Global Scholar Distinction

The Global Scholar distinction recognizes graduating seniors who have excelled in their studies both at USC and abroad. 


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.

Dates & Deadlines

There are no upcoming events at this time.

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.

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.

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.

Award Details

Project Requirements

Project Requirements for Global Scholars

Capstone Project or Research Paper

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

Review the Capstone Requirements for each USC School

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 a committee for internal application review within each school or academic unit. Coordinators should only be contacted to clarify written school-specific criteria if needed. This step is not mandatory.
  • 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 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 fits 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.

Group Projects: Applicants may submit a project that a group collaborated on, but it must also include a significant individual work component. Individuals are selected for the Prize awards based on their contribution to and beyond the group project.

Personal Reflection Essay

Personal Reflection Essay

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

Response should reflect the following points:

  • Using the USC Global Scholars Learning Outcomes (see “About” tab) 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 application, contact Academic Honors and Fellowships at For additional clarity on capstone project requirements, contact your School Coordinator.

School Coordinators

Global School Coordinators

Global Scholars School Coordinators are listed below for each USC School. After reading the criteria and requirements, applicants should contact the School Coordinator directly for more detailed information on format, content, and other specifics.

Are you a staff or faculty School Coordinator? Visit our Coordinator Resources page here (email to request password)

Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Suzanne Alcantara, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs & Director of Career Development |

Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Amanda Speights, Associate Professor & Academic Advisor |

Davis School of Gerontology
Maria Henke, Associate Dean |
Tara Mastro, Instructional Assistant Professor of Gerontology |

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Lynn Tamayo, Special Project Manager |

Iovine and Young Academy
Adrian Coson, Academic Advisor for Undergraduate Programs |

Kaufman School of Dance
Kyle Beasley, Admission and Student Services Officer |

Keck School of Medicine
Stephen Perry, Academic Advisor |
Dinh Nguyen, Student Services Advisor |
Heather Wipfli, Associate Professor for KSOM DPPHS and Dornsife POIR, Director for KSOM Undergraduate Health Promotion and Global Health Degree Programs and Director for GRIT Lab |

Marshall School of Business and Leventhal School of Accounting
Liz Pons-Rubalcava, Senior Assistant Director, Undergraduate Advising|

Maureen McHale, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs and Director of Undergraduate Advising |

Price School of Public Policy
Josephine Le, Program Administrator |

Roski School of Art and Design
Antonio Bartolome, Student Services Director |
Jahtm Flores, Student Services Advisor |

Thornton School of Music
Phillip M. Placenti, Associate Dean, Admission and Student Affairs |

USC School of Architecture
Jen Park, Assistant Dean of Student Services |
Doris Kim Sung, Director of Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor |

USC School of Cinematic Arts
Marcus Anderson, Director of Student Affairs |

USC School of Dramatic Arts
Sergio Ramirez, Associate Dean of Student Services |

USC Alfred E. Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Randa Issa, PhD, Academic Program Manager – Undergraduate Programs |

Viterbi School of Engineering
Nora Sandoval, Executive Director, Student Engagement Programs  |


How to 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 during their final undergraduate spring semester. December graduates apply after their final undergraduate semester.

Prize Competition Application

Application Opens: Mid-October

Final Deadline for Distinction & Prize Competition: February 4, 2024

First Round Notifications: Late February

Applicants nominated for prize consideration will be given a brief window of time to update their submitted materials before their project is forwarded to the university Prize Review Panel.

Second Round Notifications (Prize Competition): April

Global Scholars Application

Distinction & Prize Competition

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.

For General Questions

AHF General Advising: October – Mid-March

Email and view our 2022 Scholar Distinctions Info Session for general eligibility or application process questions


About Global Scholars

The Global Scholar distinction is designed to encourage our students to become outstanding world-citizens, while preparing them to navigate our increasingly-interdependent community.

C. L. Max Nikias
Global Learning Outcomes

USC Global Scholars extend their learning by spending at least ten weeks in other countries around the world. No matter what you are studying at USC, these Global Learning Outcomes can help you get the most from your time abroad by encouraging you to see the global impact of your education.

Engage in international activities

Participate in curricular and co-curricular activities that expose you to patterns of life and ways of thinking that are different than your own—different cultures, religions, languages and literatures, political systems, economies, and uses of science and technology.

Raise your global literacy

Become more knowledgeable about “the state of the world,” current global conditions and political issues, especially related to the environment, natural resources, health pandemics, poverty, genocides, human rights, population migrations, and regional and international conflicts. Raise your awareness of the presence of global realities in everyday local life.

Increase your intercultural competence

Explore the rich variability of perspectives and cultural practices, especially as expressed in different value systems, family structures, gender relations, symbol systems, and tastes related to music, art, clothing, food, and shelter.

Expand your awareness of global interdependence

Raise your consciousness of the interconnectedness of life and our existence within a complex biological, planetary, social, and moral ecosystem in which we are linked together, dependent on others, and yet responsible for one another. You should be able to distinguish between seeing the world as a global system versus a collection of nations.

Critique knowledge from a global perspective

Ask yourself whether interpretations offered by “authoritative” sources, especially those in your program(s) of study, are valid from a global vantage point. Let this shift in perspective guide you to new insights, fresh knowledge, critiques, original inventions, and better ways to structure human relationships, both politically and economically.

Develop your own global perspective

Re-examine the basis of your ethical judgments, and the impact you can have in making life more just, equitable, joyful and creative. Weigh the implications of your personal choices in terms of your obligations to others and ask yourself what citizenship in a global context means to you.

View Capstone Project Examples (password protected – please email AHF)

(password protected – please email AHF)