Carolina Away

We’re so glad that you have chosen to join us and are ready to begin your Carolina experience! Although this fall is going to look different from what we’d expected, we are more committed than ever to building our community together. One of the ways we’ll build our community is through a new program called Carolina Away.

What is Carolina Away?

If you’re a new first-year or transfer student who’s not comfortable or unable to join us on campus, Carolina Away may be an option for you. This program will allow you to take digital courses and participate in small-group experiences with classmates, faculty, and staff. All new first-year and transfer students are eligible to participate.

Through Carolina Away, you’ll have the opportunity to build relationships with other Tar Heels while diving into your first semester of classes. In addition to the innovative digital versions of existing UNC-Chapel Hill courses, you’ll have access to new courses exploring urgent contemporary issues of society, politics, economics, culture, and science revealed by the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll also be part of learning communities that focus on these themes through readings, discussions, and guided experiences.

Looking ahead to the future once you come to campus, you’ll continue to gather, join discussions, attend events, and plan collaborations with the other Tar Heels who participated in Carolina Away.

Note for global students: Based on the information that we have right now, we believe that Carolina Away is a good option for you to begin your Carolina journey. Most newly admitted students will not be able to get to enter the US in time for the start of fall semester given the Department of State suspension of visa services as well as travel restrictions. Additionally, if you are a student transferring from another institution within the US, you may have additional considerations when deciding if Carolina Away is the right option for you. UNC’s Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is happy to provide additional information and help you determine if Carolina Away is right for you.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award: baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees and certificates. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education that oversees colleges and universities in an 11-state area including North Carolina.

Note for students transferring in as juniors: Carolina Away is not available for students admitted into Biomedical and Health Sciences Engineering, Clinical Laboratory Science, Dental Hygiene, Health Policy and Management, Radiologic Science, or Nursing. Please contact your department to discuss options for the fall.

Carolina Away Courses

Through Carolina Away, you’ll complete approximately 15 credits of digital courses during the fall semester. Whether you’re a first-year or transfer student, the courses you choose will allow you to explore a range of disciplines while fulfilling common general education requirements, meeting requirements in your anticipated major(s), and/or beginning the core sequences for STEM fields.

Course offerings include a wide range of classes taken by new undergraduate students. We’d like to highlight these specific classes which may be of particular interest as foundations to help you thrive at Carolina:

  • English 105: English Composition and Rhetoric (required of all Carolina students to graduate)
  • Education 101: First Year Thriving, a course for first-year students that will encourage you to build skills to thrive at college and introduce you to specialized learning and research opportunities that represent the true strengths of the university.
  • A one-credit COVID Investigations and Learning Communities course. Enrollment in one of these courses and its associated learning community is required of all Carolina Away participants.
  • While some remote courses will still be taught at a scheduled time in Chapel Hill with synchronous class participation, many others will be asynchronous and will allow you flexibility in when you participate. Please explore this list of asynchronous and blended courses.

COVID Investigations  and  Learning Communities

Carolina Away features learning communities that focus on themes related to the new issues of society, politics, economics, culture and science revealed by the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.    These learning communities are rooted in specially developed one credit hour courses that are led by a dynamic instructor with a guest expert each week drawn from Carolina faculty researchers, community experts, and skilled  practitioners.

You’ll explore  these topics through directed readings, discussions, and small-group experiences with your classmates. In addition to connecting with student groups, each class will engage with academic departments, research centers or institutes, all of which can serve as a supportive home for pursuing future interests at UNC. The COVID Investigation courses for fall 2020 include:

  • Cults & Contagion: Religion and Disease from the Middle Ages to Modern Times: During trying times throughout history, humans have often looked to religion for comfort, condemnation, and solutions to the diseases that have plagued them. From anti-Jewish accusations during the Black Death to Christianity and colonial conquests, and from science fiction to present-day race relations, this course will examine the intersections of religion and disease in history and literature. Through lectures from an array of UNC faculty, students will learn the different ways people and societies have confronted plagues in the past, as well as how religion has influenced their responses.
  • Data Science for COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated research in many directions. Data scientists have been involved in many ways, including mathematical and computational models for the spread of the disease, statistical analyses of data on cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and models for studying such questions as the impact of testing on the effectiveness of social distancing.  For this COVID Investigations course, we will explore the current research on data science and COVID-19 in a way that is accessible to a wide audience.  We will also participate in facilitated classroom discussion and writing to engage with the material and explore ways that a Carolina education might position one to contribute to the fight against the disease.
  • Disease, Mental Health and Happiness: This course will expose students to experts investigating different approaches to treating different diseases (including COVID-19) and the impact of positivity and happiness on disease outcomes and overall mental health. Students will also receive mentorship and guidance on future opportunities during their time at Carolina.
  • Gender, Health and Civic Engagement Under Lockdown: Gender, health, and civic engagement under lockdown. As humanity struggles to cope with COVID-19, most of us have heard it said (or said it ourselves) that “We’re all in this together.” However, it cannot be argued that the pandemic affects all of us equally: its negative impacts have both highlighted and exacerbated longstanding systemic inequalities based in gender, race, class, disability, sexuality, and other intersectional identities. This course introduces students to key concepts in feminism and gender studies with a focus on the COVID-19 crisis, examining how women’s health and safety are specifically at risk during a time of lockdown. We will also explore women’s innovative forms of civic engagement and activism all throughout the crisis, and the course will culminate in students producing their own public writing projects.
  • Southern Futures After COVID: This course looks at COVID-related impacts on the creative economy in North Carolina and the southern United States. Performing arts, visual arts, and literature have been hit hard with event cancellations. What is the economic impact on artists and their communities? The South’s ups and downs require creatives to be inventive and entrepreneurial—how are genres, identities, and traditions changing? How does the twin pandemic of racism impact artists? Are there new opportunities for reckoning, memorialization, and artistic legacies?
  • COVID-19, Work and the Road to a New Prosperity: What does America owe essential workers? How will the lessons of nationwide remote working lead to a rethinking of offices and firms? Will the new unemployment and paycheck support programs lead to universal basic income programs? Students will have an opportunity to learn about the changing realities of firms, work, and the social contract needed for a new American dream.
  • Disaster, Resilience, and COVID-19: Storms, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires have upended the lives of millions in the US and across the globe. What are the demographic, economic, cultural and physical factors that shape vulnerability to these events and the strength to recover? How does this knowledge help us to understand and manage COVID-19? How can communities equip themselves to prepare for and recover from a series of disasters? How can federal, state, and local policies help or hinder communities in their efforts to mitigate risks from extreme events and future pandemics?
  • Politics, Polarization and the Pandemic: The COVID-19 crisis won’t end until science devises a vaccine. Until then, minimizing the effects of COVID-19 will largely be a social scientific problem.  In the politically divisive early 21st Century, the pandemic, for a time, united Americans.  More recently, however, it has tended to exacerbate partisan difference. In this course, students will examine both how the current political climate influences the response of Americans and the U.S. government to the pandemic and how the pandemic actively shapes American politics. By examining political behavior, public opinion, and political institutions, this course seeks to provide students with the tools necessary to understand the relationship between polarization, politics and the pandemic.
  • Race, Equity and the Coronavirus in America: As the virus spread, it revealed frightening discrepancies in disease outcomes, one that mapped onto America’s contemporary divisions of class, race and ethnicity.  How does a rigorous understanding of racial inequity help to explain the biological expression of the disease at the population level?  Students will gain a chance to imagine, share and alternative governance, rights, values and institutions that open the way to other outcomes.
  • Digital Intimacy, Imagination and Isolation: In an era of quarantines, humans have cut themselves off from each other and turned to the internet to find connection. From musicians, writers, and artists of all kinds to everyday people such as doctors, nurses and “essential works”, people are inventing new ways of digital presence to reimagine and remake community. In this course, students will examine how the arts portray the experience of the pandemic.
  • The Need for Speed: How do Scientists Accelerate Discovery? In this course, students learn about the steps scientists take to bring together various disciplines around an emerging problem. Sessions will cover strategies of redirecting promising platforms for drug discovery towards a new pathogen, communicating emerging knowledge between basic science research and clinical settings, and the implications of disseminating early experimental results. In addition, students will explore the role of partnerships among scientists, private companies, and government agencies in navigating new challenges in research and development.

Outside the Classroom

You’ll have dedicated, comprehensive, and holistic advising and support. A team of student-support professionals will help you develop your strengths as you navigate the transition to the University, both during your time in Carolina Away and once you begin your residential experience in Chapel Hill. You’ll also have a mentor who will help you form connections with your Carolina Away and physical campus communities and who will support you as you begin your Carolina career.

If you participate in Carolina Away but are within driving distance of campus, there may be opportunities to visit campus and attend small events. As the fall schedule develops, we’ll share more about these opportunities. We’d encourage you to carefully review the latest information about what we expect residential learning and living to be this semester, paying particular attention to the Community Standards that you will be agreeing to. Please note that these standards will apply if you’ll be on campus in any way – whether to live, take classes, participate in activities, or use campus facilities.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition and fees for Carolina Away will be the same as for residential learning. Carolina Away participants will not have any university charges for housing or dining, though your financial aid award will still have an allowance in your cost of attendance budget for housing and meals while at home. To see costs for this year, please visit the Cashier’s website.

Financial Aid

Carolina Away students are still eligible for financial aid. While Carolina Away participants will not have any university charges for housing or dining, your financial aid award will still have an allowance in your cost of attendance budget for housing and meals while at home.

Once you let us know you’d like to participate in Carolina Away, the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid will review your current financial aid to see if any adjustments are appropriate. If so, they’ll email you with information on viewing your financial aid in your ConnectCarolina Student Center. Please anticipate receiving this within three weeks of when you indicate your plan to participate in Carolina Away.

More Information

We hosted a webinar to share additional information about the Carolina Away program and addressed several questions from participants. You may click this link to access the Carolina Away webinar recording.

We hope you’ll explore our Frequently Asked Questions and reach out to us if there is any additional information we can share. We look forward to hearing from you regarding additional questions you may have. To help us answer your questions quickly, please contact us at

Local Course Option

In addition to taking a full-course load through Carolina Away, some students have expressed interest in taking one in-person course at a university near their home. New students may not typically take courses at other universities while simultaneously enrolled full-time at UNC. Given the unprecedented circumstances, the Admissions office will work with students to help them identify a course that can potentially transfer to Carolina.

Students should indicate interest by filling out this Local Course Interest Form. Students should expect a response within a few business days and will receive additional guidance on next steps.

Committing to Carolina Away

To participate in Carolina Away, log into ConnectCarolina and click on the Let us know your plans for Fall Term tile. Please let us know of your plans as soon as possible and no later than July 31.

This decision is not binding: you will be able to change your selection until the end of July. It’s best to let us know as soon as possible to ensure that we can make the needed adjustments in your course schedule and any residential changes before the semester begins. You can simply return to ConnectCarolina to make this update.

Carolina Away FAQs