Frequently Asked Questions

About the Renaissance Scholars Program

Is this a scholarship?

No, this is not a scholarship. The Renaissance Scholar designation is an academic honor, awarded upon graduation to students who meet the criteria. The ten Renaissance Scholars Prizes awarded to students each year are for the purpose of post-baccalaureate study. Prize recipients must show evidence of enrollment in a graduate program of study. Students have up to five years after completing the Bachelor’s degree to request disbursement of the Prize.

Can graduate students apply for the Renaissance Scholar designation?

No. Only undergraduates who are enrolled in undergraduate major-major or major-minor combinations may apply for the Renaissance Scholar designation.

How do I know whether or not my major and minor (or dual major) combination is sufficiently broad to qualify me as a Renaissance Scholar?

Once you have officially declared all of your intended major and minor programs, you can submit a request for program certification using the online application.  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.

Students who would like to discuss programs they are considering adding and the potential for Renaissance Scholar certification of specific program combinations may contact the Office of Undergraduate Programs using the Quick Contact section at the right prior to submitting an application for certification.

Whom do I contact for more 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 Certification Process

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

A detailed description of how to become a Renaissance Scholar can be found on our Become a Scholar page. In short, to become a Renaissance Scholar, students must pursue at least two distinct academic disciplines (major/minor or dual major combination) that are in widely separated fields. Students must first have their academic program certified as meeting the standard for breadth with depth. Students must also graduate in no more than five years at USC, with a minimum 3.5 overall grade point average, with a minimum 3.5 grade point average in the major(s) and/or minor(s) course requirements for each certified program, and with university honors.

When can I apply for the Renaissance Scholar designation and for the $10,000 Prize?

There is no specific deadline to submit a request for program certification. The application for certification is available year-round. Certification only requires that the intended programs have been officially declared on the student’s record, which may be as early as the second semester at USC. However, graduating seniors who wish to apply for the prize competition must submit their request for program certification within two weeks of the prize competition deadline in mid-February. Graduating seniors who do not plan to compete for the annual prizes may submit the request for program certification by the last day of classes in the Spring semester of the year they are graduating.

Although you may apply for the Renaissance Scholar designation as soon as you have officially declared all of your intended academic programs, you may apply for the prize only during your senior year. Prizes will be awarded after a post-graduation review of each prize applicant's grade point average and time-to-degree completion, as well as verification of enrollment in a graduate program.

How soon after I apply for certification will I know if I've been certified as a Renaissance Scholar candidate?

Certification decisions are made within approximately one month after receipt of the application. However, for certain combinations of major and minor, applicants may be contacted for additional information.  Please note that applications for certification from students graduating in the current academic year will be given priority review.

If I am certified as a Renaissance Scholar candidate and I graduate in the fall semester, can I still apply for the Renaissance Scholar prizes to be awarded the May before I graduate?

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

If my major/minor combination is certified, does that mean I am automatically a Renaissance Scholar?

In addition to the certification, you must graduate within five years at USC with university honors with a minimum 3.5 overall grade point average as well as a minimum 3.5 grade point average for all major(s) and/or minor(s) course requirements in each of the certified programs. 

Please keep in mind that the Renaissance Scholar major GPA will factor in both lower and upper division course grades.  The Renaissance Scholar major GPA is different from the “Upper Division Course Work Applied to Your Major” GPA section on the STARS report .  Renaissance Scholar certification will be added to the STARS report(s) with a special section to indicate the current Renaissance GPA for the major (the existing STARS section tracking minor requirements will accurately reflect the Renaissance GPA for the minor).

I have studied abroad to satisfy part of my major or minor requirements and the courses I took abroad appear as Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) on my STARS report. How will these courses impact my Renaissance Scholar GPA?

Courses taken through USC Overseas Studies Programs are considered USC units. However, the courses appear on the USC transcript as CR/NC. Marks of CR/NC do not affect a student’s grade point average. The Renaissance Scholar GPA for each certified program will be determined based on graded courses completed at USC only. 

Prize Competition

When is the deadline for the Prize Competition?

Certified Renaissance Scholar candidates who are graduating in the current academic year must submit their Prize Competition materials by midnight on Friday, February 21, 2014. The prize application requires:

  • Anticipated 3.5 or above overall GPA at the time of graduation
  • Anticipated 3.5 or above GPA in each certified major or minor field of study at the time of graduation
  • Degree completion within five years at USC
  • Two USC faculty letters of recommendation
  • Personal Statement (3-5 pages)
  • Résumé (one page)
When does the selection of Prize Awardees take place?

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

I plan to take time off to do something else immediately before graduate school, such as a job, or the Peace Corps. Do immediate post-graduation plans have to be concrete or could 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. Renaissance Scholar prize recipients must demonstrate evidence of enrollment in a graduate program in order to receive the prize amount.

May I earn the Renaissance Scholar and Discovery 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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