The problem is that none of the students have been admitted. They are on the school's wait list and won't find out until March whether they've made the cut.
"We deeply regret this disappointment, which we know is compounded by the stress and anxiety that students experience as a result of the admissions process," Stephen Farmer, the school's director of undergraduate admissions, said in a news release.
Farmer said two employees accidentally sent the e-mail Tuesday. It began, "Congratulations again on your admission to the University."
The e-mail was intended to request midyear grades from high schoolstudents who have already been accepted to the school.
Admissions officials have sent follow-up e-mails apologizing for the error. They have also e-mailed admissions counselors around the nation to explain the mistake.
About 20,000 people apply each year to UNC Chapel Hill, and the school enrolls about 3,800 new freshmen.