The motto of the University of San Carlos is Scientia, Virtus, Devotio. Scientia is the Lation word for Knowledge or Learning, both as a process and a product. Virtus means Virtua or Moral Character. Devotio means dedication or faithfulness to a person task, or duty because of a vow (vovere, votum) formally or informally taken.
The initials of the motto are SVD, the same beginning letters ofSocietas Verbi Divini (Society of Divine Word), the missionary religious congregation which took over the administration of then Colegio de San Carlos in 1935, guided it through the years until it became University of San Carlos on July 1, 1948, and continues to administer it until today.
There are seven full laurels leaves on each side of the wreath surrounding the shield. The laurel leaves stand for excellence. The sets of leaves recall the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord.
The upper left part of the shield has the globe surrounded and topped by the cross. This is the symbol of the SVD in the world.
The upper right part of the shield has Magellan’s cross, symbol of Cebu where USC is located.
The three stars above the open book represent the three main island groupings of the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao.
The open book symbolizes knowledge, education, and the Word of God.
Below the seal is the identity of the Carolinians: Witness to the Word.