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USC Connect

GLD Cording Ceremony

Graduation with Leadership Distinction

Advancing leadership is an important component of USC’s role as South Carolina's flagship university and its dedication to educating the future leaders of the state, the nation and the world.

Students who earn Graduation with Leadership Distinction demonstrate extensive, purposeful engagement beyond the classroom; understanding of course concepts in “real world” settings; and application of learning to make decisions and solve problems: cornerstones of USC Connect.


This formal distinction honors the broader scope of achievements for students engaged within and beyond the classroom and sets them apart in ways worthy of recognition by others (e.g., potential employers, graduate schools). Students are recognized with graduation cords and the distinction appears on graduates’ transcripts and diplomas as Graduation with Leadership Distinction in (Experience Pathway Name).


Students can earn Graduation with Leadership Distinction if they meet the requirements, graduate with an associate or baccalaureate degree in any major from USC Columbia, Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter or Union and have a GPA of 3.0 or greater.

General Requirements

Students pursuing GLD must have extensive beyond the classroom experiences in their respective pathway. They must also have taken part in enhancement activities (lectures, workshops, events) and have taken approved courses relating to their GLD pathway.  Students earning GLD also complete a public presentation (Discovery USC) and produce an E-Portfolio demonstrating their learning in their pathway.

The first step in pursuing Graduation with Leadership Distinction is completing the GLD Orientation.