The area around what is now Austin, Texas has been inhabited by humans since at least 9200 BC. Evidence of the early Clovis hunters, the first known humans to occupy the Americas, has been found at several archeological sites around Austin. The Native American Tonkawa tribe inhabited the area when Europeans first arrived in the colonial era. Settlers from the United States moved into the area in the 1830’s at sites along the Colorado River. Incorporated as a town in 1839, Austin was chosen, primarily for the centrality of its location and proximity to the Colorado River, to be the Capital of the short lived Republic of Texas, before becoming the state capital when Texas was admitted to the U.S.
Austin began to be a center for higher learning in the 1880’s, when Austin public schools first founded, along with several colleges including those that would become Huston–Tillotson University and University of Texas at Austin. The latter university has played a major role in shaping the economy of the region: driving the economy through innovation and providing the skilled and educated workforce for the industry that develops in its wake. Today, many Fortune 500 companies have are headquartered in Austin, including many pharmaceutical and biotech firms, making Austin a hub of research in those fields. Austin is also home to a thriving, world famous music scene, known for its abundance of live music as well a playing host to SXSW, one of the world premier music festivals, and PBS’s long running Austin City Limits. Finally, as the capital city of Texas, Austin is the center of state politics and employs a small army of government workers and political aids. For these reasons, Austin is always an exciting place to live and study, as well as a promising environment for finding a job upon graduation.
Top Universities in Austin TX
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University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin, or more informally UT Austin, was founded in 1883 and is located 1 mile from the state capital. UT Austin is considered a “public Ivy”, meaning that it offers a comparable education to the famous Ivy League schools of the northeast, like Harvard and Yale. The University is a major research institution, and it is a major recipient of research grants, totaling over $550 million in recent academic years, the most of any American university without a school of medicine. Much of the school’s research activity is focused on engineering and the physical sciences. The school has been awarded over 300 patents since 2003 for technology that grew out of its research programs. It also operates a world-class observatory just outside Austin, which contains the world’s largest telescope.
As the flagship campus for the University of Texas system, UT Austin has a massive enrollment of 38,000 undergraduates and 12,000 graduate students, to whom it offers roughly 270 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. UT Austin is widely considered one of the top public universities in the United States. The school has produced a long list of distinguished alumni in a variety of fields, including 15 U.S. congressmen and several cabinet members, 20 Pulitzer Prize winners including Walter Cronkite, 28 Rhodes Scholars, and 9 astronauts. UT Austin has the highest-ranking programs in business, engineering, and law in the state of Texas. Not surprisingly, a recent study found UT Austin near the top of the list in terms of the lifetime earnings of its graduates.
Saint Edward's University
St. Edwards University, located in Austin, Texas, is a private Roman Catholic liberal arts university. Founded in 1878, the University now educates over 5,000 students, offering a variety of graduate and undergraduate degrees. Recently St. Edwards has distinguished itself by producing a high number of Fulbright scholars for a school its size, with 27 of the highly prestigious Fulbright scholarships being awarded to its students since 2004.
Concordia University has deep roots in the Lutheran Church. Established in 1926 with an enrollment of 26 students as a school for missionaries, pastors, and educators, today the University has grown to a sizable university of roughly 15,000 students. Concordia offers 27 bachelor’s degrees and 7 masters and doctoral degrees. Enrollment in the University is on the rise; in fact, the undergraduate population has doubled in the last decade. Popular areas of study are education, business, and science.
Huston–Tillotson University, established in 1881, is a historically Black University located in Austin, Texas. The University offers bachelor’s degrees in a number of fields, including: the natural and social sciences, the humanities, and business, as well as four year degrees tailored to students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies in medicine or law. Notable alumni from the college include U.S. congressmen, prominent musicians like Bobby Bradford, as well as civil rights advocates like Volma Overton and Elizabeth Conley.