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CU Honors College

First-Year Clemson Honors Students

First-Year Admission Process

Clemson Honors students sitting at a table and smiling.

Why Clemson Honors?

The Honors College provides many tools and experiences to help you thrive during and beyond your time at Clemson – enhancing your undergraduate experience and strengthening your resume for post-undergraduate opportunities.

As an Honors student, you have exclusive access to courses and seminars only available to Honors students, as well as expanded research and program opportunities that complement your major. In addition to individualized access to Honors facilities, faculty, and courses, you become part of a community that intentionally nurtures friendship, support, and success through experiences that range from mentorship opportunities with leading Clemson faculty to incredible study abroad trips.

Review Before You Submit

PLEASE take great care in reviewing your Honors application BEFORE SUBMITTING.

We are NOT able to edit your application after submission. The only changes you can make after submission are to upload additional, optional supplemental materials or to withdraw your application.

We're Here to Help!

If you have any questions after reading this guide to the application process, please email

How To Apply

Admission to the Honors College is highly selective, with applicants typically ranking in the top four percent of their high school class.

Through their high school activities, application essays, and other application materials, successful applicants will show clear evidence of intellectual engagement and vision as well as community engagement and leadership.

Your application to the Clemson University Honors College is separate from (and in addition to) your undergraduate application.

After you submit your first-year undergraduate application, you will receive access to the Honors College application in your student portal.

  • Priority vs. Non-Priority Applications

    The Honors College offers priority and non-priority deadlines for potential students.

    Students who meet priority deadlines receive their decision sooner and are eligible for consideration for the National Scholars Program.

    Students who apply by either deadline have the same opportunity to be accepted into the Honors College.

  • Completing the Application

    To be considered for admission to the Honors College, applicants must have an unweighted GPA of at least 3.70. Exceptions may be made under unusual circumstances.

    The Honors College application consists of:

    • Two required essays
    • An involvement and activities section
    • An awards section

    In addition, the following required materials must be submitted:

    • A teacher letter of recommendation and form, submitted by the teacher using the portal (detailed instructions provided to the teacher via email after the applicant enters the teacher’s contact information).
    • A counselor recommendation letter and form submitted by the counselor using the portal (detailed instructions provided to the counselor via email after the applicant enters the counselor’s contact information within the Honors application).
    • A current transcript (uploaded via the Clemson University portal or the counselor can attach a copy of the applicant’s transcript when completing the counselor recommendation form). Unofficial copies of the student transcript are acceptable.

    Beyond meeting academic criteria, you will want to take great care in producing a thoughtful and well-written application.


    Write well-developed essay responses (500 words maximum each) for the required essay prompts. Essays constitute a critical part of your Honors College application. Thoughtful and original responses will provide the Honors College Committee with key insights into your accomplishments, intellectual curiosity, and vision.

    Be genuine in your essay responses, highlighting personal insights and passions, rather than merely listing your accomplishments. Use these essays as an opportunity to separate yourself from the competition - what makes you an ideal candidate for the Honors College?

    Involvement and Activities

    Describe up to seven of the most significant leadership, service, work, learning, and/or enrichment activities (e.g., independent research or study, clubs, studies abroad, internships, work, hobbies) in which you have participated in your high school career. For each activity, you will be asked to describe:

    • An overview of the activity
    • Your time commitment to it
    • Your leadership in it
    • The impacts you have made


    Describe up to five awards or recognitions you have received during your high school career that you regard as significant.

    Honors Recommendations

    Within the Clemson University application portal, submit the names and contact information of your assigned guidance counselor and a teacher of your choosing to provide recommendations on your behalf. They will each receive an email prompting them to submit a recommendation form and upload a recommendation letter to your Honors profile.

  • Submitting Required Materials

    All required materials need to be uploaded directly to your application portal. Please make note of the following:

    High School Transcripts

    Your high school transcript needs to be submitted via your student portal or by your guidance counselor. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.

    Standardized Test Scores

    In recognition of challenges presented to prospective students and their families by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, applicants are not required to submit a standardized test score to be considered for admission for the 2022-23 academic year.

    Honors Recommendations

    Recommendation forms and letters must be completed and submitted by a guidance counselor or teacher of your choice.

    Your Honors application is considered complete and will be moved forward for review after one Honors teacher and one Honors counselor recommendation have been received, along with a copy of your transcript.

    Your application portal will continue to accept support materials through the end of the application cycle, however, they may not be considered once your application status is awaiting decision.

    Other Supporting Materials

    You have the option to upload up to three supporting materials (e.g., resume, writing sample, etc.) and up to two additional letters of recommendation. Your application will not be negatively affected if you decide not to upload these materials.

  • Fall 2022 Essay Prompts

    Below are the essay prompts incoming first-year students will be asked to answer as part of their Clemson University Honors Application, which can be accessed through the Clemson University Applicant Portal.

    Access the Clemson University First-Year Student Application.

    Essay 1 (500 word limit, Required)

    Tell us about your academic interests and professional goals (to the extent that you have identified them at this point). What inspired these interests and goals? What experiences, talents, accomplishments, identities, and/or personal qualities can you see influencing your college career and beyond?

    Essay 2 (500 word limit, Required)

    Describe a time when you had an intellectual “lightbulb moment” or experience/set of experiences in which your ideas, beliefs, or worldview were changed, altered, or expanded. What experience or key piece of knowledge instigated this moment? How did the experience affect you?

    Essay 3 (500 word limit, Optional)

    Please use this space to share any special circumstances affecting your application that warrant consideration by the selection committee.

  • Applicant Portal

    You can verify receipt of ALL of your Honors application materials by reviewing your Clemson University applicant portal. This information is available to you immediately upon submission of your Honors application.

    Remember to keep track of your username and password and to watch your application portal for your decision notification!

  • How Many Students Are Accepted Into Clemson Honors?

    First-year enrollment in the Honors College is limited to approximately 350, less than ten percent of the freshman class.

  • Appeals

    A link to the Honors admission appeal form will be provided to you in your Clemson University applicant portal

    Priority Appeals

    • Appeal submissions due: March 1
    • Decision notification: April 1

    Non-Priority Appeals

    • Appeal submissions due: April 15
    • Decision notification: April 30
  • Application Tips

    Being proactive and prepared will help ensure that your application is complete and ready for review. Other tips include: 

    • Submit your Clemson undergraduate application early to give yourself time to also complete your Honors application. 
    • Before the end of the undergraduate application, you will be asked if you are interested in applying to the Honors College. If you are, select "yes" in order to gain access to the Honors application after you submit your undergraduate application. 
    • Ask for recommenders early! We recommend you submit your recommenders' contact information as soon as you access the Honors College application. 
    • Pre-write your essays, involvement, and awards sections in advance using a word processing application. Proofread your essays many times, use spell check, and have others review them as well. 

    Above all, please take great care in reviewing your application before you press submit. Neither you or Honors College staff can make changes to your application once it is submitted. The only option is to upload three additional, optional supporting materials. 

  • Financial Aid

    Although many members of the Clemson University Honors College receive scholarships and/or financial aid from Clemson University, there are only a very limited number of scholarships specifically associated with membership in the College.

    Moreover, the awarding of an academic merit scholarship from any source does not carry with it automatic admission to the Honors College.

    For scholarship and financial aid questions, please contact Clemson's Financial Aid Office.

Non-priority Applications Due February 22.

Honors First-year Student Application Deadlines
For Notification By Honors College Application Deadline (submitted online) Required Materials Deadline (submitted online)
February 15 for Priority Applicants November 1 (11:59 p.m. EST) November 15 (11:59 p.m. EST)
April 1 for Non-Priority Applicants February 22 (11:59 p.m. EST) March 1 (11:59 p.m. EST)
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Applications completed between March 2 and April 20 may be considered on a space available basis. However, we cannot guarantee that such applications will receive consideration.

Late applicants will be notified of their Honors status on or before April 30. Applications completed after April 20 will not receive consideration. 

Schedule a Visit

Talk to one of our advisors about the Clemson Honors experience! Learn about program and class options, opportunities to work with world-class faculty, how we build an Honors community, living on Clemson campus – and most importantly, how our faculty and staff encourage our students to excel and reach their fullest potential.

Request a Visit
Students sitting and talking on Bowman field.
NSP students at the program's 2021 graduation reception.

National Scholars Program

Clemson's Merit Based Scholarship Program

The National Scholars Program (NSP) is Clemson's premier undergraduate, merit-based scholarship program. The NSP provides a competitive scholarship for eight semesters of undergraduate study. While not a part of the Clemson University Honors College, the NSP bases finalist selection on rigorous reviews of the Honors application (following a review of applications that meet the earlier Honors priority deadlines).

Explore NSP