Black Scholars Program

The Black Scholars Program is an ambitious, rigorous, and competitive academic program, grounded in in Jesuit values, that seeks to educate the whole undergraduate student and develop their potential to fashion a more humane and just world.

Designed for high-achieving black students who are committed to serving the needs of underserved communities through their chosen career paths, the program builds student leadership capacity and provides students with the resources, skills and support necessary to achieve excellence and pursue rich and rewarding careers after graduation.

Students who are selected for the Black Scholars Program will receive a renewable four-year scholarship covering a substantial portion of their tuition and room and board costs. 

In addition, Black Scholars will:

  • Reside in the Marshall-Riley Living-Learning Community during their first year
  • Take interdisciplinary African American Studies and service-learning courses
  • Network with local black Bay Area community leaders and USF alumni
  • Receive mentoring from USF faculty, staff, and/or alumni
  • Be placed in a research assistantship and/or internships
  • Develop a senior capstone project that meets the academic requirements of their major
  • Graduate with honors distinction

Four Year Cohort Model

Black Scholars progress through the program as a single group (or cohort) of peers who enter USF together as first-year students and graduate four years later. 

Year 1

The first year of the program is designed to introduce new scholars to USF and the Bay Area community. The students will be members of the Marshall-Riley Living-Learning Community and participate in all programming, including the required African American Studies coursework. In addition, scholars will be invited to small, monthly communal dinners that will host a well-known Bay Area African American community member. These dinners will provide an opportunity for students to begin thinking about long-term career paths, and develop relationships with potential community mentors.

Year 2

The second year of the program is designed to strengthen the scholars’ understanding of social justice issues and their relationships with Bay Area community members. At the start of the first semester, the students will be matched with community mentors from a wide variety of fields (business, law, social work, education, nursing, etc.) who will meet with them informally at least twice per semester. Over the course of the year, students will also be required to take at least one class in the field of African American Studies that also serves as a university core requirement, such as African American history, sociology, literature, philosophy, or politics. Lastly, students will continue to meet for communal dinners twice per semester and participate in a volunteer project that serves the Bay Area African American community.  

Year 3

The third year of the program is designed to strengthen the scholars’ academic training and experience in their chosen career-path. Students will be matched with faculty mentors across the university’s various schools as student research assistants and commit to working with their faculty mentor for a full academic year. In order to strengthen their skill set as research assistants, students are required to attend monthly workshops that cover research techniques and graduate/professional career preparation. Students may also receive additional training in order to do specific tasks required in their actual research setting. Student Research Partners work between 5-15 hours per week and will receive either monetary compensation or academic credit for research hours, time involved in meeting with the faculty mentors and participation in research workshops. At the end of each year, students participate in and present their work at an undergraduate research symposium, such as the college’s Creative Activity and Research Day (CARD).

Year 4

The fourth year of the program is designed to allow students to implement their education and training. Depending upon their chosen career path, students will either continue their roles as faculty research assistants, or be placed in internships over the course of the year. During the fall semester, they will also work with the Black Scholars program director to design a capstone project that they will engage in during the spring semester. Lastly, they will be designated as peer mentors to incoming scholars.

USF Honors College Eligibility

Students selected as Black Scholars will also be eligible for acceptance into USF Honors College and will have the opportunity to pursue a distinctive honors curriculum. In addition, Black Scholars may also be named as University Scholars and/or apply for the Getty Honors College Scholarship to support research, internship and study abroad activities during their four years at USF.

More about the honors college


  • Incoming first-year students are invited to apply
  • Must have a high school GPA of 3.5 or greater
  • Must demonstrate a commitment to pursuing a career related to social justice and working for the advancement of people in need
  • Participation will not be limited to, but preference will be given to first-generation students and those who demonstrate financial need

Contact Info

BASE/Marshall-Riley Living Learning Community

Program Director, Candice L. Harrison, Ph.D.

Kalmanovitz 357
2130 Fulton St.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 422-6709