Admission Criteria

Application to HSS is separate from, and in addition to, application to the University. Application materials and information about deadlines are available under the How to Apply menu for prospective students. Students may enter the program as freshmen or as college transfers prior to their fourth long semester.

Factors in the admission decision are the student’s high school and/or college grades, class rank, the rigor of the courses the student has taken, the quality of the required application essays, a strong recommendation from a math or science instructor, standardized test scores, and the student’s interest in science, health and service as demonstrated by extracurricular activities. Admission is highly selective.

Program Requirements

Health Science Scholars complete a Bachelor of Science and Arts degree plan in a department within the College of Natural Sciences. The BSA combines a science emphasis with sufficient electives to create a truly cross-disciplinary undergraduate curriculum. Students can augment their science coursework with study in the humanities, communication, business, education, social sciences, or the arts. They can also use their elective hours to pursue research for course credit in or outside their major. After graduation, the student’s transcript will reflect receipt of a BSA-Honors degree if the student has completed the curricular and extracurricular requirements of HSS.

Curricular requirements

All students must complete

  • UGS 303 / Originality in the Arts and Sciences, a first-semester Signature course. Students admitted to HSS after their first semester may substitute a different Signature course.

  • NSC 110H / HSS First-Year Seminar (fall and spring, year 1). Students admitted to HSS after their first year are exempted from this requirement.

  • six credit hours in honors-level coursework in one or more sciences

  • NSC 110H / CNS Honors Seminars (fall, year 2; fall and spring, year 3)

  • NSC 109 / Planning Your Capstone Project (spring, year 2)

  • a Capstone project, which consists of two elements:

    • a substantive health- or service-related learning project — a practicum, internship, or extended volunteering stint of no fewer than 200 hours — or 200+ hours of laboratory research undertaken in the third year; and

    • an honors thesis, written in the student's final year, that emerges from their third-year project.

See below for course descriptions and a typical timeline.

Extracurricular requirements

All students must

  • contribute at least 3 hours of logged community service each semester in their first year and 6 hours each semester in their second
  • participate in at least one HSS-sanctioned service event each semester of their first and second years.

You can read more about the service requirements here.

Students are also required to graduate with a cumulative 3.5 grade point average to receive the BSA-Honors degree.

Placement credit

In general, HSS does not accept placement credit for science courses that are required for a CNS degree. The CNS honors courses challenge our very best students. These courses are integral to the experience of an honors education. Beyond this, medical schools in Texas recommend that their applicants not claim placement credit for biology, chemistry, and physics.

Students may use AP tests to receive credit for lower-division mathematics and physics courses if they wish to be placed in higher-level math or physics. But all students should first discuss this with their advisor before claiming the credit.

HSS does accept placement credit for history, government, social sciences, fine arts, foreign languages, English composition (RHE 306), and the core Humanities requirement (E 316L, 316M, 316N, or 316P). These are the only exceptions to the placement credit rule. Even here, however, whether students should or should not claim a particular credit can be complicated. Many placement tests do not translate as credit for non-elective UT-Austin courses. Again, students should speak with their advisor before claiming credit.

Honors coursework

Health Science Scholars take coursework designed for honors students. Some of these courses are honors versions of courses that are part of the BSA degree plan; others are seminars that count as electives and are required for completing the program.

The following is a typical course timeline, with Honors- and HSS-specific coursework included. Many HSS students elect to take courses during at least one summer, but completing the BSA-Honors degree by itself in four years does not require this. Remember that the pre-health professions path you choose involves courses in addition to degree and HSS requirements, and because there are eight of these, we’ve not listed them here. (By the way, the Health Professions Office maintains a tremendously helpful and user-friendly website that almost certainly contains answers to whatever questions occur about readying yourself for professional school.)

"BSA degree coursework" below refers to either or both major and non-major courses. 

Year 1

  • BSA degree coursework (fall and spring)
  • UGS 303 / Originality in the Arts and Sciences (fall)
  • NSC 109 Originality in Scientific Research (fall)
  • NSC 110H / HSS First-Year Seminar (fall and spring)

Year 2

Year 3

  • BSA degree coursework (fall and spring)
  • NSC 110H Honors Seminar (fall and spring)
  • HSS Thesis Planning Workshops (fall and spring)

Year 4

  • BSA degree coursework (fall and spring)
  • NSC 109 / HSS Thesis Preparation Seminar (fall)
  • One of the following:
    • Option 1: Departmental research/thesis seminars (fall and spring)
    • Option 2: NSC 371 / HSS Capstone Thesis Seminar (spring)

Course descriptions

  • UGS 303 / Originality in the Arts and Sciences
    Students in HSS, Dean's Scholars, and Polymathic Scholars are automatically admitted to the Freshmen Research Initiative, and this course, restricted to students in these programs, satisfies the research methods course requirement for the FRI. As its name implies, the course prepares students to undertake original research in both the hard sciences and the humanities. The final project is a competition that requires students, working in teams, to develop an idea for a grant, consult with relevant faculty on constraints, cost projections, and current research in the field, and deliver their proposal to the class. 

  • NSC 110 / HSS First-Year Seminar
    Throughout their first year, HSS students participate in a seminar lead by the program's faculty director that acclimates them to the rigors of a demanding college curriculum, exposes them to guest speakers from the health care professions, and introduces them to some of the College's faculty in an informal setting.

  • NSC 110H / CNS Honors Seminars
    One of the advantages of being a CNS honors student is having access to these unique small seminars, which connect students with the university’s best teachers and top researchers. The format of NSC 110H seminars is simple: Faculty select a topic they're passionate about, lead discussions organized around a few readings, and let each student lead part of a class on one of the readings. The seminars foster the honors community by bringing together students in each program and fomenting lively, productive exchanges. 

  • NSC 109 / Planning Your Capstone Project
    The culmination of the HSS curriculum is a two-year research and writing project. Starting in their third year, students spend at least one year in either laboratory research or a practicum related to health, health care, or community service. Both experiences become the foundation of a senior-year Capstone Thesis that itself takes a year to develop and write. The preliminary planning begins in this second-year spring semester course, which is organized around two simple questions: What do you want to do for your Capstone experience, and what do you want your Capstone experience to do for you?  Students write reflective essays, interview faculty and community professionals, read and respond to great writers' thoughts on great writing, conduct independent research, and develop a plan for the work they'll undertake in their third year.

  • HSS Thesis Planning Workshops: These workshops are required for all Health Science Scholars who plan to write their theses in the following academic year. Students take several one-hour workshops to support their progress toward successful completion of their theses.
  • NSC 109 / HSS Thesis Preparation Seminar 
    Taken in the fall semester of the student's last year, this seminar walks students through a series of steps intended to guide them toward successful completion of a substantial honors thesis. Most of the planning and last-stage research occurs in the fall; most of the writing occurs in the spring. 

  • NSC 371 / HSS Capstone Thesis Seminar 
    While working individually with a faculty mentor with expertise in their area of study, students simultaneously enroll in this course in their final semester. Students complete a series of assignments designed to keep them on track. The goal is timely completion of a substantial, honors-quality thesis. They also present their findings at one of several campus events during Research Week in April.

Degree Plans

Health Science Scholars complete the BSA-Honors degree. Requirements specific to HSS can be found in the Program Requirements section above.  BSA degree plans for each CNS major that offers a BSA can be found here. For majors that do not offer a BSA, Health Science Scholars complete the BS option.

Honor Code

“The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community.”

This Code of Conduct was created by University of Texas at Austin students, staff, and faculty and was adopted by the university in 2004.