Honor Without Elitism
Each year, the Viterbi School names a small number of our top students as a Viterbi Undergraduate Fellow. The Viterbi Fellows are a small group of some of our brightest incoming undergraduate students, and Fellows receive guaranteed research funding, priority consideration for special opportunities, early access to our graduate degree programs and a number of other special benefits.
The program focuses on creating a unique combination of opportunities and experiences, academic and co-curricular, for a unique group of future leaders. Fellows are not separated into different classes, or live in different dorms. Fellows take advantage of the Viterbi community by building their path to leadership from day one. The staff and faculty of the Viterbi school recognize their potential and create pathways and opportunities for the Fellows to maximize their potential by engaging in what they want.
Listen while you scroll!
Viterbi Faculty Playlist
Check out some of our podcast episodes with the amazing Viterbi professors! Viterbi Fellows get special access to faculty, so they can get to know them and find out more about their research groups. Whether it’s Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering professor, Dr. Ronney, discussing his experience training as a NASA astronaut or Civil & Environmental Engineering faculty, Dr. Sanders discussing the energy-water nexus.
Viterbi Voices: The Podcast is your chance to hear stories about research, classes, student life, and more directly from our faculty, students, and other members of our engineering community. Click the link below to see the rest of our episodes!
Research Access & Funding
Viterbi Fellows can start research right away with a Viterbi School Merit Research Award
Viterbi Fellows can not only get involved in research with our faculty from their first semester, they will get paid for it as well. Each Viterbi Fellow receives a Merit Research Award to get paid for hours worked in a lab.
The Viterbi School Merit Research Award allows you to work with faculty as early as your first semester. The Merit Research Award allows for each student to get paid for hours worked and earn up to $2500 during the academic year. The award is renewable for an additional three years provided the Fellow maintains a at least a 3.0 average GPA overall, makes progress towards an engineering degree and complete a short renewal form by March 1st of each year.
“I have published two papers in conference proceedings and received a full grant to attend the Interspeech Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, where my presentation was a finalist for Best Student Paper.”Rachel AlexanderComputer Science '19
Beatriz has worked in the Media Communications Lab (MCL) designing video games for the Oculus Rift to test what specific characteristics of VR games make people sick. She has also worked on a project involving Raspberry Pi clusters to design a network that would replace a GPS sensor with the Autonomous Networks Research Group (ANRG).
In the Preserving Biodiversity Using Robust Optimization group, Christopher and his team are use biodiversity and land data in Central and South America to help not-for-profits determine what areas of land would be most beneficial for them to purchase in the interest of preserving jaguars. He's built maps and run linear regressions on the geographic data using GIS and R.
Working in the Sanger Laboratory, specifically in the Exoskeleton research group, Sydney and her group are working on designing a wearable orthotic prosthetic arm for children with cerebral palsy and dystonia. The arm helps to regulate and control unwanted movements to allow for more controlled motor function.
Jacob has worked in the USC Media Communications Lab, where he focused on machine learning with an emphasis on natural language processing. Some of his past projects including recognizing biases on twitter, applying natural language processing to source code comprehension, and automatically categorizing aspects of the City of LA's financial budget.
Sheetal works in the USC Hodge Nanotechnology and Materials Lab, where she is currently at work on a project with super alloys, a material used in aerospace applications due to its enhanced temperature resistance and strength. The material she's researching is now being used in rockets too!
Alexis worked in the Smith Research group, where they specialize in using anaerobic membrane bioreactors and the co-digestion of food waste, fats, oils, and grease with primary and waste activated sludge to improve biogas production. She also performed RNA and DNA extractions from the microbial community in their system and performed water quality analysis tests.
Viterbi Fellows can do more, without worry.
Viterbi Fellows receive an additional living stipend of $3,000 on top of all other scholarships and awards. The award will be allocated across two semesters.
We understand that participating in all the activities you want to participate in may have expenses. Our hope is that Viterbi Fellows have less to worry about with this renewable award for your continued years as a Viterbi Undergraduate Fellow.
Stipends will be coordinated with other scholarships and financial aid. Stipends are renewable during a student’s time as a Viterbi Undergraduate Fellow provided they maintain a 3.0 average GPA overall, make progress toward an engineering degree, and complete a short renewal form by March 1st of each year.
Stipends can be used to cover any other living or academic expenses you incur such as:
Priority & Special Access
Viterbi Fellows are positioned to take advantage of their momentum from high school and expand their horizons to great dimensions
Special Event Invitations
Dinner with the Dean and Faculty are currently slated for once per semester where you can create closer bonds with those who teach your classes and conduct research. Each semester the Viterbi School hosts speakers from around academia and industry, where Fellows will meet and learn from these innovative leaders in their respective fields.
In addition to our career-focused events dedicated to recruiting, Fellows will be invited to network with company recruiters more frequently. Our Industry Networking Event will teach you how to build your network while providing a more casual atmosphere to learn about internship and employment opportunities.
NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Prep Program
We expect Fellows to not only make a difference at USC, but to affect change across the world. As part of our efforts with the National Academy of Engineering to solve the 14 Grand Challenges, Viterbi Fellows will have the option to participate in a preparatory program with the ultimate goal to be named a NAE Grand Challenges Scholar at graduation. The NAE-GCS Prep Program will advise students on appropriate curricular and co-curricular options towards scholar recognition.
Apply Early to your Master’s Degree
The Progressive Degree Program (PDP) provides continuing USC undergraduates an accelerated path to earning a BS and MS degree from USC in reduced time, typically five years. PDP students have the option to start graduate-level classes during their senior year and reduce by up to 1/3 of the total units required for the Master’s Degree. Viterbi Fellows receive earlier access to the program and can apply as early as their sophomore year.
Priority consideration for many Viterbi School programs, include but are not limited to:
Meet the Fellows
Don't take our word for it. Ask the Fellows!
“I get to work with professors who are experts in the industry and have access to many career resources to be successful.”Jocelyn ClancyAstronautical Engineering '19
“Viterbi offers some incredible resources to help students get involved in research, be mentored by faculty, and explore their interests inside and outside of engineering.”Nihar SethComputer Science '21
“I love how supportive the faculty are: from my research advisors, to the instructors, to the professors with ACM, everyone I've met has offered me invaluable encouragement and guidance in pursuing my goals.”Rachel AlexanderComputer Science '19
“Every week we receive emails about the wide variety of opportunities at USC. Even the research opportunities alone are quite a bit. USC is really a place you can delve deep into your passions.”Veda MurthyComputer Science '21
“The faculty advisors are more than willing to give up their free time to help you through a tough technical problem, and the students are more than happy to stay in lab all night figuring out last-minute challenges.”Spencer PowersAerospace Engineering '20
“All the professors I've had are incredibly accomplished and passionate about their work. They are all approachable and willing to help out whenever possible.”Anya NutakkiComputer Science '22
“My favorite thing about being a USC student is the connections that I'm making and the experiences I'm gaining. USC has so much to offer and I've met so many great people from all different fields of study.”Justin WeissMechanical Engineering '22
“I have access to an incredibly strong alumni network that I can reach out to any time I want. Through classes, student organizations, and study groups, I get to befriend and be inspired by the future movers and shakers of the world!”Maria CamasmieMechanical Engineering '20
Imagine yourself on campus.
Learn more about life at USC as an engineering student at Viterbi Voices:
Frequently Asked Questions
We know you have a lot of questions about the Viterbi Fellows Program. Take a look at our answers to some of your frequently asked questions (FAQs).
The Viterbi Undergraduate Fellows are an exclusive group of students selected from the incoming class. As an engineer, we believe you shouldn’t be limited in the number of experiences available to you in college. We want you to maximize your potential by engaging in what you want!
The Viterbi Undergraduate Fellows are chosen from our top scholarship finalists each year. While there is no application for the Fellows or scholarships, students must apply to USC by the merit scholarship deadline, typically December 1st of each year. There is no need to indicate interest or complete any forms. We will consider all of our top students for scholarship and fellowship awards.
Yes, and no. The Viterbi Fellows are chosen from our scholarship finalists. And while the university scholarships are notified in the you.usc.edu portal at the end of March, the Viterbi Fellows are named just a few days immediately afterward. So, if you have been awarded a scholarship, watch that mailbox as Fellow Appointments arrive in the mail a few days later. Only those who are chosen for the fellowship receive notification.
Fellows are chosen as part of our scholarship award process. All students who applied to USC for merit scholarship consideration will have their applications carefully reviewed. Of those, some will be selected as merit scholarship finalists and required to interview during on-campus events (typically in February-Early March of each year). Once we have selected our final scholarship recipients, a small number of those students will be named a Viterbi Fellow above and beyond any scholarship they may have received.
Don’t miss the deadline!
There is no renewal process for the Viterbi Undergraduate Fellows. Once you have been named a Fellow, you will always be a Fellow. Your status as a Viterbi Fellow is assured for each subsequent year of your undergraduate engineering degree program, up for a maximum of four years, as long as you remain in good standing with the university.
If a student is looking to continue receiving funding for undergraduate research and/or the additional living stipend, these awards have a renewal process due by March 1st of each year. Additionally, the Rusch Engineering Honors Program maintains its own minimum GPA requirements to complete the program.
That is completely fine. Each student adjusts and acclimates to campus life in different ways. Many students will opt not to utilize research funding during certain semesters (the first one being the most common). Know that you have the funding for the entire year and can start in your spring semester if you like. Renewal forms are required as listed above for continuing years.