Facts and Rankings

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You can download a PDF with UNC Research facts & figures, printable as a handout in either landscape or portrait orientation.

Carolina: a national leader in research

Carolina’s research enterprise has doubled in the last decade, reaching nearly $850 million in extramural support in FY 2016. It directly supports nearly 10,000 positions statewide. In a 2015 report titled The Top American Research Universities, Carolina was ranked one of the top 10 public universities. The report, produced by the Center for Measuring University Performance, assessed areas such as research, private support, faculty strength, and advanced training. Among international universities, Carolina was ranked 56th in the world by the London-based Times Higher Education magazine in 2016–2017.

Based on the most recent available data, Carolina ranks:

  • 1 of only 10 public research universities in the Top 25 for all measures of excellence (Top American Research Universities, 2015)
  • 8th in federal R&D expenditures (NSF, 2015)
  • 11th in overall R&D expenditures (NSF, 2015)
  • 8th among all universities in HHS expenditures, including NIH (NSF, 2015)
  • 56th among the world’s top 400 universities (Times Higher Ed., 2016–17)
  • 22nd among U.S. universities and 43rd in world ranking (University Ranking by Academic Performance, 2016-17)

FY 2016 Research Funding

UNC-Chapel Hill research funding for fiscal year 2016 totaled $846,680,025. Federal government funding accounted for 68.20 percent ($577.4 million) of the 2016 total. The remainder came from sources such as educational and research institutions (8.83 percent), business and industry (6.10 percent), foundations (7.92 percent), North Carolina state government (3.15 percent), and nonprofits (3.83 percent). Of the federal funding, 70 percent was from the National Institutes of Health. (Source: Office of Research Information Systems. Updated: 9/2016.)

More detailed information is here.

Eighth in federal R&D expenditures

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranked eighth among leading private and public research universities for the level of federal funding ($585.8 million) devoted to research and development in all fields during fiscal 2015. (Source: National Science Foundation. More information here. Updated: 12/2016).

UNC Research is Interdisciplinary and Collaborative

Collaborative Research Funding, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2012-2016Faculty members collaborate across disciplines, departments, and schools when they conduct research at Carolina. In fiscal year 2016, UNC received 1,283 multi-investigator research grants and contracts; the award amount for these totaled $550 million. Multi-department collaborations produced 822 research grants and contracts in 2016, and the total award amount was $437 million. Multi-school collaborations produced more than 488 research grants and contracts in 2016, and the total award amount was $319 million. (Source: Office of Research Information Systems. Updated: 12/2016.)


Research means support and jobs for North Carolina

Carolina research directly funds nearly 9,500 jobs throughout North Carolina. Research dollars from UNC-Chapel Hill pay the salaries of employees in almost every North Carolina county.

Research Centers and Institutes

Research centers and institutes contribute to Carolina’s intellectual climate. They also boost the state’s economy by attracting external funding and by helping North Carolina communities and businesses compete for economic development opportunities. In 2016, centers and institutes had combined state funding of $9,174,121 for R&D and brought in $435,441,665 in grants and contracts from other sources—approximately $47.46 of external research funding for each $1 of state support. The impact of Carolina’s research centers and institutes extends across the state and beyond—including thousands of active research projects and jobs in North Carolina.

Top-Ranked Public Research Library in the Southeast

The Association of Research Libraries and the Chronicle of Higher Education rated Carolina’s library system twenty-third among all universities in the U.S. and first in the Southeast among public institutions. The survey ranked research university libraries by number of volumes in the library, number of volumes added, number of current serials, total expenditures, and permanent staff. (Source: 2016 Almanac of Higher Education. Updated: 9/2016).

Fifth among Public Universities

The latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report rank Carolina fifth among public universities for the sixteenth consecutive year and thirtieth overall. (Source: U.S. News & World Report. Updated: 9/2016)

A Leader in Entrepreneurship

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranks fourteenth overall among university graduate entrepreneurship programs, according to Entrepreneur Magazine and the Princeton Review. (Source: Entrepreneur Magazine; Updated: 9/2016.) Carolina ranks 13th in undergraduate entrepreneurship programs nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report. Our culture of innovation was accelerated by the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative (CEI), a five-year initiative funded in part by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to develop and launch entrepreneurship programs for faculty and students. Many CEI projects continue to thrive, including new entrepreneurship certificates and minors, business accelerators, and entrepreneurial support for university spin-offs. The Innovate@Carolina Campaign is implementing the next generation of cross-campus entrepreneurship initiatives, ranging from scholarships and endowed professorships to seed funding for the most promising innovations at Carolina. Other efforts include https://tracs.unc.edu/index.php/services/kickstart (a program to help Carolina faculty commercialize their technology), the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network.