FAQs for Undergrad Applicants

Freshman Admission

What do you value most when reviewing freshman applicants?

High academic achievement as well as demonstrated interest in and aptitude for science and math is strongly considered in the freshman review process. Read more in the Info For Future Students section.

How hard is it to be admitted to the College of Natural Sciences?

More and more students seek math and science degrees making the College of Natural Sciences the largest college at UT Austin. With many more applicants than we can accept, admission to the College of Natural Sciences has become increasingly competitive. Students are considered amongst others in their respective applicant pool and so, while interest in Natural Sciences continues to increase, the level of competitiveness varies from year to year.

I’m eligible for automatic admission to UT Austin. Does that mean I’ll be automatically admitted into the College of Natural Sciences as well?

Not necessarily. The College of Natural Sciences works collaboratively with the Office of Admissions. We review applications for Natural Sciences based on academic fit and interest in our programs. Therefore, a student may be eligible for admission to the University but not selected for our college. 

What SAT/ACT score do I need to get into CNS?

This cycle, high school students who apply to The University of Texas at Austin for Fall 2023 undergraduate admission will not be required to submit an ACT or SAT test score as part of their application. For more information about the policy, please review the Standardized Testing Policy FAQs.

Does the College of Natural Sciences require SAT subject tests?

No. SAT subject test scores are not evaluated in the admissions process. 

How early should I apply to maximize my chances of getting admitted?

Students are encouraged to submit their applications well in advance of the deadline. Nearly 40,000 freshman applicants apply for summer or fall admission. Students are encouraged to submit their applications before November 1 to allow sufficient time for processing. UT Austin and the College of Natural Sciences do not offer early decision or early action for general admission, and applying early does not influence the admission decision. All applicants who submit complete applications on time are considered for admission. More information about admission deadlines can be found here:

Where should I send my application materials and how do I know they have been received?

Any materials you wish to be considered for admission must be received by the Office of Admissions. Many items can be uploaded online and their receipt verified on your “MyStatus” page. MyStatus is a personalized notification site managed by the Office of Admissions. MyStatus is where you will verify receipt of your application materials, submit major change requests, upload additional documents, and find your admissions decision. Housing, Financial Aid, Orientation and other services can also be accessed through MyStatus. Your MyStatus page becomes active 24-48 hours after submitting your application.

Where can I find information to help me decide on a major for my application?

There are a number of resources to help students hone in on an academic major.

  • CNS Majors and Departments – offers detailed descriptions and facts about CNS majors
  • Wayfinder – Interactive website providing individual assessments and modules to explore potential career paths and all UT Austin majors. 
  • Career Services
I have already submitted my Apply Texas application; can I still change my major?

Major changes for applicants who are awaiting a decision can often be made before the application deadline through your “MyStatus” page. Sometimes a major change requires submitting an appeal for consideration and is only offered based on qualifications and space in the program. The Office of Admissions handles all major change requests for incoming students prior to the first class day at UT Austin.

When will I be notified of my admission?

Individual admission decisions are released by the Office of Admissions as they are finalized. Some students may learn about their admission to the University weeks or months before finding out if they have been accepted into their college/major. All admissions decisions, including major updates, will post on the student’s “My Status” page before receiving letter notification in the mail.

  • Summer/Fall Freshman: Anytime between late fall and March 1.
  • Summer/Fall Transfer: Summer – Between late March and May; Fall – Between April and June.
  • Spring Applicants: Notifications are sent on a rolling basis. Check with the Office of Admissions for more information.
I was admitted to UT Austin but not to the College of Natural Sciences. What can I do?

Consider joining the College of Natural Sciences as an internal transfer student.

I was not admitted to UT Austin. What can I do?

Consider re-applying as an external transfer student.

Transfer & CAP Admission

What do you value most when reviewing transfer applicants?

A clear path towards math and science (interest and experience) and strong academic performance in related coursework is valued most in the transfer admission process. Read more in the External Transfers section.

Can I check which of my credits will transfer to UT?

Yes, if you attend another college or university in Texas, you can check credit transfers using the Automated Transfer Equivalency System (ATE). If you attend a college or university outside of Texas, your credits from your previous institution will be reviewed by the university during the application review process. 

Does the 24 credit hour minimum count only in-residence credit hours from my previous college/university?

No, the 24 hours includes any dual credit or AP credit hours you have claimed in addition to in-residence credit hours. However, the 24 hours all must be transferable to UT. If you are currently attending another Texas college or university, you can check whether a course credit will transfer using our Automated Transfer Equivalency System (ATE).

** Students who are enrolled in the Coordinated Admission Program (CAP) are required to have 30 credit hours.

Will grades for the courses I’m enrolled in at the time of my application be considered in the application process?

No, UNLESS you have less than 24 credit hours at the time of your application for transfer but will have at least 24 credit hours by the end of the semester during which you apply for transfer. If you already have more than 24 credit hours, only the credits you have already completed will be considered. 

** Students who are enrolled in the Coordinated Admission Program (CAP) are required to have 30 credit hours.

I’m a student from another college or university. Can I take classes at UT during the summer?

Yes. You can apply to be a summer transient student. You can read more about the application process here

Can I take some science and math courses at UT without pursuing a degree?

Non degree-seeking students without a college degree can apply as summer transients (see question 5 above). Non degree-seeking students who have a bachelor’s degree can apply to UT as a non degree-seeking transfer student. You can read more about the process here

Am I able to meet with an academic advisor to discuss my transcripts and class transferability?

CNS advisors are only able to meet with current CNS students. For students who are in-state, we recommend using transfer resources from the UT Austin Office of Admissions to evaluate course transferability. 

Out of state students: Evaluation of individual courses taken at out-of-state institutions is not available over the phone, in person or by email. Specific course evaluations and decisions about the transferability of individual courses are made only after an applicant has been admitted.

Does the Coordinated Admission Program (CAP) guarantee my admission to my desired major in CNS?

As a Coordinated Admission Program (CAP) student, admission to CNS is competitive and students are not guaranteed admission to any CNS majors. Students in CAP will apply to CNS using the external transfer application if they wish to be enrolled in a CNS major. Please see the External Transfers page for information about the CNS external transfer process. Please visit the CAP FAQs page for more details about CAP.


How do I apply for a scholarship in the College of Natural Sciences as an entering freshman?

All prospective CNS freshmen who have been admitted into the College of Natural Sciences and who have selected CNS as their first choice major will be considered for scholarships awarded by the College of Natural Sciences. There is not a separate scholarship application for CNS awards.

There is also no longer a separate university-wide scholarship application for incoming freshmen. All applicants will be considered for university-wide scholarships using the admissions application. Students wishing to be considered for the widest range of scholarships should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by January 15. Finally, the Office of Financial Aid administers some scholarships with unique qualifications (specific majors, service components, etc.). Students fitting these unique qualifications may choose submit the Scholarship Interest Form to be considered for these specific awards. The Scholarship Interest Form will be visible through each applicant’s “MyStatus” page after the admissions application is received. The deadline to submit the interest form is December 1.

What criteria do you use for entering freshman scholarship offers?

The College of Natural Sciences looks at a variety of factors when making scholarship decisions. Scholarship decisions are based on items such as but not limited to merit, leadership and/or need. Since scholarship funding comes from various sources, criteria used to make scholarship selections can vary too.

Is the scholarship process competitive?

Yes, the scholarship process is extremely competitive for our prospective students. Roughly 6% of the admitted CNS class received scholarship offers for the 2018-2019 academic year. However, there are many opportunities for students to apply for scholarships as a continuing student.

Who makes scholarship decisions for the College of Natural Sciences?

Prospective student awards are decided upon by administration, faculty and staff directly involved with the admissions process. A committee made up of College of Natural Sciences faculty members and the CNS Scholarship Coordinator evaluates continuing student scholarship applications.

What can I do if I don’t receive a College of Natural Sciences entering freshman scholarship?

Prospective students should not be discouraged if they do not receive a scholarship offer from the College of Natural Sciences. All students are encouraged to submit their FAFSA by January 15 so that they can be considered for any and all financial aid they might be eligible for including other UT scholarships, grants and loans. Students should be sure to visit Texas One Stop for details. Please also keep in mind that students are able to apply for scholarships awarded by the College of Natural Sciences on an annual basis.

Can I apply for more scholarships after I enroll at UT Austin?

The College of Natural Sciences invites all CNS undergraduates to submit the CNS Common Scholarship Application every spring. Most CNS departments also have their own awarding process for major and/or program specific undergraduate scholarships. Students are also invited to submit the university scholarship application through the Office of Financial Aid every year. There are many scholarship opportunities for students throughout their time on the Forty Acres.

When will I be notified if I received a College of Natural Sciences scholarship?

The College of Natural Sciences typically notifies prospective students of their CNS award via U.S. mail throughout the month of March.

Will I be notified if I did not receive a College of Natural Sciences scholarship?

Only students who have received a CNS scholarship will be notified of their status.

Honors Programs

What honors programs are available in the College of Natural Sciences?
Do I have to be a specific major to be eligible for a particular honors program?

It depends. College-wide programs are open to all CNS students, while departmental honors programs are specific to certain CNS majors. All CNS honors students must be pursuing a CNS major in order to remain in a CNS honors program.

Can I be in more than one honors program?

CNS students may only be in one college-wide honors program (DS, HSS or PS). However, they may choose to be in a college-wide honors program in addition to a departmental honors program (Turing, CSB, Nutritional Sciences, Human Development & Family Sciences). They may also choose to be in a CNS college-wide honors program and/or a CNS departmental honors program in addition to an honors program outside of the college — Plan II, Business Honors Program, etc. — if the non-CNS program permits it. As a reminder, students must be pursuing a CNS degree to be eligible for CNS honors programs. 

Are honors programs for entering freshmen only?

No. Current UT students and transfer students can apply to any of the CNS honors programs before their fourth long semester of college. See each program’s website for application instructions.

Is the Honors Application a separate application from the ApplyTexas and Coalition applications?

Yes and no. Students interested in applying to Honors Programs are able to apply through the general application and they can also submit it separately through the Honors Application

When can I apply to an honors program?

Entering freshmen can begin their honors application while completing the general application through ApplyTexas and the Common App. The honors application deadline is December 8th. Honors applicants are encouraged to apply by November 1st. Transfer application cycles typically take place at the end of each semester. Transfer application requirements and deadlines vary by program. Details can be found on each of the programs’ websites.

Is there an advantage to submitting the honors application by November 1st?

Applicants who submit their honors application by November 1st will have their applications reviewed earlier than those who submit later, and some may find out about their program’s decision as early as mid-December. 

Can I be in an honors program if I plan to graduate in three years?

CNS honors programs require substantial investments of time outside of their coursework, making a three-year degree difficult. These pursuits can include independent research, studying abroad, conference presentations, substantial theses, internships, health care practicums, campus leadership and extensive community service. While graduating in three years is not prohibited, it is not encouraged.

Do I have to be in an honors program to take honors courses?

Not necessarily. Students who are not in a CNS honors program can take honors courses if space permits, and if they meet prerequisites. These vary from course to course, but typically they include a minimum AP score and/or a minimum GPA. Academic advisors can provide details about registering for honors courses.

Do I have to be in an honors program to be an honors student?

No. The college offers honors opportunities for non-honors program students, including:

  • GPA/Rank-based honors opportunities offer recognition for academic success.  
  • Departmental Honors is awarded at graduation based on thesis completion.
What are the benefits of being in an honors program?

The benefit is having the best of two worlds: the close-knit community of a small college, and access to the ample intellectual and physical resources of one of the world’s leading research universities. And at UT Austin, students have the additional benefits of affordable tuition and several notable diversities — of faculty and students above all, but also of research and internship opportunities, courses and degrees. CNS honors programs offer a supportive, inspiring community of scholars and provide students priority access to a variety of university resources.

If I am in an honors program, are all of my courses honors-level courses?

No. Honors program students will take both honors and non-honors courses.

How do honors courses differ from regular courses?

Honors courses are smaller than non-honors courses. Generally, instructors dive more deeply into content and encourage critical analysis, problem solving, inquiry and individual thought. Subject competency is often tested through open-ended problem solving, case studies and/or real-world analysis.

What do you value when considering students for an honors program?

There is no formulaic combination of scores, grades and achievements that guarantees admission to any of the programs. Faculty and staff evaluate students’ academic merit and potential by reviewing test scores, GPA, class rank, signs of a committed interest in science or math, and success in advanced classes in those subjects. They also assess applicants’ writing, work ethic, leadership, critical thinking and maturity, and they look for evidence that they’ve researched and understand the target program. The materials that permit this assessment include essays, resumes that document extracurricular involvements and honors, and letters of recommendations, one of which must be from a science or math instructor. Evaluators also assess whether an applicant appears appropriate for the target program and reserve the right to recommend that an applicant be admitted to a different honors program. 

How do I schedule my interview for the honors program?

Our honors programs do not offer interviews as part of the application process.

When will I be notified if I’ve been accepted into an honors program?

Entering freshmen will be notified between mid-December and late March. Transfer applicants will be notified within 10 days prior to the start of classes of the next semester.

Will I be notified if I am not accepted into an honors program?

Yes. All honors applicants will hear a decision.

Applying to Computer Science

Incoming first-year students: What can I do to be accepted into CS?

It is helpful to show a strong background with good grades in math (especially Calculus) and majors level science, and in any CS courses you may have taken. Experience in CS (inside and/or outside of the classroom) is also helpful. If your high school has a computer science program or offers AP courses, it is advisable to take these courses and the AP tests associated with them.   

External transfer students: What can I do to be accepted into CS?

It is helpful to show a strong background with good grades in math (especially Calculus), majors level sciences, and in any CS courses you may have taken. Experience in CS (inside and/or outside of the classroom) is also helpful.

Internal transfer students: What can I do to be accepted into CS?

Please attend one of the internal transfer information sessions to learn more about the process and the requirements needed. The internal transfer website has a wealth of information about the process. For CS, it is helpful to show a strong background with good grades in math (especially Calculus) and majors level science, and in any CS courses you may have taken. Experience in CS (inside and/or outside of the classroom) is helpful. CS 312: Intro to Programming is typically open to non-CS majors in spring and summer semesters; it is not open to non-CS majors in fall semesters.

Is it possible to externally transfer into CS in the spring?

Unfortunately, this is not an option. CS is only available for external transfer in fall semesters.

Is it possible to take CS courses as a non-major?

Absolutely! You can take courses through the Elements of Computing certificate. This will be listed on your transcript upon completion. CS 312 is also typically open to non-CS majors in spring and summer semesters.

I am currently a CS major at another University/College. My goal is to become a CS major and I have been accepted to another major at UT. Should I transfer to UT and then attempt an internal transfer? Will that increase my chances of getting accepted?

It is not advisable to externally transfer into UT Austin to then apply to internally transfer into the Dept. of Computer Science. The internal transfer process for CS is extremely competitive, and there is no guarantee of acceptance into the major. For questions about the internal transfer process, please email: cns.internal.transfer@austin.utexas.edu. If you wish to attend UT under a different major, please choose a major that you would be fine with graduating just in case. If you are currently studying CS and enjoy it, please consider all of your options.

I would like to speak with someone in CS and schedule a visit. How can I arrange this?

If you are a high school junior or senior, you have the opportunity to meet with a CS Ambassador during the fall and spring semester. They will meet with transfer students on a case by case basis, but this is not a guarantee depending on their schedule. Please visit this page for more information. Please note that during the spring semester, priority is given to admitted students.  CS Ambassador tours are not available in summers.

I have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline, but I want to study Computer Science. How does that work?

Congratulations on your degree! Generally speaking, the CS department gives priority to students who have not completed their undergraduate education yet. Another option is looking at the graduate program. It does not require that a student have a CS degree, though it is helpful. They will also consider work experience. It does require having a background in certain courses, but there are no prerequisites for admission. For more information, click here.

General Questions about CNS

What are my degree options in CNS?

We offer two different degrees, a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree and the Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA). The BS is a like a specialist degree, where students take a majority of science/math course work. Students may generally use their electives to take more science coursework. The BSA is an interdisciplinary degree that provides students with a solid core in math and science and allows students to explore other disciplines. A certificate or minor is built into the BSA degree. Students pursuing a BS can also have a minor or certificate, but they will work very closely with their advisor to map out their coursework to fit everything in. Students typically do not need to make a decision about their degree until they are close to completing their entry-level requirements. The exception to this is involvements in one of our Honors Programs, as they follow a specific curriculum. Here is more information about the degree options

How many majors are in CNS?

We offer 15 majors in CNS, so lots of options!

I want to study Astrophysics and go to graduate school, but I don’t see that as an option. How can I major in this?

Our Astronomy major contains sufficient physics for graduate school. Physics majors take two or three additional physics courses. Many of our Astronomy majors are able to complete both degrees in four years with careful planning with their Advisor.  

How can I be an Environmental Science Major?

Environmental Science (EVS) is a very competitive major, both as an incoming first year student, internal transfer and external transfer. EVS is also housed within three Colleges – CNS (Biological Sciences), Jackson School of Geosciences (Geological Sciences) and the College of Liberal Arts (Geographical Sciences). If you are interested in studying EVS, Applicants must meet calculus readiness requirements and other prerequisites. 

What score do I need on my AP exam to claim credit?

You will need to check the Student Testing Services (STS) website for more information on the exams and scores.

Before claiming any credits, students will need to speak with their advisor at orientation to determine what their best options are moving forward and determine whether to claim credit or not. The reason for this is that depending upon what you are hoping to study, your degree, your future plans all make a difference in what you decide to do with your credits and it is very unique from person to person.

I want to double major when I attend UT. How does that work?

Incoming first year students are able to double major in Plan II (which is an Honors program within the College of Liberal Arts) and a major within CNS. Another option is through the Texas Honors Computer Science and Business Honors Program where a student admitted to the program would be admitted to both Computer Sciences and Unspecified Business (the entry major for all Business students). Otherwise, if a student is interested in a major in another College/School, the student will need to follow the internal transfer process for the other College/School and be admitted for the other major to be added.

Do I need to be a Biology major if I want to go to medical school?

No. As this is really important, we want to stress this. No, you can major in anything that you are interested in. You have so much flexibility with what you would like to study and pursue. If you are enrolled within CNS and are interested in a pre-medical pathway, please choose a major you are excited about and interested in. It really makes a difference when you are taking your challenging advanced courses and for your mental health and well-being, as well as how you do in your courses. Plans can change, so it is important that you choose a major you will be content with upon graduation. You can major in anything at the university and you will need to take the required pre-requisite courses to take your entrance exam and apply for medical school. We have so many wonderful pre-health student organizations on campus to provide support and resources as well. Please speak with the Health Professions Office (HPO) for more information and visit their website as they have so much information available there. You are welcome to schedule a prospective student appointment by emailing them at HPO@austin.utexas.edu.

I am interested in Pre-Pharmacy. What does that mean for me?

In the College of Natural Sciences, our students will be considered Undeclared/Pre-Pharmacy with the understanding that the student will select a major by the end of their first year. The growing trend is that students are completing a 4-year degree and then attending Pharmacy school. Plans can change, so it is important to choose a major that will resonate with your interests and goals. You can still apply for Pharmacy school during your second year at UT and you will work with the Health Professions Office (HPO).

UT is a huge place and CNS is a large College. Will I ever meet anyone?

Yes! We take great lengths in CNS to make UT an intimate experience. We accomplish this through our Cornerstones Communities. These are small cohorts/communities of students with similar majors and/or interests. Our students take linked introductory courses together, which is helpful when entering a large introductory course because our students already know each other and can study together. These communities are led by faculty or staff and provide students with opportunities to explore, think outside of the box, learn about research, industries, other majors and much more.

I’m interested in pursuing research. What are my options?

We offer different pathways for our students to be involved in research. For our incoming first-year students, we offer our nationally recognized Freshman Research Initiative (FRI). Students have the opportunity to begin working in a lab their second semester of their first year.

We also offer the Accelerated Research Initiative (ARI) for students who are CNS sophomores and juniors who did not participate in FRI, as well as transfer students.

Additionally, students are welcome to connect with faculty on their own. The Eureka database allows students to search for faculty who are involved in research that matches the students’ interests. The School of Undergraduate Studies hosts information sessions to guide students through the process.

Applying to CNS

How do I apply to CNS?

Incoming first year students who have graduated, or will soon graduate high school or receive a GED, and have not enrolled at another institution will apply as ‘Freshman’ and follow the prompts in the Apply Texas application.

If a student has started their post-secondary studies at another institution after graduating from high school or earning a GED, and has or will have earned 30 semester hours of required transferable coursework at another college or university, the student can apply for transfer admission.

If a student is an undergraduate pursuing a degree at another U.S. college or university and wants to take a course at The University of Texas at Austin during a summer session without actually enrolling as a regular student, the student can apply for transient admission.

What is the maximum number of hours to transfer to CNS?

We do not have a maximum number of hours in Natural Sciences, but we do have a minimum number of hours, which is 30 hours. If you wish to graduate from UT, you will need to take 60 hours of coursework in residence. 

I went to multiple schools. Will I need to submit transcripts from all of them?

Yes, students are required to submit transcripts from all institutions.

I have a degree, and I am interested in taking a few courses at UT. I do not wish to pursue another degree. Can I still apply to UT and take classes?

Yes. If you have at least a bachelor’s degree and want to take additional undergraduate courses without working toward another degree, apply for transfer admission as a non-degree-seeking student. Non-degree-seeking students must apply to a specific school or college, selecting a major intended for a non-degree seeker. Note that some colleges have additional requirements and restrictions for non-degree-seeking students.

I am enrolled in another School/College at UT and I am interested in taking pre-requisites for a health profession track through CNS. Can I do that?

Yes. Many students will take their pre-requisite courses with us, but have a major in another college/school. Our Health Professions Office (HPO) would be a great resource for you as well and they are housed within Natural Sciences, but serve the entire University because we have students throughout UT with an interest in pursuing a health profession.

All students, once enrolled, will have access to this office. They are extremely knowledgeable about the requirements for Texas schools and work with students to help them be competitive applicants.