Become A Renaissance Scholar

The Renaissance Scholars program is intended to recognize and celebrate USC undergraduates who have excelled academically while pursuing at least two widely separated fields of study. Renaissance Scholar designees will graduate from USC with at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA as well as at least a 3.5 GPA in each of the certified programs (major and minor, or two majors).

Interested USC students can utilize the step-by-step process that follows to determine their eligibility and apply for the Renaissance Scholars designation. Renaissance 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 Renaissance Scholar1. Selecting Your Programs

Before you can apply for certification as a Renaissance Scholar candidate, you must officially declare all of your intended academic programs.  Students are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary study through two or more programs, but not all program combinations will meet the Renaissance Scholar standard for breadth with depth.

The Renaissance ideal is to pursue two programs which do not overlap in topics, themes, applications, or methods. Even if your programs come from two different schools at USC, the underlying basic discipline and pedagogical approach may still be fundamentally the same. For example, Communication and Political Science are both social sciences and therefore would not be approved for certification.  However, selecting Political Science with Art History (in the Humanities), or Biological Sciences (in the Natural Sciences) would be approved despite the programs being offered through the same school. 

Please use the quick contact form to the right or call the Office of Undergraduate Programs at (213) 740-1741 if you have questions about choosing your programs prior to certification.

Once all of your major(s) and minor(s) appear on your STARS report, you can proceed to the next step and apply for certification.

2. Getting Certified

In order to be designated as a USC Renaissance Scholar candidate, students must be undergraduates and have their undergraduate fields of study certified as meeting the breadth with depth requirement. Students may apply for certification as soon as the intended academic programs are officially declared.

When students have decided which fields of study to pursue and have officially declared each program, they can complete the simple online Certification form. Certification will be based on the extent to which the two fields of study are widely separate and distinct, and require the student to stretch intellectually.

Please note that certification requires the pursuit of at least two undergraduate academic programs of study; graduate programs and co-curricular programs or activities will not be considered.  Certification is based on the evaluation of two programs where at least one program is a major.  Combinations between two minor programs will not be considered.  If a student has declared more than two programs, multiple program combinations will be evaluated for certification. However, a student needs only one approved program duo to be a Renaissance Scholar candidate.

Once certified, the approved Renaissance Scholar program combination(s) will be noted on the student’s STARS report with a special section to track the Renaissance Scholar GPA requirement. 

Students must re-apply for certification if they decide to change any part of their academic program, such as adding or dropping a major or minor.

3. Prize Competition:

During the spring of your senior year, you may choose to compete for the prize competition. Only graduating seniors are eligible to compete for the prize competition.  The prize application deadline is Friday, February 20, 2015.  If you are a December graduate, plan on completing Step 3 in the spring 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.

In order to compete for a Renaissance Scholar Prize, students must be previously certified as a Renaissance Scholar candidate.  The certification deadline for students who wish to apply for the prize competition is Friday, February 6, 2015 (two weeks prior to the prize competition deadline).  Students who do not wish to compete for a prize may submit their certification by the last day of classes in the Spring semester.

The prize competition application requires the following:

  • Minimum 3.50 GPA both overall at USC and in each program of the certified Renaissance Scholar combination.
  • Personal Statement (3-5 pages, double-spaced) in which you discuss how the two (or more) divergent fields of study have affected your intellectual, social, and professional development
  • Two Faculty Letters of Recommendation from each academic department of your certified Renaissance Scholar program combination
  • Résumé (one page) that highlights and summarizes your academic and non-academic achievements.
4. Graduating as a USC Renaissance Scholar

The Renaissance Scholar honor will be awarded only after a post-graduation confirmation of successful completion of all GPA and time-to-degree requirements.

In order to receive the Renaissance Scholar honor, you must:

  • Meet all of the university requirements for your degree(s);
  • Graduate with a 3.5 overall GPA (with University honors);
  • Graduate with a 3.5 GPA in each of your major(s) and minor(s) fields of study for at least one certified combination of programs; and
  • Complete your degree(s) within five years at USC.

Students can use the Renaissance Scholars certification section on their STARS report to track their completion of the Renaissance Scholar GPA requirement for the major.  The existing STARS section(s) tracking minor requirements will accurately reflect the Renaissance Scholar GPA for the minor.

Eligible students will be given a Renaissance Scholar medallion to wear at graduation.  The Renaissance Scholar honor will be added to the student’s final academic transcript at the time the degree is awarded.

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Office of Undergraduate Programs University of Southern California

Undergraduate Programs
University of Southern California
Gwynn Wilson Student Union, Suite 300
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