Become a Global Scholar

The Global Scholar distinction recognizes graduating seniors who have excelled in their studies both at USC and abroad. Learn more about the history of the Global Scholar distinction here.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility 
Step 2: Review Project Requirements
Step 3: Apply for Global Scholars


1. Determine Eligibility

To qualify for the Global Scholar distinction, graduating seniors must:

  • graduate with a 3.5 minimum cumulative GPA (with University Honors)
  • graduate within 5 years of matriculation at USC
  • spend at least 10 weeks outside of the U.S. during undergraduate experience. Programs can be combined to reach 10 week minimum as long as they are founded in academic study, work experience, or service learning. Programs must be administered by USC or a alternative external organization. Student-run international programs will need to be verified for quality by the student’s USC school. 

COVID-19 Update

  • If a spring 2020 study abroad program was cancelled outright, it cannot be counted towards the 10-week minimum.
  • If a spring 2020 study abroad program was interrupted and courses were completed online, the semester can still count towards the 10-week minimum if needed.
  • There will be an application question asking students to summarize the impact of COVID on their study abroad as it pertains to meeting the minimum eligibility of the distinction.

2. Review Project Requirements for Global Scholars

To be considered, applicants must submit a capstone project and reflective essay based on criteria set by each USC School.

Capstone Project or Research Paper

The project must demonstrate learning and validate the depth and quality of the student’s experience abroad.

  • Review 2019-2020 Capstone Requirements for each USC School (use Bookmark tool to navigate) – 2020-2021 updated criteria will be posted before application launches.

For additional guidance on the Capstone Project criteria:

  • Global Scholar School Coordinators organize the school committee for internal review of applications. Coordinators should only be contacted to clarify school-specific criteria if needed (this step is not mandatory). View list of Coordinators here.
  • For feedback on content or structure of Capstone Project, applicants should contact faculty mentor(s) within discipline or the USC Writing Center.

If you are also applying for the Discovery Scholar distinction, you must submit a completely different capstone project for each application to earn both distinctions and/or prize nominations.

Tip: School Criteria may be reviewed before traveling abroad to help conceptualize capstone project; however, prospective applicants should avoid using criteria as the sole lens through which to see their experience.

Personal Reflection Essay

  1. Brief essay (no more than 3 pages, double-spaced, 12pt font)
  2. Response should reflect the following points:
    • Using the USC Global Scholars Learning Outcomes as a guide, what was the transformative impact of your time abroad? How have these experiences impacted your academic life at USC?
    • How does your capstone project relate to experience(s) abroad? If you spent time in more than one country, how did each experience connect to one another? If applicable, why is your capstone project tied to one specific study abroad experience?
    • How has the project been continually developed since you returned to the U.S.? For example: have you conducted additional research, discovered new application of your project based on lessons learned, etc.?
    • How have you continued exploring different global perspectives after your time abroad?

For general questions about the USC Global Scholar distinction, contact Academic Honors and Fellowships at ahfstaff@usc.edu. For capstone project requirements, contact School Coordinator(s).


3. Apply for Global Scholars

Graduating seniors must apply during the spring semester of their final academic year in order to graduate with the distinction. May and August graduates apply in their final spring semester. December graduates apply after graduation.

Application Opens: October 19, 2020

Final Deadline for Distinction and Prize Competition: February 8, 2021 by 11:59pm

First Round Notifications: Beginning of March

Second Round Notifications (Prize Competition): By beginning of April

Apply for USC Global Scholar Distinction Here


After submitting an application, students should closely review emails from Academic Honors and Fellowships for notifications regarding application status, follow-up for prize nominations, and instructions for receiving a medallion at the beginning of May.

Prize winners must demonstrate evidence of enrollment in a graduate program (within or outside the U.S.); or submit a proposal for a creative project that advances their career. Prize funding must be utilized within 5 years of graduating from USC. More information on the FAQ page.


Contact Us

General Advising: October – January
ahfstaff@usc.edu and Fellowship Fridays for general eligibility or application process questions

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