About the Bennis Scholars Program
Eligibility and Certification
Graduating as a Bennis Scholar

About the Bennis Scholars Program

What is the Bennis Scholars Program?

The Warren Bennis Scholars Program is an academic program and honor for a select group of USC undergraduate students.  The program is designed to hone leadership skills through leadership training both inside and outside the classroom.

Who was Warren Bennis?

Dr. Warren G. Bennis was an internationally renowned authority on leadership and widely acclaimed pioneer of leadership studies.  He published 30 books on leadership and was an adviser to several U.S. presidents, as well as numerous business leaders.  In addition, Dr. Bennis was a long-time distinguished professor at USC, where he co-taught a popular course on leadership with USC President Emeritus Steven B. Sample.  Read more about Dr. Bennis’ life and career here.

Is this a scholarship?

No, this is not a scholarship. The Bennis Scholars Program is an academic honor awarded upon graduation to students who complete the program.  The program consists of four courses (one unit each), which are completed during the junior and senior year.  Participation in events outside of class is also required.

Whom do I contact for more information?

Please contact Marelle Berry (marelleb@marshall.usc.edu) for more information about the program.

Eligibility and Application Process

Who is eligible to join the Bennis Scholars Program?

Students from all majors and academic departments are eligible to apply.  Applicants must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.5.

Applications will open soon for Cohort 8; the program will begin in fall 2023. Since the program requires two years of courses intended for the junior and senior year, applicants must be second-semester sophomores and/or students expected to graduate in spring or fall 2025.

Is there a deadline to apply?

The application deadline for Cohort 8 is Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, by 11:59 p.m. PST.

What is required to apply?

Eligible applicants must submit the online application including a resume and three short-answer essays responding to the given prompts. A recommendation (preferably from a USC faculty member or administrator) is also required.

How soon after I apply will I know if I’ve been selected for the Bennis Scholars Program?

Following the application deadline in February, eligible applicants will be contacted for an individual interview that will take place in March.  Candidates invited to participate in the final round will have a group interview in late March.  The final selection of Scholars will be determined at the conclusion of this interview process.  The seventh cohort of Scholars will be announced in April.

Can I participate in the Bennis Scholars Program if I plan to study abroad in my junior or senior year?

There are four courses required in order to receive the Bennis Scholar designation at graduation. Students admitted to the Bennis Scholars Program cohort beginning in Fall 2023 will be permitted to study abroad only during the second semester of the program (Spring 2024). Scholars who spend that semester abroad will make up for the missed course by taking the second and fourth semester courses simultaneously in the fourth semester (Spring 2025). Bennis students who want to study abroad in any other semester will not be able to complete the program.

Can transfer students apply for the Bennis Scholars Program?

Yes, provided that they expect to graduate in four or five semesters following the spring 2023 term. Since the program requires two years of courses intended for the junior and senior year, applicants for Cohort 8 must be graduating in spring or fall 2025.

Can graduate students apply for the Bennis Scholars Program?

No. Only currently enrolled USC undergraduate students may apply for the Bennis Scholars Program.

Graduating as a Bennis Scholar

If I am selected for the Bennis Scholars Program, does that mean I am automatically a Bennis Scholar?

In addition to being admitted to the program, you must complete all of the program requirements in order to be designated a Bennis Scholar upon graduation.  Graduating Bennis Scholars will have successfully completed each of the four courses (one unit each) and participated in required program experiences outside the classroom.  Bennis Scholars must also graduate within five years at USC with university honors with a minimum 3.5 overall grade point average.

How is the Bennis Scholar honor recognized upon graduation?

Graduating students who meet all of the program requirements will receive an honors notation on the final transcript and participate in a special program graduation event.

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