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. 

USC Overseas Studies and GPA: These courses are considered USC units. However, the courses appear on the USC transcript as CR/NC. Marks of CR/NC do not affect a student’s GPA.

COVID-19 Eligibility

Graduating seniors unable to satisfy the 10-week study abroad minimum due to program cancellations caused by COVID-19 (spring 2020-spring 2021), are permitted to apply. Adjustments to the application materials are explained below.

  • Capstone Project: based on the criteria determined by each home academic unit or school.
  • Adjusted Reflection Essay: discussing any time spent abroad prior to the pandemic and/or original plans for study abroad during Spring 2020-Spring 2021. See revised prompt in Project Requirements.
  • Program Verification: documentation of cancelled study abroad plans such as acceptance notification or other paperwork.

Applicants who meet the 10-week minimum should complete the standard Global Scholar application. This includes Spring 2020 study abroad students who returned to the U.S. early and completed virtual coursework online toward the 10-week minimum.

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.


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

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.

For additional guidance on the Capstone Project criteria:

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

If you are applying for the Global and Discovery Scholar distinction, you must submit a completely different capstone project for each application to earn both distinctions and/or prize nominations. If you submit the same project for Discovery and Global, your school will certify you for just one of the distinctions based on which program criteria (if any) best first your submitted work. In addition, you may be considered for each distinction’s Prize Competition; however, no student can be awarded more than one Prize.


A brief essay (no more than 3 pages, double-spaced, 12pt font) reflecting on international experience.

For applicants with 10 or more weeks of study abroad:

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 applicants with fewer than 10 weeks of study abroad or no study abroad experience:

Applicants who completed some study abroad and had study abroad plans cancelled between spring 2020-spring 2021 due to COVID-19, respond to the above prompts to the best of your ability in addition to the following prompts. If you have completed no study abroad and had study abroad plans cancelled between spring 2020-spring 2021 due to COVID-19, please base your reflection essay entirely on the following:

  • What were your original plans for study abroad during Spring 2020 – Spring 2021 that would have met the 10-week requirement?
  • Why did you select the program(s) you did? What general experiences did you anticipate in the location(s) you selected?
  • How has the pandemic impacted your global perspective?
  • What have you engaged with in place of traditional study abroad to continue developing your global perspective?

For general questions about the USC Global Scholar distinction application, contact Academic Honors and Fellowships at For additional clarity on capstone project requirements, contact your School Coordinator.

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 at 12:00pm PST

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

First Round Notifications: Beginning of March

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


After submitting an application, students should closely review emails from Academic Honors and Fellowships for notifications regarding their 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 Scholar Distinction landing page.

Contact Us

General Advising: October – January and  Fellowship Friday Info Session for general eligibility or application process questions

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