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An award winning program

February 27, 2013 

The Graduate School at the University of South Carolina was awarded the 2013 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) and Educational Testing (ETS) Service Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Admissions. CSGS is a consortium of more than two hundred graduate schools from the southern region of the United States. 

The award was presented to USC’s Graduate School for its flagship recruiting program, the Presidential Fellowship. Spanning across 14 colleges and schools and representing more than 27 Ph.D. and master of fine arts graduate programs, the Presidential Fellowship is USC’s most prestigious university-wide award for promise of excellence at the graduate level. 

“This is a really special program,” says Lacy Ford, vice provost and dean of the school. “Nobody else has one like it.”

Unique among peer institutions for its reach across disciplines and focus on professional development, the Presidential Fellowship awards supplemental stipends totaling up to $32,000 for doctoral students and $20,000 for MFA students. This stipend is in addition to fellowships and assistantships students receive from their academic programs.

“The Presidential Fellowship is a great recruiting tool that enables us to bring in top-talent from across the country and around the world,” says Jessica Elfenbein, senior associate dean of the school.

Elfenbein, who is also a professor of history at USC, heads the Presidential Fellowship Program, meeting individually with Fellows and as a group in a bi-monthly seminar.

“The opportunity to work with Presidential Fellows is a joy—a gift—and one of the highlights of my position at USC,” she said.

In the past year Elfenbein has hosted a holiday gathering at her house, as well as having arranged visits from campus leaders, expert in various professions and an academic publisher-in-residence

When presenting USC with the 2013 award, the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools highlighted the Presidential Fellowship program’s adeptness at not just matriculating talented students, but actually encouraging students’ personal and professional development throughout their tenure at USC. Academic support, face-to-face contact with campus leaders, engagement with peers from across campus, and exposure to university resources were all cited as playing integral roles in the success and design of the Presidential Fellowship program, which boasts a retention rate above 95 percent. 

Meet the Presidential Fellows.