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About Us

Continuing Education at UNC-Chapel Hill

Students listen to a lecture in a classroom.

Chartered on December 11, 1789, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first state university in America. It opened its doors in 1795 with two professors and 41 students. Today, the University is a thriving institution with more than 24,000 students and 2,600 faculty members. It is consistently ranked among the great institutions of higher education in the nation. Its 13 colleges and schools provide instruction in more than 100 fields, offering 84 bachelor’s, 165 master’s, 106 doctoral, and four professional degrees.

Continuing education at The University of North Carolina was organized formally in 1913 when a Bureau of Extension was established to facilitate the University’s efforts to reach out to North Carolina citizens. Since that time, continuing education has become a significant activity in a number of schools and departments.

The William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education

The Friday Center is UNC-Chapel Hill’s primary continuing education unit. The Center offers a wide range of educational programs and services that substantially broaden the population that the University is able to serve.

The Center’s programs and courses fall into four categories:

  • Professional Education: Grow your skills and enhance your career in an increasingly-competitive workforce
  • Personal Enrichment: Tap into your curiosities and cultivate your interests as a lifelong learner
  • Online courses: Earn college credits or learn new concepts from UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, online
  • Other college credit courses: Earn college credit with UNC-Chapel Hill courses

The Friday Center also administers or houses the following units:

  • Friday Conference Center, a 25,000 square-foot continuing education conference center serving UNC-Chapel Hill departments and other organizations
  • Carolina Office for Online Learning, partnering with UNC-Chapel Hill school and departments to develop and promote high-quality online education programs
  • Continuing Education Units, serving as the University’s home for recording an individual participation in noncredit courses, programs, and other activities
  • Exam Proctoring Services, offering exam supervision for the University’s online students as well as others in the community who require these services for courses offered by other institutions
  • Retired Faculty Association, a dues-supported professional association of retired faculty members of UNC-Chapel Hill and other institutions of higher learning

The administrative offices for all of the Friday Center’s units are housed in the conference center, which is located a short distance from the UNC-Chapel Hill main campus.

William and Ida Friday

The William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education is named in honor of two North Carolinians who have devoted their lives to enhancing and improving the lives of their fellow citizens through their work in education, the arts, and public health.

William C. Friday served as president of the University of North Carolina for thirty years. A painter and sculptor, Mrs. Friday has promoted the arts through her work with a number of North Carolina arts organizations.

The Fridays were both honored in 1981 with the North Carolina Public Service Award, the highest award given by the University. In 2004, Governor Mike Easley and the North Carolina Legislature honored Mr. and Mrs. Friday with the Long Leaf Pine Award for their service to the state. Mr. and Mrs. Friday are both graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill, where Mr. Friday earned a degree in law and Mrs. Friday earned a master’s degree in public health.