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University Scholars Program

The University Scholars Program (USP) at Fresno Pacific University believes in academic excellence and in developing potential that lies within each of our bright scholars.

USP courses offer:

  • intimate class sizes

  • student leadership possibilities

  • presentation and discussion facilitation

  • thematic focus and organization

  • individualized culminating experience.

Students who complete fifteen units of USP courses and maintain a cumulative 3.5 grade point average will graduate as Fresno Pacific University Scholars. This year we are implementing a system in which all University Scholar Program activities can count toward this status.

Benefits to participating in the University Scholars Program

Honors curriculum and leadership courses

All Paragon and President's Scholars will take Lead120H: Perspectives in Leadership. This course explores and applies principles of leadership and features notable guest speakers. The USP curriculum currently offers nine courses for students. At the end of the year the highest-achieving students are invited to attend the Honors Banquet, where students are recognized for their achievements and potentially awarded highest honors.

Professional mentors and networking sessions

University Scholars will receive mentoring from faculty as well as other USP students. Students will also have the opportunity to meet, network, and be mentored by various business, civic, and religious leaders throughout the region.

Conferences and study abroad programs

All Paragon and President's Scholars attend a weekend retreat their freshman year. USP students will have opportunities throughout the year to travel to various conferences, including the Alpha Chi annual convention and the Association for Core Texts and Courses (ACTC) student conference every two years. USP students may attend monthly town hall lectures to hear from influential speakers such as Leon Panetta and Carl Bernstein. There are also special study trips available in the spring and summer that can fulfill a student's focus series requirement while expanding his or her worldview and life experience. Longer study abroad opportunities are available across the globe to places like Costa Rica, India, and Vietnam.

Research opportunities

Fresno Pacific offers the unique opportunity to work alongside our outstanding faculty on various research projects, often conducting work that is only available at the graduate level at other institutions. Fresno Pacific hosts a Research Day each spring where students have an opportunity to showcase their work.

Honor societies

USP students can participate in the honor societies Alpha Chi, Phi Alpha Theta, Kappa Mu Epsilon, and Pi Gamma Mu. The annual Alpha Chi Convention, where many of our students have received awards for their outstanding accomplishments, is a highlight for some of the USP students. There is also an opportunity to apply for regional and national scholarships through these societies.

Preferred housing

University Scholars living on campus are eligible to receive priority consideration for housing assignments.

Who qualifies for the University Scholars Program?

USP courses are available to all Paragon Scholars, President's Scholars, Transfer Scholars, and Dean's Scholars without instructor approval. Students not receiving one of these academic scholarships may obtain a recommendation letter from their mentor or a professor in the subject area and submit it to the University Scholars Program Coordinator, W. Marshall Johnston, Ph.D., at If you have any questions regarding any of the classes offered in the coming academic year, please contact the instructors directly.

How do I register to be in the University Scholars Program?

Qualified students are automatically enrolled into the program by taking their first course -LEAD120H: Perspectives in Leadership. Students will continue enrollment in the program by taking the other honors specified classes designated with an “H” in the course number. These honors courses are offered in several general education disciplines that fulfill general education requirements and in several academic majors as determined by program faculty.

Questions about the USP Program?


W. Marshall Johnston, Ph.D.
University Scholars Program Coordinator
Associate Professor of History
Phone: (559) 453-7132
Office: McDonald Hall, Room 254