University of Southern California
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Undergraduate Degrees

Common Requirements

Certain general requirements are common to all undergraduate curricula for Bachelor of Science degrees in Engineering. These are as follows:

Total Units

A minimum total of 128 acceptable units is required to earn the Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Exceptions are: 130 units; Biomedical/Electrical Engineering (combined major), 136 units; Biomedical/Mechanical Engineering (combined major), 133 units; Chemical Engineering, 132 units; Chemical Engineering (Biochemical Engineering), 136 units; Chemical Engineering (Environmental Engineering), 135 units; Chemical Engineering (Petroleum Engineering), 136 units; Civil Engineering, 131 units; Civil Engineering (Building Science), 135 units; Civil Engineering (Construction Engineering), 131 units; Civil Engineering (Environmental Engineering), 130 units; Computer Engineering and Computer Science, 132 units; Electrical Engineering, 131 units; Environmental Engineering, 132 units; Industrial and Systems Engineering, 129 units; and Mechanical Engineering (Petroleum Engineering), 131 units.

Not more than four units may be physical education activity courses, provided the department allows it in the program.

General Education Requirements

The university's general education program provides a coherent, integrated introduction to the breadth of knowledge you will need to consider yourself (and to be considered by other people) a generally well-educated person. This program requires six courses in different categories, plus writing and diversity requirements, which are described in detail in the General Education Program section. In addition, students pursuing a degree in computer science must meet the foreign language requirement.

The Provost has allowed an exception to the rules governing the general education program for students in the School of Engineering, who may elect to satisfy the requirement for Category IV with a "wild card" course, which may be a second course in Categories I, II or VI, or with a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement U.S. history exam.

Students in the engineering "3-2" program are not required to satisfy general education requirements; these students are understood to have satisfied USC's general education requirements when they have satisfied the general education requirements at their previous institution. All students must, however, complete the WRIT 340 requirement.

Students in aerospace and mechanical engineering complete Social Issues and WRIT 130 in different semesters.

In all other respects, students in the School of Engineering must satisfy the general education requirements as described in the General Education Program section.

Mathematics (16 units minimum)

Sixteen units or more, including three semesters of calculus, are required.

Basic Sciences (12 units minimum)

Twelve units or more of biology, chemistry or physics are required.

Residence Requirement

All students must complete a minimum of 64 units at USC in order to receive a USC degree. In addition, the School of Engineering requires that students complete all upper division units required for the major in residence.

For students in the School of Engineering "3-2" Program, at least 48 units must be earned in courses taken at USC.

Scholarship Requirement in Major Subject

For graduation with a bachelor's degree, a grade point average of C (2.0) or higher is required in all upper division courses taken in the major department including any approved substitutes for these courses taken at USC. Additional scholarship requirements for the various majors are listed under the departmental headings.

Grade Point Requirement

A grade point average of at least 2.0 is required on all course work attempted at USC.

Transfer students must meet these averages, both on residence work attempted and on combined transferred and residence courses attempted.


A student whose overall GPA falls below 2.0 is placed on academic probation. Continued enrollment requires clearance from an academic review counselor.

Each semester, students on academic probation are required to receive academic advisement. Proof of advisement must be filed with the Academic Review Department before any registration requests will be processed. The only acceptable proof of advisement is an official Academic Review Advisement Record signed by the student's academic advisor and a representative from the Engineering Admission and Student Affairs Office. Academic Review Advisement forms may be obtained from Olin Hall of Engineering 106 or Student Administrative Services Building 113.

Students on probation are encouraged to utilize the academic services provided by the Engineering Admission and Student Affairs Office (advisement and free tutoring).

Students on academic probation who do not raise their overall GPA to 2.0 after two semesters of enrollment (excluding summers) will be academically disqualified from the university. However, if a student earns a minimum semester GPA of 2.3 in the second or any subsequent probation semester but has not yet reached an overall 2.0 GPA, the student will not be disqualified and will be allowed to enroll an additional semester.

Petitions for readmission after academic disqualification are initiated by the student through the Academic Review Department. All grade issues (IN, MG, etc.) must be resolved prior to the submission of such a petition. Before petitioning for readmission, a student must complete a minimum of 12 semester units of transferable course work (applicable to USC degree requirements) with a minimum 3.0 GPA. University residency requirements will determine whether these units are accepted as transfer credit.

As readmission to the university is never guaranteed, any indication of strong academic performance beyond the 12 unit minimum would strengthen a readmission petition.

Students must petition for readmission by December 30 for the spring semester and by May 1 for the fall semester. Late petitions will not be accepted. A non-refundable $50 fee must accompany all readmission petitions.

Special Educational Opportunities

Engineering Admission and Student Affairs Office

The Engineering Admission and Student Affairs Office, located in Olin Hall of Engineering (OHE) 106, begins to assist students as soon as they express an interest in engineering and continues working with them until, and in some cases after, they graduate.

The office is not only responsible for working with prospective students, but with continuing students as well. It directs special services and programs, provides a variety of support services, sponsors student organizations, is involved with student government and acts as a liaison with other university offices.

In short, the office enables engineering students to have a successful experience at USC. To help students become acquainted with its services, the office holds an annual welcome reception the week before fall classes where students have an opportunity to meet staff members, faculty and other engineering students.

Center for Engineering Diversity

The Center for Engineering Diversity (CED) provides a variety of services for African-American, Hispanic and Native American students. Freshmen can participate in a summer transition-to-college program ("Summer Bridge") prior to their first semester at USC.

Contact the Center for Engineering Diversity at (213) 740-1999 for more information.

Merit Research Program

Every year, a select group of promising incoming freshmen are invited by faculty to work on projects in their research laboratories. These student researchers actively participate in the development of new technology throughout their undergraduate careers.

In addition to giving students excellent first-hand experience, this program can help offset the cost of education; each participant earns an annual stipend for his or her work. This renewable award is separate from other financial assistance offered by the university.

The student must apply for renewal of his or her award by March 1 of each year.

Engineering Career Services

The School of Engineering provides extensive career services to its students. Students are encouraged to register with Engineering Career Services their first year at USC. By doing so, they will be kept informed of all career-related events such as company information sessions, resume writing workshops, mock interviews, industry luncheons and career fairs. In addition, students are able to participate in the school's extensive on-campus interview program.

USC's School of Engineering attracts employers not only from Southern California, but from across the country. A few of the many companies that have recently hired Co-ops, interns and permanent employees from USC Engineering include: Activision, Accenture, Dolby Labs, GM Hughes Electronics, Harley-Davidson, IBM, Intel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Kiewit Pacific Company, Microsoft, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Parsons, Silicon Graphics,Texas Instruments, Turner Construction Company, Universal Studios Rec. Group and Walt Disney Imagineering.

Cooperative Education
By participating in the Co-op Program, students can earn degree credit and a year's worth of industry work experience before they graduate. Co-op improves students' understanding of the relationship between theory and practice, helps them fine tune their career goals and aids in the acquisition of important engineering skills. Students' work assignments are closely related to their specific degree program and are appropriate to their current academic level.

Participation in the program is open to all full-time undergraduate engineering majors. Students are eligible to apply for Co-op the second semester of their sophomore year. Though the sequence may vary, students typically have two summer work experiences in addition to one semester immediately preceding or following one of the summer sessions. While on assignment, students enroll in a 1-2 unit course (ENGR 395) that aids in the integration of both on-campus and off-campus learning. With departmental approval, credit toward a degree may be earned upon completion of this course.

Engineering Mentoring Program

To ease the transition from high school to college, the School of Engineering offers a freshman mentoring program that pairs students with either a faculty, staff or upper-division student mentor. The program sponsors both academic and social events throughout the year.

3-2 Program

For those students wishing greater depth and breadth in the liberal arts, the School of Engineering has developed agreements with more than 20 liberal arts colleges nationwide in which a student attends a liberal arts institution for his or her first three years of college, pursuing pre-engineering courses in addition to a solid program in the liberal arts. At the end of the three years, upon recommendation from the liberal arts college, the student enters the School of Engineering as a junior and, in two years, completes the remaining requirements for a B.S. degree. After these five years are complete, the student will receive two degrees -- a B.A. from the liberal arts college and a B.S. from USC.

Engineering Overseas Programs

Every summer the School of Engineering sponsors a six-week academic program in either London, Paris, Madrid or other locations which provides students with the opportunity to enroll in engineering and humanities courses, as well as participate in a directed studies project. This program is open to all engineering majors.

Honor Societies

The School of Engineering has established a variety of honor societies to recognize academic excellence, creativity and service. These are: Alpha Pi Mu (Industrial and Systems Engineering), Chi Epsilon (Civil Engineering), Eta Kappa Nu (Electrical Engineering), Omega Chi Epsilon (Chemical Engineering), Omega Rho (Industrial and Systems Engineering), Pi Tau Sigma (Mechanical Engineering), Sigma Gamma Tau (Aerospace Engineering), Tau Beta Pi (Nationwide Honor Society), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (Computer Science).