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Comparing UT Austin’s ECB and CSB Honors Programs

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UT Austin is the best public school in Texas, and its honors programs are as competitive for admissions as the Ivy League. In this article, we’ll compare their two most competitive honors programs: Electrical and Computer Engineering + Business (ECB) and Computer Science and Business (CSB).

Each of these programs allows you to explore computers and business in more depth than is otherwise possible, and affords you expanded horizons. In this article, we’ll cover what each program offers, and how to apply to it. We’ll also compare them, so you can determine which program is the best fit for your needs and desires. If you are interested in a broader overview of UT Austin’s Honors programs, see our article on the subject.

Electrical and Computer Engineering + Business Honors

The ECB Honors program is a joint program, which allows students to earn simultaneous bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering and business. Students in the program are part of both Electrical and Computer Engineering Honors and the Canfield Business Honors programs.

Students in the program form a small cohort, and a focus on team-based learning is integral to the experience. During their senior year, students work together on a capstone design project. 

You are enrolled in classes with both Canfield students and ECE Honors students. The schedule is very full, and depending on what credits you enter UT Austin with, you may need to take summer courses to graduate in four years. Many students come into the program with the following course credits (though they are not required for admission): 

  • Differential and Integral Calculus
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Physics: Mechanics
  • Physics: Electricity and Magnetism
  • English Literature
  • US History
  • US Government

You can earn many of these credits in high school through AP courses and exams, or through dual enrollment college credits. They provide a sample schedule of what your course load may look like in the program. While you do not need to sign up for these exact classes, it does provide you with a sense of scale for the program’s requirements for graduation.

While the program is incredibly intense, it provides a solid grounding in computer engineering and business analytics alike, and is aimed at students entering the growing field of tech startups and computer focused entrepreneurial ventures. 

ECB Admissions

To apply to the program, you must put down Unspecified Business and ECE as your two top choice majors. Put down whichever one you like more as your top choice major. You may then apply to either the Canfield Business Honors program, or ECE Honors. Again, you should apply to whichever program appeals to you more. You do not have to apply to either program to apply to ECB, but they do serve as a backup if you are not admitted to ECB.

Canfield Business Honors and ECE Honors both require an additional essay. These are: 

  • Canfield: 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. Please limit your response to no more than 250 words.
  • ECE: Describe your significant activities, employment, and achievements, particularly those relevant to the study of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Also describe your educational and career goals. Please limit your response to no more than 500 words.

The ECB program itself requires an essay response: 

  • Honors Electrical and Computer Engineering and Business (ECB) is a powerful dual degree program looking for students who are dedicated to both an electrical and computer engineering and business honors education. Why do you see this as a combination of skills for your career goals? What have you done in high school, in the classroom and outside, to prepare you for honors engineering and business course work? Please limit your response to no more than 500 words.

All honors applications require you to submit an expanded resume, and an additional letter of recommendation form a teacher in an academic subject. You must indicate your intention to apply for an honors program.

Computer Science and Business Honors

The CSB Honors program is a joint venture between the Canfield Business Honors program and the Turing Scholars program from the Department of Computer Science, in the College of Natural Sciences. Students in the program take classes from both, and master both subjects over the course of four years. 

The program provides a sample course sequence to demonstrate what your time there may look like. While you are not required to take these exact classes, you are expected to take classes from the CSB curriculum, which combines honors offerings from the CS department and Canfield. You are not required to arrive with any course credits, though doing so may reduce the amount of work you need to do during your time at UT Austin.

The program strives to create a close knit community for its students, and believes that the connections it fosters there are a key part of the educational experience. Due to the small size of the program, cohorts generally get to know each other well, and often form lasting friendships. 

CSB Admissions

You must select Unspecified Business and Computer Science as your first and second choice majors to apply to this program. Your top-choice major should be whichever one you are more interested in of the two. You must then indicate your interest in an honors program; depending on which major you listed as your first choice, you may apply to either Canfield Business Honors or Turing Scholars (you do not have to apply to either, though you are allowed to apply to one). 

Turing Scholars and Canfield both require additional essays, as does the CSB program. We list the prompt for Canfield above, the others are:

  • Turing: Describe your significant activities, employment, and achievements, particularly those relevant to the study of computer science. Also describe your educational and career goals. Please limit your response to no more than 500 words.
  • CSB: Texas CSB is an innovative dual degree program looking for students who are dedicated to both computer science and business. Why do you see this as a powerful combination of skills for your career goals? What have you done in high school to prepare you for computer science and business course work? Please limit your response to no more than 500 words.

An additional letter of recommendation from a teacher in an academic subject and an expanded resume are required components of your application to CSB. Phone interviews are offered to select applicants by invitation only. These interviews are conducted by alumni of the program. See our article on interviews for advice on completing a successful college interview.

Is ECB or CSB Better for You?

Both ECB and CSB provide a world class education, an introduction to the worlds of business and technology, and a solid grounding for success in either enterprise. Further, both offer all the amenities of UT Austin’s honors programs, including expanded access to merit scholarships, the ability to live in honors housing, and expanded on-campus resources for career advising and mentorship. 

The largest difference between the programs come from the differences between computer engineering and computer science, two fields which are superficially similar but vastly different in terms of scope and focus. 

To simplify a very complex topic, computer engineering is generally the study and design of computer hardware. The circuits and chips which build the infrastructure on which modern technology runs. Computer science is the study and design of computer software through programming, creating the code which allows various programs to operate. Computer engineers often do learn coding as well, but it is not the main focus of their training or efforts. 

Thus your own interests in technology should dictate which program you apply to, and which will best serve your needs. If you are interested in hardware, and the physical structures which underpin modern technology, ECB will suit you better. If, instead, you are fascinated by code and the electronic languages which allow computers to run the world, then CSB will fit you better. 

Both programs tie into business, and how to market the various creations equally, as both partner with the well-renowned Canfield Business Honors program. The biggest difference is on the technical side, so this is what should influence your decision between the two.

Final Thoughts

Honors programs are a great way to gain access to additional resources at college. These particular programs are both great ways to gain experience in the intersection of entrepreneurship and innovation, and both turn out graduates ready to change the world with their ideas and inventions. 

We hope this article has given you a good understanding of each program, and provided insight into which will be a better fit for you. Both of these programs are incredibly competitive from an admissions standpoint; equivalent to an Ivy League school. If you want help on your admissions journey, or want to learn more about your options, schedule a free consultation with us today. We have a depth of experience helping students get into amazing programs, and are always happy to hear from you.

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