Purdue (CS) vs UNC Chapel Hill (in state)

Which program is better for CS major: Purdue or Chapel Hill? I have admits from both -

Purdue CS (assured) plus honors college
UNC Chapel Hill (apply again in freshman year as per new process) plus honors college. But this is in state.

CS major is a must.

Please advise and help me make a decision. Higher Purdue OS tuition is not an issue, as long as it is worth it in terms of value (over Chapel Hill or NC State)

Looks like the UNC-CH admission process for the CS major is non-transparent and holistic:

NCSU CS also requires secondary admission after entering as an engineering first year student:Join a Department – Change of Degree Application (CODA) | College of Engineering

If CS is a must, direct admission to the CS major at Purdue is valuable over needing to go through secondary admission with unknown selectivity. If you highly value the certainty of major and can afford Purdue without debt, then Purdue becomes an attractive choice.


No, it’s not worth paying triple the tuition for a CS degree because it’s Purdue. Going into debt for that is financial suicide. I program for a living. CS is a ridiculously employable degree, and no matter where you go to school, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job. In fact, after about 3 years of experience, employers don’t even ask you about where you went to school. I would take the chance with UNC. Even if you don’t get in and have to transfer to UNC-Charlotte, for instance, you’re still far better off than having a mountain of debt.


Thank you for great insights! In terms of getting ‘industry ready’ and better recruitment/internship/job opportunities from campus which is better?
Will it make a difference whether you are at Purdue or at UNC CH?

UNC-CH is in the “Research Triangle”, so local recruiting should be present.

However that does not help if you do not get into your desired major.

The question is kind of like choosing between 2 identical cars…one for 15,000 and the other for $200,000, and asking which color is better. My answer is, who cares about the color? Why is the $200k car even an option?

The difference is only OOS tuition. Not sure that is $200k vs $15k … Only OP can confirm.


If you do go to UNC-CH, start preparing for transfer applications to other colleges where you are likely to be admitted for CS (e.g. most other NC publics other than NCSU, if you need to keep costs to in-state levels), in case you do not get admitted to CS during secondary admission.

The lack of transparency in CS major admission at UNC-CH suggests that it is probably a reach with far more applicants than spaces, so you should assume that it is more likely than not you will not get into the major.

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Like some have suggested, it is also the chance of going through reapplication with no guarantee of acceptance into the major.

Sounds like it’s UNC’s loss because they don’t admit direct to major. Does NC State admit direct to major? It’s very good for STEM degrees and you would save quite a bit of tuition relative to Purdue, which stands out as a great OOS value. Assuming neither admit direct to major and it’s difficult to discern what your chances are, head to Purdue. My son loved it but wasn’t admitted to engineering. They have great facilities, support and job fairs and place around the country.

I wouldn’t think people are majoring in CS just to code at any old job. They probably prefer to start off at a cool start-up with like minded high potential colleagues. Or maybe they’d like to work in consulting or a big company with great perks and projects.

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At NCSU, CS is in the engineering division, where all admits start as “Engineering First Year”. EFY students later have to apply to their desired majors. There used to be a “CODA calculator” that gives an idea of the chances of admission to each engineering major with a specified college GPA, but that is no longer available, so it is not easy to know how competitive each major is (although CS should be assumed to be among the more competitive majors).

Really, this thread is another variant of the choice between:

  • More expensive, assured of desired major.
  • Less expensive, unlikely (or unknown how likely) to get into desired major.