University of Southern California
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Course Work Taken Elsewhere

Admitted students receive a transfer credit report showing unit and subject credit granted for college courses and relevant exams, such as AP, IB and A-levels.

For course work taken from universities within the United States, the Degree Progress Department will prepare the transfer credit report; for course work taken outside the United States, the Office of Admission will prepare the statement.


The University of Southern California affirms the practice of accreditation of American post-secondary academic institutions by the six regional accreditation agencies: the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Acceptance of course work and/or degrees completed by undergraduate and graduate students applying to the University of Southern California will be based on accreditation by these six agencies. Certain graduate schools, seminaries, conservatories and professional institutions of national renown that are not accredited by a regional agency may be considered for graduate transfer work by the Articulation Office in consultation with the USC department or professional school to which the student is applying.

Acceptance of course work and/or degrees from post-secondary institutions overseas will be based on the recognition and approval of the college or university as a degree-granting institution by the Ministry of Education within the respective country.

Non-transferable Course Work

USC's transfer policies have been established to enable students to achieve either an undergraduate or graduate degree that will reflect traditional academic study and research. For that reason, the following types of non-traditional course work will not transfer to USC for either undergraduate or graduate credit:

  • life experience; portfolio work; continuing education; work experience; formally structured courses offered by civilian non-collegiate sponsors such as businesses, corporations, government agencies and labor unions, even if evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE).
  • Extension courses not accepted toward a degree by the offering institution.
  • Equivalency examinations.
  • Remedial (e.g., mathematics below college algebra), college preparatory and personal development/life skills courses.
  • Independent study, directed study, internships and correspondence courses from two-year schools.
  • Areas of study offered by other accredited institutions toward the baccalaureate but not offered by USC, such as agriculture, business office procedures, hotel management, interior design, food services, industrial mechanics, fire science, police academy and similar technical or professional programs.
  • Undergraduates will not receive credit for graduate level transfer courses.

In addition, no more than 4 units of English as a Second Language (toward the maximum of 12 ESL/ALI units which may apply to a degree) will transfer. Also, a maximum of 4 units of physical education activity courses and music ensemble will transfer. A maximum of 8 units of dance and 12 units of physical education theory courses will transfer.

Course Work Requiring Review

USC will determine on a case-by-case basis whether to grant credit for certain types of courses taken at accredited institutions. Courses which require review by the Articulation Office include:

  • Independent study, directed study and internships taken at four-year schools.
  • Courses in which the traditionally expected number of contact hours may not have occurred, including distance learning, televised, online or correspondence courses, and courses taught in non-traditional time modes such as concentrated "intensive" sessions or special weekend modules.

Articulation Agreements

Articulation agreements with California community colleges are issued by the Articulation Office and indicate courses available for transfer to USC. These agreements can be found at These agreements are revised periodically and are subject to change, depending on course content, availability and changes in USC's academic policies. Articulation agreements are not issued for four-year colleges and universities.

Proof of Prior Degree

Students applying for graduate degrees through the Graduate School must have completed a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution that reflects at least 96 units of traditional academic work. Diplomas granted for a preponderance of life experience, portfolio or equivalency examinations are not considered appropriate preparation for acceptance into USC's graduate degree programs and are not the equivalent of USC's undergraduate degrees. Verification of a completed undergraduate degree must be provided before enrollment in a second semester at USC.

Credit for Military Education

The university evaluates courses completed through the armed services and may grant credit for such courses. Consult the Degree Progress Department regarding the possibility of receiving credit for these courses.

College Courses Taken During High School Enrollment

All undergraduate students entering USC may receive a combined maximum of 32 elective units for college courses and/or examinations (e.g., AP or IB) 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 the college transcript as part of the regular college curriculum and are expected to be taught on the college campus by college faculty. These courses (as well as AP and IB exams) will not receive course equivalence or credit toward writing, diversity, foreign language or general education requirements (except for general education categories I and III, where appropriate). However, departments may use them as a basis to waive prerequisites or specific course requirements on a case-by-case basis.

Students may not receive credit for both an AP exam (or IB or other international exam) and a college course taken before high school graduation covering the same subject matter, nor for an AP and IB exam covering the same subject matter.

Students who began full-time college bachelor's degree programs at four-year institutions before completing their high school diplomas can submit transcripts for course evaluation. More than 16 units may be granted. Programs which award a high school diploma concurrently with first- or second-year college level work are typically conducted on the post-secondary institution's campus and are taught by the regular faculty. These programs will be evaluated on an individual basis, along with the student's high school record, to determine both the student's admissibility and the transferability of courses. Students entering full-time college programs at two-year colleges before graduating from high school are subject to the 16 unit maximum stated above.

Undergraduate Students

Transfer Credit Evaluation

A transfer credit evaluation is prepared, prior to enrollment, for every new undergraduate transfer student admitted to regular standing. To ensure complete evaluation of transfer courses, it is the student's responsibility to submit official transcripts from all post-secondary schools in which course work was completed. The purpose of the credit evaluation is to acknowledge officially all transferable work toward the USC degree sought by the student. Total transferable units attempted and total transferable units accepted toward the degree are posted on the credit evaluation.

For the purposes of making an admissions decision, all grades (including grades of D and below) are calculated into the grade point average and are used in calculating a total grade point average for graduation. Neither subject nor unit credit will be granted for courses that have been graded with less than a C- (1.7).

For limitations on use of transfer courses to fulfill general education and writing requirement see General Education Program.

Subject Credit and Degree Credit

Subject credit does not carry unit value toward units required for a degree but may fulfill a required or elective subject area. Degree credit is defined as units that may be applied toward the units required for a USC degree.

Transfer Unit Limitations

A student may earn a maximum of 64 units of credit toward a bachelor's degree from other accredited institutions. The B.Arch. degree and the Engineering "3-2" Program allow a maximum of 80 units of transfer credit, of which a maximum of 70 may be from two-year colleges. Students will receive only subject credit for work completed in excess of the unit limitations.

Transfer Credit for Repeated Course Work

Degree credit will not be given for a transferred undergraduate course that a student has previously taken at USC. (This regulation does not apply to a USC course that a student withdraws from and then takes at another institution.)

Subject credit only will be given for a transferred undergraduate course previously taken at USC, under the following conditions: (1) When the student took the course at USC, he or she received a grade or mark which fails to meet departmental or university requirements. (2) The student obtained prior approval from the department offering the USC course on the USC Transfer Course Work Pre-Approval form.

Permission to Register at Another Institution

Undergraduate Transfer Credit Limitations
As defined in the Residence Requirement, once students enroll at USC, only courses taken during a summer semester will be considered for transfer credit. No transfer work may be used to satisfy any general education requirements or the writing requirement if those courses are taken after a student has enrolled at USC. In addition, transfer courses taken after enrollment at USC cannot be used to fulfill upper division requirements in the major or minor without prior approval, using the Request for Exception to Residency form.

Students are advised to consult their major department or College Academic Services before taking college course work at another institution. Students should also consult the Degree Progress Department to ensure that the work will transfer.

If students wish to take summer course work elsewhere after admission to USC, they must first obtain appropriate written pre-approval from the Degree Progress Department. Even if there is an articulation agreement, pre-approval is necessary to assure the student's eligibility.

Once the course work has been completed elsewhere, students must request the other institution to send an official transcript to USC so that the course work can be evaluated and transferred.

Students are required to provide transcripts of all course work attempted at any post-secondary institution, regardless of the type of course(s) or the quality of the work. A student's failure to provide transcripts for all course work attempted while away from USC may result in denial of transferred coursework and a charge of a violation of the university's academic integrity policies.

Students should request that a transcript be sent to the Degree Progress Department, SAS 010, 700 Child's Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0912. All transcripts must arrive in a sealed envelope from the issuing institution.

To avoid a possible delay in graduation, official transcripts from post-secondary institutions should be submitted as soon as the course work is completed and graded by the transfer institution. It is advisable to complete all transfer work prior to the final semester of enrollment at USC. If transcripts for transfer course work are not available during the final USC semester, it will likely delay degree posting and result in a later degree date.

Students who have questions concerning the transfer credit shown on the transfer credit report should inquire at the Degree Progress Department. Any questions regarding the applicability of previous course work toward major requirements should be referred to the student's academic advisor.

Leave of Absence, Undergraduate

Interruptions of enrollment can cause problems in the continuity of course work within a student's program. Therefore, leaves of absence are generally discouraged. A student who must interrupt studies for compelling reasons may request a leave for a stated period. Students who find it necessary to be excused from registration in fall or spring semesters should request a leave of absence and withdraw from their classes by the last day to drop or add courses. Students should contact their academic advisor, ask for a Leave of Absence Student Handbook and complete the Leave of Absence form in the back of the handbook (also available at Completed forms should be submitted to the student's academic advisor for review and approval. If, as a result of the leave, the student exceeds the time limits for completion of degree or general education requirements, he or she may not be allowed automatically to continue to follow the original catalogue of enrollment. Students who fail to apply for a leave of absence may encounter difficulties with residence requirements and financial aid when returning to USC.

Program Reactivation

Students who have failed to attempt course work for at least one semester within an academic year without filing a Leave of Absence form will have their POST (Program of Study) expired. Returning undergraduates will be required to meet with their department advisor and complete and sign a POST Reactivation form before registration will be permitted. Graduate students who wish to return will be governed by applicable university policies, including the continuous enrollment requirement.

Residence Requirement

A minimum of 64 units toward the bachelor's degree must be earned in residence at USC. A minimum of 80 units toward a bachelor's degree in Architecture must be earned in residence at USC. For students in Engineering's "3-2" Program, at least 48 units must be earned in residence at USC.

All upper-division units required for the major and minor must be earned in residence.

The major or minor department, on a case-by-case basis, may give credit for upper-division courses taken prior to matriculation and may pre-approve required upper-division courses to be taken out of residence.

Once students matriculate at USC, all courses taken for subject or unit credit in the fall and spring semesters must be taken in residence. Only transfer work that appears on the transfer institution's transcript for a summer term will be accepted.

In rare circumstances, exceptions to this fall and spring enrollment policy and approval to take specific courses out of residence may be granted in advance by the student's major department or, for undeclared students, by the Office of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Dean of Academic Programs. If permission to take courses out of residence is granted, the major (or minor) department must pre-approve use of the courses for the major (or minor), and use of the course to fulfill any other requirements must be pre-approved following the usual approval process for transfer courses. Courses to be used as electives must be pre-approved by the closest equivalent department at USC. Any such approval must be conferred in writing and must follow the procedures outlined on the Request for Exception to Residence form.

Students are required to provide transcripts of all course work attempted at any post-secondary institution, regardless of the type of course(s) or quality of work. A student's failure to provide transcripts for all course work attempted while away from USC may result in denial of transferred course work and a charge of a violation of the university's academic integrity policies.

Students who take course work elsewhere except during the summer without having received approval in advance will be required to reapply for admission to the university.

Academically disqualified students must meet with an academic review counselor for advisement and forms for departmental preapproval rather than using the Request for Exception to Residency form.

After completion of 64 college-level units applicable to the undergraduate degree, no more than eight additional units may be allowed for transfer credit. In the case of the B.Arch. degree, no more than eight additional units may be allowed for transfer credit after completion of 84 college-level units.

Units earned in overseas studies programs approved by USC's Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and in courses approved by consortial or other institutional agreements are considered to be taken in residence.

Residence Requirement for a Second Bachelor's Degree

For students with their first bachelor's degree from USC, 32 units applicable to the degree beyond the number of units required for the first USC bachelor's degree must be completed in residence.

For students with their first bachelor's degree from another institution, the second bachelor's degree requires 64 units applicable to the degree completed in residence, except for the B.Arch. degree which when earned concurrently with the M.Arch. degree requires 32 units applicable to the degree completed in residence.

Graduate Students

Transfer of Course Work

The Degree Progress Department in the Office of Academic Records and Registrar determines whether course work taken elsewhere is available for transfer credit. Faculty of the student's degree program determine whether such credit is applicable toward a specific graduate degree, subject to approval by the dean of the degree-conferring unit. The faculty's decision should be made no later than the end of the first year in a master's program or the second year in a doctoral program.

Credit will only be allowed for courses (1) from an accredited graduate school, (2) of a quality of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale, (3) constituting a fair and reasonable equivalent to current USC course work at the graduate level and (4) logically fitting into the program for the degree. Transfer course work is applied as credit (CR) toward the degree and is not included in the calculation of a minimum grade point average for graduation.

Graduate transfer credit will not be granted for life experience, credit by examination, non-credit extension courses, correspondence courses or thesis supervision. Graduate transfer credit will not be granted for course work taken elsewhere after a student has been admitted and enrolled at USC unless the student receives prior written approval from the department. Students may not take courses elsewhere as a substitute for courses in which they have received grades which fail to meet departmental or university requirements.

Transfer work must have been completed within seven years of admission to a USC master's degree program (or 10 years for a doctoral program) to be applied toward that degree. Departments have the option of reevaluating transfer work when a student is readmitted to a USC graduate degree program.

The faculty of a degree program may establish limits on the number of transfer credits stricter than those of the university, which follow:

(1) The maximum number of transfer credits which may be applied toward a master's degree, subject to departmental approval is: four units in degree programs requiring 24-32 units; eight units in programs requiring 33-40 units; 12 units in programs requiring 41 or more units. The same limits apply if a student wishes to transfer credits from any advanced degree previously completed at USC toward a master's degree.

(2) A maximum of 30 units of transfer credit may be applied toward a doctoral degree.

(3) A maximum of six units of transfer credit may be applied toward a doctoral degree with Advanced Standing. Admission with Advanced Standing is based upon a completed graduate degree. The only course work available for transfer credit is course work taken after completion of that degree.

(4) A maximum of four units of transfer credit may be applied toward an approved dual degree program.

The Graduate and Professional Studies Committee (GPSC) must approve policies and procedures for considering individual exceptions within any specific program of study. Program exceptions to the transfer of course work policies require the approval of the GPSC and are listed in the departmental sections of this catalogue. Departments establishing lower maximum limits may waive their own policy (within the university's limits) by approval of the dean of the degree conferring unit.

Application of Previous USC Course Work to a Current Degree

USC course work taken prior to matriculation to a current USC degree program must have been completed within seven years of admission or readmission to a master's degree program (or 10 years for a doctoral program) to be applied toward that degree. Exceptions require approval from the Director of Graduate and Professional Programs.

Credit Evaluation

A credit evaluation is completed during the student's first year of enrollment for every new graduate student admitted to regular standing. The purpose of the evaluation is to verify all previously earned degrees and may list graduate course work completed at other institutions which is available for consideration toward the USC degree. Students who intend to apply transfer course work toward a USC degree program can request a comprehensive credit evaluation through the Degree Progress Department. Only courses with a grade of B (3.0) and above are available for transfer. These courses do not apply toward a specific USC degree unless approved by the student's major department and school.

Requests for Transfer Credit Evaluation

Each new student admitted to regular standing with transferable course work must submit the course work for evaluation by the end of the first semester of enrollment at USC. A credit evaluation can only be done after complete, official transcripts have been received. The student is responsible for supplying the Degree Progress Department with all transcripts. Students must also contact Degree Progress to initiate the evaluation. It is important that the credit evaluation be completed before the student applies for a degree progress check.

Concurrent Enrollment

A student in a Graduate School degree program may not enroll for credit at this university and elsewhere simultaneously without advance permission from the Graduate School. Failure to secure such permission will result in invalidation of course work taken during periods of unauthorized concurrent enrollment.