The South Carolina Honors College has much to offer and is an excellent option if you're looking for an enhanced college experience. Students currently in the process of applying to USC from another college or university are eligible to apply. Admission is highly selective and based on the current number of students in the Honors College.
Students in the Honors College have access to an enhanced academic experience. We offer nearly 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.
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, students can apply for a limited number of Honors College departmental scholarships.
About the application process
Students interested in transfer student admission must
- apply for admission through the USC-Columbia admissions office either through a transfer application or a system transfer application*,
- be in their second semester of full-time higher education,
- have a minimum 3.6 GPA,
- and intend to study at USC for five or six semesters at the undergraduate level.
Students who meet the above requirements may apply for transfer student admission to the Honors College.
It is important to be able to demonstrate a full year of academic success at the college level. Thus, we do not allow first-semester freshmen to apply. Additionally, the requirement for five to six future undergraduate semesters ensures that transfer applicants have adequate time to complete the Honors requirements, which includes a senior thesis.
*Note that USC admissions deadlines may differ from the Honors transfer student admission deadline. Students should follow the USC admissions guidelines in all aspects.
GPA & Coursework: Students should have a minimum of a 3.6 GPA on a 4.0 scale on all college work attempted. 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.
Essays: Students respond to several prompts (short responses and essay format) 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.
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 including a senior thesis. Therefore, students who have plans to graduate early, 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 composed of Honors College faculty and staff. The committee is not able to make decisions until after the current semester grades are reported. Applicants will be notified via email regarding decisions. All decisions are final. The committee is unable to provide details on decisions for individual applications.
Should an applicant be accepted, they can reject or accept the offer of admission, committing themselves to the completion of the Honors curriculum. They will then 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.
Further questions regarding transfer admission into the Honors College can be answered by reviewing our Frequently Asked Questions page.