Progressive degree programs enable USC undergraduate students to begin work on master’s degrees while continuing to complete requirements for their bachelor’s degrees. Applicants must complete between 64 and 96 units of undergraduate coursework. A master’s degree may be awarded simultaneously with, but not before, a bachelor’s degree is awarded.

Undergraduate Classification

In most cases, progressive degree students are classified as undergraduate students for the first eight (8) calculated semesters of college enrollment. For transfer students, units transferred in from other institutions will be considered as college enrollment. No exceptions to the eight semester limit will be made for undergraduate programs extended by minors, double-majors, or dual-degree programs.

While classified as undergraduate students, they are assessed the undergraduate tuition rate, and their enrollment status and financial aid eligibility are determined by undergraduate standards.

Undergraduate-level progressive degree students maintain their eligibility for Federal Pell Grants, Federal SEOG Grants, Cal Grants, Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans and any applicable eligibility for USC Merit Scholarships or USC University Grants as long as they are enrolled in courses that are required for, or that can be applied as an eligible elective credit toward, their undergraduate degree. Eligibility for USC Merit Scholarships or University Grants remains until the eighth semester.

Graduate Classification

In the ninth calculated semester of college enrollment, students exhaust their undergraduate financial aid eligibility and are reclassified as graduate students.

While classified as graduate students, they are assessed the graduate tuition rate, and their enrollment status and financial aid eligibility are determined by graduate standards. Graduate students are not eligible for federal, state or university grants.

Graduate-level progressive degree students are eligible to borrow Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans, up to the maximum yearly amounts established for graduate students.

Even if undergraduate-level students have completed fewer than eight calculated semesters, they may be classified as graduate students under one of the following exceptions:

  1. The undergraduate degree is conferred before undergraduate financial aid eligibility has been exhausted.
    Once the undergraduate degree is posted, that student is immediately classified as a graduate student and becomes ineligible for undergraduate financial aid, even if he or she has completed fewer than eight semesters. The Registrar’s office cannot remove the undergraduate degree once it has been posted. A student whose undergraduate degree is posted before his or her undergraduate financial aid eligibility has been exhausted may lose eligibility for departmental or outside agency scholarships.
  2. The student is awarded a research assistantship or teaching assistantship.
    If the student receives a research or teaching assistantship, he or she will be considered a graduate student for the initial term in which the assistantship is awarded, even if he or she has completed fewer than eight semesters. These students will not be eligible to receive graduate grant funds from the Financial Aid Office.

Progressive Degree Appeals for Transfer Students

Academic departments may appeal on a transfer student’s behalf for an extension of undergraduate status if the student’s USC undergraduate program is structured such that additional time is needed. Progressive Degree Appeals (“PD Appeals”) are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Please note that all PD Appeals must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office no later than the Drop/Add date of the semester for which the student is appealing his or her class-level status. However, we strongly encourage students to submit their PD Appeals no later than six (6) weeks prior to the start of the semester so that a timely decision can be made.

To appeal, a transfer student must submit to the Financial Aid Office the following information from his or her academic advisor:

  1. A brief letter from the student’s academic advisor that includes:
    1. The student’s name and USC ID number;
    2. The student’s major;
    3. The total number of units the student’s major requires for completion;
    4. The number of units the student transferred to USC; and
    5. The number of transfer units applied to the USC degree requirements.
    1. Mary Smith, USCID 9999-9999-99
    2. Chemical Engineering
    3. Total units required for the major: 133
    4. Units the student transferred to USC: 64
    5. Out of the 64 units that Mary transferred to USC, only 36 of these units were applied to degree requirements for this Viterbi major (including general USC and Viterbi requirements, both GE and major).
  2. A Course Approval Plan as approved by the academic advisor that outlines the remaining undergraduate and graduate courses, from the current semester to completion of both the bachelor’s and master’s degree. This Course Approval Plan must also confirm the date on which the student will finish his or her bachelor’s degree.
  3. The academic advisor’s signature block with contact information.

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