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Texas Semester

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FAQ – The TEXAS Semester

  1. How much will it cost me to participate in The TEXAS Semester?

    TOTAL (including field trips, tuition/fees, room/board and eighteen college credit hours): $19,000

    a.    Tuition, fees, and housing (for up to 18 credit hours)  $13,000
    b.    Other costs (estimated, includes board and books)     $2,500
    c.    Grand Tour of Texas (May Term, Twenty Day Trip)     $3,500

  2. Is there Financial Aid available?
    Students interested in obtaining financial aid for The TEXAS Semester should contact the Financial Aid Office at their home institution to determine the possibility of a consortium agreement.  A consortium agreement would allow federal aid to be processed and the funds forwarded to McMurry University.  Students participating in The TEXAS Semester are seeking a degree at their home institution and not at McMurry University; therefore, any federal aid must be awarded through the home institution.  Rules that govern study abroad generally apply here as well.  There will be some locally sponsored scholarships as well — some that cover tuition and fees, others that cover the cost of travel on The Grand Tour of Texas.


  3. What courses will I take? 
    Students who want the full dose of Texas history and culture should take all five of The TEXAS Semester courses and go on the Grand Tour of Texas.  Clearly, though, some majors and degree plans don’t have enough room for that many specialized credits.  Sign up for our core seminar Crafting the Texas National Culture and our lecture class, Survey of Texas History taught at the gorgeous classroom at the Texas Frontier Heritage and Cultural Center.  From there, the choice is yours.  Take some classes on campus — choose from our award-winning faculty and knock out some language, science, English, math, sociology, or other credits related to your degree back home.  Or, head across the street from your house and do a museum, marketing, accounting, or history internship at the Texas Frontier Heritage and Cultural Center.

  4. Will these hours transfer to my home institution?
    The transferability of any course work is determined by the home institution.  Students should check with their dean, advisor, or registrar to be confident of how these McMurry courses will transfer.  McMurry University is nationally accredited and courses are widely accepted in transfer at other institutions.

  5. Can international students participate?
    Yes.  Texas is remarkably cosmopolitan and has been greatly influenced by the contributions of immigrants from around the world since its earliest days. For more information please contact our Admissions Office at 325-793-4700 or you may email it at Admissions@mcmurryadm.mcm.  For possible study abroad scholarships please see All instruction is in English, so decent language skills are a must.

  6. What is the length of The TEXAS Semester? 
    For students chosen for inclusion in The TEXAS Semester, the calendar will mirror the academic calendar of McMurry University.  Generally speaking, we start after Martin Luther King, Jr., Day in January and continue on for seventeen weeks including Spring Break in mid-March.  The Grand Tour of Texas starts two days after McMurry’s spring semester finals (and graduation) and will go on for three weeks all across the state.  In general terms, the entire experience will take about four and a half months, mid-January to late May or early June.

  7. What are the “Field Experiences” included as part of The TEXAS Semester? 
    Simply stated, they add the pizzazz to your academic experience.  We will make day trips to Indian pictograph sites, Spanish presidios, U.S. Cavalry posts, agricultural operations (cotton compresses, ranches), natural wonders, music venues, museums, restaurants, festivals, and things we may not have even thought of yet!  Just imagine having a personal guide — a personal concierge — to one of the most interesting parts of the country.  For those chosen to participate in The TEXAS Semester, there will be no charge for these extraordinary excursions.

  8. What educational supplies will I need? 
    Bring your laptop, iPad, and smart phone.  AT&T has the best coverage in Abilene and Buffalo Gap.  We will have a network printer available for your use.  


  9. Where will I stay while I am taking the course?
    Students will be housed off campus in independent living accommodations owned by the Texas Frontier Heritage and Cultural Center ( These houses are modernized and updated 1880-1920 homes with full kitchens, washer and dryer, and wireless internet in a small town setting.  Expect to see deer wandering by in the morning and evening, roosters crowing, and spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  Also expect to have video chat capabilities and rarely interrupted internet service.  County living, modern convenience.  Local law enforcement is handled by the personnel of the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department, and they are good at what they do!

  10. What about food? 
    What you eat is up to you.  You can buy into the McMurry University dining plan and eat many of your meals in the school’s highly rated dining hall or sports grill. There will also be negotiated deals with local restaurateurs famous for authentic Texas cuisine including everything from steaks, catfish, chicken fry, Mexican food, and artisan pizza.  You will also have full-sized kitchens at your houses, as well as ample access to outdoor grills (and expert training on how to use them!).

  11. What about my own sheets, towels, and linens? 
    Think of this as being just like when you went off to college your freshman year.  You should bring your own linens—sheets, towels, etc.  A washer/dryer is available on site.

  12. What about pets? 
    No pets.  The Texas Frontier Heritage and Cultural Center has a wide variety of cats, goats, and chickens for your animal companionship.  Wild (but non dangerous, mostly) animals move around nearby.  Buffalo Gap is on a major fly way and bird migration route.  We doubt you will be short of animals with which to interact.

  13. Transportation? 
    How will we get around?  Can I bring a car?  On the trips, we will travel by van or bus.  Participants should bring a vehicle, or make arrangements with someone who will.  Buffalo Gap is 15 miles south of McMurry’s main campus.  If you are planning on taking full advantage of the college environment there (classes, recreational facilities, dining hall) then you will need a car or consistent ride.  If you are planning air travel, be advised that Abilene has an excellent regional airport that connects via DFW to the entire planet.

  14. What are the living arrangements in these houses? 
    Only traditional aged students (ages 18-26) will be housed at our facilities in Buffalo Gap.  There will be no co-educational housing.  We will have a designated house for women, and one for men.  Each of the students chosen for inclusion in The TEXAS Semester will have a roommate.  Each bedroom is equipped with twin beds.  Space will be tight.  These houses are from an era when closets were taxed!  So, pack what you need; leave the extra twenty pairs of shoes at home.  Bathrooms will be shared.  One house has three bedrooms and two baths; the other two bedrooms and two baths.  On the Grand Tour of Texas, students will be housed in double occupancy rooms.  

  15. Really? Maid service? 
    We will have a housekeeper come by every other week to tidy up.  However, you will be living in community, so mind your manners and your space.

  16. Free time?
    We’ve built plenty of free time into The TEXAS Semester. While the course load will be demanding, we also understand that all work and no play make Jack and Jill pretty dull.  Residential students in The TEXAS Semester will have access to a private swimming pool in Buffalo Gap, just a block away from their houses.  Beyond that, you will find a wide variety of entertainment in the greater Abilene area to keep you amused.

  17. What else should a student budget for? 
    Unless otherwise noted, field trips and costs associated with them are included in the fee structure.  Hobbies, habits, and non-academic pursuits are on your own.

  18. So, I am a McMurry student for a semester.  What amenities does that get me? 
    Everything a regular, traditional, residential student at McMurry gets.  Access to recreational facilities, access to sporting events (including intramurals), access to all other university facilities (including the campus nurse) and events.

  19. I am religiously devout.  Where will I worship? 
    This part of Texas has no shortage of Christian churches, so pick a faith tradition from that corner of the human family and we will put you in touch with people who will minister to your needs.  Other faiths are represented in greater or lesser degree.  Abilene is home to a major airbase which brings a great deal of cosmopolitan beliefs to town.  We will do our best to accommodate your spiritual life.  McMurry also has a voluntary Christian chapel/praise time on Tuesdays at 11:00 on campus.  The university is affiliated with the United Methodist Church; religious observation is not compulsory but neither is it discouraged.

  20. Will there be a curfew or mandatory wake up time?
    No.  We assume you are adults (you are old enough to vote, old enough to be drafted into the armed forces) so we will treat you like an adult.  However, we do exercise en loco parentis. If you quit coming to class — we will call you and encourage you to change your ways.

  21. What happens in case of emergencies? 
    We will treat you like regular McMurry students and get your emergency contacts involved as quickly as possible.

  22. What clothes should I bring?  What is the weather like? 
    Well, that’s a bit tricky, because the Texas climate can be fickle.  We get snow in Buffalo Gap—not a lot, and it doesn’t stick around long, but it happens.  January can be very cold (in the single digits Fahrenheit for a few days) then followed by days in the 70s.  May can be quite cool (lower 40s) at night, but nearly 100 on rare occasions.  When rain comes, its usually hard and fast, and over quickly.  Plan for much more sunshine than shade.  Plus, we are going all over the state with the Grand Tour of Texas.  Here’s what we suggest:  A medium weight coat, a light jacket or sweater, jeans, dungarees, or khakis, a mix of short and long sleeve shirts, and a swimsuit. Bring a pair of good walking/running shoes, some decent hikers, and a pair of flip-flops or sandals.  We do not recommend walking around outside barefoot.  We occasionally have scorpions, ants, wasps, and other biters/stingers about.   Come to think of it, bring along a flashlight, too.

  23. Will there be a housing deposit?

  24. I’m in on the TEXAS Semester?  Can I still visit friends and family out of town? 
    Certainly.  Everyone is free to come and go, within the constraints of the academic calendar.

  25. May I have visitors? 
    We encourage them.  Have friends and family come to Buffalo Gap and see what you are up to!  There are a wide variety of hotels in Abilene, and a surprisingly large number of bed and Breakfast in Buffalo Gap, many within a short walk of your house and the Texas Frontier Heritage and Culture Center.

  26. What is your firearms policy? 
    We understand and respect a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and believe it deserves a respected place in American life.  That said, weapons are not allowed on our site or in our facilities.  If you get invited to hunt or shoot while you are living in Buffalo Gap (a distinct possibility), folks usually have a loaner.


  27. What if I just want to take the trip?
    You can simply take The Grand Tour of Texas.  The trip fee is $3,500, including transportation, housing, admissions, and all but a few meals.  The trip may also include three hours course credit.  If you are not already enrolled as one of the ten students of The TEXAS Semester there will be a tuition cost associated. Transferability is again ultimately up to your home institution.

  28. What if I want to do The Texas Semester, but don’t want to take the Grand Tour of Texas? 
    Well, that would be like throwing a birthday party and leaving out the cake, the gifts, and the games!  You will save yourself some money, but end up poorer for missing the experience.

  29. What is the trip itinerary?

    1. We will depart from Abilene, and in the first week’s time tour up through the Texas Panhandle and on to the Trans-Pecos, taking in the cultural and historical best of the region including cities like Amarillo, Lubbock, and Fort Davis; and natural wonders like Palo Duro Canyon, the Davis Mountains, and the Llano Estacado.  Expect to see stars (at the McDonald Observatory).  We wind up through the scenic Texas Hill Country, deep underground in caverns, among vineyards, at the Capitol in Austin, through Spanish missions, and across the alley from the Alamo (in San Antonio).

    2. The second week, expect to traverse the heartland of Texas, spend some time exploring the world of the King Ranch, drift along the Texas coast, wander across battlefields, and soak in the energy and charisma of the biggest city in Texas — Houston!  Hope you like steaks, barbecue, and awesome seafood as well as world-class visual and performing art!

    3. The Grand Tour of Texas then heads to East Texas where you will see the roots of Texas culture amid the pines and at cities and towns like Beaumont, Huntsville, and Jefferson before heading into the heart of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex where Texas meets the rest of the nation.  Football, baseball, and western mystique all come together in a vibrant urban setting.  Then back to Abilene, taking in a few small town favorites along the way.

    4. Click here for a sample itinerary.  

  30. What if weather intervenes?  We’ll make arrangements!  There is always a plan B.

  31. Is there any slack time included while on tour?  You bet. The Grand Tour of Texas includes free days and periodic laundry days while on tour.  Nobody needs to pack twenty days of clothes if they can help it.  Besides, too much structured time may crimp the way YOU experience Texas!

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