What kind of students is USP looking for?

USP is an established academic programme in NUS with a residential college in University Town. USP strives for scholarly excellence and will provide the ideal learning environment for those with the following traits and/or aspirations:

  • Passionate about Learning and Intellectually Adventurous — curious, eager to ask probing questions, and ready to extend the frontiers of knowledge in rigorous and creative ways
  • Eager to Explore Connections and Cross Boundaries — pursuing a broad range of intellectual interests (while doing a Major), prepared to be adaptable and to make connections across different disciplines and domains
  • Intellectually Responsible Through Deep Reflection — thoughtful about both thinking and doing, constructively critical and having a humility born of awareness of one’s own limitations
  • Want to Navigate and Help Shape a Complex World — respectful of differences between people and the complexity of the world, while having a sense of duty to want to take the lead in making a positive impact; responsible and engaged in public life and discourse

Simply put, if these three words — curious, critical, engaged — resonate with you in your pursuit of learning, then USP is for you.

Can any NUS applicant apply to USP?

USP admits students from the following seven partner faculties and schools in NUS:

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
  • Faculty of Engineering (FoE)
  • Faculty of Science (FoS)
  • NUS Business School (BIZ)
  • School of Computing (SoC)
  • School of Design and Environment (SDE)
  • Faculty of Law (FOL)

How much does USP cost?

NUS tuition fees are based on the home faculty you join. There are no extra tuition fees to enroll in USP. For students who join USP from Academic Year 2011 onwards, there is a residential college fee component.

What is USP residential college?

From Academic Year 2011 onwards, USP includes a residential component: USP students live and learn together in the new USP residential college (also known as Cinnamon College) at NUS's University Town. All USP students are expected to fulfill a two-year commitment of living in the USP residential college (Cinnamon College), in their first year and one other. For details, please visit usp.nus.edu.sg/community-college/college.

Is USP a scholarship?

No, but USP students may apply for NUS or other scholarships. For details, please visit http://www.nus.edu.sg/oam/financialaid/

USP students who stay at the USP residential college may tap on various financial assistance schemes available. For details, please visit http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/community-college/college/financial-assistance-schemes.html.

Can I apply to USP if my first choice of faculty is Medicine or Dentistry?

We encourage you to submit your application to USP even though Medicine and Dentistry are currently not USP partner faculties. In the event that you are not offered a place in your first choice faculty of Medicine or Dentistry, it is possible for you to join USP if you are offered a place in a subsequent choice that is a USP partner faculty.

Can I apply to join USP if I am doing a double degree programme?

You can apply to join USP if the two degrees are offered by USP’s partner faculties and schools, excluding Faculty of Law.  The partner faculties and schools are Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science, NUS Business School, School of Computing and School of Design and Environment.

If I will be serving my National Service in the next two years, when should I apply?

We encourage you to apply now, such that your application can be evaluated against applicants from your own cohort. If successful, your place will be reserved for the year you matriculate into NUS. A reconfirmation package will be sent during your matriculation year.

If I am currently serving my National Service and have already been accepted into NUS or another university, can I still apply?

Yes, prospective students who are currently serving their National Service can still submit their application to USP. If you are offered a place at USP, you may keep your original position at NUS if it is with one of our partner faculties. However, if it is with another faculty that is not currently one of our partner faculties or with another university, you will have to relinquish your original position.

Do you allow accepted students to defer admission?

Yes, but such decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

How many students are admitted each year?

We admit 180 students each year.

When do I apply to live in the USP residential college?

You may proceed to apply to live in the USP residential college after you have accepted USP’s offer of admission.

To what extent are grades considered?

The selection process is holistic. While academic performance will be considered an important indicator of your capacity to thrive in USP’s rigorous intellectual environment, it will not be the sole determinant of the success of your application.

What is a writing module?

All USP students choose one of USP’s renowned writing modules in their first year. The writing module provides the tools to craft compelling arguments and expositions, and forms a foundation for pursuits both in university and beyond. Writing modules are taught seminar-style with a maximum of 12 students per class, and include ample one-on-one tutorials with USP professors.

What is the faculty-to-student ratio?

Class sizes range from 12 to 35 students. The seminar style of the classes seeks to facilitate maximum interaction and engagement between professors and amongst peers.

What are the academic expectations of USP students?

USP students are expected to maintain a Cumulative Average Point (CAP) of 3.5 and above throughout their course of studies. This USP CAP requirement of 3.5 is a stepping stone for USP students to achieve the academic goal of honours in their home faculty. USP students are also expected to participate in USP activities and contribute to USP.

Can I switch major?

USP students may apply to switch major and/or faculty up until the end of their second year. (Non-USP students may apply to switch faculty up until the end of their first year.) For advice on switching criteria and process, simply consult your USP academic advisor and administrative staff.

What other for-credit options can I pursue in USP?

Apart from USP’s interdisciplinary modules, students also earn academic credit in the following ways:

  • Academic Research

    USP students with an interest in research may embark on independent study under the mentorship of a professor. This gives a head start in a research or research-based career. Other academic options open to USP students include double degree and double major programmes

  • Cultural Immersion

    USP students who are keen to develop cultural capabilities and networks in a foreign country have the option to pursue cultural immersion at an overseas partner university

  • Entrepreneurial Development

    USP students who want to experience an entrepreneurial culture have the option of spending a year in one of NUS’s Overseas Colleges in leading entrepreneurial and academic hubs in the world such as Silicon Valley, Philadelphia and New York (USA), Stockholm (Sweden), Beijing and Shanghai (China). They may also do so locally at NUS iLead.

How do I embark on Independent Study Modules (ISMs) as part of USP’s curriculum?

You may embark on ISMs through the following ways:

  • Individual or Small Group Study: A student or a group of students designs and completes a project under the guidance of a faculty member

  • Masters or higher level course-based modules: A student completes a Masters or higher level course-based module

  • Enhanced Year 3 or 4 modules: A student signs up for and enhances a Year 3 or 4 module into an ISM. In addition to the standard requirements, the student undertakes additional research at greater depth. Compared to non-USP students, USP students taking this route may have the weightage on examinations lessened, with greater weightage placed on continual assessment on their project work and term papers.

Does USP offer overseas learning opportunities?

Yes, USP strongly encourages and provides financial support for students to pursue learning opportunities outside of the classroom. Some places that USP students have travelled to include USA, China, Switzerland, Greece, India, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Poland, Malaysia, Philippines, France, and Turkey.

What is the difference between the curricular workload of a USP student and a non-USP student?

The total curricular workload of USP students is the same as that of other NUS undergraduates.

What facilities does USP offer?

In addition to other campus facilities, USP students have access to:

  • USP Writing Centre
  • USP Reading Room
  • Chatterbox (a 24-hour study lounge in the USP residential college)
  • USP Multimedia Lab
  • Educational Resource Centre
  • Dining Hall
  • Multi-purpose Hall
  • Seminar rooms
  • Theme rooms

What is the USP community like?

USP students, professors, staff, and alumni have diverse backgrounds and talents, yet are united by their passion and motivation to pursue their interests and create significant outcomes. The USP community bonds over intellectual and social activities and events held in the residential college, many of which are organised by the USC, its student club, and SPAN, its alumni society.

What degree will I graduate with?

USP students will graduate with an honours degree in their home faculty. They will also receive a USP certificate designating them as a University Scholar.

What do USP graduates go on to do?

Amongst recent USP graduates, more than one-third go on to do postgraduate studies at both local and overseas universities, including top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, MIT, Imperial, Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, London School of Economics, Tsinghua, Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and medical schools such as Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. Many have also gone on to pursue successful careers in major organisations in the private and public sectors, and in non-profit and non-governmental organisations.