A top-50 national university and a top-15 public university, the University of Texas at Austin is the number one target institution of many Lone Star State teens as well as high-achieving students from around the globe. With an elite undergraduate business and engineering school and highly-rated programs in literally dozens of academic concentrations, it’s little wonder that the criteria for admission into UT-Austin grows more challenging with each passing year.

In 1997, Texas adopted a policy that grated automatic admission to any resident who finished in the top 10% of their class into any state university. However, due to the popularity of UT-Austin, the threshold changed to the top 7% before falling to the top 6%, where it currently stands. Given the increasing level of competition in the quest to become a Longhorn—two-thirds of applicants are ultimately rejected—students really need to do their homework before submitting the application. Toward that aim, this article will provide applicants with:

1) A deep-dive into just how highly-selective the UT-Austin admissions process truly is.

2) Data that will help you better assess how you measure up to the competition.

3) How the UT-Austin admissions committee operates and what they look for in a successful candidate.

To accomplish these goals we will touch on the following topics:

UT-Austin’s Class of 2023 acceptance rate

  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted UT-Austin applicants
  • Admissions trends from the Class of 2023
  • The demographics of current UT-Austin undergraduates
  • UT-Austin’s yield rate
  • How UT-Austin’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying to UT-Austin
  • How to assess whether applying to UT-Austin is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.

UT-Austin: Acceptance Rate – Class of 2023

UT-Austin received 53,525 applications for a place in the Class of 2023; only 32% of that group were offered admission. This was significantly lower than the previous year’s figure of 38.5%. There is no Early Action or Early Decision at this school. All students must apply using the ApplyTexas platform by December 1st at the very latest, but the priority deadline is November 1st and should be met whenever possible.

UT-Austin Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

The middle-50% reading SAT scores for the Class of 2023 were 620-720; the math range was 610-760. SATs were submitted by 79% of applicants. ACTs were submitted by 54% of applicants (with some submitting both, obviously) and the middle-50% ACT Composite score was 27-33. An incredible 87% of those attending placed in the top 10% of their high school class while 96% were in the top quartile.

Admissions Trends & Notes

  • 424 entering freshmen were the valedictorian of their high school class; 284 were salutatorians.
  • Students who are in the top 6% of the high school class earn automatic admission into UT-Austin. Prior to 2017, students could be in the top 7%.
  • 20% of those accepted into UT-Austin are the first member of their family to attend college.
  • 90% of all offers of admission are graduates of Texas high schools; out of this group 75% are automatically admitted through their class rank.
  • The acceptance rate for Texas residents outside of the top 6% was only 14%.

Who Actually Gets Into UT-Austin?

Let’s look at the demographics of the UT-Austin Class of 2022 (most recent available):

Most UT-Austin students hailed from the Lone Star State and paid in-state tuition. The total geographic breakdown is as follows.

  • Percent Texas (residents) – 89.2%
  • Percent from other U.S. States (non-residents) – 8.4%
  • Percent from other countries (non-resident, international) = 2.4%

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the entire Longhorn undergraduate student body, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Asian American: 25%
  • White: 37%
  • Hispanic: 24%
  • African American: 5%
  • International: 4%
  • Multiracial: 3%

The breakdown by gender shows far more women than men:

  • Male: 44%
  • Female: 56%

Students came from the following types of high schools:

  • Number of Texas high schools: 1,060
  • Number of total high schools: 1,752

UT-Austin’s Yield Rate

UT-Austin’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was 47% last year. To compare this school to other elite public flagship institutions, UNC-Chapel Hill and UGA are both in the same ballpark at 45%; UVA comes in at 40%.

How UT-Austin Rates Applicants

There are a whopping 15 factors that UT-Austin ranks as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, essays, recommendations, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience, work experience, racial/ethnic status, first-generation status, geographical residence, and state residency.

UT-Austin recently announced that, due to COVID-19, they are dropping all standardized requirements for the high school class of 2021.

In the admissions office’s own words: “The Office of Admissions uses an individualized, holistic review process to consider each completed freshman application. Applications from students who qualify for automatic admission are reviewed to determine admission to specific colleges, schools and majors. Applications from students who are not eligible for automatic admission are reviewed to determine admissibility and to make decisions about admission to specific colleges, schools and majors.”

Possessing one of the premier athletic programs in the country, it most definitely helps if you are recruited as an athlete to join one of UT-Austin’s 18 Division I sports teams. A sizable number of incoming students are designated as “recruited athletes” each year, including 189 individuals who are on full scholarship; a total of 537 receive some level of athletic scholarship. Two-thirds of individuals on full scholarship came from football, men’s and women’s basketball, and volleyball. Recruited athletes possessed GPAs and SATs far below the average for the pool of general admits.

Tips for Applying to UT-Austin

If you plan on joining the 53,000+ Longhorn hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • While a holistic process, UT-Austin does not offer interviews.
  • UT-Austin does not consider “demonstrated interest” in the admissions process.
  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essays required by UT-Austin. In the 2020-21 cycle, you will encounter one required essay, three required short answers, and one optional essay.

This year’s prompts are as follows:

Essay (500-700 words): Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

This could not be a more open-ended prompt. Feel free to take this in whatever direction produces the most compelling and personal essay you can compose. What do you want the admissions office to know about you that they couldn’t possibly glean from anywhere else in your application? Don’t be afraid to share your struggles just as freely as your triumphs. An emotionally honest essay that showcases your unique personality is the desired product here.

Required Short Answer #1 (250-300 words): Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?

Share an authentic story here of why you are interested in your selected discipline. What books have you read on the subject? What movies have you watched? What subtopics most intrigue you? Did a teacher excite you about a topic or was it parent or outside mentor? Do you know where you want to take this knowledge post-bachelor’s degree? Do you aim to one day go on to pursue a graduate/professional degree or is there an occupation you are shooting for right out of undergrad? Include as much detail as possible.

Required Short Answer #2 (250-300 words): Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways. Please share how you have demonstrated leadership in either your school, job, community, and/or within your family responsibilities.

Take the admissions office at their word here—the committee wants to hear any example of leadership, not just from those who were on student council or founded a club. If you have been a leader in your own family, among your group of friends, or in a cyber community, you can share that experience. Focus on whatever leadership example you are actually most proud of.

Required Short Answer #3 (250-300 words): Please share how you believe your experiences, perspectives, and/or talents have shaped your ability to contribute to and enrich the learning environment at UT Austin, both in and out of the classroom.

The committee already knows all about your extracurriculars from elsewhere in the application so make your response more compelling than a simple list. Hone in on one or two specific skills or area of participation of which you are most proud and reveal something about yourself that an admissions officer would otherwise never know. Communicate your genuine passion and excitement to be part of the vibrant Longhorn community.

Optional Short Answer #1 (250-300 words): Please share background on events or special circumstances that may have impacted your high school academic performance.

This section functions similarly to the Additional Information section of the Common App. Feel free to use this space if you encountered any hardships that impacted your academic performance. This could be anything from dealing with a divorce to challenges faced from a learning disability. If there are no extenuating circumstances essential to you understanding your application, this can be left blank.

Should I Apply to UT-Austin?

Getting into UT-Austin has never been more a challenging endeavor, as it now requires finishing in the top 6% of your in-state high school class or possessing other supremely impressive attributes that blow away admissions committee. UT-Austin is a world-class university with a great number of renowned academic programs with global reputations. Of course, you have to aware that, ultimately, approximately 68% of applicants will be turned away. As such, all students need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in collaboration with an admissions professional who is aware of the latest trends and strategies associated with your prospective colleges.