Student Experience

Experiences in FRI

Each FRI Research Stream is made up of a group of undergraduate students pursuing different majors and career paths such as, graduate school, medical school, law school, and the workforce.  

Students practice skills desired by employers like written communication, public speaking, data analysis, teamwork, leadership, and project ownership. Hear students talking about their experience of the College of Natural Sciences podcast, Point of Discovery. You can also find information below about summer research support and answers to frequently asked questions.

Listen to students reflecting on FRI

Discovery Starts in FRI

Experiences in Summer Research

Many students can work with their research streams over the summer on fellowships or as a volunteer researcher. During this time, students expand their projects and are granted a higher degree of independence and responsibility, often working in lab without supervision. By working 20 or 40 hours a week it is possible for FRI students to get a head start on their projects and experience the life of a research scientist.

FRI Summer Research Funding OpportunitieS


Do I have to be a student in the College of Natural Sciences to be in FRI?

Yes. Only students admitted to the College of Natural Sciences can join FRI.

I am admitted to an honors program. Can I also be in FRI?

You are automatically accepted into FRI if you are in one of the following programs:  

  • CNS Dean’s Scholars 
  • CNS Health Science Scholars
  • CNS Polymathic Scholars

You do not need to fill out an FRI application, but you must fill out a "Stream Sort" form to get placed into a stream in October. Students in an honors program not listed above who are interested in FRI should submit the online FRI application.

 If I have been accepted in other CNS learning communities, can I still apply to FRI?

Students accepted into the learning communities below are automatically enrolled in FRI and do not need to submit the online FRI application.

  • Biology Scholars Program (BSP)
  • Texas Transfers Program (TxT)
  • Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) 

Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP) Scholars will have the opportunity to join FRI during Summer Orientation. 

I am interested in FRI but I am unsure if I will attend UT Austin. Should I still apply?

Yes. Space in FRI is limited so new freshmen should apply as soon as possible to be considered. 

How long does an FRI course sequence last?

The FRI program is a two-semester sequence; summer and/or second semester is optional.

How does FRI count towards my degree?

During the fall semester of freshman year, some FRI students are enrolled in an 'introduction to scientific research' course.  Once in an FRI stream, the spring research experience offers lower division lab credit, and the fall research experience offers upper-division lab credit.  

How many students are in a stream?

There is an average of 38 students in each full stream.

What specific areas of research are covered by available research streams?

Each research stream is led by a faculty member who has designed a program of research using our educational model to pursue their fundamental research questions. Research disciplines include astronomy, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, math, and physics. 

Browse through our research streams to learn more.

How do I get placed in an FRI Research Stream?

During the fall semester of freshman year, students can learn about all of the FRI Research Streams at several events, including a poster session and lab open houses.  

All admitted FRI students are invited to fill out a Stream Sort form where you can indicate your top stream choices based on your interests. At the end of the semester, you are offered a seat in one of the streams. 

 I am not interested in becoming a researcher. Why should I join FRI?

There are many advantages to joining FRI! Better academic outcomes, research in cutting-edge labs while getting full course credit, being a member of a small community with long-lasting friendships, access to professors and future letters of recommendation, excitement of scientific discovery and better opportunity in graduate and professional programs. 

What happens after I complete the FRI course sequence?

The FRI experience prepares you for any number of opportunities. We are dedicated to helping our program alumni explore their interest in research. Students with an interest in entrepreneurial projects, also often migrate into our sister initiative, the Inventors Program.

I am a high school sophomore or junior; can I do summer research in an FRI stream?

Yes, you can apply for the High School Summer Research Academy.