Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the more frequently asked questions about Tier One are answered here.


What does Tier One mean?

While there is no universally accepted definition of the designation, a Tier One institution is also known as a nationally competitive research university, a school that garners hundreds of millions of research dollars from public and private sources, hires nationally prominent faculty, awards large numbers of doctorates, admits high-quality freshmen and places well in college rankings. Currently, UT Dallas is designated as one of seven emerging research universities in the state.

Why is it so important?

Three major areas outline the reason for the University's focus on attaining Tier One status:

  • Academic — Currently, Texas loses 19,389 high school graduates per year who leave the state to attend four-year universities in other states, while attracting only about 8,068 students from other states to attend similar such schools here. This “brain drain” represents a significant loss of critical young talent — and funding — for Texas.
  • Lost Federal Money — The exodus of gifted students causes the state to lose out on its full potential in garnering federal research and development dollars. Texas has 8 percent of the nation's population, but it receives only 4 percent of federal R&D monies, meaning a loss of nearly $3 billion in funding. California, by contrast, with 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounts for 13 percent of the federal R&D budget. In this respect, limited investment in Texas' flagship universities, and lack of more Tier One universities, among other factors, is costing Texas every day in terms of human capital as well as real venture capital.
  • Lost Local Investment — The Dallas region especially suffers. The Austin metropolitan area is home to a university that annually produces half a billion annual research dollars and more than 400 PhDs a year. Austin contains only 7 percent of the state's population, yet it has 60 percent of the venture capital in the state — more than Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio combined. The largest metropolitan areas of Texas are missing the opportunity to garner hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars each year because they lack more world-class academic research universities.

As a parent/student, what is Tier One going to cost me?

Nothing — our campaign toward the designation is funded by donors, enterprise and incentives from the state. The rewards it reaps, however, promise to be significant.

I'm a student; how will Tier One affect me?

Tier One universities have the considerable power to attract the best and brightest intellectual talents, on both sides of the classroom. As the University grows toward Tier One status, students will see a greater variety of academic programs, resulting in a greater variety of classes available to all students. As the breadth and depth of academics and research conducted at the University grows, the value of students' diplomas will grow, too.

What are the tangible benefits of being a Tier One institution?

Tier One universities create an educated workforce and produce research that provides solutions to complex issues facing the state, nation and the world. The money they generate makes them substantial economic engines and they often serve as centerpieces of our country's most vibrant cities.

How can Tier One schools benefit the economy?

Economists estimate that for every $10 million in annual research expenditures, 334 jobs and $8.6 million in wages are added to the local economy. When one considers the multiplier effect — an estimated $500,000 in added state and tax revenue, plus an extra $13.5 million in local sales means that for every $10 million in annual research expenditures, an extra $15.6 million is generated in the economy, a 126 percent return on investment. To put that in perspective, consider the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose alumni have founded more than 4,000 companies. Collectively, those businesses employ 1.1 million people and generate $232 billion in sales, an amount roughly equal to the economic output of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Great universities produce great creative minds that attract investment.

How long will it take to achieve the designation?

UT Dallas can systematically build scale to become a top-tier research university. The path to success involves increasing student enrollment and number of faculty, increasing externally funded research, increasing PhD production, building the necessary infrastructure to support growth, meeting the needs of the D-FW community and raising private funds. Based on where the University is in reaching each of these goals, it is projected that Tier One status could be achieved in 10 years.

Why are science, math and engineering the main focuses for Tier One status?

In the realm of attracting top research dollars, the biggest draws have tended to be science and engineering. In 2010, 85 percent of UT Dallas' research funding came to engineering, science and math.

How can I help?

Become a part of the effort to propel UT Dallas into the next phase of its success by giving to the University.