Skip to Content

South Carolina Honors College

  • Banner Image

    Experience HONORS

    Pursue your passion in the classroom and beyond.

Life as an Honors Student

Welcome to our page for prospective Honors students. We're so glad you're interested in the South Carolina Honors College! We hope you'll use this page as a resource for learning more about our classes, our culture, our campus and our community of incredible students. 

An abundance of Honors classes

Here’s a tiny sampling from the almost 600 Honors classes we offer—small, innovative, mind-expanding courses. (Want to know why the quantity and diversity of classes we offer is so important? Make sure to read our Dean's letter!)

Cool class: Chemistry of Food

Chemistry of Food

Since everything that happens in the kitchen is chemistry, why not study chemistry through food? During the semester food will be the sole medium through which chemical principles are introduced and explained. In addition to the laboratory component of the course, students will cook to help focus the lectures and classroom discussions. The end result is that students will be expected to understand and explain aspects of food and cooking at both the atomic and macroscopic levels.

French 209 travels to Paris

French 209/SCHC 263

Honors students can put their French skills to good use in our French 209/SCHC 263 combo course. During the fall semester, students develop their French reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in a high-tech classroom where they Skype and correspond with college students in France. In the spring semester, our students head to Paris to meet up with their new friends, explore the city and take their French language skills out for a test drive in the real world.

Engineering 101 Climbing Tower

Engineering 101

Our engineering students don’t have to wait very long to experience one of our creative classes. Our Honors Engineering 101 class sends students high above campus as they take the skills they’ve learned during the semester and climb, measure and work together to determine the amount of force being placed on the crossbeams of the university’s campus climbing tower.

Broadcast meteorology

Broadcast Meteorology

In our innovative Broadcast Meteorology class, our students receive instruction from an entire team of experts. Two professors – Dr. Hiscox and Dr. Carbone – provide their expertise on meteorology and climatology in the classroom, and former news anchor and communications expert Kara Gormley Meador takes our students into the university’s high tech Greenhouse Studio to learn about broadcast journalism.

Read some of our newest student stories!

 Frequently Asked Questions

Honors classes have an average of 16 students per class. In this more intimate setting, professors lead hands-on, in-depth exploration of course material through demonstrations, field trips and interactive learning. Students gather together to collaborate, debate and discuss.

We offer nearly 600 Honors classes per year, generally characterized as either of the following:

  • Honors versions of classes that are offered at the general university: These classes can range from 100-level classes, like Intro to Psychology, to 500-level classes, like Biomedical Tissue Engineering, and are offered in all different disciplines.
  • “Cool courses” unique to the Honors College: These classes are quirky, interdisciplinary classes such as Broadcast Meteorology, Philosophy of Music, The Life and Legacy of Anne Frank, Healthcare Entrepreneurship and many more! 

There is often an assumption that Honors classes will be more difficult or involve extra work and longer assignments. However, that is not the case. Our classes are designed to be interactive and hands-on. Honors courses will push you to dive into the material and use critical thinking. While this will challenge you to apply the concepts you are learning and be prepared to engage in class discussion, this is the environment in which our students thrive. They say it truly helps them to master the concepts and explore their discipline. In fact, sometimes Honors classes can be easier because the material is covered in a more engaging way—and you have a classroom full of your Honors friends!

The Honors College is a not a place where you have to have sharp elbows or feel like you are constantly competing with everyone else. You will live and learn together in the Honors Residence Hall. A vast array of common rooms provide space to gather to play video games, watch the presidential debates or study for classes together. Our Resident Mentors might host movie marathons, trivia nights or Super Bowl watch parties. You will be surrounded by motivated, driven peers who will encourage you to try new things and pursue new opportunities. Everyone can succeed here!

You are required to take 45 credit hours of Honors coursework. With students averaging 120-130 total hours to complete their bachelors degree, this means that, at a minimum, about a third of the coursework that you take at USC will be taken in an Honors classroom. However, our graduating seniors average about 50 credit hours in Honors, and you are not limited in the amount that you can take. Refer to the Honors Requirement page for specific coursework and GPA requirements.

Honors living communities--the Honors Residence Hall (for first-year students), 650 Lincoln (for sophomores and juniors), the Horseshoe (for seniors) -- an additional advisor, access to all of our in-house experts including our National Fellowships advisors, free printing, peer mentoring and our therapy dogs, George and Louie! Also, Honors students get priority registration, which means Honors students, students with disabilities, veterans and student athletes get first dibs on classes in the week before classes open up to the general student population. Priority registration allows you to have more flexibility when selecting faculty and fitting together the pieces of your curriculum. 

Honors classes go in depth to help students become more knowledgeable in their discipline, or pursue new topics they had not considered before. Small class sizes foster relationships with faculty who may turn into life-long mentors. Opportunities such as internships, research and service learning provide opportunities to apply your curriculum in hands-on settings, allowing you to prepare you for your future career and distinguish yourself as you pursue jobs or further education. Between our 36+ professional staff members and our Honors alumni network of over 10,000 graduates, you’ll have a great support system in the Honors College!

Most of our students earn college credit before graduating from high school. Credits earned via AP/IB/Cambridge tests or dual-enrollment are not counted toward honors requirements, but they do count towards the Carolina Core, as appropriate. These credits often serve as pre-requisites for upper-level courses and can allow room in your course of study for higher-level courses. You can discuss your options with your honors advisor.

  • Why don't you accept AP/IB and dual-enrollment courses for Honors? The premise of an AP/IB or dual-enrollment course is that it is equivalent to a college course. They are not designed as Honors College courses. This is a common practice amongst honors colleges and programs across the country.
  • How do students apply their AP/IB or dual-enrollment courses as Honors students? There are many ways! These credits often apply towards Carolina Core requirements, allowing students more flexibility in their schedule to take exploratory seminar classes. It is not uncommon for Honors students to double major or add a minor with room in their schedule due to credits earned in high school. Students may also choose to shorten their time in undergraduate studies by graduating early or taking graduate level coursework as a senior. Given the rigor of the Honors requirements, however, we do not generally see students graduate with honors in two or fewer years. All of these options can be tailored to your needs and discussed in-depth with your Honors Advisor.

It is up to each student how much they want to get involved, but Honors students tend to do a lot outside the classroom, holding nearly 30% of leadership positions on campus, despite being about 8% of the undergraduate population. They are involved in band, Greek life, athletics, student government, community service and much more! Honors is full of motivated students and being in Honors will not prevent you from taking advantage of all the opportunities at the University of South Carolina.

Have more questions? Ask an Honors student

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.