Frequently Asked Questions
What is TIP Fellows?
TIP Fellows, also known as the Texas IP, is a four-year, six-course certificate program that provides students in the College of Natural Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts the opportunity to create an interdisciplinary minor in a field of personal interest.
Over their first two years, students complete a two-course foundation in critical thinking and writing, learn about the disciplines, identify interests outside their major, focus and name a complex field of personal interest, identify courses that examine that interest from different perspectives, and write a proposal to study their field. The proposal is then submitted to members of the IP’s faculty panel for approval. In their third and fourth years, students complete the courses listed on their field proposal. As seniors, TIP Fellows complete a Capstone seminar in which they locate a faculty mentor, develop a research question in their area, present their research to a university audience, and prepare an article for publication.
(A word about our name: the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan runs two academic programs, TIP Scholars and TIP Fellows. TIP Scholars, a first-year program, is often referred to simply as “TIP.” To distinguish what eventually became TIP Fellows from the first-year program, we named the four-year program the “Texas IP.” When the first-year program added “Scholars” to its name, we added “Fellows” to ours and replaced ‘Texas IP” with “TIP”—most of the time. Because many get the two programs confused, we typically use “Texas IP,” or “IP,” to refer to the program, and “TIP Fellows” to refer to the students in the program.)
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What are the required courses?
Students take six classes (18 credit hours):
Foundation (two courses, six hours)
- Critical Thinking Seminar (UGS 303 / Thinking Across the Disciplines, UGS 303 / Research Methods, or NSC 302 / Critical Thinking Seminar. Select courses may be substituted on a petition basis.)
- Critical Writing Seminar (RHE 309S or RHE 309K. Select courses in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing may be substituted on a petition basis.)
Interdisciplinary Field (three courses, nine hours)
- Three courses, including at least one upper-division course, within an interdisciplinary field of interest, approved by members of the TIP Fellows Faculty Panel. The courses must represent at least two departments. Liberal Arts students who are using the IP as their minor cannot include courses used to satisfy their major requirements.
Capstone Project (one course, three hours)
- Texas Interdisciplinary Plan Seminar (NSC 371 or LA 371). Working with a faculty member, students develop a question in their area of interest, conduct research, and prepare an article for publication.
- The IP gives undergraduates the chance to become co-creators of their curriculum, even to the extent of naming their minor.
- Students are able to create a platform for an individual research project on a question of particular interest in their senior year. This Capstone project will culminate in an article submitted for publication.
- Students can distinguish themselves by customizing programs of study related to their career goals. For example, a pre-med student might design a curriculum on Poverty and Health, or Politics and Healthcare, or Global Health; any topic related to health or medical practice that lends itself to interdisciplinary study.
- Students interested in professional school can use the IP as evidence that their interests extend beyond their major or career. Professional schools increasingly emphasize interdisciplinary studies in their own curricula. Even if they choose not to develop study programs related to their career goals, students who make coordinated interdisciplinary work part of their undergraduate experience will make stronger, better-rounded applicants for selective schools.
- The IP offers scholarship opportunities to its students. From internships and research positions to study abroad scholarships and travel stipends for students presenting papers at conferences, the IP invests in students who have the imagination to develop a personalized curriculum and see it through to completion.
- Students learn how scholars from different disciplines think. Undergraduate degrees provide training for students in the methods of a particular discipline. Learning how experts from different academic fields approach the same problem brings new light to old questions.
- The IP places a premium on writing. The foundational critical writing class, the written proposal process, and the writing-intensive Capstone seminar not only improve students’ writing, they signal to future employers and admissions committees that TIP Fellows are writers.
How does the program mesh with rigorous degree plans?
The IP has been designed so that the typical student won’t need to spend an extra semester to graduate with both a major and an IP certificate. Students should speak with a TIP Fellows consultant about fitting the program into specific degree plans. Students are also encouraged to speak with their own departmental advisor to get his or her advice.
Give me an example of how a typical student progresses through the program.
Let’s consider the saga of Melissa, who will enter UT in the fall. She thinks she’ll major in Biology. And because she’s attracted to the idea of having the freedom to design her own program of study–even though she has no idea what her topic of study will be–she opts into the IP.
- Fall: UGS 001, IP Freshman Interest Group, + UGS 303, Thinking Across the Disciplines
- Spring: RHE 309S, Critical Reading and Persuasive Writing
- Summer: IP field brainstorming; begin proposal
She meets with an IP coach in August prior to her first semester to discuss her goals and interests, reserves a seat in a Texas IP Freshman Interest Group seminar and UGS 303 / Thinking Across the Disciplines, and develops a timeline for beginning the brainstorming process for her IP field. (The brainstorming process consists of a series of question-and-answer exchanges, usually conducted by a combination of face-to-face meetings and emailed exchanges, the latter often undertaken during the summer.) The field proposal itself will be due in her fourth semester.
After she completes her first-year spring semester, she begins her summer brainstorming sessions, and in late June she decides to turn her interest in the environment into a program of study. She reviews instructional materials on selecting and proposing a topic to study, and in July she decides to call her topic “The Politics of Environmentalism.” Before beginning her proposal, she reads a sample proposal and more instructional materials, begins searching the UT catalog for relevant courses, and in July begins drafting her proposal.
- Fall: Revises and finishes proposal, submits for faculty approval
- Spring: GOV 312L, Politics of Environmental Issues
When she returns to school in September, Melissa attends monthly IP workshops in which TIP Fellows share their proposals-in-progress. Following feedback from her peers and three sessions with her IP academic coach, she completes three drafts before both she and her coach agree that the proposal is ready for faculty review. In November she submits it online, and in three weeks she learns that it’s been approved. In spring she takes one of the courses she listed on her proposal, GOV 312L.
- Fall: GRG 336C, National Parks & Environmental Policy
- Spring: HIS 350L, Environmental History of North America
- Summer: Internship with the Nature Conservancy
Melissa takes the other two courses that she listed on her topic proposal. In the fall she meets with an IP consultant to review scholarship options, and in February she decides to apply for an internship with the Nature Conservancy, which is unpaid. At the same time she applies for an IP scholarship, which will compensate her for some of her work as an intern.
- Fall: Meets with Capstone instructor, drafts research proposal, identifies faculty mentor for Capstone project.
- Spring: NSC 371, Capstone. Submitted for publication: “The Conservation Movement in the United States, 1960-2000.”
In the fall Melissa meets with the Capstone instructor to discuss research options and faculty mentor candidates for the coming semester’s work. In November she drafts a research proposal and reviews it with the instructor, revises it, and arranges to meet with her faculty mentor candidate. The mentor agrees to work with her in the spring and makes some suggestions for her research. In February she identifies “History Matters,” an undergraduate journal of historical research, as a suitable venue for publishing part of her Capstone research. In April she completes her paper and presents her research to a university audience, and in May she submits her paper for publication.
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How do I join?
If you have any questions about the IP, please contact Madison Searle at: