Santa Clara University

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial aid

Does Santa Clara offer merit-based scholarships?

Yes. Santa Clara focuses financial aid on need-based grants, although exceptional freshman applicants may be chosen for merit-based partial scholarships. Students who join the University Honors Program as freshman receive such merit aid consideration. None of these merit-based scholarships requires special application. Nevertheless, all students interested in financial aid are encouraged to submit information for need-based aid.

Which forms are necessary in applying for need-based aid?

All applicants to the university are very strongly advised to file both the FAFSA and College Scholarship Profile forms before the priority deadline of February 1. Merit-based scholarships do not require special application.

The Office of Financial Aid coordinates all merit-based scholarships, including Honors Program grants.The Financial Aid Web page provides information and on-line versions of necessary forms.

Residential life

Do UHP students live in a separate residence hall?

No. In successive surveys, UHP students have overwhelmingly indicated a distaste for separate "honors" housing arrangements. For that reason, UHP freshman do not live in a single residence unit but are instead associated with four residence halls each year. This distribution involves collaboration with the Residential Learning Communities, discussed in the reply to the next question.  For those in the Honors Program, their primary Learning Community is the Honors Program.  Each student, however, will be housed within a Residential Learning Community.

How does the University Honors Program relate to Residential Learning Communities (RLCs)?

The UHP and "residential learning communities" collaborate to enhance both the experience of Honors students and the campus learning environment. Since Fall 2000, all freshman students have participated in (RLCs) linked to their locations within the residence halls. Learning communities also draw in freshmen who live off campus.  The Honors Program is a Learning Community that spans four halls, thus it is not a residential learning community.

Simply stated, the RLCs try to build bridges between the classroom and campus life. All arriving first-year students are asked to rank their preferences for RLC assignment and also to state other interests that might influence RLC assignment. The housing office distributes students according to that information. Most students take four classes in the Fall. Two of those are loosely "linked" within their learning communities.

The University Honors Program constitutes a community of scholars whose membership helps unite varying disciplines and different living locations. New UHP students usually take two Honors classes in the Fall. Those course also serve as the individual's RLC classes. Honors freshmen generally fill our their schedule with core courses taught outside the Program. Each year, several RLCs include UHP students by permitting them to use Honors courses as their RLC links. Not every RLC has a program or structure flexible enough for the needs of UHP students. For 2010-11, the daVinci, ALPHA, Modern Perspectives and Loyola communities each welcomed about one-fourth of the incoming UHP class.

Studies & Campus Life

Do students routinely complete both the Honors Program and a standard major in four years? 

Yes. Both levels of the program fit within the normal courses of study in humanities, sciences, business, and engineering. The only caution applies to the more tightly scheduled fields, whose students should be attentive to completing UHP classes early in their university careers.  The Honors Program requires (with rare exception) that students complete Level I by the end of their second year.

Do University Honors Program students have time for other activities?

Yes! The students enjoy a full university experience, and many become leaders in campus publications, theater, athletics, student government, multicultural organizations, community service and other organizations.

May UHP students spend all or part of the junior year abroad?

Yes. Participation in the Program creates no obstacles for international study. Beyond the single junior-year fellowship for study at Mansfield College, Oxford, a number of the students study at one of the many campuses available through International Programs at Santa Clara.  Several locations world-wide have been designated as special Honors sites.

About Freshman Applications

I have been accepted to Santa Clara with a merit scholarship.  Does this mean I have also been admitted to the University Honors Program? 

It depends; students who receive Johnson's, President's, or Provost's Scholarships are automatically enrolled in the Honors Program.  Acceptance with another merit scholarship does not signify admission to the UHP. Students accepted with a merit scholarship have shown notable and praiseworthy achievement in high school. Nonetheless, of those accepted with such a scholarship only about one in three or four are candidates for the University Honors Program.

I have submitted an application. When will I know whether I am admitted to the Honors Program?

Most students will be informed by mid to late April, however the Program will accept applications until May 1.  Students will be accepted from the Wait List though June.

The Program always has applications from fine students who cannot be accommodated. Their applications become the basis for the supplemental list. If vacancies occur, the places are filled from the supplemental list. Of course, if a student does not submit a deposit to Santa Clara, his or her name is removed from the supplemental list.

Those accepted from the supplemental list are usually informed in June. Vacancies may also occur over the summer.


I received a letter about Phi Beta Kappa. Does this mean that I have qualified for the Honors Program?

No. Such letters let you know that Santa Clara hosts a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a national honorary society for students whose majors are included within the College of Arts and Sciences. Phi Beta Kappa chooses its members according to academic success and breadth of study at the university level. For majors in Engineering, the equivalent national honorary society is Tau Beta Pi, and in Business, Beta Gamma Sigma. Alpha Sigma Nu recognizes scholarship and service at Jesuit campuses internationally. All told, Santa Clara is home to chapters of nineteen academic honor societies.

My intended major department has its own "honors program." Is it related to the University Honors Program?

The faculty of several departments have organized special study programs for the students who demonstrate particular aptitude in their fields. For example, the Departments of History and Political Science both sponsor an "honors thesis program" available to their majors. Occasionally, departmental programs share resources with the University Honors Program, but they are not related. Of course, students in the University Honors Program may take full advantage of such educational opportunities throughout the university.