Students from McCarthy Honors College at a 2017 spirit rally

Students from McCarthy Honors College at a 2017 spirit rally. | Photo by Michael Owen Baker.

Student Life

Top USC Freshmen Find Home at McCarthy Honors College

Nearly 600 of the nation’s brightest students live at the unique residential college.

September 25, 2017 USC Trojan Family Magazine staff


The Kathleen L. McCarthy Honors College is now home to first-year students who are among the nation’s brightest. In 2014, the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, chaired by USC Trustee Kathleen Leavey McCarthy ’57, donated $30 million to the university, making it possible to integrate USC’s undergraduate scholarship and honors programs and establish a community of exceptional scholars at the residential college.

McCarthy Honors College houses nearly 600 freshman scholars and offers exclusive academic, cultural and social activities. Students receive regular mentoring from two members of the faculty in residence and an extensive residential education staff, who coordinate weekly themed discussions with guest speakers. Other activities include presentations from USC faculty and visiting scholars.

The building also features dedicated spaces for honors seminars, group study, one on-one advising and relaxing outdoors. Freshmen at the residential college can participate in unique opportunities available only to honors students. They also move in to their rooms before other USC students do and bond as a community at a special off-campus retreat during Welcome Week. Their home is immediately recognizable to visitors. It features USC Village’s most prominent architectural feature, a 150-foot-tall clock tower that overlooks the Central Piazza.