Peer Groups

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UNC-Chapel Hill monitors its performance in key areas by using data from other institutions as benchmarks. These comparisons and assessments of our relative standings among similar institutions help us identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, refine strategies to be undertaken in our continuing pursuit of excellence, and guide decisions about major resource investments. Depending upon the performance area of interest, we use one or more of the following reference groups, listed below from least to most exclusive.

  • Carnegie Classification: Research Universities (very high research activity). This group is composed of 108 doctoral degree-granting institutions with the highest levels of externally-funded research productivity.
  • Association of American Universities (AAU). The approximately sixty major research universities belonging to the AAU form what is considered to be the most elite group of public and private doctoral institutions in the United States and Canada. These are the institutions with which UNC-Chapel Hill most frequently competes for the top faculty, students, and external research funding.
  • UNC System-Defined Peer Group. The UNC System approved a smaller group of national institutions to compare to UNC-Chapel Hill for various benchmarking purposes. This group is comprised of ten public and five private institutions that are considered be “peers” of UNC-Chapel Hill in terms of mission; overall quality of faculty, students, and programs; and research productivity.
  • Top Public Peers. It is often most meaningful to examine the University’s performance in relation to the four institutions that – along with UNC-Chapel Hill – are most often ranked the highest among all public institutions in U.S. News & World Report, the Lombardi series of reports on The Top Research Universities, and other published comparisons. These institutions, which are also part of all four of the larger groups above, include the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and the University of Virginia.