Plan II Honors Program Description
Established in 1935, Plan II is a challenging interdisciplinary curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Plan II differs from most honors programs in that its core curriculum is a major. Plan II is a carefully designed core curriculum honors major with very specific multi-disciplinary course requirements and strong emphases on problem solving, critical and analytical skills, and particularly on writing—including a capstone thesis requirement.
Plan II is a four-year interdisciplinary arts and science honors major with a core curriculum. The curriculum is designed as a building process, with each semester and year of study building skills and knowledge for the next. Although Plan II is quite flexible due the 30+ hours offered as open/free elective hours (the first factor that makes it reasonable for our students to easily incorporate the pre-med requirements and even additional majors and degrees), the core curriculum requirements are relatively inflexible, with very few accepted substitutions of test credit hours, transfer courses or concurrent enrollment credits in lieu of the Plan II core requirements. Although other major and University core requirements, as well as electives, are often fulfilled with test and transfer credits. Plan II is never a fast-track program to be completed in two, or even in three years. Specific courses are required in each year of a four-year plan, to be completed in specific years in a specific order.
Over a third of the courses required for a Plan II degree are restricted only to Plan II students. Plan II students also have access to other honors-level courses at the University. The remaining classes are chosen from the extensive list of the University's departmental offerings. Many of these classes will be as challenging as honors courses.
The Plan II Honors cores requirements include:
- a year-long freshman course in world literature from the ancients to the present
- three semesters of interdisciplinary topical or thematic tutorials and seminars which develop and refine students' analytic and synthesizing capacities
- a year-long philosophy course for sophomores
- a semester of honors social science
- two semesters of non-US history
- a four-semester honors sequence in modes of reasoning, theoretical math or calculus, life sciences, and physical sciences
- a senior thesis, a major independent research and writing project, which is the culmination of a student's academic program in Plan II
In addition, students must satisfy University and College requirements with courses in both US government and history, a fine arts/humanities sequence, foreign language proficiency, and additional math or science. The elective hours incorporated into the Plan II curriculum provide flexibility if Plan II students choose to complete the equivalent of a second major in a particular subject area. For instance, a student might take electives in English in preparation for English graduate school. Someone wanting a career in banking might concentrate elective hours in economics, or even the Business Foundations certificate program. Many students complete the premed curriculum or a pre-law concentration in conjunction with their Plan II major and go on to medical school or law school. Often, Plan II students take an additional year and simultaneously earn a second degree––in business, engineering, or architecture, for example. Hence, it is possible through the electives to achieve some degree of specialization in tandem with the broad-based Plan II curriculum.
Admission to Plan II is competitive and is separate from admission to UT Austin. In 2013, the program received 1538 applications for the 175 freshman spots. The average SAT score of the 2013 freshman applicants was 2086 (total). Three hundred and fifty eight of the 1158 applicants from ranking Texas high schools (or 31%) of the 2013 applicants were in their (ranking) high school's top 5%. Six percent of the applicants were the valedictorian of their high school and over 51% had some kind of National Merit recognition. However, admission to Plan II is not based on scores and grades alone; other criteria include a lively spirit of intellectual adventure; leadership and initiative, a genuine desire for a broad education in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences; and the capacity for imagination and originality.