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Breakthrough Scholars Program

Selection Process

How Breakthrough Scholars Are Selected

Every year, Clemson University invites a select group of students to be part of the University’s Breakthrough Scholars Program.

Breakthrough Scholars demonstrate academic excellence, a passion for research and discovery, leadership ability, an intention to pursue advanced degrees, and the potential to be change agents in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. 

Scholars are selected after a review of Clemson University and Honors College admission applications that are completed on or before the Early Action deadline, followed by interviews and other activities with student finalists during a Scholarship Recruitment Weekend.

A Breakthrough Scholar posing next to a research poster she developed.

Scholar Criteria

Successful applicants tend to demonstrate:

  • A passion for STEM through their interests, experiences, and extracurricular activities
  • Strong standardized test scores, exceptional grades (especially in math and science courses), and thorough and thought-provoking essays.
  • Potential for transformative change.

To be considered for the Breakthrough Scholars Program, an applicant must be from South Carolina and submit two applications online:

Only those applicants who meet the Early Action application deadlines outlined in the Honors College application timeline will be eligible for consideration for the Breakthrough Scholars Program.

Applications that do not meet the final Honors College deadline for Early Action applicants will not be considered for the Breakthrough Scholars Program, but will be considered for admission to the Honors College. Unfortunately, no exceptions can be made to this policy.

To ensure compliance with these deadlines, the Breakthrough Scholars Program recommends that students complete their Clemson University and Honors College applications well before specified deadlines.

Application Timeline

In order to be considered for the Breakthrough Scholars Program, applicants must apply to Clemson and the Honors College by all Early Action deadlines as outlined on the Honors College’s admissions website.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that these deadlines are met. Applications that do not meet these deadlines WILL NOT be considered for the BSP.

2025 Deadlines

January (complete)

Notification of selection as a Breakthrough Scholars Program Finalist and invitation to interview during Scholarship Recruitment Weekend

Finalists have been selected and notified. Only applicants invited to interview received a notification of their status; there is no separate notification for those not selected as finalists.

February 14-15

Scholarship Recruitment Weekend

Finalists must participate in the Scholarship Recruitment Weekend to be considered for acceptance to the Breakthrough Scholars Program. 

Early March

Notified of status.

Eligible Majors

BSP Definition of STEM follows the South Carolina General Assembly Scholarship Enhancement list of majors for the LIFE and Palmetto Fellows awards. This includes:

All majors in:

  • College of Science
  • College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences
  • College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences (except Agribusiness)

The following majors in:

  • College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences:
    • Nursing
    • Pre-professional health studies
    • Health science
  • College of Education:
    • Science teaching
    • Middle-level education (math and science emphasis)
    • Secondary education (math emphasis)
    • Mathematics teaching
  • College of Architecture, Art and Construction:
    • Construction science and management

Scholarship Recruitment Weekend

Breakthrough Scholars Program finalists are notified of their selection by mid-January and are invited to interview during the Scholarship Recruitment Weekend in the spring.

Finalists will receive more information about Scholarship Recruitment Weekend, including a program of events, with their invitation. 

Invitations to join the Breakthrough Scholars Program are sent soon after the Scholarship Recruitment Weekend. Finalists must participate in the weekend to be eligible for the scholarship.