Become a Renaissance Scholar

The Renaissance Scholar distinction is intended to recognize and celebrate USC undergraduates who have excelled academically while pursuing at least two widely separate fields of study. Learn more about the history of the Renaissance Scholar distinction here.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility
Step 2: Apply for Certification
Step 3: Apply for Prize Competition


In order to receive the Renaissance Scholar distinction, applicants must:

  • declare a major and a minor (or two majors) in two widely disparate fields (graduate degree programs, including Progressive Degrees, are not eligible)
  • meet all university requirements for degree(s)
  • graduate with a 3.5 overall GPA (with University Honors)
  • graduate with a 3.5 GPA in each of major(s) and minor(s) for at least one certified combination of programs (lower division coursework is included in calculation)
  • complete degree(s) within five years at USC

Renaissance Major GPA Calculation

GPA calculation factors in upper and lower division courses, which is different from “Upper Division Course Work Applied to Your Major” GPA section on a STARS report. Once certified, STARS will include a section indicating current Renaissance major GPA. The existing STARS section tracking minor requirements will accurately reflect the Renaissance minor GPA.

Eligible Academic Programs

  • Programs should not overlap in topics, themes, applications, or methods. Programs from two different schools may have the same underlying discipline and pedagogical approach.
  • Example of non-certifiable combination: Communication and Political Science (both social sciences)
  • Example of certifiable combinations: Political Science with Art History (in humanities); or with Biological Sciences (natural sciences)

Contact Academic Honors and Fellowships at for additional questions about choosing programs prior to certification.

Apply for Certification

Before being certified, applicants must:

  • Officially declare all academic programs
  • Verify completed 64 units

Process for Certification

  • Multiple program combinations can be evaluated for certification if more than two programs are declared. Only one approved combination is needed for certification.
  • Approved combination(s) will be noted on STARS report with GPA tracking information.
  • If a student changes their major or minor, they MUST apply for Re-Certification using the same form.
  • Certification decisions are made within approximately six weeks after application is submitted. Applicants may be contacted for additional information. Please note: applications from students graduating within the current academic year will be given priority review.
  • Graduating seniors must apply by the December deadline 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.

Deadlines and Application

Deadline for Graduating Seniors: December 31, 2018


Prize Competition Application

The Renaissance Scholar Prize Competition is intended for graduating seniors only and requires submission of:

  1. 3.50 cumulative GPA and 3.50 GPA in each program at time of application
  2. Personal Statement: 3-5 pages, double-spaced. Discussing how the two (or more) divergent fields of study have affected the student’s intellectual, social, and professional development.
  3. Two Faculty Letters of Recommendation: One from each academic department of the certified Renaissance Scholar program combination. If certified for multiple combinations, a third recommender may email an additional letter to
    • Indicate name and email of each recommender in the online application. An auto-email will be sent to prompt them to submit a letter on behalf of the candidate prior to the deadline.
    • It is helpful for referees to address a student’s overall achievement and performance in class; the scope and quality of a student’s contribution to a course; value and implications of a student’s work in the broader context of the field of study; and how that work intersects with a student’s second academic program.
  4. Résumé (one page) that highlights and summarizes academic and non-academic achievements.

A university-wide panel reviews approximately 80 applications from which they select ten winners.

Deadlines and Application

Prize Competition Application Opens: October 22, 2018

Prize Competition Deadline for Certified Seniors: February 1, 2019


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

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