Finding Courses at UNC

Finding Courses at UNC

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is comprised of several colleges and professional schools, all of which offer academic courses. However, courses are generally restricted to students who have been admitted to that particular college or professional school. Please review the information below regarding academic options available for exchange and GVSP students.

Academic Departments and Professional Schools 

Exchange students and Global Visiting Students can take courses in any department within the College of Arts and Sciences, which includes more than 40 academic departments and interdisciplinary curricula. Click here to see departments within the College of Arts and Sciences. Please note that international students will only be able to take 2 courses in the Psychology and Economics departments, and it’s unlikely that students can take a full courseload within a single department. 

Exchange students and Global Visiting Students cannot take courses in the professional schools (unless your home university has a specific agreement with that school). The professional schools include: 

  • Eshelman School of Pharmacy 
  • Gillings School of Global Public Health 
  • Kenan-Flagler Business School 
  • Law School 
  • School of Dentistry 
  • School of Education 
  • School of Government 
  • School of Information & Library Science 
  • School of Journalism and Mass Communication 
  • School of Medicine 
  • School of Nursing 
  • School of Social Work 

Understanding the Catalog and Course Search 

The course listing is available for review in the UNC Catalog. All the courses listed are not offered every semester. The course offerings for the fall term will be available in early February and the course listing for spring semester course will be available in early October. 

Syllabi are not usually available for the courses until the first day of class. Typically, the most detailed course description you will get prior to the first day of courses is in the UNC CatalogThere are some courses that are more regulated than others by the academic department, and where this is the case, you may be able to find a better description of the course on the departmental websites (e.g. Economics department syllabi archive). 

Course Numbering System 

Undergraduates are only permitted to take courses numbered 100-699. If the exchange agreement does permit the exchange of graduate students, then students will be admitted at that level. Only those students who are admitted by our office as graduate students are permitted to take courses numbered 700 and above. Graduate students may also take courses numbered 400 – 699, but are not permitted to take courses numbered below 400. 

The course numbering system is as follows: 

  • 50-099: First Year Seminars [not available to exchange students] 
  • 100-199: Introductory level undergraduate courses [undergraduate students only] 
  • 200-399: Above introductory level undergraduate courses  [undergraduate students only] 
  • 400-699: Courses open to undergraduates and graduate students [undergraduate and graduate students] 
  • 700-999 Graduate courses [available only to graduate exchange students, see above] 

With the exception of the important distinction between introductory and non-introductory courses, students generally should not assume that courses have been arranged in ascending order of difficulty or specialization (i.e., ENGL 420 is not necessarily more difficult than ENGL 340). Departmental numbering schemes will vary by department. 

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites 

When you are looking at course descriptions in the UNC Catalog, note that most non-introductory courses require that you either have prerequisites or co-requisites in order to take the course. 

Courses that require prerequisites are courses that require you to have previous knowledge of certain concepts prior to taking the course. If you are choosing to take a course that has prerequisites, please make sure you check the course descriptions of the prerequisite courses to ensure you have the previous knowledge necessary to enroll in your desired course. 

Courses that require co-requisites are courses that require you to take another course in addition to the course you want in order to get credit.  

High Demand Courses 

Undergraduate courses in the following departments fill up quickly:  

  • Computer Science (highly restricted) 
  • Economics* 
  • Exercise & Sports Science  
  • Psychology & Neuroscience* 
  • Statistics & Operations Research  

*Two course maximum per semester for these departments. 

These are popular programs at UNC and course enrollment can be quite challenging with the high demand for these courses. There is a strong possibility that you may not be able to enroll in some of your preferred courses in those departments. Please be flexible with your course selection, and have alternative options in mind, in case your preferred choices are not available at the time of course registration.