Become A Global Scholar

The Global Scholars program is intended to recognize and celebrate USC undergraduate students who have excelled academically while becoming world-citizens. Global Scholar designees will graduate from USC with at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA and will have spent at least ten weeks abroad either through study abroad programs, internship opportunities, service work, or a combination of these efforts.

Interested USC students can utilize the step-by-step process that follows to determine their eligibility and apply for the Global Scholars designation. Global Scholars will receive a medallion to wear at graduation, have their designation noted on their final transcript from the University, and may be eligible for a $10,000 prize toward graduate study.

How to become a Global Scholar1. Review your School’s criteria.

Each school has determined specific criteria for its students who wish to be designated as Global Scholars. This allows every student the flexibility and creativity to express themselves in a format best suited for their field of study.  

*Tip: Reading this information before going abroad can help you conceptualize your capstone project in a way that will also compliment your School’s expectations.  With this in mind though, the authenticity of your project comes first and we encourage you to keep this in the back of your mind rather than allowing it to become the lens through which you see your experience.

2. Determine your eligibility.

The Global Scholars designation recognizes graduating seniors who have excelled in their studies both at USC and abroad. Global Scholars will:

  • Have a minimum 3.5 overall GPA upon graduation
  • Graduate within five years of initial enrollment at USC
  • Spend at least ten weeks outside the U.S. as part of their undergraduate experience. These ten weeks can be a combination of one or more programs that are founded on academic study, work experience, or service learning. Programs must be administered by USC or an outside institution. In the case of purely student-run international programs, the quality of the program would need to be verified by the student’s school.
  • Submit a capstone project or research paper that demonstrates their learning and validates the depth and quality of the student’s experience. Each school has defined what the capstone project criteria will be for its students, thus allowing our students some flexibility and room for creativity. Learn about your School’s capstone project criteria here.
  • Submit a brief reflective essay (up to 3 pages) in which they reflect upon their international experience and the transformative impact it has had upon their development and learning at USC. This essay should contextualize their experience abroad and can include thoughts on how their global experiences have impacted their plans for post-graduate study or employment.

As with the Steven and Kathryn Sample Renaissance Scholar and Discovery Scholar designations, the University recognizes all undergraduates who meet the designation’s criteria. Each year, up to ten newly designated Global Scholars will also be selected to receive a $10,000 prize to be applied toward graduate study.

3. Meet with a Global Scholars representative from your school (optional).

Each USC School has a designated contact person that is knowledgeable about the Global Scholars program, your School’s specific criteria and its designation process.  Though this step is not mandatory, applicants are encouraged to be in touch with their School’s contact person to gain insight about the program and feedback about their Reflective Essay and Capstone Project plans.  See below for each School’s contact person.

Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Cynthia A. Martinez, Director of Advisement and Academic Services
Davis School of Gerontology
Maria Henke, Associate Dean
Aaron Hagedorn, Clinical Assistant Professor
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
Danika Newlee, Program Advisor
Keck School of Medicine
Elahe Nezami, Associate Dean and Director for Undergraduate Studies in Health Promotion
Stephen Perry, Academic Advisor
Marshall School of Business and Leventhal School of Accounting
Kim West, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs
Price School of Public Policy
Nam Ung, Undergraduate Program Administrator
Roski School of Art and Design
Penelope Jones, Assistant Dean of Student Services
Thornton School of Music
Philip Placenti, Associate Dean, Admission and Financial Aid
USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Helen Mirsaeidi, Program Advisor
USC School of Architecture
Hadrian Predock, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Professor
USC School of Cinematic Arts
Katie Alvarez, Program Advisor
USC School of Dramatic Arts
Daniel Leyva, Academic Advisor
Viterbi School of Engineering
Louise Yates, Senior Associate Dean, Admissions and Student Affairs

For General Questions about the USC Global Scholars program please contact the Office of Undergraduate Programs.


4. Meet with the Global Scholars coordinator in the Office of Undergraduate Programs (optional).

The Global Scholars coordinator has an overall understanding of each School’s program and can also give insight into what the Prize Committee looks for from a submitted project.

5. Have an incredible time abroad!
6. In your senior year, submit an Intent to Submit form.

The Intent to Submit form is utilized by each USC School to anticipate the number of potential applicants. This step is optional but recommended. Students who submit this form will be sent a reminder and important program updates in preparation for the final submission deadlines. The Intent to Submit form should be completed no later than the first week of February for students graduating in the current academic year.

7. Meet a second time with your School’s Global Scholar representative and the Office of Undergraduate Programs Global Scholars coordinator (optional).

Plan a meeting to discuss your experiences abroad and how you plan to approach your Reflective Essay and Capstone Project. These meetings will allow you the opportunity to brainstorm, bounce ideas off of someone familiar with the process, and review winning projects from years past.

8. Submit your Project Submission online during the Spring Semester of your final year at USC.

The Global Scholars project submission will only be available during the spring semester of each academic year, and is typically live between February and April. If you are a December graduate, plan on completing Step 8 after your degree completion. If you plan to graduate in Spring or Summer, plan on completing this step during your final Spring semester at USC.

Applications and supplemental materials must be submitted by one of two deadlines in order to be considered for the Global Scholars Designation. The Primary Submission deadline is Monday, March 23, 2015. Applicants who submit by this deadline will be considered for the Global Scholars designation and may be nominated to move on to the Prize Competition. The Secondary Submission deadline is Friday, May 1, 2015. Applicants who submit by this deadline will only be considered for the Global Scholars designation. These applicants are not eligible for the Prize Competition.

9. Project evaluation and prize competition.

Following each submission deadline, submitted capstone projects and reflective essays will be certified by a panel of experts within each respective school.  Students will be notified of their Global Scholars certification status within approximately two weeks of each submission deadline.

For the primary submission deadline, each school will nominate a short-list of Prize Finalists to advance to the university-wide prize competition. It is a significant honor to be recognized as a Prize Finalist – this indicates that the submitted capstone project and reflective essay are among the most distinguished submissions by any student in the school.

The Global Scholars Prize Selection Committee is comprised of faculty from across the University.  The Committee will convene to make the final prize selections prior to Commencement. 

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