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Lyceum Scholars Program

Big School. Small Community. Great Books.

Lyceum Scholars Program $10,000 Scholarships to Clemson University.

Open to incoming freshmen of any major, the Lyceum Scholars Program uses a great books approach to studying the moral, political, and economic foundations of a free society. All Lyceum Scholars receive a $10,000 scholarship, which is disbursed over their four years at Clemson University.

The Lyceum Scholars Program application for students entering college in Fall 2023 is now closed. Applications for Fall 2024 will open in late Summer 2023. Those interested in becoming Lyceum Scholars should apply in their senior year of high school to the Lyceum Scholars Program and separately to Clemson University. Please note: Lyceum scholarship awards are contingent upon being admitted to Clemson University.

To learn more about the Lyceum Scholars Program, read below and watch our Lyceum Scholars Program video. If you have any questions, please email us at

If you are a current Clemson University student interested in our curriculum, please visit our Lyceum Fellows page instead.


Each cohort of Lyceum Scholars takes the following eight courses in political theory and American political thought.

Introduction to Political Theory

Lyceum Scholars are introduced to major themes and thinkers in the Western tradition of political theory. Students will examine the fundamental questions of politics: Who should rule? What is law? What is justice? What is the relationship between justice, virtue, and happiness? Readings may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Locke, the American founders, and Nietzsche.

Wisdom of the Ancients

Lyceum Scholars continue to examine how we ought to live and how we ought to live with others. This seminar in ancient political philosophy will help students raise fundamental questions regarding human excellence and political life. Readings include Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Cicero's On Duties, Seneca's Moral Letters, and Epictetus' Handbook.

American Political Thought

Lyceum Scholars seek to understand America by considering the impressive reservoir of political and social thought handed down by Americans who have directed their attention to the meaning of our experiment in self-government. Readings range from the Puritans, the Anti-Federalists, and the Federalist to Abraham Lincoln, Stephen F. Douglas, and Frederick Douglass to 20th Century Progressives, Liberals, and Conservatives.

Political Theory of Capitalism

Lyceum Scholars weigh the arguments concerning the social and political arrangements that correlate with the private ownership of the means of production. Students will consider questions of wealth and luxury, private property, commerce and commercial society, and the challenges of socialism. Readings may include works by Locke, Hume, Smith, Tocqueville, Marx, Mises, Hayek, and Rand.

Modern Political Thought

Lyceum Scholars study the roots of modern politics in the political philosophy of seminal English and French Enlightenment thinkers, each of whom offered a searching analysis of modern life and institutions. Readings include Hobbes's Leviathan, Locke's Two Treatises of Government, Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws, and Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality and Social Contract.

Political Thought of the American Founding

Lyceum Scholars consider the political thought of America's founding statesmen and the political principles animating its founding documents. Students will become familiar with the great debates of America's Revolutionary period: first, the debates between the American colonists and English imperial officials culminating in the Declaration of Independence; second, the debates over constitution-making in the newly formed American states; and third, the debates over the framing of the federal Constitution.

Constitutional Law: Rights and Liberties

Lyceum Scholars explore our constitutional rights and liberties through the careful study of landmark Supreme Court decisions. In particular, students will consider the Court's incorporation of the Bill of Rights as applying to the states and its treatment of questions pertaining to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equal protection, racial discrimination, and privacy and personhood rights.

Wisdom of the Moderns

Modern man has created for himself a liberal, democratic, globalized, technological society within which to live. What are the best mental and ethical qualities for living well in such a civilization? What is the state of the human condition in the modern world? In the light of these questions, Lyceum Scholars will examine some of the greatest works in modern literature and philosophy. Readings may include works by Shakespeare, Smith, Mill, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, and Rand.


Unique to the Lyceum Scholars Program is the mentorship it provides. This mentorship includes the following.

  • Socratic Tutor Sessions

    We believe there is a connection between moral character and a free society. Socratic Tutor sessions allow Lyceum Scholars to meet bi-weekly with Lyceum faculty to discuss moral character and the ways in which the ideas from the classroom connect to everyday life. Many Scholars consider their Socratic Tutor Sessions to be the highlight of their experience at Clemson University. Learn more about Socratic Tutor Sessions.

  • Professional Development

    The Lyceum Scholars Program prepares its students for careers in business, academia, law, and politics. We want Lyceum Scholars to succeed not only at Clemson University but also in their personal and professional lives after graduation. To this end, professors work individually with Lyceum Scholars, building students' application materials and participating in practice interviews for internships, fellowships, and graduate school. Professors are able to write excellent letters of recommendation because of the close faculty-student relationships fostered by the Lyceum Scholars Program.

  • Lyceum Thesis

    The Lyceum Thesis allows Lyceum Scholars to work one-on-one with a professor to produce a serious work of scholarship as the capstone of their undergraduate careers. These topics have ranged from friendship in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics to the understanding of virtue in Plato's Meno.

Intellectual Community

Lyceum Scholars have many opportunities outside of the eight-course curriculum to continue exploring big questions through reading groups, lectures, and small lunchtime talks.

  • Reading Groups

    Lyceum students and faculty gather on Friday afternoons to discuss works of literature and philosophy in an informal setting. Thus far, the group has read Shakespeare's Richard III, Plato's Alcibiades I and II, Plutarch's Life of Alcibiades, and Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.

  • Lyceum Student Speaker Series (LSSS)

    LSSS offers students a chance to explore their intellectual interests in a public forum. Each semester, Lyceum students are invited to showcase a Lyceum Thesis or research from a Lyceum class. Lyceum faculty work with Lyceum students to prepare for their presentations.

  • John W. Pope Lecture Series

    All Lyceum Scholars are invited to the John W. Pope Lecture Series, Clemson University's largest lecture series that brings in distinguished intellectuals from across the country each semester to talk about politics, economics, philosophy, education, and history.

  • Lyceum Lectures

    The Lyceum Scholars Program also hosts 3 - 5 Lyceum Lectures each year in order to expose Lyceum Scholars to the scholarship of faculty in prominent political science, economics, and history programs. Each Lyceum Lecturer is invited to deliver an evening talk that is open to the public and a smaller lunchtime talk that is open only to Lyceum students. Past Lyceum Lecture themes have included "Politics and Rhetoric," "The Enduring Political and Economic Principles of America," and "Liberal Revolution and Liberal Dissent."

Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism
Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism | 285 Chandler L. Burns Hall, Clemson, SC 29634