The core of Plan II comprises a year of world literature and a year of philosophy. Both courses read great books in connection with contemporary issues and emphasize clear writing and thinking.
Each student also chooses three seminars on interdisciplinary topics from a list of 36 courses especially designed for Plan II. On the science side, the Plan II core consists of special courses in logic, math, biology, and physics. In the social sciences, unique courses on the individual in society reflect Parlin's dream of an education for citizenship. An individual thesis project rounds out the senior year. Theses may be based on research or they may be original creative work. Recent topics range from software design to African music, from a historical monograph to a showing of paintings, and from marketing to political philosophy. Although the Plan II program is interdisciplinary, students concentrate in the areas of their theses and are well prepared for graduate schools in their chosen subjects.
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 itself a major. Over a third of the courses required for a Plan II degree are limited to Plan II students. 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.
- a year-long freshman course in world literature from the ancients to the present
- three semesters of interdisciplinary 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. 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 2009, the program received over 1300 applications for the 180 freshman spots.
However, admission to Plan II is not based on scores and grades alone; other criteria include a lively spirit of intellectual adventure; a genuine desire for a broad education in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences; and the capacity for imagination and originality.