The University Scholars Program embraces the individual scholar. With an understanding of the complexities of high aptitude learners, both their phenomenal strengths and very real challenges, we believe that these students, like all students, have a right to an appropriate education that helps them to reach their fullest potential. The University Scholars Program creates a setting where like-minded scholars and teachers encourage and inspire.

Within the University Scholars Program, we:

  • Tailor instruction and opportunities to the individual need and goals of the scholar
  • Expand the capacity of the individual to think critically
  • Encourage scholars to abandon the box – what box?
  • Foster authentic scholarship – true investment in the process and products of learning
  • Value scholars’ quest to understand why and to know more
  • Believe in the importance and power of student / peer / teacher collaboration
  • Empower learners to be resourceful
  • Develop leaders with the understanding that leaders lead in diverse ways
  • Support the social and emotional well-being of our students
USP Logo of a head with a maze pattern
See Curriculum
Read complete descriptions of the the honors and AP courses we offer »
See Curriculum

student writingGeneral Information

  • Established 2005
  • Accelerated and college preparatory courses for eligible PA Leadership Charter School students
  • Grades 6 through 12 • Average class size 12 • Average enrollment 175
  • Highly competitive entrance requirements
  • Onsite and/or virtual classes; mandatory attendance


  • Middle school courses contain high school level content and rigor yet are developmentally appropriate
  • High school courses are honors and Advanced Placement (AP) – no grade level entrance requirements
  • 24 AP courses: Biology • Calculus AB • Calculus BC • Chemistry • Computer Science A • Economics: Micro & Macro • English Language & Composition • English Literature & Composition • Environmental Science • European History • French • German • Human Geography • Latin (Vergil) • Music Theory • Physics B & C • Psychology • Spanish • Statistics • US Government and Politics • US History • World History
  • Students are not required to take AP Exams
  • STEM program option for middle school and high school participants


  • 95th percentile or higher on standardized intelligence and aptitude tests
  • SAT Means for the Class of 2016: Math Average 699 • Critical Reading Average 704 • Writing Average 667
  • Merit Scholarship Program: Commendations, Semi-finalists, and Finalists
  • AP Awards: Letters of Commendation for Outstanding Performance, AP Scholars, AP Scholars with Honors, AP Scholars with Distinction, National AP Scholars

College Acceptances

This is a partial list of colleges and universities to which students have been accepted.
Bold denotes acceptance into Honors College.

  • American University
  • Bard College
  • Berklee College of Music
  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Bucknell University
  • Carnegie Melon University
  • Case Western University
  • Colby College
  • Colorado College
  • Columbia College Chicago
  • Columbia University (Sciences Po. Dual BA Program)
  • Columbia-Juilliard Exchange Program
  • Cornell University
  • Drew University
  • Drexel University
  • Duke University
  • Eastern University
  • Elon Universit
  • Emerson College
  • Fordham University
  • Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Georgetown University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Gettysburg College
  • Gordon College
  • Grinnell College
  • Hampshire College
  • Harvard University
  • Haverford College
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • The Julliard School
  • Juniata College
  • Lafayette College
  • Lehigh University
  • Loyola University
  • Macalester College
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • McGill University
  • Messiah College
  • Middlebury College
  • New York University
  • Northeastern University
  • Northwestern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Pitzer College
  • Princeton University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Rice University
  • Ringling College of Art and Design
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • St. John’s University
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Swarthmore College
  • Temple University
  • Tufts University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Maine
  • University of Maryland
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Texas
  • University of Virginia
  • Ursinus College
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Villanova University
  • Wake Forest University
  • Washington College
  • Washington University
  • Wesleyan University
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute
See Curriculum
Read complete descriptions of the the honors and AP courses we offer »
See Curriculum

students at computers
Advanced programming through the University Scholars Program is available to all eligible students of the PA Leadership Charter School. Some University Scholars students may choose to attend University Scholars’ classes on-site in a cyber-blended environment. This experience is available at the Advanced Ideas Center (AIC).

The Advanced Ideas Center is available as a resource for on-site and cyber connected University Scholars students throughout the state. The Center is located at 1585 Paoli Pike, West Chester, PA, where University Scholars students attend class 2 to 3 times a week. The Advanced Ideas Center provides a small learning community where individual and diverse academic achievement is valued and supported in this blended learning situation.

Students must choose to take their University Scholars’ classes either as a cyber-blended experience (AIC) or through the virtual classroom. This is a yearly commitment. Students will have the opportunity to make the choice during their course selection meeting with their University Scholars guidance counselor.

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Meet the Faculty

You may participate in USP either on-site or virtually, though these options are not interchangeable. Students may opt to take University Scholars’ classes remotely, utilizing technology that includes virtual classroom and distance learning through PALCSchool. Virtual USP students do not have to attend class at the AIC. Other students may choose to attend University Scholars’ classes on-site at the Advanced Ideas Center in a cyber-blended environment. These students are expected to come on-site and participate in class regularly, as with a traditional brick-and-mortar school.

No, students must choose to take their University Scholars’ classes either through virtual classroom/distance learning or cyber-blended (at the AIC) at the time of their mentor meeting when courses are selected. They cannot flip back and forth between the modalities during the year. Students will have the opportunity to revisit this decision annually.

The University Scholars Courses and Curricular Program are different from traditional honors programming because:

  • University Scholars is a performance-based honors program. Students must demonstrate motivation to learn and must maintain a B average to remain in the program. (In this way, it mirrors a high school AP Program. Participation is earned; there is not a minimum IQ requirement.)
  • Students receive advanced curriculum through the University Scholars courses rather than a once-a-week enrichment pull-out.
  • Program Placement is subject-specific.
  • Pacing for the whole class can move more easily at the students’ accelerated pace.

The selection criteria used for traditional honors programming is useful in determining intellectual potential, but it does little to define the level of self-discipline, thirst for learning or internal motivation that a student possesses. By making the program performance-based, we are creating an environment where hard work and diligence are honored and rewarded. We are also creating an environment where learning is dynamic, challenging and fun. Students are motivated to apply themselves to their studies (many, for the first time in their lives) because they want to stay in the University Scholars classes. Learning to ‘do your best’ is an important life skill that high aptitude learners too often miss in their K-12 education.

Program placement is subject-specific. A student may accelerate in some subjects and receive grade-level or honors-level courses in other subjects. USP students have access to the wide menu of all cyber courses offered to PALCS students in middle and high school. In addition to our University Scholars courses, you can view our complete K-12 PALCS curriculum.

High aptitude learners have special needs that are not always addressed in a standard school setting. For example, they may:

  • become mentally lazy, even though they do well in school.
  • become “hooked” on the trappings of success.
  • become perfectionists.
  • fail to develop a sense of self-efficacy.
  • fail to develop tenacity in the face of obstacles.
  • not develop study skills.
  • fail to develop strong peer relationships.
  • struggle with tasks that require cooperative work.

The University Scholars Program is designed to meet these needs and give the high aptitude, motivated learner the best possible environment to maximize their intellectual potential.

University Scholars accepts students from 6th grade to 11th grade provided there is space available. We do not accept 12th grade transfer students.

Use the University Scholars Application Checklist to ensure all required documents are submitted. The checklist and forms may be downloaded here.

  1. Complete the PALCS application. You may download the application here.
  2. Mail the requested University Scholars forms/documents as per checklist to the University Scholars Program address listed on the checklist.
  3. Once all documents are received, it will be reviewed by the selection committee.
  4. Competitive applicants will be chosen to participate in an interview with members of the selection committee.
  5. Notification will be sent via US mail.

Placement in the University Scholars is very competitive. Many aspects are reviewed:

  • Demonstrated academic excellence
  • Extraordinary motivation to excel
  • The recommendation of your teachers. You will want to choose teachers that can confirm you have demonstrated a high degree of motivation and intellectual achievement in your classroom performance.
  • Your admission interview

Of course! The University Scholars Program students will take all the same state tests (PSSAs and Keystones) as students in traditional brick and mortar schools. In addition, University Scholars students are expected to take the PSAT in their 8th, 9th and 10th grade years. They will take the SAT 10th and 11th grade years.

The cyber-driven delivery of curricula eliminates many time-wasting activities present in the more traditional school setting. This allows for extra time for students to network with their community, to engage in internships and apprenticeships. Both the cyber-blended and virtual classroom infrastructures provide a safe environment for your child, one free of drugs, alcohol, fights and inappropriate peer interaction.

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