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The Polymathic Scholars Program in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin is designed for students with a commitment to science who also have compelling interests beyond their majors. Polymaths design a personalized field of study that emerges from each student's interests and related questions that require knowledge from more than one academic department. This Capstone field of study is officially designated on transcripts as the Evidence and Inquiry certificate, in fulfillment of the College's Bachelor of Science and Arts honors degree.

Check out our student-authored fields to see the interests that many Polymaths past and present have pursued. PS is an honors Bachelor of Science & Arts (BSA) degree program. BSA honors degree requirements include:

  • An Introduction to Research Methods course (UGS 303: Originality in the Arts and Sciences
  • Interdisciplinary seminars developed specifically for honors students
  • Honors-level courses (minimum of six hours)
  • Capstone Field Invention Seminar
  • Polymathic Scholars Capstone Thesis Seminars (six hours total)
  • Minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA

The College of Natural Sciences' PS BSA honors degree is compatible with most majors in the College of Natural Sciences.  Please visit the CNS degree checklist site for more information on major-specific BSA plans.

The Polymathic Scholars Program has a dedicated honors program coordinator on hand who:

  • Meets in person with each student in the College of Natural Sciences Honors Program at least once a semester to discuss course selection (including honors courses) and create an individual plan to facilitate progress toward graduation;
  • Works to evaluate test credits and help determine what credits should be used toward degree requirements and which courses should be taken on campus;
  • Is available during registration and at any time during the semester to assist with alternate plans based on course availability;
  • Provides current and accurate information about educational options, requirements, policies, and procedures;
  • Helps Polymaths identify and integrate the many resources of the university to meet their unique educational needs and goals; and to provide strategies for utilizing the available services on campus.


Honors curriculum timeline (does not include non-honors courses) 

YEAR 1 (6 CREDIT HOURS)

  • UGS 303 Originality in the Arts and Sciences (Fall)
  • NSC 110H/PS First-Year Seminar (Fall and Spring)
  • Major-specific Honors-level coursework

YEAR 2 (5 TO 8 CREDIT HOURS)

  • NSC 109, Topic 4: Polymathic Capstone Field Invention (Fall)
  • NSC 110H/CNS Honors Seminar (Spring)
  • Capstone Field Course(s) (Spring)

YEAR 3 (8 TO 11 CREDIT HOURS)

  • NSC 110H/CNS Honors Seminar (Fall and Spring)
  • Complete Capstone Field Courses (Fall and Spring)
  • PS Thesis Planning Workshops (Fall and Spring)

YEAR 4 (6 CREDIT HOURS)

  • NSC 323, Topic 1: Polymathic Capstone Thesis Preparation Seminar (Fall)
  • NSC 371 PS Capstone Thesis Seminar (Spring)

Polymathic Scholars Course Descriptions

  • UGS 303 Originality in the Arts and Sciences: In their first semester, Polymaths enroll in this Signature course for CNS honors students that satisfies the research methods course requirement for the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI). In their second semester, Polymaths have the opportunity to initiate and engage in real-world research experience with faculty and graduate students through the FRI, which has over twenty research streams.

  • NSC 110H/PS First-Year Seminar: Freshmen participate in a year-long first-year seminar led by Dr. Alex Huk, PS program faculty director. The goal of NSC 110H / PS First-Year Seminar is to introduce students not only to some of the university’s finest teachers and researchers, but also to the range of intellectual work on campus.

  • NSC 110H/CNS Honors Seminar: One of the major advantages of being a CNS honors student is having access to small seminars that connect students with some of the university’s best teachers and top researchers. These seminars help create the honors community of scholars and introduce students to noted faculty in a small-group setting. Topics/instructors vary from semester to semester. Students choose a seminar to take in spring of their sophomore year and in fall and spring of their junior year. See current CNS Honors Seminars

  • PS Thesis Planning Workshops: These workshops are required for all Polymaths who plan to write their theses in the following academic year. During their third year, Polymaths will take several one-hour workshops to support their progress toward successful completion of their theses.

PS-specific seminars walk students through their Capstone experience:

  • NSC 109, Topic 4: Polymathic Capstone Field Invention: In fall of their sophomore year, Polymaths design a multidisciplinary Capstone field of study inspired by one or more questions they would like to answer by the time they graduate. Before they begin coursework in their field, they write a proposal in which they explain why their field of study interests them, argue that it deserves scholarly attention, and identify six relevant university courses (representing at least two academic departments) and two faculty members with relevant research interests. They’ll take no fewer than four of the six courses. Two of the courses must be upper-division (i.e., advanced).

  • NSC 323, Topic 1: Polymathic Capstone Thesis Preparation Seminar: In fall of their senior year, students prepare to write their honors theses the following semester. Students will conduct independent research, develop an annotated bibliography, write a short thesis proposal, and begin outlining the thesis, among other incremental assignments.

  • NSC 371: Capstone Thesis Seminar: Students are provided research and writing support while writing their honors thesis under the direction of one or more faculty supervisors.

For more information, please contact CNS Honors & Scholarships:

CNS Honors & Scholarships
T.S. Painter Hall, room 5.37 (mail code G2550)
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin TX 78712-2550
(512) 232-1048
cns.honors@austin.utexas.edu