Graduate Program Admissions

The School of Information and Library Science seeks exceptional students who have the potential to excel in graduate studies and to become future leaders in the field. We try each year to assemble a student body that is diverse on many levels (i.e., race, ethnicity, age, physical ability, cultural perspective, intellectual background, and work experience) to foster the most dynamic learning and research environment possible so that faculty and students challenge each other to explore and envision the possible.


We use many facets of the student’s application to arrive at an admissions decision:

We look for strong, past academic records, judged by the applicant’s past Grade Point Average (GPA), and we examine the coursework on the student’s transcript(s) to determine personal strengths and areas of mastery. Recently accepted graduate students had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. We also use the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores to assess potential success in graduate work.  The following table shows the minimum GRE score requirement for entrance into UNC:  

For GRE scores PRIOR to August 1,2011:

Test takers who took the GRE prior to August 1, 2011 were scored on the old scoring scale of 200-800. The Graduate School will continue to use the following minimum score requirements for those who took the GRE prior to the scoring changes: 

Verbal and Quantitative sections: A combined score of at least a 1000
Writing section: At least a score of four (4) out of six (6)

For GRE scores ON or AFTER August 1, 2011:

Test takers who took the GRE on or after August 1 were scored using the new scoring scale. The verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE are now scored on a scale between 130-170. Due to these changes the Graduate School has set the following minimum requirements for admission to UNC: 

Verbal: 50th Percentile (50%)
Quantitative: 5Oth Perecentile (50%)
Writing: At least a score of four (4) out of six (6).

We emphasize the applicant’s written statement of interest in the field, and we look for questions the applicant wants to answer, areas of specialization the applicant wishes to pursue, and a beginning knowledge of the field and its issues and challenges combined with the ways in which our School (faculty, staff, and resources) might help the student delve into those issues. We want students who are excited, open-minded, and full of questions they wish to explore.

We examine the applicant's resume for evidence of qualifications and skills based on practical work experience or exposure to different cultures and perspectives, and we look for evidence of distinction in the awards and honors applicants have received.

We read carefully the three reference letters that applicants include in their application to see how professors, professional peers, or supervisors assess them and their potential. We look for distinguishing characteristics and experiences in these letters that might mark the applicants as superior and unique.

We are immensely proud of our students. They challenge us – and each other – to expand our ideas, grow our imaginations, and move the field forward in its constant regeneration. 


  1. Complete and submit the online Graduate School application, and pay the nonrefundable $85 application fee. Applicants who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens should follow the domestic application process; international applicants should follow the international application process. Be sure to complete or upload all of the following items in the online application:
    1. Complete the basic application.
    2. Upload unofficial copies of transcripts for each school attended (max 300 kB).
    3. Upload a résumé including work experience, special abilities and skills (max 300 kB).
    4. Upload a Statement of Purpose. The Statement of Purpose for Masters and PMC applicants should reflect the applicant's career goals, how the applicants educational background and work experience will contribute to their experience a SILS, and how attending SILS will assist the applicant in achieving their career goals. For PHD applicants the statement of purpose should discuss the applicant's general area of research interest, how the applicants educational background and work experience led the them to becoming interested in that particular research area, and how attending SILS will help them to achieve their research and career goals.
    5. Arrange for three letters of reference. These letters are solicited by entering recommenders' email addresses into the online application. At least two letters should be from persons having first-hand knowledge of the applicant's academic capabilities.
  2. Send the following supplemental application materials to the Graduate School at:
    Graduate Admissions
    The Graduate School
    CB #4010, 200 Bynum Hall
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4010
    1. Scores on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within the past five years, sent from Educational Testing Service. Applicants holding a terminal degree (e.g., JD, MD, DDS, Ph.D.) may request a waiver from this requirement. Applicants who took the GRE prior to August 1, 2011 the Graduate school requires a combined minimum combined score of 1000 on both the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE and at least a four (4) on the writing section. Applicants who took the GRE starting on August 1, 2011 the Graduate School requires a minimum score of 50% (50 percent) in both the verbal and quantitative sections and at least a four (4) on the writing section. The GRE code for UNC-Chapel Hill is 5816.
    2. International applicants must also send scores on the TOEFL.
  3. Wait for your admissions decision. You will receive letters from SILS and the Graduate School accepting or denying your application. You may submit your application for North Carolina residency within the time suggested by the Graduate School.
  4. If admitted, applicant must send hard copies of certain material.  Send hard copies of all official transcripts directly to the Graduate School: 
    Graduate Admissions
    The Graduate School
    CB #4010, 200 Bynum Hall
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4010

5. International applicants must also send an original copy of the Financial Certificate to SILS along with all supporting documentation (this form is required for entry in to the United States; no email or faxed copies will be accepted).  Send the original copies to:

Graduate Admissions
School of Information and Library Science
CB #3360, 100 Manning Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3360

Applications are not considered complete until all material has been uploaded into the application.  Applications are not reviewed until all materials (forms, transcripts, test scores, essay and references) have been received. Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. Applicants who apply early are likely to find out their admissions decision relatively quickly. Financial assistance is not considered until the applicant has been approved for admission. It is imperative that your application, including all supplementary materials, is submitted before the deadline.

SILS admits master's students for matriculation in the fall, spring and summer semesters, however Doctoral applicants are only admitted for the fall semester. We recommend beginning the program in the fall semester, since that is when most introductory courses are offered and when most merit-based financial assistance awards begin.

DEADLINES-2016 Admissions cycle


*Admissions decisions for fall are made a on a rolling basis starting in January

Application opens August 3
Doctoral application closes December 15
To be considered for Graduate School financial assistance(MS, PhD) *The Graduate School (which SILS is a division of) provides limited amounts of aid to all graduate programs that are part of the Graduate School. Financial aid from the graduate school is extremely competitive and is usually offered to the most promising applicants December 15
To be considered for a Carolina Academic Library Associate (CALA) or Carolina Technology Associate (CATA)  January 1

To be considered for SILS financial assistance (MS, PhD) including departmental merit based assistantships and non-service fellowships. Applicants who receive any merit-based aid from SILS will be notified by April 1.

February 9
Last day for Masters applicants to submit an application with the graduate school and SILS to be considered for Fall admission April 12
Application opens August 3
All applicants October 13
Application opens August 3
MS Summer I & II March 8
Post-Masters Certificate Summer I March 8

*During recent years, spaces have been filled earlier than these deadlines. Prospective students are encouraged to apply early even if financial assistance is not being requested.


Prospective students may make appointments with faculty and staff members to discuss admission requirements, program schedules, and curriculum content. The school office arranges appointments within its normal business hours (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday).