Academic Policies and Procedures

Basic Education Requirements

The University strives to enroll exceptionally well-prepared, highly motivated students and to produce self-reliant graduates who will become leaders in both their chosen professions and their communities. The University must not only equip its graduates with occupational skills, but also educate them broadly enough to enable them to adapt to and cope with the accelerated process of change occurring in business, professional, and social institutions today. Students must be exposed to a broad spectrum of arts and science so that they may be educated beyond vocational requirements and thus be prepared for responsible citizenship in an increasingly complex world.

All graduates of the University are expected to

  • communicate clearly and accurately, defend an idea on the basis of evidence, draw conclusions, and evaluate the arguments of others;
  • have a critical understanding of the society in which we live and the ways it has evolved through time;
  • be able to analyze ethical issues and their possible resolutions;
  • understand facets of science and the ways in which knowledge of the universe is gained and applied;
  • understand aspects of mathematics and apply quantitative skills to problem solving;
  • have a critical understanding of how human cultures are expressed in literature, philosophy, or language;
  • participate in and/or critically analyze some area of the visual and performing arts; and
  • participate in the process of inquiry through research, creative endeavors, or related activities.

To help students in all majors acquire the traits of an educated person, the general faculty of the University has adopted the core curriculum outlined below. All students, regardless of major, must complete the core curriculum prior to earning an undergraduate degree.

Often, courses required by the student’s degree program may be used concurrently to fulfill one or more of the core curriculum requirements listed below. When possible, students should select core courses that also satisfy specific requirements of their intended degrees. For more information, students should consult their advisers and the degree requirements given in the college/school sections of this catalog.

Core Curriculum

All students pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University must complete the 42-hour statewide core curriculum. The component area requirements are consistent with statewide core curriculum guidelines; the area of the statewide core that each requirement meets is given in parentheses in the table below. A single course may not be counted toward more than one core area.

Courses used to fulfill core curriculum requirements must be taken for a letter grade; the minimum acceptable grade is D-. Individual degree plans may not require a higher minimum standard for core courses in general. However individual degree plans may set a higher minimum grade standard for core courses that are also required in the major field or are required as prerequisites for courses in the major.

Core Component Area Semester Credit Hours
First-Year Signature Course (Texas Core Code 090) Course should be taken during the student’s first year enrolled at the University.3
English Composition and Core Writing Flag (Texas Core Code 010)6
Humanities (Texas Core Code 040)3
American and Texas Government (Texas Core Code 070)6
U.S. History (Texas Core Code 060)6
Social and Behavioral Sciences (Texas Core Code 080)3
Mathematics (Texas Core Code (020)3
Natural Science and Technology, Part I (Texas Core Code 030) Courses should be chosen from a single field of study. Allowable pairings are posted in the current General Information Catalog and on the UGS web page.6
Natural Science and Technology, Part II (Texas Core Code 093) Course must be chosen from a different field of study than the preceding requirement. 3
Visual and Performing Arts (Texas Core Code 050)3
Total number of semester credit hours42

The School of Undergraduate Studies monitors core courses to ensure that they meet the guidelines set by the general faculty and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. For the complete list of courses that have been approved to count for each core component area for all students at the University of Texas at Austin, students should consult the current General Information Catalog or see the Undergraduate Studies website. Students should consult the Course Schedule in order to see the core offerings in any given semester.

State law requires that courses fulfilling a core component area (including the institutionally designated option) at one Texas public institution must transfer and substitute for the receiving institution’s requirements. However, this only applies to courses taken when a student does not hold degree-seeking status at the University of Texas at Austin, typically before first enrolling at the University. While a student holds degree-seeking status at the University, courses taken to fulfill core curriculum requirements must be chosen from the University of Texas at Austin's core course list published in the General Information Catalog for the current academic year, regardless of where they are taken.

Signature Courses

The Signature Courses at The University of Texas at Austin (Undergraduate Studies 302 and 303) introduce students to new ways of learning through a myriad of subjects and topics by connecting students with distinguished faculty members in unique learning environments. In this rigorous intellectual experience, students develop advanced college-level skills in research, writing, speaking, and discussion through an approach that is both interdisciplinary and contemporary. These classes range from the arts and humanities to the hard sciences, but every class has unique components that help students throughout their college career and beyond. All students are required to take a Signature Course to fulfill university core requirements. Transfer students have the option to register for Transfer Signature Courses.

The Signature Courses:

  • put new students in contact with top faculty from across the University;
  • help guide students as they strive to become better writers, speakers, and problem solvers;
  • assist students in using research methods and critical thinking skills that are necessary to perform well in all of their other courses;
  • familiarize students with the gems of the University; and
  • engage students in a university-wide academic event.

More information about Signature Courses is available at http://www.utexas.edu/ugs/sig/.

Additional Basic Education Requirements

Skills and Experience Flags

In the process of fulfilling the core curriculum and other degree requirements, all undergraduates are expected to complete courses with content in the following six areas:

  • Writing: three flagged courses beyond Rhetoric and Writing 306 or its equivalent
  • Quantitative reasoning: one flagged course
  • Global cultures: one flagged course
  • Cultural diversity in the United States: one flagged course
  • Ethics and leadership: one flagged course
  • Independent inquiry: one flagged course

Courses used to fulfill flag requirements must be taken for a letter grade unless the flagged course is only offered on a pass/fail basis; the minimum acceptable grade is D-. Individual degree plans may not require a higher minimum standard for flagged courses in general. However, individual degree plans may set a higher minimum grade standard for flagged courses that are also required in the major field or are required as prerequisites for courses in the major. 

Courses with sufficient content in these areas will be identified in the Course Schedule by the appropriate flags. The School of Undergraduate Studies monitors flagged courses to ensure that they meet the guidelines set by the general faculty. When a course is approved to carry more than one flag, enrolled students may use all of those flags to fulfill degree requirements, except that the global cultures flag and the cultural diversity in the United States flag must be earned in separate courses.

While all undergraduate degree programs require the flags, some are still in the process of implementing the third Writing flag requirement. Students who choose to graduate according to the requirements of the 2016–2018 Undergraduate Catalog should consult their advisers and the degree requirements listed in the schools/colleges sections of this catalog to determine which of the flag requirements apply to them and how to integrate them into their degree plans.

Foreign Language

In addition to the core curriculum requirements above, undergraduates are expected to have completed two years in a single foreign language in high school. Students without at least two years of high school foreign language coursework in the same foreign language must earn credit for the beginning level proficiency course or sequence in a foreign language; this credit does not count toward the student’s degree. For the description of beginning level proficiency in a specific foreign language, please see http://www.utexas.edu/cola/student-affairs/Majors-and-Degrees/foreign-language-requirement.php. Students should consult their advisers and the degree requirements listed in the colleges/schools sections of this catalog to determine whether additional foreign language requirements apply to them.