Enrollment at UT Dallas has grown dramatically in recent decades, nearing 31,000 students — around 21,000 undergrads and 10,000 graduate students. Despite its large size, this public university gives first-year students plenty of opportunities to find community on campus, including Living Learning Communities, which bring together classmates who share similar academic interests.

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The university got its start as a computer engineering school in the 1960s with the help of three founders of the semiconductor company Texas Instruments. Today, the school is still known for its STEM programs, and it embraces its nerdy image even though it now offers around 150 academic programs, including degrees in humanities and literature. The university's chess team is among the best in the country and has won many statewide and national championships. The team draws members from across the globe, attracting more than 60 grandmasters and international masters since its founding in 1996. The school's debate team is similarly renowned, regularly scoring highly on national rankings.

If students want a respite from their cubicles, a 50-mile network of trails, walkways and bike paths awaits in UT Dallas' suburban environs.