Frequently Asked Questions
If your questions are not answered by the information below, please feel free to contact us directly.
What are the requirements to apply?
An applicant to RHP should have:
- The intellectual, social, and emotional maturity necessary to succeed in college
- A transcript that reflects a rigorous curriculum and a strong GPA with few grades below A
- A minimum combined SAT score of 2050 or an ACT composite score of 32
- A charged resume that demonstrates leadership and community engagement
- The support and endorsement of his or her high school counselor and principal
Last year, the averages for admitted students were 2250 on the SAT, 34 on the ACT, and a 4.3 GPA.
How do I submit an application?
The RHP Application is available in PDF format here. You should print the RHP Application and submit a paper copy directly to the Resident Honors Program. Mailing information is available within the application PDF.
You must also submit the Common Application with the USC Supplement, which is available online. More details regarding the Common Application and the USC Supplement are available at the USC Undergraduate Admission website. Please note that some programs or majors have additional application requirements within the USC Supplement. If your desired major has additional application requirements, be sure to submit the necessary materials to the appropriate offices. Be aware they may have varying deadlines.
The Common Application says that the deadline to apply to USC is January 15, but this website says December 1. What is the correct deadline?
Certain groups of USC applicants must apply by December 1. This includes RHP applicants and all students who wish to be considered for merit scholarships. Be sure to submit all materials, including the Common Application, by December 1.
How much does the Resident Honors Program application cost?
Applicants to USC, includng RHP applicants, will be required to submit an $80 application fee as part of the Common Application.
If the application fee will cause financial hardship, you may request a fee waiver within the Common Application.
How much does it cost to attend USC?
As a Resident Honors student, you will become a freshman at USC and will pay regular undergraduate tuition and fees. The estimated cost of attendance for the 2015-2016 academic year was $67,212. This includes the application fee, tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, as well as the estimated cost of books, supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. RHP students are eligible for merit scholarships and need-based financial aid to help meet these costs.
What scholarship opportunities are available?
All RHP students are awarded the Deans Scholarship, a prestigious merit scholarship equal to one-quarter of tuition. In 2015-2016, this scholarship was worth approximately $12,366. The Deans Scholarship is renewable for all four years at USC, provided you maintain an acceptable GPA and carry a full course load. In addition, RHP students can compete for other USC merit scholarships in the general freshman pool. You will be automatically considered for some of these scholarships, while others have separate application processes. Learn more about the merit scholarships USC offers here.
What if I have financial need above the amount of the scholarship I receive?
As USC undergraduates, RHP students are eligible for need-based financial aid. For full details on how to apply for need-based financial aid, including instructions and deadlines, please visit the USC Financial Aid website.
Financial aid may include scholarships and grants, loans, and/or Federal Work-Study. Students must meet all requirements and deadlines. Note that this often means you will need to submit financial aid materials before you know whether you have been admitted to the University. USC is need-blind in its admission process—a student’s financial need will never influence an admission decision. In fact, nearly two-thirds of undergraduate students at USC receive financial aid.
If you have questions about the financial aid application process or your financial aid award, please contact the USC Financial Aid office.
What if I am unsure of my major?
Many bright students are unsure of what they would like to specialize in, and they often have many interests and strengths. You do not need to declare a specific major to apply to RHP. Just list your major as "Undecided" and tell us about your various interests. You will have plenty of time to explore different options once you are on campus. The academic advisors in the Resident Honors Program and other academic departments will be here to help you shape your education.
What classes will I take in RHP?
There are no courses specific to RHP. As full-time college freshmen, RHP students take major courses, general education courses, and elective courses with other USC students. Some of your courses may be taken through the Thematic Option Honors Program, the University's honors general education curriculum. All students accepted to the Resident Honors Program are invited and encouraged to apply to Thematic Option. Thematic Option is an interdisciplinary general education experience designed to broaden your academic horizons, hone your writing skills, and promote critical thinking. Taught by some of the University’s finest professors, Thematic Option courses break down boundaries that separate traditional disciplines and teach students to appreciate the interrelationships between fields. Special events and experiences outside the classroom create an intellectual community of like-minded scholars. A full description of the Thematic Option Honors Program and samples of courses are available on the Thematic Option website.
How hard will it be, really?
This experience will be challenging, but your workload will be manageable. Most USC students take a normal course load of 16 units per semester, which is typically comprised of four 4-unit courses. Your tuition covers up to 18 units, allowing room for more demanding majors and/or additional elective coursework. Your program of study will largely determine your course load. In addition to your academic work, you will have time to take advantage of the full range of social, cultural, and extracurricular opportunities that USC offers.
Will I get a high school diploma?
You are not required by USC or RHP to earn your high school diploma. Some high schools will grant diplomas or honorary diplomas to RHP students, usually after the completion of the first year at USC. This is an issue to be discussed with your high school; RHP cannot facilitate the process. The Resident Honors Program is not a dual enrollment program, and students should not plan to take courses that count for high school requirements while at USC. Instead, students are expected to approach their undergraduate coursework as full-time college freshmen. If your high school will not grant you a diploma and you would like to have one, you may choose to finish your requirements during the summer after junior year, or to take the GED exam. However, once you graduate from USC, your bachelor's degree will serve as your primary educational credential for résumés, job applications, and other purposes.
My parents are worried about my readiness to attend college early. What can I tell them?
The decision to enter college early should be a family decision. Ideally, everyone in your family will support you in your efforts to begin your future now. USC offers many resources that help students adjust to college life and deal with any problems that may arise. Your primary support network will be the Resident Honors staff, who will work with you throughout the year. We have frequent get-togethers to keep in touch with RHP students as a group, and our doors are always open for private meetings to help with anything that comes up, whether it be an academic, administrative, medical, or personal issue. Other resources available to you will include Residential Student Government, your trained residence hall staff and faculty-in-residence, the Engemann Student Health Center, Counseling Services, and the Career Planning and Placement Center on campus.
What provisions are in place to supervise younger students?
All student housing is staffed by trained upperclassman residential advisors who monitor and participate in life on campus. Many residence halls also have faculty-in-residence, which offers students close-knit relationships with faculty members through dinners and other special events. The Resident Honors Program staff stay in close contact with students throughout the year and are notified by faculty if students are struggling in classes. You will have more freedom than in a high school setting, but a staff member can always be located if needed.
Where will I live?
RHP students are not housed all together. In your first year, you will live on campus in a University residence hall or suite, where students from many programs and specially selected faculty-in-residence live together. A unique sense of community develops when you study together into the wee hours of the morning, discuss what you're learning over lunch, and participate in the various social activities and discussion programs offered by your building staff or residential advisor. After your freshman year, USC offers many housing options, including residence halls, suites, and apartments on or off campus.
Are there any special rules for RHP students?
Yes. RHP students have special guidelines with respect to freshman housing, bringing cars to campus, and participating in Greek life:
Housing: Resident Honors Program students must live on campus in a USC building for the entire first year. After freshman year, you may choose any housing option that fits your needs.
Cars: Students are not permitted to bring cars to campus in their first semester. We expect students to focus on getting to know USC's campus and building a community of peers during the fall semester. There are plenty of activities for students every day of the week, and all necessities can be bought on or near campus. The University and the Resident Honors Program provide transportation for many events, and a light rail station and bus stops are located near campus. USC also offers a free tram service as well as Campus Cruiser, our free safe ride home service.
Greek Life: Students who are interested in joining a fraternity or sorority must wait until at least second semester to pursue one of these organizations. Fraternities and sororities take up a significant portion of your schedule, and it is essential for early entrance students to develop a solid foundation in college before taking on such time-consuming commitments.
Do I need to bring my own computer?
Although the University maintains several computer labs, we strongly recommend that students bring their own computer. The desktop vs. laptop and PC vs. Mac decision is up to you. The USC Bookstore offers several computer options at a discounted educational rate.
Will I have time for a social life?
Absolutely. RHP students participate in various social, political, athletic, and cultural clubs and activities on campus, including the USC Trojan Marching Band and the Daily Trojan Newspaper. They also find time to explore L.A.'s cultural scene, go to the beach, ski, hike, and so on. RHP and Thematic Option, if you choose to enroll in that program, will provide tickets and transportation to several theatre, music, and sports events around L.A. throughout the year. The possibilities are endless -- the challenge is learning how to best structure your time to suit your needs.
Can I transfer after the first year?
RHP is not a transitional program. Students are admitted with the expectation that they will complete their undergraduate degrees at USC. Almost every student in the program continues on at the University after freshman year and beyond. However, if you do decide to leave USC, most universities will require you to apply as a transfer student, not as an entering freshman. This means you will need to be aware of how your units from USC will transfer, which can be a complicated process.
What deadlines do I need to remember?
The deadline for all application materials is December 1. Take your SAT or ACT before December to ensure your scores arrive in time for merit scholarship consideration. Financial aid application deadlines can be found here. If you are accepted to the Resident Honors Program, we will send you more information to help you keep track of additional deadlines related to admission, housing, and financial aid.