Skip to content

National Scholars Program

Experiential Learning and Engagement

While the scholarship is an important part of the National Scholars Program experience, the financial benefits of the program are matched by an equally rewarding educational experience. The National Scholars Program begins with team-building activities at a first-year Scholars retreat and ends wherever their imagination and creativity take them.

Many Scholars say the most rewarding parts of the program are the educational enrichment opportunities with their peers, including learning-focused travel opportunities, and discussions and small seminars that focus on a wide range of topics, such as social inequality, historical narrative, leadership, religious diversity, and land access and rights.

Note: The activities highlighted in this section showcase the range and diversity of opportunities offered over the past several years in the National Scholars Program, rather than a guarantee of future, specific opportunities. Instead of inserting National Scholars into a strictly defined, limited sequence of learning experiences, the NSP evolves based on student feedback to develop new, expansive learning experiences.

Grant Wilkins at the rope climbing retreat in 2019.

Intellectual Engagement

Scholar Engagement

New Scholars are welcomed to the NSP family with a retreat before classes begin that is planned and executed entirely by a team of other National Scholars, all of whom volunteer to lead this experience. The retreat includes a variety of group activities designed to help the new scholars get to know each other and the expectations of the NSP. 

Once the Fall semester begins, new scholars participate in a first-year seminar that sets the stage for the program with an intellectually challenging learning experience designed to reflect the vision of the NSP and strengthen scholars' analytical, speaking, and writing skills by exploring a wide range of topics. 

In the Spring of their Senior year, scholars have the option to enroll in the NSP Senior Seminar, which serves as a capstone to their National Scholars experience.

Scholars meet weekly to explore a range of topics, frequently revisiting the themes considered in their first-year seminar. Students take an active leadership role in the course, co-creating the syllabus and leading class discussions.

The 2022 scholar cohort in one of the Honors College classrooms.
National Scholar Elizabeth Caldwell posing in front of an information table promoting accessibility awareness.

NSP Impact Project

Membership in the National Scholars Program recognizes all our scholars have accomplished, but it is also an investment in their development and the impact they can and will have.

Since 2017, every incoming group of scholars has been asked to collectively design and execute a community engagement project – what we call the NSP Impact Project – during their time in the program.

Cohorts have focused on topics such as mentoring to close educational gaps, public art projects, and campus accessibility. For example, the Youth Scholars Program (YSP), now a successful educational outreach program operated as an Honors Creative Inquiry group, began as the 2018 Scholar Cohort's NSP Impact Project.

Current scholars in the 2021 cohort used their Impact Project to focus on raising disability awareness at Clemson. Last spring, they hosted Clemson's first Disability Awareness Week, a tradition they hope to continue.

Global Experiences

Study Abroad

All NSP study-travel experiences are designed specifically for and offered exclusively to National Scholars. They offer students an opportunity to develop intercultural competencies, grow personally and intellectually, and build community within and across their scholar cohort.

First-Year Study Abroad

In the summer following their first year at Clemson, National Scholars spend several weeks living and learning abroad, investigating first-hand the topics, people, and places they studied in a spring preparatory course. 


In addition to the group study abroad after their first year, recent Scholars have enjoyed additional opportunities to participate in study-travel experiences. Recent Maymester experiences have included:

  • History of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  • The Value of National Parks and Public Lands (Alaska)
  • Multicultural Spain Today: Tracing Back the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Heritage (Spain)

Note: Maymester learning experiences are not a guaranteed part of the NSP scholarship offer, but one of many opportunities available to National Scholars.

Several National Scholars posing with a tiger rag in Spain.

Some of the 2023 cohort scholars posing together in Germany with NSP faculty and staff.