Learn: Unique Learning Opportunities


USC remains dedicated to excellence in scholarly research that advances human knowledge and is ranked among the top 10 universities in federally supported research. Below are just a few of the programs available to undergraduate students. Please visit the Undergraduate Research and Discovery page for a complete list.

Dornsife College Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

A limited number of undergraduate fellowships support full-time research in any area of study, on campus, across the country, or around the world, under the direction of USC faculty. Learn more >

Student Opportunities for Academic Research (SOAR)

SOAR supports undergraduate students who wish to work as research assistants on faculty projects or to pursue their own original research during the academic year. Learn more >

USC Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships

A limited number of fellowships are available for undergraduate research each academic year. Undergraduate students receive a stipend of $1,000 (fall and spring) or $3,000 (summer). Learn more >

Gateway Scholars Program

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Gateway Scholars Program prepares low-income, first-generation college students and under-represented minorities for advanced graduate studies and research. Learn more >

$909 million
Annual sponsored research


“I chose USC because the opportunities for students, inside and outside of the classroom, are second to none.”

— Tyreece Santana, Bronx, New York

General Education

Our General Education program will introduce you to the breadth of knowledge necessary to be a well-educated person in the 21st century. Courses range from the arts and letters to science and its principles. Many students develop passions for, and go on to major or minor in, subjects outside their “comfort zones.” This openness to new ideas often yields startling new insights and opens up new paths of inquiry.

For more information, please refer to USC Dornsife’s General Education page.

Scholar Distinctions

For more information about scholar distinction programs, please contact:

Academic Honors & Fellowships
(213) 740-9116

Renaissance Scholars

“Our ideal is to help students develop the kind of intellectual flexibility needed for life in the 21st century that the best thinkers of the European Renaissance displayed.”
—Steven B. Sample, USC president emeritus

With those words, Steven Sample established the Renaissance Honors program to both challenge and award current undergraduate students who excel in their pursuits of disparate fields of study. Learn more >

Discovery Scholars

Discovery Scholars endeavor to blaze new trails of inquiry, and the Discovery Scholars program honors current undergraduate students who excel academically while conducting original research or creating new works of art. Learn more >

Global Scholars

The Global Scholars program recognizes undergraduates who excel in their studies both at home and abroad, through any combination of academic programs, work experience or service learning. Learn more >

“The best thing about USC is the freedom and different opportunities to enhance your education.”

— Mark Jones, Los Angeles, California

Each year, an exemplary group of 10 Renaissance Scholar, 10 Discovery Scholar and 10 Global Scholar designees is selected to receive $10,000 prizes towards graduate study or creative projects.

Study Abroad

USC offers exciting and diverse opportunities to spend a semester or year studying abroad through programs offered in over 50 cities on five continents. Some programs include opportunities for research, experiential learning or an internship. All students are encouraged to integrate study abroad into their overall USC experience.

Visit the USC Global website to learn about all our programs abroad.

“My most memorable overseas experience has been hiking to one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, [comparing] cultures between Hiroshima, Osaka and Tokyo to the U.S...”

— David Delgado, Montebello, California

Honors Programs

Honors programs challenge students to work at an advanced pace, surpass traditional academic boundaries, engage in original research, and in some cases, compete for monetary awards that can be applied toward graduate study. Listed below are the university-wide programs available to students in any major.

Thematic Option

Each year, approximately 200 first-year students choose to participate in this honors track of USC’s General Education program. The interdisciplinary approach of “T.O.” encourages students to engage with the world’s greatest literary and philosophical canons, challenge accepted beliefs and attitudes, and contribute to a stimulating environment for intellectual exploration. Learn more >

Freshman Science Honors

Offered to students who declare natural science majors within Dornsife College, Freshman Science Honors represents advanced versions of existing science tracks, combining world-class faculty, small labs and a vibrant learning community to help students excel in their studies. Learn more >

“Though USC is home to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, it’s amazing how personalized your experience will be at USC. You’re definitely more than a just a number.”

— Julia Lawler, Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Freshman Seminars

Students participate in a two-hour seminar once a week on a topic of personal interest and make valuable connections with faculty and fellow students. Students earn 2 units of elective credit on a Credit/No Credit basis. Visit the Freshman Seminars web page for more information.

“The best thing about USC is [that every] person has an interesting intersection of passions, and USC offers the resources and guidance to pursue them without compromise.”

— Elizabeth Zhou, Plano, Texas