Undergraduate Programs

UT Austin’s School of Civic Leadership exists to educate a rising generation to take responsibility for the American political project. The American project of self-government depends for its success on citizens who understand the principles and practices that enable diverse, free people to act in common. Universities owe to citizens an education that enables them to sustain democracy. The SCL prepares students for their lives and for their efforts in education, government, business, the arts, medicine, culture, and the work of making war and peace.

Starting August 1, 2024, the SCL will accept applications for its inaugural cohort of 50 students.

Civics is the study of the rights and obligations of citizenship. Such study is not remedial. Instead, Civics is the discipline that provides students with a knowledge of the history of human efforts at self-government, including America’s political philosophy, institutions, and history, so that they can become responsible citizens. The study of Civics prepares students who are competent to consider the expansive range of matters on which citizens decide.

B.A. in Honors Civics

Political decisions arise when members of a community need to choose a course of action. Citizens deliberate on questions of policy, but also on broader questions that frame our common life, such as what it takes to live well. Students need an education that prepares them for life and for responsibility in their communities. The B.A. in Civics fosters intellectual habits and resources that enable students to deliberate on questions such as technology, education, diplomacy and war, the environment, arts and culture, and the general welfare.

The American project is fragile. The effort to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness depends on citizens who can think and act for the common good. The SCL equips students to participate in our shared institutions and to meet innovation with prudence. Students develop the ability to engage enduring texts of the ancient world, modernity, and the American story. These texts—and the promise and challenge they convey—become resources for students as they prepare to take responsibility in their communities.

The B.A. in Civics introduces students to the intellectual inheritance of Western Civilization and to the American story. From the first intellectual foundations through a capstone thesis and internship, students gain experience that informs a life of service.

Students take up a sequence of Intellectual Foundations of Civics courses that address Perennial Problems in Civic Thought, Origins of American Institutions, Democracy and Capitalism, and Excellence of Character: The Virtues.

Students develop competency across three major areas of coursework: Constitutionalism, Western Civilization, and Civic Leadership.

Constitutionalism courses introduce students to the history of rights, freedoms, and the rule of law. Central questions include: What are rights? Who bears them? What is law? What makes government legitimate? What do I owe to others? How have thinkers in the American tradition answered these questions?

Western Civilization courses introduce students to the quest for wisdom about how to live well and how to achieve liberty and order in community. Important questions include: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be an individual or a member of a community? What’s a good life? What, if anything, is sacred? What is friendship?

Civic Leadership courses give students practice resolving questions through ethical analysis, economic analysis, and strategy and statecraft. Important questions include: How should I live and lead? How do I resolve ethical questions? What are the factors and metrics of economic dynamism? How can nations relate to one another? What are the possible courses of action when those relationships break down?

In dedicated Skills courses and throughout the program, students mature their capacity for understanding, rhetoric, inquiry, and textual analysis.

All students complete a thesis, an internship, and electives.

  • Thoughtful, responsible—thrive in life and service
  • Kinds of work
    • Business, nonprofit, public service, humane prep for medicine, arts, journalism
    • Sense of responsibility
    • Intellectual humility with confidence
    • Oriented toward fulfilling one’s potential
    • Competent communicator
    • Literate in principles and practices of Western and American civic life
    • Literate in ethical and moral traditions

You can expect faculty members who:

  • Respect students and wish to see them thrive in life and in service
  • Hold students to high standards of thinking and communicating
  • Provide the support students need to excel
  • Delight in teaching and research
  • Offer purposeful work and honest evaluation
  • The School of Civic Leadership Scholars Program offers scholarships of $10,000.

    • Criteria?
      • Essay
      • Interview [committee’s option]

Starting August 1, 2024, the SCL will accept applications for its inaugural cohort of 50 students.  Pending approval of its curriculum proposal, the SCL will offer a B.A. in Civics starting in August 2025.  Students who apply in fall 2024 will enter as undeclared majors.  >>>

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Minor in Civics

The minor in Civics gives students of any major resources to live well and lead well. In this interdisciplinary program, students learn to think by wrestling with the great questions of the Western tradition and the American constitutional tradition.

Four courses in the Intellectual Foundations of Civics introduce students to the important questions of civic life. These courses address Perennial Problems in Civic Thought, Origins of American Institutions, Democracy and Capitalism, and Excellence of Character: The Virtues. In addition, students deepen their study through two upper-division courses in Constitutionalism, Western Civilization, or Civic Leadership.

Minor Requirements

The minor in Civics requires a minimum of 18 semester credit hours. The Intellectual Foundations of Civics sequence makes up 12 of those hours. Students also take any two upper-division CIV courses (320 or above) from the three areas of Civics study: Constitutionalism, Western Civilization, or Civic Leadership.

  • Perennial Problems in Civic Thought (3 credit hours)
  • Origins of American Institutions (3 credit hours)
  • Democracy and Capitalism (3 credit hours)
  • Excellence of Character: The Virtues (3 credit hours)
  • Upper-division course in Constitutionalism, Western Civilization, or Civic Leadership (3 credit hours)
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Minor in PPE

Our world is shaped by institutions and organizations that have a profound impact on our lives. It is crucial that we understand how they work, appreciate their interactions, see their impact, and can assess their value.

The mission of the PPE minor is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of social, economic, political, and moral problems in relation to one another.  In doing this, PPE follows in the tradition of great thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill, and David Ricardo. PPE students cross the borders of key academic disciplines, integrating the methods, tools, and insights from philosophy, politics, and economics.

Minor requirements

  • ECO 304K, Introduction to Microeconomics
  • ECO 321, Public Economics
  • ECO 323L, Political Economy
  • ECO 324, Labor Economics
  • ECO 325, Health Economics
  • ECO 327, Comparative Economic Systems
  • ECO 330T, History of Economic Thought
  • ECO 333K, Development Economics
  • ECO 334M, Migration Economics and Policy
  • ECO 349K, Topic: Law and Economics
  • ECO 353K, Antitrust Law and Economics
  • ECO 353M, Empirical Public Economics
  • ECO 354M, Experimental Economics
  • ECO 355, Development Problems and Policies in Latin America
  • ECO 368, Survey of the History of Economic Thought
  • ECO 370M, Behavioral Economics
  • ECO 371M, Social Economics: Outside the Market
  • PHL 318K, Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • PHL 322K, History of Ethics
  • PHL 325D, Environmental Ethics and Philosophy
  • PHL 325K, Ethical Theories
  • PHL 325L, Business, Ethics, and Public Policy
  • PHL 325M, Medicine, Ethics, and Society
  • PHL 325N, Organizational Ethics
  • PHL 342, Political Philosophy, Topic 1: Natural Law Theory. Same as Government 335D
  • PHL 342T, Advanced Political Philosophy, PHL 342L, Origins of Liberalism. Same as Core Texts and Ideas 331, PHL 342P, Four Modern Political Theories, PHL 347, Philosophy of Law
  • GOV 314E, Classics of Social and Political Thought
  • GOV 314C, Competing Visions of the Good Life
  • GOV 320K, United States Constitutional Development: Structures
  • GOV 320N, United States Constitutional Development: Rights
  • GOV 324C, Political Ideologies and Manifestos
  • GOV 331L, Law and Society
  • GOV 335D, Natural Law Theory
  • GOV 335Q, Global Justice
  • GOV 335R, Intellectual World of the American Founders
  • GOV 341M, Decision Theory
  • GOV 342N, Public Choice
  • GOV 347, Introduction to Political Theory
  • GOV 350K, Statistical Analysis in Political Science
  • GOV 351C, The Classical Quest for Justice
  • GOV 351D, The Theoretical Foundations of Modern Politics
  • GOV 351E, Contemporary Political Theory
  • GOV 351G, Critics of Modern Liberalism
  • GOV 351J, Might and Right among Nations
  • GOV 351L, Morality and Politics
  • GOV 355J, Human Behavior as Rational Action
  • GOV 357C, Constitutional Interpretation
  • GOV 357F, Constitutional Structure of Power
  • GOV 357G, Structure of Individual Liberties
  • GOV 357I, Constitutional Design
  • GOV 357J, Law of Politics
  • GOV 335G, African American Political and Social Thought
  • GOV 357D, Civil Liberties
  • GOV 360E, International Political Economy
  • GOV 360O, Business and Society
  • GOV 365R, Institutions and Comparative Political Economic Development
  • GOV 365S, Comparative Legal Systems
  • GOV 366D, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy
  • GOV 371R, Politics and Religion in the United States
  • GOV 366G, British Politics and Government

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