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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released its 2021 fiscal year Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) data, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has once again ranked 10th for federal funding and 13th overall in the national research rankings for public and private universities.  

The NSF HERD survey collects information from U.S. colleges and universities on research and development (R&D) expenditures, broken out by field of research and source of fund, and is a measure of research activity from the previous fiscal year.  

Between July 2020 and the end of June 2021, Carolina increased its annual research expenditures to $1.2 billion across all fields, with federal awards accounting for $748 million. This represents an increase of $46 million over fiscal year 2020. 

“We are thrilled to retain our ranking as one of the top research institutions in the nation,” said Interim Vice Chancellor Research Penny Gordon-Larsen. “And while much of our research is funded through federal sources, it is sustained with investment by the General Assembly in addition to federal sponsors that allows our research to thrive, making a difference not only in the lives of North Carolinians, but also in our state’s economy.”  

Research at Carolina employs over 11,000 North Carolinians in projects that touch all 100 counties. Expenditures on research activity represent new revenue for North Carolina’s gross state product, and spending on research supports over 3,000 businesses across the state. 

Research awards and expenditures are the most common measurements of research activity for universities — both of which exceed $1.2 billion at Carolina. The University’s year-to-year growth in research awards typically forecasts an even greater volume of research expenditures for future years. 

For more information on research awards, expenditures, and historical trends, visit the Research Funding page on the UNC Research website. 

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