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Office of Undergraduate Admissions

  • Honors Residence Hall

South Carolina Honors College

The Best of Both Worlds

The South Carolina Honors College at the University of South Carolina has been ranked the nation's top public honors college since 2012. At the Honors College, you'll thrive in an environment that combines the best of a small, liberal arts college with the resources of a major research university. If you love learning, discovery and exploration, you'll be right at home at the Honors College.

There are so many reasons to study at the South Carolina Honors College. Here are just a few of them:

  • Nearly 600 Honors-only classes available each year, from Honors versions of Biology and English, to boutique classes like Literary Hauntings: Ghosts, Specters, and Other Undead and Social Informatics: Uses and Consequences of Technologies in Everyday Life
  • Personalized attention, including your own Honors advisor, in addition to your major advisor
  • Research opportunities available only to Honors College students, available beginning your freshman year
  • Average class size of just 16 students
  • The BARSC degree awarded by the Honors College, which is a program where you can design your own major
  • Special early admission pre-med and pre-law programs

The middle 50 percent of students in the South Carolina Honors College had an SAT score between 1410-1520* or an ACT composite score between 32-34*. On average, students admitted to the Honors College were in the top four percent of their high school class and had an average weighted GPA of 4.77.

*Note: SAT/ACT scores are not required for admission consideration.

There are two ways you can apply for admission to the University of South Carolina: our UofSC Application and the Common Application. You should choose the application that you are most comfortable submitting.

  1. For full consideration for general admission, admission to the South Carolina Honors College and the Top Scholars Award program, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions requires the following items: 
    • Submitted general UofSC admissions application, preferably by the October 15, early action deadline.
    • Submitted Honors College/Top Scholars application (available as a supplement after you submit your general admissions application). This application requires completion of two essay prompts and one short-answer question. Deadline is November 15. The 2023 SCHC writing prompts are:
      • Interest Statement: Tell us why you are interested in the South Carolina Honors College. (150-300 words)
      • Thinking essay: What sparks your intellectual curiosity? How have you explored the subject in the past? How do you plan to explore it at UofSC? (500-1000 words)
      • Doing essay: We expect our students to integrate their learning with meaningful extracurricular experiences. Pick a beyond-the-classroom activity where you have taken initiative and tell us more about your involvement. Share what you have learned from your experience. How do you envision building upon this experience to contribute to UofSC and the South Carolina Honors Community? (500-1000 words)
    • Two letters of recommendation
    • Resume (optional, but highly recommended) 

2. Students will answer a “yes/no” question on the freshman application to indicate their interest in applying to the South Carolina Honors College. If you answer “yes,” then the separate Honors College application will be added to your UofSC Admissions Portal approximately 48 hours after submitting the freshman application. You will receive an email from our office once the application supplement is available. Students who originally answered “no” on the freshman application and change their minds may email to request access.

3. Two letters of recommendation are required for a complete application and must be received by December 1. There are several ways to submit these letters.

    • Your high school counselor can submit the letters on your behalf via a secure electronic service.
    • You can enter the names and email addresses of two chosen recommenders through the "SCHC Letters of Recommendation" link on your UofSC Admissions Portal. Your recommenders will be sent a link where they can upload a letter directly.
    • If the above options are not possible, your recommenders may email the letters to

4. You will have until December 1 to update your testing plan via your UofSC Admissions Portal. We will use all information on file by January 15 when evaluating your candidacy for scholarships (if you are not named a Top Scholar Candidate).

5. Honors College admissions notifications will be issued by mid-February. Official notifications are sent via email, using the address from your admissions application.

6. If you are named a Top Scholar Candidate, you will be invited to participate in a mandatory interview weekend. Please make sure to note the dates below on your calendar. Notifications for these awards will be mailed in late January.

7. Merit scholarships awarded through the Admissions Office will be released by mid-March.

8. We consider it the student's responsibility to ensure that all materials are received by stated deadlines.

We want to hear from you if you have questions or concerns. Email us at or call 803-777-7700. 

 *Note: SAT/ACT scores are not required for South Carolina Honors college or Top Scholar admission review. 

Students can transfer into the Honors College from within the University of South Carolina or from other colleges and schools. Admissions is very competitive. 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 in all college work attempted 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.

Most of our students earn college credit before graduating from high school. Credits earned by advanced placement tests (IB, CLEP, etc.) are not counted toward honors requirements but often serve as pre-requisites for honors courses and can allow room in your course of study for higher-level honors courses. Discuss your credits with your honors advisor.

All incoming freshmen will be placed in honors housing, which includes locations such as Honors Residence Hall, Woodrow and 650 Lincoln.

A senior thesis is required to graduate with Honors from the Honors College. We encourage students to think about the thesis as something more than just a research paper. It should be the opportunity to examine your passion through an academic lens. We've had students travel across the US, researching the meaning of success, and submitting a documentary as their thesis work. Others have explored art, written original music and authored novels. Many students gain funding specifically for the thesis, and are often able to present their work at national conferences.

To graduate "With Honors," students must 1) take at least 45 credit hours of honors courses, or about one third of their total academic courses; 2) engage in at least one "Beyond the Classroom" experience (study abroad, internship, research, or service learning); and 3) complete a senior thesis. Most students in fact take significantly more honors courses than required. To graduate "With Honors," students must also maintain a sliding GPA, which goes from 3.0 as a freshman to 3.3 at graduation. (The average GPA in the Honors College last year was above 3.8.) Students who fail to maintain the minimum GPA or who do not make satisfactory progress toward graduating "With Honors" are placed on probation and given guidance toward improving their grades.

The Honors College also offers its own degree, the Baccalaureus Artium et Scientiae degree, usually called the BARSC, which allows students to design their own degree and requires 69 honors credits.

No. To apply to the Honors College, you'll need to complete a South Carolina Honors College application supplement to the general application you submit through the University of South Carolina Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Appeals may be considered on a case-by-case basis and only in circumstances where there appears to be evidence of an error or additional information that was not available to the admissions committee at the time of application. To submit an appeal, you may use this appeal form.


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