FAQs: Academics


What majors are available at USC?

USC offers a broad range of majors through our top-ranked academic and professional programs. For a current list of undergraduate majors, please visit the USC Catalogue website.

What minors are available at USC?

Approximately 150 minors are open to all undergraduates, regardless of major. For a current list of available minors, please visit the USC Catalogue website.

Can you double major at USC? And if so, should I indicate my interest in doing so in the admission application?

Yes, USC allows students the freedom to pursue double majors or a combination of majors and minors, especially in unrelated academic fields.

Students may declare a second major once they are admitted to USC and enrolled in classes. They are not required to state their interest in a second major on their application for admission (nor does the Common Application provide a way to do so).

What are the USC Core and General Education curriculum?

The USC Core consists of courses in General Education, Writing, Diversity and Foreign Language. General Education courses are divided into six categories covering such fields as science, the arts and humanities, and social issues and world cultures. The curriculum is designed to enhance your ability to weigh competing theories, evaluate new evidence and articulate an informed point of view. Structured to encourage you to explore diverse areas of study, the Core allows you sufficient time to add a minor or second major to your degree program.

All undergraduate students must complete the USC Core requirements in order to graduate. For more information, please visit dornsife.usc.edu/usc-core.

What honors programs are available to USC undergraduates?

The university offers several honors programs designed to challenge and reward high-achieving students in a variety of fields. For more information, please visit our Honors Programs page or specific school or departmental websites.

Does USC provide opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research?

Yes, often as early as the first year at USC! The university welcomes and encourages students who would be interested in pursuing faculty-led or their own original research. Several programs and fellowships are available to help support and fund student projects. Please visit our Research page or the Undergraduate Research and Discovery page for more information.

What is USC's student-to-faculty ratio and average class size?

The student to faculty ratio is 9:1. The average class size is 26 students.

How many units are required to earn a USC bachelor's degree?

All USC bachelor's degrees require a minimum of 128 semester units. Certain undergraduate programs in USC's professional schools (such as engineering) require slightly more. USC's Bachelor of Architecture program is a five-year, 160-unit program.

What should I list as my major if the major I am interested in is not listed in the application?

All the majors currently offered by USC are listed in the application. If the specific major you want is not listed, choose a major related to your field of interest, or choose “707 - Open (Still Deciding).” If applicable, specify the appropriate pre-professional emphasis.

Is it possible to obtain a second bachelor's degree at USC?

USC offers students the opportunity of obtaining a second bachelor's degree. Second bachelor's degree applicants are considered transfer students and, if accepted, must fulfill all of the core requirements of their new major, along with any mandatory General Education requirements not fulfilled during their first degree. Students are required to complete 64 units applicable to the degree in residence at USC. (Only 32 units are required if the first bachelor's degree was earned at USC.)

Students pursuing their second bachelor's degree are ineligible for most financial aid programs but may be able to borrow a Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loan and a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. Students who meet all financial aid application deadlines may also be considered for the Federal Work-Study and Federal Perkins Loan programs.

Can college units taken before high school graduation satisfy General Education requirements? What kind of credit may be earned by college courses taken during high school?

All undergraduate students entering USC may receive a combined maximum of 32 elective units for college courses and/or examinations (such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate) taken before graduation from high school. A maximum of 16 of these 32 units will be allowed for college courses taken before high school graduation. These courses must appear on a college transcript as part of a regular college curriculum and are expected to be taught on the college campus by college faculty.

For more information, please visit the Office of Articulation website.

What is USC's definition of a “full-time student”?

A student is considered to be enrolled full-time when registered for 12 or more units as an undergraduate student or eight or more units as a graduate student. The number of courses for which a student has registered is not a basis for determining full-time enrollment status. The student's department and/or school may have additional requirements for full-time status.

How can I obtain a copy of the USC Catalogue?

USC's most current catalogue is available online at www.usc.edu/catalogue. Alternatively, copies may be purchased through the USC Bookstore by calling (800) 447-8620.

Note: The catalogue for academic year 2013-2014 is the last year for which a printed version of the catalogue will be available. Starting with fall 2014, the catalogue will be available online only.

Does USC offer extension courses or have a program that allows non-admitted students to enroll in courses?

USC's academic programs are designed primarily for students who have applied and been admitted to a regular degree program. However, USC does have a very specific registration option known as "Limited Status Enrollment" that allows certain students in specific situations to take a limited number of courses at USC without being admitted. Please refer to the Office of Articulation website for more information.

How does USC treat students who have pursued an International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum? Are IB test results factored into admission decisions? What kind of advanced credit does USC offer to IB?

USC believes that students who undertake an IB curriculum are well-prepared for the rigors of university academic life. IB courses are factored into our admission evaluation process because we recognize the extreme rigor of such a curriculum.

  • Six (6) elective units apiece are earned for scores of five (5) or above on HL exams; or
  • Twenty (20) elective units if you earn the IB diploma with a score of 30 or higher.
  • General Education credit is available for some history and science exams.
Please visit www.usc.edu/articulation for more information.

Does USC offer summer programs for high school students?

Yes! USC offers an extensive array of summer programs for middle school and high school students. Get a preview of the Trojan experience! Visit USC's Summer Programs.

Can you tell me more about the USC program that allows students to spend their senior year of high school at USC?

Every year, the Resident Honors Program (RHP) enables about 20 to 30 highly successful high school students to start college a year early and complete high school requirements while simultaneously enrolled as full-time first-year students at USC. Please visit the RHP web page at www.usc.edu/rhp for more information.

How do the grades I earn during my senior year of high school factor into USC's admission decision?

Generally, for the purposes of admission into USC, we review an applicant's coursework from grade 9 through the first term of his or her senior year. Students need to use the Mid-Year Report Form included in the Common Application or visit www.usc.edu/midyeargrades to submit their fall grades as soon as they become available.

Once admitted, all students are required to submit an official copy of their high school transcripts to verify their graduation dates. Students' transcripts will also be reviewed to ensure that they have maintained a continued level of academic achievement. A serious downturn in a student's senior year could result in the rescinding of an admission offer.

How does USC treat Advanced Placement (AP) exams? What Advanced Placement (AP) tests do you accept for credit? Are AP scores factored into admission decisions?

We encourage students to take advantage of the most rigorous curriculum available to them, including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, if they are offered at your high school. We recognize the rigor of AP and IB curricula and take this into consideration when evaluating admission applications.

Students taking AP exams will receive 4 elective units for each score of 4 or higher. For exams taken in spring 2008 or earlier, credit is awarded for scores of 3 or higher, except for Computer Science.

General Education credits can be earned with a score of 4 or higher on the following exams:

  • GE Category I: Art History and European History
  • GE Category III: Biology, Chemistry, or Physics
  • Third-semester Foreign Language requirement: Any foreign language AP exam (except Latin).
In some cases, credit may be given for program prerequisites or degree requirements.

To receive USC credit as outlined above, official AP exam results must be sent from the College Board to USC. We will not grant credit for AP scores reported on high school transcripts or on student test reports. Please visit www.usc.edu/articulation for more information.

What classes should a student take during high school to prepare for USC?

Students should successfully complete at least 16 yearlong college preparatory courses while in high school:

  • Four (4) years of English (composition and literature)
  • Two (2) years of foreign language
  • Three (3) years of mathematics (algebra, geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, or calculus)
  • Two (2) years of natural science (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics)
  • Two (2) years of social sciences (e.g., U.S. history, government, economics, geography)
  • Three (3) years of additional courses in subjects above or academic electives (such as computer science, art, music, speech)
  • Students should pursue Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes, if offered at their schools.

What programs or services are available for students with disabilities?

USC welcomes students of any mental or physical disability. If you have a disability and would like more information about academic support or accommodations, please visit the office of Disability Services and Programs at www.usc.edu/disability.

Can you tell me more about the Trojan Admission Pre-pharmacy program?

The Trojan Admission Pre-pharmacy (TAP) program gives talented students the exceptional opportunity to complete pre-pharmacy requirements at USC as an undergraduate and gain priority admission in the USC School of Pharmacy.

Upon meeting specific requirements, students are given priority admission to the four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program. TAP students must complete their pre-pharmacy coursework at USC, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.20, and receive their bachelor’s degree prior to applying to the TAP program.

To apply, students must first apply for admission to the university and be admitted to an undergraduate program of study. A separate TAP application is required. For more information, visit the School of Pharmacy’s TAP web page.