Transfer Credit and Policies
Please note: USC has revised its General Education requirements for students starting college in fall 2015 or after. Please check back later this summer for more details, as we will be updating this site and our publications. In the meantime, please refer to the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences page for more information. If you have immediate questions or concerns, you can contact your Admission Counselor through our Find Your USC Admission Counselor page.
Students who enrolled in college full-time prior to fall 2015 (not including summer semesters) should review these policies.
Units That Must Be Earned at USC
Transfer students must complete a minimum of 64 units in residence at USC (half the units usually required for graduation).*
While in residence at USC, you are also expected to:
- Complete all upper-division units in your major and minor.
- Complete WRIT 340, General Education categories IV and VI, and any General Education courses not taken before entering USC.
- Take all your fall- and spring-semester courses for subject or unit credit at USC. Courses for subject or unit credit may be taken at other institutions only during summer sessions.
- Students in the Engineering “3–2” program must complete a minimum of 48 units in residence at USC. Two-thirds of any transferable coursework must be completed at one of USC’s four-year partner institutions.
- Bachelor of Architecture students must earn at least 80 units at USC. A maximum of 70 of the transferable units for this program may be earned at two-year colleges.
Transfer Unit Limits
USC limits the transfer of credit in certain categories. You may transfer up to:
- Sixty-four (64) units of credit from other regionally accredited institutions (see “Exceptions” above).
- Four (4) units each of English as a Second Language, physical education activity courses and music ensemble courses.
- Eight (8) units of dance.
- Twelve (12) units of physical education theory courses.
- Sixteen (16) units of individual instruction in music.
- Other studio and performing arts classes are also limited. Check with an advisor.
Courses/Units That Will Transfer
Accredited courses: Coursework completed at, or degrees from, U.S. institutions accredited by the six regional accrediting agencies are generally accepted.
Coursework completed at international post-secondary institutions approved by the local Ministry of Education as degree-granting institutions will also transfer.
Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credits:
We accept a combined maximum of 32 units from college courses and/or examinations. Test results must be sent directly to USC from the testing agency. The credits will appear on your transfer credit report.
AP: You can receive 4 elective units for each score of 4 or 5. For exams taken in spring 2008 or earlier, credit is awarded for scores of 3 or higher, except for Computer Science.
The following list shows which AP exams can fulfill certain requirements with a score of 4 or 5:
- GE Category I: Art History or European History.
- GE Category III: Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
- Foreign language: The third-semester foreign language requirement is fulfilled with a score of 4 or 5 on a foreign language exam (except for Latin).
IB: You can receive 20 elective units for an IB diploma with a score of 30 or higher, or 6 elective units for each score of 5 or higher on a maximum of four IB Higher Level exams — whichever unit total is higher. Please visit www.usc.edu/dept/ARR/services/articulation/adv_placement_exam_credit.html for a current list of IB exams and the course requirements they fulfill.
College courses taken during high school:
We accept a maximum of 16 elective units, included in the 32-unit combined maximum for AP and IB credits.
These courses must be taught by college faculty on a college campus, appear on your college transcript as part of the regular college curriculum and must not be applied to your high school diploma.
They can fulfill General Education categories I, II, III or V. They cannot fulfill the Writing, Diversity or Foreign Language requirements nor receive equivalence to USC courses.
Courses/Units That May Transfer
Credit for these courses is granted on student petition and determined on a case-by-case basis. Be sure to keep copies of course syllabi, exams and papers, as we may ask for these in making our determination.
Nontraditional formats/time frames: Distance-learning, online courses, concentrated “intensive” sessions, special weekend modules, and other nontraditional course formats and time frames.
Please note that elective units only — not equivalence to USC courses or fulfillment of requirements — are granted for foreign language and laboratory science courses taught via distance learning, TV, or in an online or correspondence course.
Nontraditional courses at four-year colleges: Independent study, directed study, internships and extension courses accepted by their institutions in fulfillment of the baccalaureate degree.
Military: Courses completed through the U.S. Armed Services.
Courses/Units That Will Not Transfer
Unaccredited institutions:Coursework or degrees completed at U.S. institutions not accredited by a regional accrediting agency.
Courses in which your grade was less than C– (1.7). These courses will still affect your transfer GPA, however.
No degree credit:
College extension courses not credited toward a degree at that college.
Areas of study not offered by USC:
These include agriculture, business office procedures, hotel management, food services, industrial mechanics, interior design, fire science, forestry, police academy, and similar professional and technical programs.
An AP exam and IB exam or college course covering the same material.
Life and work experience:
Including portfolio work, continuing education, equivalency examination units, and courses offered by business and governmental agencies (even if evaluated by the American Council on Education).
Courses and/or unit credits awarded by another institution for placement examinations or credit by exam.
Remedial/college preparatory/personal development:
Including mathematics courses below the level of college-level algebra. (Intermediate Algebra, USC’s minimum math requirement for admission, is not transferable.)
Nontraditional formats at two-year colleges:
Including independent study, directed study, correspondence courses, internships and travel courses.
Graduate-level coursework taken by undergraduate students.
Determining Your Transfer GPA
USC calculates your transfer GPA on the basis of your grades in all USC-transferable courses, including grades of D and below. Plus and minus grading is taken into account. Incompletes and missing grades from your transfer institution are treated as an “F.”
Credit/No Credit and Pass/No Pass marks are not included in the transfer GPA.
USC does not honor other colleges’ academic “renewal” or “forgiveness” programs that permit students to improve a substandard grade. If you repeat a transferable course for which you earned a grade of D+ or lower, both grades will be included in your transfer GPA. If the grade on the first course was a C- or higher, only the first grade is included.
Your transfer GPA is different from the GPA earned in courses you take at USC. The transfer GPA and your USC GPA are kept separate until it is time to determine if you are eligible to graduate and earn graduation honors, as described in the USC Catalogue.
Your class standing at USC is based strictly on the number of transferable units completed at the time of admission. If you complete transferable units after admission and submit official transcripts, your class standing will be adjusted after a new Transfer Credit Report is generated.
Academic Standards and Requirements
The USC Catalogue is the document of authority on policy matters, and it changes from time to time. It provides complete information about academic standards governing coursework taken at other colleges, as well as specific requirements for your major field.