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USC Office of Degree Progress

Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How is the 25 percent rule determined for upper division major course work?
  2. How is the 25 percent rule determined for minor course work?
  3. How can upper division transfer courses be identified?
  4. Can a student graduate with a missing grade?
  5. Can a student take a GE course Pass/No Pass if he/she has already received a NP in a GE course?
  6. Where is an undergraduate Leave of Absence submitted?
  7. What is the difference between a terminated post and an expired post?
  8. How can I substitute two courses for one course on the STARS report?
  9. Why does the STARS report indicate that the basic college requirement has not been met though the student is exempt because he/she is pursuing a double major with one major in a professional school?
  10. What are the administrative deadline dates for the Spring, Summer, and Fall terms?
  11. How is a student’s degree date determined?
  12. How is catalogue eligibility determined?
  13. Who is eligible for Freshman Forgiveness?
  14. Can a course used for Freshman Forgiveness be taken Pass/No Pass?
  15. Can a course and its prerequisite course be taken in the same term?
  16. How do I know which Degree Progress Counselor to contact?
  17. I would like credit from another institution evaluated. Where should I send the official transcript?
  18. I was a former USC student and would like to return to complete my degree. How do I determine what requirements I have left for graduation?


  1. How is the 25 percent rule determined for upper division major course work?
    The 25 percent rule is based upon the total number of upper division major units required. For example, an undergraduate program that requires a total of 28 upper division units has a maximum of 7 units (or 25 percent of 28) available to substitute or waive. All substitutions and waivers that exceed 7 units violate the 25 percent rule. Please remember that substitution of courses with the same department prefix is exempt from the limit.

  2. How is the 25 percent rule determined for minor course work?
    The 25 percent rule for minors consists of two parts: no more than 25 percent of all required units may be substituted and no more than 4 units may be waived for minors that require 17 to 20 units or no more than 8 units may be waived for minors that require more than 20 units.
    If a minor requires a total of 18 units, then a maximum of 4.5 units (or 25 percent of 18) may be substituted, and a maximum of 4 units may be waived. All substitutions that exceed 4.5 units or waivers that exceed 4 or 8 depending upon the total number of units required for the minor violate the 25 percent rule. Please remember that substitution of courses with the same department prefix is exempt from the limit.

  3. How can upper division transfer courses be identified?
    A transfer course is considered upper division only if it was considered upper division at the transfer institution. An upper division transfer course will be listed under the Summary of Upper Division Courses on the transfer credit report. Please remember that lower division courses (USC or transfer) cannot be substituted for upper division course requirements.

  4. Can a student graduate with a missing grade?
    A student may be able to graduate with a missing grade depending on the term in which the student received the missing grade and the effect that the missing grade has on degree requirements.
    If a student received a missing grade in a course taken prior to Fall 2005, the student may graduate with the missing grade only if the course with the missing grade is not needed to fulfill any degree requirements and if the student will still meet the GPA requirements when the missing grade is calculated into the GPA with zero grade points. The missing grade will remain on the transcript and cannot be resolved once the degree has been awarded. If a student received a missing grade in a course taken Fall 2005 or later, the grade will be changed to a UW after one calendar year if the grade is not resolved before then. If the course with the missing grade is not needed to fulfill any degree requirements and if the student will still meet GPA requirements when the missing grade is calculated into the GPA with zero grade points, Degree Progress will change the grade to a UW upon request and post the degree.

  5. Can a student take a GE course Pass/No Pass if he/she has already received a NP in a GE course?
    Yes, if a student received a grade of NP in a GE course, the student may take another GE course with the P/NP grading option without exceeding the four-unit limit on P/NP course work. Only grades of P affect the four-unit limit for GE courses graded P/NP.

  6. Where is an undergraduate Leave of Absence submitted?
    An undergraduate Leave of Absence must be submitted to the student’s major department.

  7. What is the difference between a terminated post and an expired post?
    A terminated post is one that has been discontinued by the University. Students have a maximum of five years from the term of discontinuance to complete the degree requirements for a terminated post. Once the five-year time limit has elapsed, the post may no longer be pursued. An expired post is one that is no longer active for a student.

  8. How can I substitute two courses for one course on the STARS report?
    Degree Progress can enter a two-for-one exception.

  9. Why does the STARS report indicate that the basic college requirement has not been met though the student is exempt because he/she is pursuing a double major with one major in a professional school?
    The STARS report cannot distinguish between majors in the college or in a professional school. Degree Progress manually adjusts the basic college requirement during the term in which a student pursuing a double major is expected to graduate.

  10. What are the administrative deadline dates for the Spring, Summer, and Fall terms?
    The administrative deadline for the Spring term is June 15th, for the Summer term is September 15th, and for the Fall term is January 15th.

  11. How is a student’s degree date determined?
    A student must complete ALL degree requirements on or before the last day of a term to be eligible to graduate in that term. A student must also meet the administrative deadlines for a term to be eligible to graduate in that term.

  12. How is catalogue eligibility determined?
    A student is eligible to follow a catalogue year only if the student was enrolled in a term included in the catalogue year and if his/her program of study was available during the catalogue year. A student may not follow a catalogue year prior to the term of admission.

  13. Who is eligible for Freshman Forgiveness?
    Only first-time freshmen are eligible for Freshman Forgiveness. These students may repeat a maximum of three courses taken during the first two semesters at USC in which grades of D+ or below were received, and only the subsequent letter grade, even if lower, will be calculated in the grade point average. Students who were admitted for spring and were first-time freshmen elsewhere in the previous fall may repeat a maximum of two courses taken during the first semester at USC in which grades of D+ or below were received with the same set of provisions stated above.

  14. Can a course used for Freshman Forgiveness be taken Pass/No Pass?
    No, a course used for Freshman Forgiveness must be taken for a letter grade. Both courses will remain on the transcript, but only the second course will be available for degree credit.

  15. Can a course and its prerequisite course be taken in the same term?
    Yes, a course and its prerequisite course may be taken in the same term. Both courses will be available for credit. However, a prerequisite course within the same discipline taken after the higher level course has been passed will not be available for credit.

  16. How do I know which Degree Progress Counselor to contact?
    The student population is divided alphabetically among counselors. Please refer to the Degree Progress Directory and contact the counselor who handles the alpha split under which the last name of the student falls.

  17. I would like credit from another institution evaluated. Where should I send the official transcript?
    See the Transferring Coursework page for more information.

  18. I was a former USC student and would like to return to complete my degree. How do I determine what requirements I have left for graduation?
    Frequently, the Registrar’s Office receives requests from former USC students who attended, but did not graduate, to find out what degree requirements remain outstanding. For students who have not attended in many years, Degree Progress staff members spend a considerable amount of time to locate records, determine degree requirements, and prepare degree checks which itemize remaining requirements. In consideration of the resources required to prepare these degree checks, a document preparation fee has been established.

    Students who have not attended USC in more than 10 years will pay a non-refundable $150 fee for this degree check service. Students who have not attended USC since 1985 will pay a non-refundable $300 fee for the service.

    To request a degree check please refer to the Degree Progress Directory and contact the counselor who handles the alpha split under which the last name of the student, at the time they were a student, falls.