Why Should I Apply?
There are many reasons! Students in the Honors College have access to an enhanced academic experience. We offer approximately 600 Honors College classes per year. These classes are small, averaging 16 students, allowing for you to engage deeply with your classmates, your professor, and the course content. Our classes are distinguished by discussions, demonstrations, debates, and much more. Honors students get free printing, priority registration, and an Honors College advisor to help keep them on track with requirements. There are also study abroad trips, research funding, internship programs, and service learning experiences available to Honors College students.
Please note that admission to the Honors College does not carry any implication for scholarships or financial aid. There is no financial assistance that comes automatically from being a member of the Honors College. However, transfer students can apply for a limited number of Honors College departmental scholarships.
Can I Apply?
Students who have completed no more than 45 credit hours while enrolled at an institution of higher education and have a minimum 3.6 GPA may apply for transfer admission to the Honors College. The 45 credit hour limit does not include AP and/or IB credit hours or hours earned for college courses taken while enrolled in high school.
There are additional steps for students in the following situations.
- Non-USC students will also need to apply for University admission through the USC-Columbia Admissions Office.
- Students in the USC system, but not on the Columbia campus, will need to complete a Change of Campus form available through Admissions.
Note that these deadlines may differ from the Honors College Transfer Application deadline.
How Do I Apply?
- Minimum of a 3.6 GPA on a 4.0 scale on all college work attempted.
- Submission of two letters of recommendation from professors.
- Application including a written essay. (See the application form for essay topics and guidelines.)
- Transcript of college work (staff will get this directly from the registrar for transfers within the USC system).
- Reasonable chance of completing the requirements for graduating from the Honors College including a senior thesis. Graduation with honors requires 45 Honors College credit hours. Please see our online handbook [pdf] for a breakdown and more information.
These are the primary factors considered by the Transfer Review Committee:
- Essays. Students respond to four prompts (three short responses and one longer essay)
that deal with students’ intellectual curiosity and vigor, accomplishments and aptitude
for leadership, and reasons for wanting to join. The Honors College is looking for
students who are especially eager to be challenged, who have wide-ranging and/or deep
academic interests, and who will fit in well in intensely interactive classroom environments.
Not every student will benefit from being in such an environment or find it comfortable.
The Honors College wants to be confident that the student realistically understands
and is prepared for the rigor, engagement, and intensity of the Honors experience.
- Transcript (GPA & coursework). The Honors College is looking not only at an applicant’s
GPA, but also at the courses the student has taken. Students who have taken more
demanding courses, and who are taking more advanced courses (because they have placed
out of introductory courses, for instance), are making a stronger case that they would
be better served by being in the Honors College. Students who are doing well in introductory
courses with the usual range of difficulty may well be placed appropriately already.
Even students with a 4.0 GPA may not be accepted.
- Recommendations. Detailed recommendations from enthusiastic faculty in academic subjects
are especially important.
- Ability to complete Honors. Students in the Honors College are required to complete
a robust curriculum of 45 credit hours. Therefore, students who have plans to be abroad
for an entire year or have other rigorous obligations in their field of study may
not be best served by the addition of Honors requirements.
All applications are read by the Transfer Review Committee, a group primarily composed of the Honors College Assistant Deans. The committee is unable to provide details regarding individual applications.
There are two transfer deadlines:
Current freshmen should apply by the April 15 transfer deadline and would enter the Honors College the following fall semester.
Current sophomores should apply by the December 1 transfer deadline and would enter the Honors College the following spring semester.
All applications will be reviewed as a group, with no preference given to applications received early.
The application for current sophomores closed at 11:59 PM EST on December 1, 2019.
The application for current freshmen will be available in mid-February for our April 15 deadline.
What happens after I apply?
Applications are reviewed by a committee of Honors faculty and staff. Applicants will be notified via email regarding decisions, but the committee is not able to make decisions until after the current semester grades are reported. All decisions are final.
Should an applicant be accepted, they can reject or accept the offer of admission, committing themselves to the completion of the Honors curriculum. Students will be connected with an Honors advisor who will assist them in making adjustments to their schedule to incorporate Honors classes into the semester immediately following. Generally, this looks like adding 1-3 Honors classes.
Given the timelines that University Housing operates under, we are not able to provide Honors housing to transfer applicants.
Students who are external applicants, coming from regional campuses or other institutions, should follow the USC Admissions guidelines in all aspects.
Further questions regarding transfer admission into the Honors College can be answered
by reviewing our Frequently Asked Questions page.