An Education - Plus a Degree - in Three

Provost’s Scholars Program ensures students experience all USF has to offer while earning a degree in three years.


By Mary Beth Erskine News Writer


TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 14, 2010) – Perhaps they want to increase their earning power by entering the workforce as soon as possible. Or maybe they have their sights set on graduate school, an internship or international service.


Regardless of whether it’s to save money or time, every year, students come to USF determined to complete their bachelor’s degree in three years.


And thanks to a new initiative called the Provost’s Scholars Program, USF is committed to helping them do just that.


With one, unwavering caveat.


“We’re going to insist that these students get much more than just a degree in three years. We’re going to make absolutely sure that they receive an education that prepares them for life,” said Stuart Silverman, dean of USF’s Honors College, who will administer the program.


That means integrating life-shaping, outside-of-the-classroom experiences into a three-year baccalaureate program. Residing on campus in a living-learning community. Study abroad. Undergraduate research. Community engagement. Internships.


And, of course, time to attend football or basketball games, become involved in student government, join a musical ensemble, or audition for a theatrical production.


Bob Sullins, dean for Undergraduate Studies, helped give shape to the program, which was conceived by USF Provost Ralph Wilcox. “The Provost’s Scholars Program provides the opportunity for certain students to complete their degree work in just three years, including summers, but it also includes opportunities for the types of experiences that are critical to the full development of college-age students.”


The program will launch in fall 2011 and will be highly selective. Students who qualify will be entering USF directly from high school with 18 or more college credits earned through Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, dual credit or other acceleration methods, which must be applicable to the student’s intended major. A 3.8 GPA in rigorous coursework will be required, in addition to a 1200 SAT or 27 ACT score.


Just as important as grades and test scores, however, is attitude and motivation, which will be determined through a personal interview after the student is accepted to USF and before being offered the opportunity to participate in the program.


“This program is not for students whose goal is to simply rush through in three years, but want to experience everything USF has to offer,” said Silverman. “We are looking for students who have not only demonstrated their academic ability, but have a clear vision of what they want to do – what their major will be and what they want to do after graduation. “


Once accepted into the Provost’s Scholars Program, students will need to complete 15 to 18 credits in both the fall and spring semesters and take appropriate summer semester coursework while maintaining a minimum GPA. As a provost’s scholar, a student will receive priority registration for courses, financial support through scholarships and continual, personal mentoring from faculty and staff. And because the program is housed in the Honors College, a provost’s scholar will have access to the college’s seminars, lecture series and other specialized academic programming.


“Many high achieving students, particularly in Florida, are used to managing full course loads of rigorous classes, many of which provide the opportunity to earn college credits,” said Robert Spatig, USF admissions director. “USF is now providing these students with a program that will ensure these credits that they’ve earned as high school students are put to good use to guarantee that the student will graduate in three years, while not sacrificing the fullest collegiate experience.”


Spatig says that while some students will be drawn by the opportunity to enter the work force or graduate school a full year ahead of their peers, “Others will jump on the fact that, between the savings in tuition and college expenses and the ability to enter the work force early, they will be able to add about $50,000 to their bottom line.”


Mary Beth Erskine can be reached at 813-974-6993.