the status of your scores.
My Transcripts Status says ‘Partial Received’; is this because I am currently an undergraduate?
Yes. If you plan to receive your degree in the upcoming spring, your current semester grades will not be included on the transcript. This transcript is considered as partial.
Do I need to specify which professors I am interested in working with?
No. That is optional and will have no effect on our consideration of your application.
Do all of my recommendations need to be from my professors?
At least three letters of recommendation are needed. They should come from persons who are familiar with your academic and professional qualifications, and can address your potential to succeed in our graduate program. Ideally these would be professors, however if you have been out of school for a significant amount of time other individuals who can address these items are acceptable.
Can someone check that all my materials have been received?
There is a checklist displayed when you log into your application. A green check mark indicates that the information has been received. A red “x” indicates that the information has not been received. Due to the high volume of applications received, we will not be able to respond to each individual request for us to verify that documents have been received.
I am an international applicant. Can I send my application in without a financial certificate?
Yes. The financial certification is not required until you have been accepted.
Do you consider international students for financial support?
All applicants for the PhD program are considered for financial support, regardless of citizenship. No financial support is available from the department for MS students.
How many students do you admit each year?
We are a highly competitive program, receiving approximately 800 applications spread across our programs. For the past several years we have been admitting an average of 12 PhD students and 20-30 MS students.
How can I check the status of my application? I have received offers from other universities, and need to reply soon. My top choice was UNC – Chapel Hill.
After an application is submitted you can always log back in to see the status. You will receive automated email notification whenever your status changes. We usually make the first round of offers by the end of January at the latest, and you will be notified if the decision is positive. Negative decisions are usually posted by late April.
How many programs am I allowed to apply to?
When applying to either the Ph.D. or M.S. degree programs, you will be able to rank your preferences from 1-3.
If you would like to be considered for either the PhD or MS degree, two separate applications are required.
If I am not admitted into the PhD program, will my application automatically be considered for the Master’s program?
No. If you would like to be considered for both the PhD and MS programs, you must complete and submit two separate applications. Two application fees are also required.
How long does it take to finish the Master’s program?
Do you offer any scholarships for MS students?
No, we do not offer any scholarships for MS students.
How long does it take to finish the PhD program?
Typically five years, but it could be less or more depending on the special circumstances.
Do you offer any online classes?
No, we do not offer any online classes at this time.
Are your M.S. and Ph.D. programs considered STEM programs?
Can I be enrolled in a lab with one of your faculty members without being admitted to one of your graduate programs?
No. Students are admitted into the graduate program, not the labs of individual faculty members.
What are the minimum scores for admission?
The Graduate School recommends the following minimum qualifications: GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, GRE Verbal and Quantitative scores in at least the 50th percentile. For international students, the minimum TOEFL score is 90 and minimum IELTS score is 7
To be a competitive applicant for our programs, please consider that most of our accepted applicants have quantitative GRE score in the 90th percentile or higher, and a GPA between 3.5-4.0. These are averages based on our recent incoming classes.
Is the Math Subject Test of the GRE required to be able to apply to the MS or PhD program?
No, the GRE Math Subject Test is not required for either program. Any student with a strong Math background reflected in transcripts and/or recommendation letters may be just as qualified.
Can I use GMAT scores instead of GRE scores?
No, GRE scores are required in order to apply to our programs.
What is your department code?
A department code is not needed when submitting your test scores to UNC. Send all scores to the UNC Graduate School, Institution Code #5816.
I had my GRE scores sent out when I took the test. Is there anything else I can do to ensure that those scores have been received?
GRE/TOEFL Scores sent by ETS are linked through an automated process after an application has been submitted. Please allow 7-10 days for them to be linked to the appropriate application.
If your scores are still labeled “incomplete” and your application was submitted more than 10 days ago, you can contact the Graduate School and they will investigate further.
I took my exams late and the official score will not arrive before the deadline, is that acceptable?
We will consider your application completed on time if you have self-reported the exam scores. We will need to wait for the official scores before we can make a decision on your application. It is recommended that you take any exams by the end of October in order to ensure the scores arrive before we begin admitting students.
Can you consider my application without official scores?
We can review your application with a self-reported score, but an official score is necessary before we can admit you.
Are scanned versions of score reports acceptable?
No, we need official scores sent directly from ETS.
Can I update my scores if I take the test again?
If you take one of the exams again, have ETS send the scores and they will be matched to your application.
How are the test scores evaluated? If I have a higher score on the quantitative on one test, but a higher score on the verbal on the other test, are they considered separately?
We will consider the highest score from each section. They do not need to be on the same exam.
Can the TOEFL or IELTS exam be waived?
Yes if you are an applicant from a country where English is the SOLE OFFICIAL language of instruction you will automatically receive an exception to the exam. Click on this UNC Graduate School admissions webpage for more details.
If you have received or will receive a degree from a university in the United States, or from any accredited university where English is the SOLE language of instruction, then you can request a waiver of the exam. The waiver request is available on your application.
I am a lawful permanent resident of the United States, do I need to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score?
English proficiency exams are only required of international applicants. LPR’s are considered domestic applicants and do not need to take these exams. There is no need to request a waiver.
If You Have Been Admitted:
If I visit campus does the department reimburse traveling expenses?
We typically invite the accepted Ph.D. students to visit the campus and we offer partial reimbursement.
Will you notify applicants of the admissions decisions by mail or e-mail?
You will receive an initial email notification from the Director of Admissions, which will include an offer letter signed by the department Chair. You will also receive a separate letter from the Graduate School.
What is the deadline by which I must accept the offer?
April 15 for PhD students, and May 15 for MS students.
If I accept the offer, when do I have to pay the enrollment deposit?
If you are accepted before March 15, you need to pay the enrollment deposit by April 15.
If you are accepted after March 15, you have 3 weeks to do the same.
How long before I receive my I-20?
Once the International Student and Scholar Services office receives the financial certificate, it will take appropriately three weeks before the I-20 can be issued. Any questions regarding the status of your I-20 should be addressed with them.
What is the average cost of tuition and fees?
Please see the current year’s tuition and fees information provided by the cashier’s office.
When will I be assigned a faculty advisor?
Pairing of students with advisors typically takes place during a student’s second year of study, after they have completed their Comprehensive Written Exams.
How much does housing cost?
Housing depends on if you are living on-campus or off-campus. For the cost of on-campus apartments, visit the campus housing website.