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USC Office of Degree Progress

Progressive Degree Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How are the overlapping units determined for a progressive degree student?
  2. Can a course plan be changed for a progressive degree student?
  3. Can a progressive degree student change majors?
  4. Does a degree check application need to be submitted for a student pursuing a progressive degree?
  5. How many units can a progressive Master’s degree be reduced?
  6. Can the two-thirds of applied 500-level course work requirement be reduced as well?
  7. Can a student complete more than one progressive Master’s degree?
  8. Can a student drop the progressive Master’s degree and switch to the traditional Master’s degree?
  9. What happens when a student exceeds the progressive degree time limit?
  10. What if a student wants to apply to the progressive degree program, but has already exceeded or will be close to exceeding the time limit before being admitted?
  11. What is the required GPA for a student to be admitted into the progressive degree program?
  12. What if the student already exceeded 96 units at the time they initiate the application for admission?
  13. What if the student doesn’t know which electives they are going to complete for their Master’s program? Can I just put "graduate elective"?
  14. Does a progressive degree student just need to complete the courses on their course plan?
  15. Can a course be used for both undergraduate and graduate credit?
  16. Can a student reserve a course for graduate credit before being admitted to the progressive degree program?



  1. How are the overlapping units determined for a progressive degree student?
    Progressive degrees do not actually enable units to “overlap” or apply toward both degrees. A course must be undergraduate or graduate but cannot be both. The “overlap” is actually a reduction in the total number of units that may be required for the graduate degree.
  2. Can a course plan be changed for a progressive degree student?
    Yes, a progressive degree student may change a course plan if he/she submits a new course plan with all of the appropriate signatures to revise the previously approved course plan. The STARS report cannot be updated to reflect program changes without the revised course plan.
  3. Can a progressive degree student change majors?
    Yes, a progressive degree student may change majors if he/she submits a new course plan with all of the appropriate signatures along with a change of major form.
  4. Does a degree check application need to be submitted for a student pursuing a progressive degree?
    No, a degree check application does not need to be submitted for a student pursuing a progressive degree. Degree Progress enters all of the appropriate information for the student when the progressive degree application is processed.
  5. How many units can a progressive Master’s degree be reduced?
    The progressive master’s degree can be reduced by one-third. Example: A 30 unit program can be reduced down to 20 units. A 32 unit program can be reduced down to 22 units (round up from 21.33). A 48 unit program can be reduced down to 32 units.
  6. Can the two-thirds of applied 500-level course work requirement be reduced as well?
    No. This value is always based off of the traditional unit value of a program. Example: A 30 unit program can be reduced down to 20 total units, but then all 20 units must be at the 500-level or above.
  7. Can a student complete more than one progressive Master’s degree?
    No. Only one progressive Master’s degree is allowed.
  8. Can a student drop the progressive Master’s degree and switch to the traditional Master’s degree?
    If a student wishes to drop the progressive Master’s degree and switch to the regular Master’s then they must go through the formal steps that are necessary for admission to the traditional Master’s program, which means taking the GRE, applying, and submitting requested information and documents.
  9. What happens when a student exceeds the progressive degree time limit?
    Progressive degree students must complete their undergraduate degree and Master’s degree within 6 years (12 terms). The time limit begins in the term in which the student completed their first college level course (transfer or USC) after high school graduation. Petitions to extend the time limit should be sent to the Associate Provost, Robin Romans. Degree Progress will enter all approved time extensions on the STARS report.
  10. What if a student wants to apply to the progressive degree program, but has already exceeded or will be close to exceeding the time limit before being admitted?
    The Associate Provost should review these applications. Special approval for admission with an accompanying time extension through a specified term may be granted.
  11. What is the required GPA for a student to be admitted into the progressive degree program?
    The University established minimum GPA for admission to the progressive degree program is a 3.00 or above. Schools and academic departments have the ability to raise this standard for their applicants. The Viterbi School of Engineering currently required a 3.200 or above.
  12. What if the student already exceeded 96 units at the time they initiate the application for admission?
    The Associate Provost must review these applications. Special approval for admission may be granted.
  13. What if the student doesn’t know which electives they are going to complete for their Master’s program? Can I just put "graduate elective"?
    The course plan must be submitted with specified courses. If the student deviates from the course plan then a revised course plan must be submitted.
  14. Does a progressive degree student just need to complete the courses on their course plan?
    Students must complete the courses specified by their course plan AND the course requirements specified by the catalogue for the graduate program. Often these will overlap. If appropriate, the department may waive or substitute specified course requirements that are in the catalogue. The limits on waivers and substitutions still apply to progressive degrees.
  15. Can a course be used for both undergraduate and graduate credit?
    No. The course plan must clearly indicate whether each course will count for undergraduate OR graduate credit. If a student uses a graduate level course in the undergraduate program, but that course is specified by the catalogue requirements in the graduate program, then a Subject Credit waiver must be granted to fulfill the course requirement in the graduate program.
  16. Can a student reserve a course for graduate credit before being admitted to the progressive degree program?
    If a student has not yet been admitted to the progressive degree program, then they must follow the standard policy for taking graduate level course work for graduate credit: 1) have a 3.00 cumulative GPA or above, 2) be within 12 semester units of the bachelor’s degree, and 3) not exceed 16 registered units for the semester.

    Additional information can be found at:
    The Progressive Degree Programs Introductory page and
    The College of Letters, Arts & Sciences Progressive Degree Programs FAQ page