Exploring UT Austin’s Honors Programs

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UT Austin is the most popular school in Texas, and thanks to their guaranteed admissions program, many high achieving students don’t have to worry too much about getting into a good school. However, many of the students who qualify for guaranteed admissions can benefit a great deal from UT Austin’s honors programs.

These programs are more competitive than general admissions, and students who are guaranteed acceptance to the school as a whole have no such guarantees for specific honors programs. In this article, we’ll cover what the honors programs are, what they offer, which students would be best served by applying to them, and any additional requirements they have to apply. 

Plan II Honors Program

This is UT’s general honors program and is meant to emulate the education students get from top-tier liberal arts colleges. Offered through the College of Liberal Arts, the program is interdisciplinary in its focus, covering both science and liberal arts, and serves as the student’s major. Students must complete a thesis as part of the program.

Students who are interested in a classic liberal arts education, or who enjoy critical thinking and problem solving, are well served by this program. If you do not want to follow a core curriculum, or if you have very specific major plans not served by this program (such as business or engineering), we suggest looking to the other honors programs.

The program requires applicants to answer the following prompt in addition to the standard four: 

What do you see as the largest problem facing society today? What do you see as the negative effects of this problem and how would an interdisciplinary education in Plan II Honors give you tools to begin to solve this challenge to the greater good? (250 words)

Canfield Business Honors Program

This program is designed to start introducing MBA-level concepts and practices to undergraduate students, through a curriculum modeled after case-based study. Students have access to smaller classes and have additional course offerings distinct from regular business students.

This course is meant for highly motivated students interested in business, especially those who intend to pursue an MBA. Students who benefit from discussion and working on real-world case studies will do well in this program. 

The program requires applicants to answer the following prompt in addition to the standard four: 

Discuss a single piece of business news in the last year that has affected your view on the need for a high-quality business education, and tell us why this has affected or reinforced your desire for a business education. You do not need to go into detail about this piece of business news — a quick reference to the event will suffice. It can be something that occurred in your community, in the U.S., or internationally. Spend the majority of your response on how this event affected your views. (250 words)

Computer Science and Business

This program combines aspects from the Business Honors Program with a curriculum heavy in computer science topics. This is a very selective program, and is aimed at students who want to combine business with technology; the next generation of entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley startups. Students in the program are able to take classes in both the Business Honors and CS Honors programs.

Students who are interested in technology and business, and the overlaps of the two, are well served by the program. If you would prefer a career in Silicon Valley to one on Wall Street, then we recommend you apply. If you are not deeply passionate about both subjects, you will be better served to apply to a program with a less narrow focus.

Engineering Honors Program

This is a non-curriculum-based honors program, which awards merit scholarships to first-year participants. Students are also allowed to live in honors dorms and are encouraged to complete a thesis as part of the program. You are allowed to participate in both the Engineering Honors and Plan II Honors programs simultaneously.

While this program does not offer the same curriculum options as other programs, it is a good choice for students who are interested in doing engineering research. Students looking for a smaller cohort within a large school will also benefit.

There are no required additional application materials, though you are encouraged to submit an expanded resume.

Liberal Arts Honors Program

This program is offered through the College of Liberal Arts but is distinct from the Plan II Honors program. Students in the program have access to an honors curriculum that features smaller class sizes and a focus on research and answering big questions. The program also works to support students studying abroad or participating in internships.

Students interested in doing research, or who want a Liberal Arts college experience are a good fit for this program. While there are courses you are required to take, the program is more open in its course offerings than some of the other honors programs and allows you to choose from a broader array of majors.

The program requires applicants to answer the following prompt in addition to the standard four: 

Students in Liberal Arts Honors embrace the opportunity to delve into their academic interests, discover new realms of intellectual inquiry, and chart their own honors path through an interdisciplinary education. Tell us why the depth, breadth, and flexibility of a Liberal Arts education are ideally suited to exploring the areas of study that excite you. (250 words)

Moody College Honors Program

This program is for advanced students in the Moody College of Communications and is only for students majoring in that school. It features an advanced curriculum, small class sizes, enrichment activities, and a commitment to service, both in the college and in the surrounding community.

This program is designed for students who are interested in communications, and who desire a more intensive and enriching curriculum. The program also has an emphasis on service and looks for students who are eager to give back to their community. All students admitted as freshmen are awarded a 1-year scholarship, and students in the program are eligible for further scholarships going forward. 

There are no additional application requirements when applying as a freshman. High academic performance is prized but is not the only thing the program is looking for. They want students capable of critical and independent thinking, with diverse viewpoints and experiences.

Natural Sciences Honors Program

This program covers three separate cohorts, all of which work similarly: Dean’s Scholars, Health Science Scholars, and Polymathic Scholars. Each program requires a two-semester seminar course, followed by optional joint weekly seminars on a variety of topics, with the purpose of learning for its own sake. The programs are also intended to foster collaboration between students and faculty.

Students who are passionate about the natural sciences, and who want to pursue research, will do well in this program. If you enjoy learning about science for its own sake, and the joy of discovery and experimentation, we encourage you to apply.

This program does not have additional application requirements.

Final Thoughts

UT Austin is a great school all on its own, but these honors programs offer advanced students a chance to explore their passions in more depth and foster their learning. These programs are intended to emulate a smaller college experience, with their own dorms and a close-knit community of passionate students.

While these programs are difficult to get into, the benefits they offer are worth it. If you want more information about UT Austin generally, you should check out our fact sheet on the school. If you want to know if these honors programs are right for you, or want help applying to them, sign up for a free consultation. We have helped many students apply to UT Austin, and are happy to share our expertise with you.

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