The College of Natural Sciences is home to 12 top-10 programs.
Who We Are
The College of Natural Sciences is home to alumni who helped to land the Apollo 11 crew on the moon and guide their safe return to Earth, who commanded nuclear submarines to protect the United States and who founded successful technology ventures. We are proud to count Nobel Laureates, MacArthur “genius” Fellows and members of the National Academy of Sciences among our faculty and alumni. These Longhorns represent the power of a science, mathematics and computing education from UT Austin, and the resources and talent we benefit from across the Forty Acres.
The College of Natural Sciences reported 11,334 enrollment of undergraduates for Fall 2021. CNS is committed to providing its students a world-class, research-based science education, to discovering important new knowledge through research, and to creating an environment that fosters the economic and technological development of Texas and the U.S.
What we’re fundraising for
We are making significant investments to ensure that our current students can make even greater contributions to Texas, the nation and the world. In today’s world, students need an array of experiences both inside and outside the classroom to compete for graduate school admission or top industry jobs. However, access to these experiences is typically limited by family income. While the University of Texas has made great strides in closing the opportunity gap in the classroom, significant disparities still remain with regard to experiences outside of the traditional classroom environment, such as research, internships and study abroad trips. Eliminating disparities for students from families with low to middle incomes requires financial support for those experiential opportunities.
Serena, a senior computer science major, spent her summer interning on the Design and Engineering Robotics Team at Disney, where she helped write software for the animatronic figures in the parks. “I was not only able to sharpen my software skills, but also to learn new skills, like working with hardware and robotics,” she said.
“I had the opportunity to network with Disney engineers, which will help me greatly since I want to work there again in the future!”
The summer months, when students are not typically enrolled in classes full-time, provide a great chance for students to dedicate time and energy to these experiential learning opportunities. Based on student need and interest, summer experiences vary widely.
• Internships: internships enable students to acquire skills not learned in the classroom and create professional networks that are vital to post-baccalaureate careers.
• Research: collaborating with professors and graduate students on research provides opportunities to study on a wider range of topics. The College of Natural Sciences offers several unique research experiences for undergraduates, including the Freshman Research Initiative and the Inventors Program. Students also have the opportunity to co-author research articles, which translates into higher graduate school acceptance rates.
• Entrepreneurship: entrepreneurship has a solid home in Austin, a city ranked by Forbes as one of the best in the United States for young entrepreneurs. A summer fellowship could provide students the time to expand their ideas and secure seed funding.
• Study Abroad: studying abroad offers students an opportunity to become global leaders, gain confidence to try new things and have experiences vital to working in today’s global economies. College of Natural Sciences students have the opportunity to study in countries around the world, including France, Singapore and Australia.
• Conferences: presenting at and attending conferences provides rich networking and professional learning experiences for students, as well as the opportunity to build valuable communication skills.
Unfortunately, these formative experiences that help build a student’s skills, network and resume typically come at a cost. Internships and research roles are often unpaid, or pay a small living stipend that is not enough to cover a student’s rent and living expenses, plus the costs of travel, books and other necessities. There is a significant population within the College of Natural Sciences with high need for support to access these opportunities—within the 2018 college cohort, 2,634 students had annual family incomes under $50,000. In the summer of 2022, we were only able to provide partial summer fellowships to 190 students.
The amount to cover the cost of living and provide a stipend for one student per summer is estimated at $6,000. Our ambitious goal is to raise $50 million over the course of the What Starts Here campaign to provide a summer stipend to each eligible student at least once during their four-year undergraduate career (500 per year). Donor support will help to level the playing field for these promising future leaders for Texas and the nation.