Undergraduate Honors Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

If we have not addressed your questions, please feel free to call us.  We also welcome calls from parents, counselors, and teachers.

(213) 740-2961 or (800) USC-2961

  • What are the requirements to apply?

    In addition to the support and endorsement of your high school counselor and your principal or headmaster, you will need:

    • A strong high school GPA with few grades lower than A-minus
    • A minimum combined SAT score of 2050 or composite ACT score of 32
    • A charged resume that demonstrates a readiness for college work
    • Evidence of the high level of maturity necessary to enter college

    In the past, RHP class score averages have been over 2200 on the SAT or 33 on the ACT, and the average weighted GPAs have been over 4.0.

  • Can I apply online?


    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 apply to USC through the Common Application, 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 instructions within the USC Supplement.

  • 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, 2013. 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, 2013.

  • 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 from the Payments page of the Common Application website.

  • 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 total cost of attendance for the 2013-2014 academic year was $62,245. This includes the application fee, tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, as well as the cost of books, supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. RHP students are eligible for merit scholarships and need-based financial aid.


  • What scholarship opportunities are available?


    All RHP students are awarded the Deans Scholarship, a substantial merit scholarship equal to one-quarter of tuition. Last year's scholarship was worth approximately $11,400. The Deans Scholarship is renewable for all four years at USC, as long as you maintain an acceptable GPA and carry a full course load. In addition, you will be eligible to compete for other 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. Keep in mind that this often means submitting financial aid paperwork before you receive an admission decision.

    If you have any questions about the financial aid application process or your financial aid award, please contact the USC Financial Aid office directly.

  • What if I am unsure of my major?


    Many bright students are unsure of what they would like to specialize in, since they often have many interests and strengths. You do not need to declare a 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. This is a challenging interdisciplinary program that replaces the Unviersity's regular general education requirements. In T.O., students read, write, analyze, and challenge the assumptions of various fields of study. A description of the Thematic Option Honors Program and samples of courses are available on the T.O. website.


  • How hard will it be, really?


    This experience will be challenging, but your workload will be manageable. On average, 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 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 freshman year at USC. This is an issue to be discussed with your high school; RHP cannot facilitate this process. The Resident Honors Program is not a dual enrollment program. Students should not plan to take courses that count toward high school requirements. Instead, students are expected to approach their 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 take the GED. However, once you graduate from USC, your bachelor's degree will serve as your primary educational credential.


  • My parents are worried about my being ready to go off to 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 the University Residential Student Community (URSC), your 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 residential advisors that monitor and participate in life on campus. Many residence halls also have faculty-in-residence. The Resident Honors Program staff also stay in close contact with students. 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 as an RHP student?


    RHP students are not housed all together. In your first year, you will live on campus in a University residence hall, where students from many programs, as well as specially selected faculty-in-residence, live together. A sense of community develops when you study together in the wee hours of the morning, discuss what you're learning over meals, and participate in various social activities and discussion programs. 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 University residence hall 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 a car to campus in their first semester. We expect students to get to know USC's campus and focus on building a community of peers during the fall semester. There are plenty of activities for students throughout the year, and all necessities can be bought on or near campus. The University and the Resident Honors Program provide transportation for many events. USC offers a free tram service as well as Campus Cruiser, our safe ride home service. Public bus stops and a light rail station are located near campus.

    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 that early entrance students 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/laptop and PC/Mac decision is up to you. The USC Bookstore offers many 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 have also found 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 if things don't work out for me?


    RHP is not a transitional program. Students are admitted with the understanding that they will complete their undergraduate degrees at USC. Almost every student in the program continues on at the University after freshman year. However, if you do decide to leave USC, you will have to to apply to other universities as a transfer student, not as an entering freshman. This means you will need to be aware of how your units at USC will be counted at other universities. This can be a complicated process.


  • What deadlines do I need to remember?


    The deadline for all application materials is December 1, 2013. Take your SAT or ACT as early as possible to ensure your scores arrive in time for merit scholarship consideration. For Financial Aid, submit the CSS/PROFILE and FAFSA by February 10, 2014, and submit your Cal Grant Application (if applicable) by March 3, 2014. Tax documents should be submitted as soon as possible. If you are accepted to the Resident Honors Program, we will send you a timeline to help you keep track of additional deadlines related to admission, housing, and financial aid.