Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions. This list is by no means exhaustive and should you have other questions or comments we invite you to complete the Quick Contact section to the right or call the Office of Undergraduate Programs at (213) 740-1741 for more information.

About the Discovery Scholars Program

Is this a scholarship?

No, this is not a scholarship. The Discovery Scholar designation is an academic honor, awarded upon graduation to students who meet the criteria. The ten Discovery Scholar Prizes awarded to students each year are for the purpose of post-baccalaureate study or work on an original creative project that advances their career in the creative arts. Prize recipients using the award for post-baccalaureate study must show evidence of enrollment in a graduate program of study. Recipients using the award for work on a creative project must submit a detailed proposal describing the timeline and intended outcomes of the project. Students have up to five years after completing the Bachelor’s degree to request disbursement of the Prize.

Can graduate students apply for the Discovery Scholar designation?

No. Only undergraduates who are enrolled in an undergraduate major may apply for the Discovery Scholar designation.

Can I submit materials in a discipline other than my major?

Yes, in principle you may submit in any discipline. However, in order to qualify, a submission outside the major should be comparable in scope and substance to a senior project within the other discipline.  Ideally, non-major submissions should be linked to a declared minor or honors program.

Whom do I contact for general information?

You may contact the Office of Undergraduate Programs at (213) 740-1741 or ugp@usc.edu for more information.  You can also follow us on Twitter @USC_Ugrad for more information and deadline reminders.

Eligibility and the Submission Process

What does it take to be designated as a Discovery Scholar?

A detailed description of how to become a Discovery Scholar can be found on our Become a Scholar page. In short, to become a Discovery Scholar, students must meet the criteria established by their school for outstanding original research or creative work. The criteria may include submission of a research thesis, an artistic portfolio, or some other evidence of original contributions to the discipline. Students must also graduate in no more than five years at USC with a minimum 3.5 overall grade point average.

When can I apply for the Discovery Scholar designation and for the $10,000 prize?

You may apply for the Discovery Scholar designation during the spring semester of your final year at the University. Applicants have the option of submitting an Intent to Submit form online by early February to declare their interest in applying for the Discovery Scholars designation.  If this form is not submitted it will not disqualify a student from the Prize Competition but students are encouraged to submit the form so their respective Schools can prepare accordingly for the anticipated number of submissions.

All applicants interested in being eligible for both the Discovery Scholars designation and the Prize Competition must submit their materials by the Primary Project Submission Deadline.  This process is only live from January to March each year.  The Primary Project Submission Deadline is midnight on the Monday following Spring Break.  December graduates should plan on completing this step in the Spring semester after their degree completion.  Spring or Summer graduates should plan on completing this step during their final Spring semester at USC.

Following the submission deadline, the Office of Undergraduate Programs will then distribute submission materials to the respective schools.  Each school will nominate a short-list of Prize Competition Finalists from the roster of Discovery Scholar candidates within that school. A university panel will then select the Prize Awardees from the list of Finalists.

Students not interested in being eligible for the Prize Competition can complete their project submission any day prior to the Last Day of Classes in the Spring semester of their final year at USC.

If I graduate in the fall semester, can I still apply for the Discovery Scholar prizes to be awarded the May before I graduate?

No. If you graduate in the fall semester, you may apply for the Discovery Scholar prizes to be awarded in the spring semester after your graduation. Be sure to keep apprised of and comply with all of the deadline requirements and updates that are published on the Discovery Scholars website.

If my research or creative work is certified, does that mean I am automatically a Discovery Scholar?

In addition to the certification of your submitted project, you must graduate within five years at USC with a minimum 3.5 overall grade point average.

My Discovery Scholar project is International in nature; can I submit the same project for Global Scholars consideration?

No, to earn both the Discovery Scholar and Global Scholar designations, you must submit two completely separate projects for consideration. 

If you submit the same project for both programs, your school will certify you for just one of the designations based on which program criteria (if any) best fits your submitted work.

 

School Contacts and Criteria

Whom do I contact if I have questions about the submission criteria for my school?

Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Heather Cartagena, Program Advisor

Davis School of Gerontology
Maria Henke, Associate Dean
Aaron Hagedorn, Clinical Assistant Professor

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
Heather Cartagena, Program Advisor

Keck School of Medicine
Elahe Nezami, Associate Dean and Director for Undergraduate Studies in Health Promotion

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 Fine Arts
Penelope Jones, Assistant Dean of Student Services

Thornton School of Music
Phillip Placenti, Assistant Dean, Admission and Financial Aid

USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Ann Neville-Jan, Associate Professor

USC School of Architecture
Kim Coleman, Chair of Undergraduate Studies and Professor

USC School of Cinematic Arts
Asiroh Cham, Scholarship and Program Manager

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 Discovery Scholars program please contact the Office of Undergraduate Programs.

 

Prize Competition

When will I know if I have been nominated as a Prize Competition Finalist?

The deadline for schools to submit Finalist nominations to the Office of Undergraduate Programs is at the beginning of April. You will be notified whether you are a Prize Competition Finalist during the following week.

Prize Competition Finalists will be given an opportunity to update or augment their submission prior to review by the Prize Selection Committee in mid-April.

When does the selection of Prize Awardees take place?

A university-wide panel will select the Prize Awardees in time for announcement approximately one week before commencement.

My Discovery Scholar project was a collaboration that was also submitted by other graduating seniors. If our project is selected in the Prize Competition, will we each receive a $10,000 prize?

No.  Prizes awarded to group projects will be divided equally among the group members.

I plan to take time off to do something else before graduate school or other projects, such as a job, or the Peace Corps. Do immediate post-graduation plans have to be concrete or can the prize be deferred?

Your immediate plans do not have to be concrete. Once your undergraduate degree has been awarded, you will have up to five years to request disbursement of your prize.  Discovery Scholar prize recipients must demonstrate evidence of enrollment in a graduate program or submit a proposal for a creative project that advances their career in the creative arts.

May I earn the Discovery Scholar and Renaissance Scholar or Global Scholar designations?

Yes, if you meet each set of program requirements, you may earn two or even all three designations.   However, to earn both the Discovery Scholar and Global Scholar designations, you must submit two completely separate projects for consideration. 

In addition you may be considered for each program’s Prize Competition– however, no student will be awarded more than one Prize.

 

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