All graduate work in the School of Engineering is under the jurisdiction of the School of Engineering except the Doctor of Philosophy degree, which is under the jurisdiction of the USC Graduate School. All prospective graduate engineering students should apply to the USC Office of Graduate Admission.
AdmissionThe School of Engineering recommends candidates for the Master of Science degree in aerospace, biomedical, biomedical (biomedical imaging), chemical, civil, electrical, engineering management, environmental, industrial and systems, manufacturing, materials, mechanical, mechanical (dynamics and control), ocean and petroleum engineering, applied mechanics, computer engineering, computer science, operations research, materials science, and systems architecture and engineering.
Two classes of students are admitted to take courses for graduate credit: admitted and conditionally admitted students. These classifications are determined by the Office of Admission on the recommendations of the appropriate department in the School of Engineering.
Admitted Students This is the status of a graduate student pursuing work leading toward an advanced degree. The student has been accepted into the degree program without any conditions.
Conditionally Admitted The chair of a major department in the School of Engineering may recommend that a student be admitted under certain conditions. Conditional admission is granted when a student's admission records are incomplete or when deficiency courses must be taken but the student appears to be otherwise admissible. The conditions must be met before the completion of two semesters of enrollment or 12 units of course work, whichever comes first, except electrical engineering, which allows only one semester. If the conditions on admission are not met within the given time period, the student may not be allowed to register for course work in subsequent semesters. When the conditions have been met, the academic department will remove the restrictions that have been placed on the student's registration.
Applicants to graduate programs must present credentials to the Office of Graduate Admission showing that they have completed an acceptable program for the bachelor's degree if their degree objective is a Master of Science and an acceptable curriculum for a Master of Science degree if the degree objective is the Engineer degree or the Doctor of Philosophy. In some departments students with outstanding records will be admitted for the doctoral program without first receiving the Master of Science degree. If the previous degree is not in the field in which the student wishes to pursue graduate study, it may be necessary to make up undergraduate deficiencies in the area of the desired specialty. Applicants must take the Graduate Record Examinations. Satisfactory scores on both the general and subject tests are required for admission to full graduate standing in most programs. At least the Graduate Record Examinations general test must be taken for admission consideration. The Graduate Record Examinations subject test may be taken in engineering or in other areas approved by the various departments. Consult the department office for further information.
CriteriaIn order to qualify for admission, applicants are expected to present strong academic records and show superior accomplishment in their engineering courses. Admission decisions will be based on Graduate Record Examinations test scores and transcripts of previous school work. Individual departments may set higher admission standards than the Office of Graduate Admission or the Graduate School. In some departments letters of recommendation are required and should be sent directly to the department office. Applicants who have published professional papers in their field may forward copies to the department, and they will be considered together with the other credentials submitted.
ProcedureOnce the application for admission has been sent, arrangements should be made immediately to have official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate school work forwarded directly to the USC Office of Admission from the schools attended. If the Graduate Record Examinations general and subject tests have been taken, the scores should be sent to the Office of Admission by arrangement with the Educational Testing Service. If the tests have not been taken, the applicant should register to take them on the earliest available date. The departments will review the application files and select for admission those students offering the greatest promise for completing graduate studies.
General Requirements for the Master of Science
Residence RequirementsThe normal time required for earning a Master of Science degree is one and one-half academic years. Students entering the School of Engineering with course or credit deficiencies require a correspondingly longer period. A candidate must complete the last four semester units of course work at USC. Four transferred units will be accepted from another engineering school with the approval of the major department.
PrerequisitesPrerequisite is a bachelor's degree in engineering, allied fields or science. If the graduate field is different from the field of the bachelor's degree, there may be undergraduate deficiencies assigned by the major department, and these must be made up by taking and passing either the assigned courses or the final examination in these courses before proceeding with the graduate courses.
Grade Point Average RequirementsA grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (A = 4.0) is required for the master's degree in all engineering programs. The minimum GPA must be earned on all course work applied toward the master's degree and on all 400-level and above course work attempted at USC beyond the bachelor's degree. A minimum grade of C (2.0) is required in a course to receive graduate credit. Work graded C- or below is not acceptable for subject or unit credit toward any graduate degree. Transfer units count as credit (CR) toward the master's degree and are not computed in the grade point average.
There are two programs for the master's degree, one requiring a thesis and the other additional course work. Courses are selected to fit the special needs of individual students, must form an integrated program leading to a definite objective and must be approved in advance by the department. Only courses numbered 400 and above may be applied for degree credit.
Program with ThesisThe minimum requirement is 27 units; four of these units are to be thesis. At least 16 units, not including thesis, must be at the 500 level or higher, and at least 18 units must be in the major department. A total of not less than four nor more than eight units of 590 Research and 594ab Thesis must be included in the program. The minimum thesis requirement in 594a is two units; in 594b, two units.
Program without ThesisThe minimum requirement is 27 units; 18 of these units must be at the 500 level in the major department and closely related departments. Specific requirements are listed under each department.
Master's ThesisThe thesis, when it is required, is regarded as an important part of the work of the candidate for a master's degree. It is not intended to be a piece of highly recondite research, but it must be a serious, considerable and publishable piece of work demonstrating the writer's power of original thought, thorough grasp of the subject matter and ability to present material in a scholarly manner and style.
The thesis presents the results of an investigation of an approved subject in the major department. It is supervised throughout by a thesis committee, appointed by the chair of the student's major department. The committee is usually composed of two members of the major department and one other member of the faculty.
The student will register in courses 594a and b respectively during the final two semesters of the master's program as determined by discussion with an advisor. (Concurrent registration for 594a and b during the same semester is permitted when a student's progress makes completion of all requirements likely within one semester.) If the thesis has not been completed within these two semesters, the candidate must register for 594z each semester until the thesis has been accepted but no additional unit credit will be earned.
A student readmitted to candidacy by petition to the graduate study committee must reregister for 594a and 594b. Final acceptance of the thesis is based upon the recommendation of all members of the thesis committee. For requirements concerning format of master's thesis see the Graduate School section of this catalogue.
Candidates who find it necessary to be excused from registration in 594a or 594b for a semester must formally report before the beginning of the semester to the Graduate Study Office that they will be inactive during that semester and request a leave of absence. During a leave of absence a candidate will not be entitled to assistance from the thesis committee or to the use of university facilities. The granting of a leave of absence does not change the candidate's responsibility for meeting the time schedule for the completion of degree requirements. Leave will be granted only under exceptional circumstances.
Time LimitIt is expected that work for a Master of Science in engineering will be completed within a maximum of five calendar years. An academic department may grant an extension of up to one year at a time for a maximum of two years. Courses taken more than seven years prior to the date upon which the degree is to be awarded cannot be included for the degree.
Admission to CandidacyApplication for admission to candidacy for the Master of Science is a separate step from admission to graduate standing. The requirements for admission to candidacy are: (1) the applicant must be admitted to regular graduate standing and must have removed all undergraduate deficiencies, and (2) the applicant must submit a complete program approved by the major department showing the course work, research and thesis (if required).
Application for graduation should be made at the beginning of the semester in which the requirements for the master's degree are to be completed. Students are strongly advised to file for graduation as soon as the registration process has been completed so that their names may appear in the printed Commencement program and so that any discrepancies in their records may be resolved. Late filing may delay conferral of the degree.
Application forms for graduation with the master's degree may be obtained from the School of Engineering Graduate Study Office, Room 330G, Olin Hall. The office is open from 8:30 to 5:00 Monday through Friday. This application, properly endorsed by the chair of the department in which the major work is being done, should be returned to the Graduate Study Office. Changes in the program after admission to candidacy are made by petition to the graduate study committee.
Second Master's DegreeA graduate student who already holds a master's degree from USC or another acceptable engineering school in a related field may apply a limited number of previously earned units toward the second master's degree. The maximum number of units allowed for transfer is four. In all cases, permission of the chair of the major department is required. All credit, including the units from the first master's degree, must be earned within seven calendar years.
General Requirements for the Master of Engineering DegreeThe Master of Engineering is a highly-focused program in an industry-relevant area. It emphasizes applied solutions to real world problems. Courses selected for M.Eng. programs typically prepare the student for professional engineering practice beyond the purely scientific and technological course work for the M.S. degree. The program is intended for students directly from undergraduate engineering programs or for retraining practicing engineers who want to change career paths or technical areas. It is primarily for those not interested in earning a Ph.D. The M.Eng. is not a terminal degree, however, and courses applied toward the M.Eng. can also be applied toward the Ph.D. The M.Eng. requires an applied project or required design course for 3-6 units.
The Master of Engineering is awarded under the jurisdiction of the School of Engineering.
PrerequisitesThe prerequisites for Master of Engineering degrees are: a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or mathematics from a regionally accredited institution with satisfactory GPA and GRE scores; application for admission to the School of Engineering; and acceptance by the appropriate department.
Course RequirementsThe Master of Engineering requires a minimum of 30 units of graduate course work; up to 9 units at the 400 level may be counted with advisor approval and the remaining units must be at the 500 level or higher. The course work must form a coherent program of study with a concentration in core courses and restricted electives in core-related disciplines. The program will include an original project (directed research) or a design course for 3-6 units under the supervision of full-time or co-supervision of full-time and part-time faculty. The project or design course must require a final report and either a formal seminar, a presentation, or an oral examination by the student.
Grade Point Average RequirementA minimum grade point average of 3.0 (A= 4.0) must be earned on all course work applied toward the M.Eng. degree. This average must also be achieved on all 400 level and above course work attempted at USC beyond the bachelor's degree, regardless of whether or not all such units are applied toward the degree. A minimum grade of C (2.0) is required in each course to receive graduate credit. Work graded C- or below is not accepted for subject or unit credit toward any graduate degree but will be calculated in the overall GPA. A maximum of four advisor approved units may be transferred from another institution with advisor approval.
Residence RequirementsA candidate must complete at least 26 of the 30 units for the M.Eng. at USC.
Time LimitThe time limit for completing the M.Eng. is five years from the first course until all requirements are met. An extension of up to two additional years may be granted by the Dean of the School of Engineering.
Admission to CandidacyNo later than the beginning of the last semester of course work for the degree, the student must file for candidacy. This is a separate and distinct step that sets forth the entire academic program fulfilling the degree requirements and is used as a working basis for awarding the degree.
Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy ProgramStudents in the M.Eng. program may still elect to undertake a Doctor of Philosophy program. A regular application for admission and supporting documents must be filed with the Office of Admission. Courses applied toward the M.Eng. may also be applied toward the course requirements of the Ph.D.
General Requirements for the Engineer DegreeThe Engineer degree is awarded under jurisdiction of the School of Engineering. This degree is granted upon completion of a comprehensive curriculum beyond the general course requirements for the Master of Science and after successfully passing an engineer's qualifying examination. The required curriculum is intended to give students broad preparation in two areas of engineering, together with a minimum number of units in these areas to prepare them for the interdisciplinary nature of the many complex problems they will encounter in practice today. The degree is intended also to fulfill a growing need by industry for students with comprehensive advanced engineering training, but not necessarily with the research orientation developed by the Ph.D. student.
The Engineer degree is a terminal degree. Students who complete the Engineer degree will not be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program.
The Engineer degree is offered in aerospace, chemical, civil, electrical, industrial and systems, mechanical, petroleum engineering and materials science.
PrerequisitesThere are three basic prerequisites for the Engineer Degree Program: a Master of Science degree or completion of 27 units of acceptable course work, application for admission to the School of Engineering and acceptance to the program by the appropriate department.
Course RequirementsThe Engineer degree requires a minimum of 30 units of graduate course work beyond the Master of Science degree; up to six units at the 400 level may be counted at the discretion of the student's guidance committee if the committee finds them necessary for the student's program. The course work must form a balanced program of study leading to a definite concentration in two fields of engineering, a minimum of 12 units in one field, nine in another; nine units are elective and may be taken outside the School of Engineering, but must be acceptable for graduate credit. The distribution of course work will be governed by the student's guidance committee and should be considered in conjunction with the course work done for the Master of Science degree. A candidate for the Engineer degree may substitute a project under the supervision of a faculty member for six units of course work. In order to have the project credited toward the degree, the student must register in 690 during the course of the project; total 690 registration should be six units. A student wishing to work on a project must make arrangements with a member of the faculty to supervise and evaluate work, and obtain the approval of the committee chair prior to completing more than 15 units of course work. In many cases the project may be related to the candidate's work outside the university but must still be supervised by a faculty member. Distribution of the course work should take into account the nature of the project.
Grade Point Average RequirementA minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be earned on all course work applied toward the Engineer degree. This average must also be achieved on all 400-level and above course work attempted at USC beyond the bachelor's degree. A minimum grade of C (2.0) is required in a course to receive graduate credit. Work graded C- or below is not acceptable for subject or unit credit toward any graduate degree. Transfer units count as credit (CR) toward the Engineer degree and are not computed in the grade point average.
Residence RequirementsA candidate must complete the last four units of course work at USC. At least 26 units must be taken in residency at USC. A maximum of four transfer units not counted toward a previous degree may be allowed with advisor approval.
Guidance CommitteeAfter being granted graduate standing the student must form a guidance committee. The committee is made up of three full-time faculty members who are specialists in the student's areas of concentration, with at least two from the major department. Forms for appointment of the committee are available from the Graduate Study Office. The student is responsible for finding a faculty member from one area of concentration who will act as the chair of the guidance committee. The chair will assist in selection of the other members. Advisement of the student after formation of the committee will be by the committee chair.
Qualifying ExaminationThe student must satisfactorily complete an engineer's qualifying examination administered by his or her guidance committee. This examination will cover both areas of concentration and will consist of at least one written and one oral examination. This examination is normally taken during the last semester of course work toward the degree. Students who choose to take the examination in the semester following the completion of course requirements may do so up until the end of the third week of classes without registering. After that date they must register for GRSC 800 to maintain continuous enrollment in the program. Results of the examination are reported to the Graduate Study Office and forwarded to the Office of Academic Records and Registrar.
Transfer CreditsFour units of graduate course work may be transferred from an accredited institution to be applied toward the Engineer degree. Transfer work must have been done after receipt of the Master of Science degree and must be approved by the guidance committee.
Reserving Course CreditA student who receives the Master of Science degree at USC may reserve a limited number of units taken prior to the receipt of the Master of Science degree for credit toward the Engineer degree. To reserve credit, the course must have been taken during the last semester as a Master of Science candidate, not used toward the Master of Science degree, be acceptable to the student's committee, and approved by petition to the graduate study committee of the School of Engineering.
Time LimitThe student must complete all requirements within five calendar years.
Admission to CandidacyAfter satisfactorily completing the qualifying examination, and no later than the beginning of the last semester of course work, the student must file for candidacy. This is a separate and distinct step which sets forth the entire academic program fulfilling the degree requirements and is used as a working basis for awarding the degree.
Twelve Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs are offered: aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, engineering (environmental engineering), industrial and systems engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, and petroleum engineering.
Foreign Language RequirementsThere is no foreign language requirement for engineering majors.
Course RequirementsSatisfactory completion of at least 60 units of approved graduate level course work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 is required of all Ph.D. students in engineering. A minimum grade of C (2.0) is required in a course to receive graduate credit. Work graded C- or below is not acceptable for subject or unit credit toward any graduate degree. Undergraduate prerequisites and graduate course work will be required in accordance with the regulations of the major department or program and the recommendations of the student's guidance committee. Transfer units are subject to approval by the Degree Progress Department (for course work taken at institutions in the U.S.) or by International Admission (for course work taken at institutions outside the U.S.) and by the guidance committee.
Screening ProcedureThe original admission decision admitting a student to the Ph.D. program is based on the student's previous academic records, Graduate Record Examinations scores and other evidence of scholastic abilities indicating promise for completing graduate studies. It is also a prerequisite that all Ph.D. students successfully complete the screening procedures designated by the department. These usually consist of a written and an oral examination administered by the faculty. Students who fail the screening procedure will be advised that they are not recommended to continue in the Ph.D. program and that any additional work may not be counted toward the degree.
Guidance CommitteeThe Ph.D. student's program of study is supervised by the guidance committee, which is formed immediately after passing the screening examination. The committee consists of five tenure-track faculty members, four from the major department and one from outside the department representing the minor area. Reporting the screening procedures and forming the guidance committee are accomplished by filing the appropriate forms obtainable in the Graduate School Student Services Office, Grace Ford Salvatori Hall 315.
Qualifying ExaminationsThe qualifying examinations are taken during the last semester of the second year of graduate study or, at the latest, in the fifth semester or equivalent. The Request to take the Qualifying Examinations must be filed in the semester prior to taking the examinations and at least 30 days before beginning the examinations. The examinations are intended to determine the extent of the student's knowledge in basic science and engineering areas as well as the ability to do original and scholarly research. The guidance committee decides the nature of the qualifying examinations (both oral and written portions) according to the policies applicable in each department.
The examinations may be scheduled at any time during the semester provided that all members of the committee are available to administer them. All portions of the examinations must be completed within 60 days. After passing the qualifying examinations the Ph.D. student is admitted to candidacy by the Dean of Graduate Studies and the dissertation committee is established. After this step students will normally engage in at least one year of full-time graduate study and research on campus.