First-Year Communities

Where to find Texas Science community, right from the start.

CNS Cornerstones Communities

Meeting people, exploring all the university has to offer and finding out how to succeed as a STEM undergraduate can be a lot to tackle on your own. That’s why new students here have support: they belong to a small academic learning community called a CNS Cornerstones Community.

Our community model springs from input from former students, who told us about hurdles they remembered from their first year at UT and what would be most helpful in starting off right.

  • Each community is made up of students who share your academic interests.
  • Each community includes faculty or staff advisors and student mentors who can provide guidance and support.
  • You’ll also get tips on how to be successful on your journey at UT.
  • You’ll meet peers who will be there for you along your way.

What to Expect 

Connect with peers, mentors and advisors. Find options for majors and careers. Discover what it takes to make the most of your experience here at UT Austin. Your Cornerstones Community offers opportunities to explore, connect with others, get up to speed on resources and have a small-community home base.

This is where you’ll make the most of new personal connections, learn about resources and identify success strategies and friends to help you throughout your four years. You’ll have:  

  • Linked classes
  • Weekly meetings facilitated by a CNS faculty or staff member
  • Access to a sophomore or upper-class mentor
  • Opportunities to learn about various resources on campus, gain time management skills, hone study habits, etc.
  • Time together with a peer group you’ll be able to encounter throughout your four years 

CNS Cornerstones Community Options 

  • First-year Interest Groups (FIGs)  or CS Pods

    Many students’ Cornerstones Community placement is in a First-Year Interest Group (FIG). These small communities consist of 20+ students who share a major and other interests (e.g., research, pre-health professional interest, etc.) In computer science, these groups are known as CS Pods.

  • College-wide Community Programs

    The college also has a number of specialized Cornerstones Communities for its students.

    Women in Natural Sciences

    This application-based program is for CNS students within specific majors. WINS has a focus on professional development, leadership and experiential learning. WINS also offers Shadowing Abroad opportunities for its students, where students are able to shadow medical professionals in hospitals and see the differences and similarities in the medical systems and care. They have traveled to Portugal, Hungary and Croatia.  Students who wish to be considered for WINS will apply through the Freshman Research Initiative application. This is a two-year program.

    Visit the WINS website 

    Biology Scholars Program (BSP)

    This application-based program is for Biology and Biochemistry students who are interested in pursuing a pre-health profession post-graduation. This program is for two years.

    Visit the BSP website

    Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP)

    The TIP Scholars program is a two-year academic learning community that provides a small-community environment while connecting students with the resources and opportunities available at our large public research university. The program fosters academic and community engagement through peer mentoring, common academic courses, academic advising and a dedicated student-centered community space.

    Visit the TIP website

    Texas Transfers Program (TxT)

    A sense of community with a small cohort of fellow incoming transfer students is provided in this program. Students are connected to a peer mentor who was once a new transfer student, and they receive transfer-specific academic and career-planning support. TxT students also have access to a research opportunity within their first year at UT. New transfer students will apply for this program during their transfer student orientation.

    Visit the TxT website

    Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) 

    FRI offers Longhorns the opportunity to dive into scientific research in their first year at UT. Through FRI, students join a community of first-year students who take classes together and work with faculty on cutting-edge research in chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, molecular biology, physics, math, astronomy or computer science.

    Visit the FRI website


  • Honors Programs

    Some students are linked with their Cornerstones Community as part of their involvement with one of our seven honors programs.

    Learn more about college honors offerings

    Visit the Honors Center website for current students