University of Southern California
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Academic Policies


Registration Procedures and Current Course Offerings

The Fall, Spring and Summer Schedules of Classes contain details describing registration procedures, including the Web registration process, courses offered, faculty listings, and time and meeting place of classes. The Schedule of Classes is available at the Office of Academic Records and Registrar, Office of College Advising, Topping Student Center, and Leavey Library during registration each semester and on USCweb ( It is recommended that students register as early as possible by use of Web registration to save time and avoid inconvenience. Permits to Register may be obtained at the Office of Academic Records and Registrar in July for new students entering in the fall semester and in December for students entering in the spring semester. Registration appointment times and permit to register information are available to continuing students in October and March on USCweb ( Open registration for all students continues the week prior to the start of the semester.

Enrollment Status

A student is considered to be enrolled full time in a semester when the student has registered for 12 or more units as an undergraduate student, eight or more units as a master's level student or six or more units as a doctoral level student. All graduate assistants are classified as full-time students during the semester(s) of their appointments as long as they are enrolled for the minimum units required for their assistantship. The number of courses for which a student has registered is not a basis for determining full-time enrollment status. Units taken for audit do not apply to enrollment status calculation. Other than units, there are additional circumstances which confer full-time enrollment status. These include enrollment in: 594 Master's Thesis, 794 Doctoral Dissertation, GRSC 800 Studies for the Qualifying Examination and GRSC 810 Studies for the Master's Examination, as well as other courses and programs as determined by the Dean of Academic Records and Registrar. Verification of student enrollment status is provided by the Office of Academic Records and Registrar (JHH Lobby), Third party requests for degree and enrollment information are provided by Credentials Inc,

Extra Units

A normal academic load is 16 units per semester for undergraduate students and 8 units (500-level) for graduate students. The university recommends that undergraduates register for no more than 18 units and graduates for no more than 16 units. Permission to enroll in more than 20 units requires written approval from the school or home department.

Declaration of Major

All students must record their primary major in the Office of Academic Records and Registrar by the start of their junior year (on completion of 64 semester units). All major and minor programs of study should be recorded in the Office of Academic Records and Registrar three semesters before the intended graduation date. Many academic departments can also perform changes of major for their students.

Declaration of Minor

Application for a minor must be made to the department or professional school offering the minor, and an appropriate signature must appear on a Change/Addition of a Major or Minor Degree Objective form.

Classification and Numbering of Courses

The first digit of the course number indicates the year level of the course: 000 -- preparatory courses or non-credit, 100 -- first undergraduate year, 200 -- second undergraduate year, 300 -- third and fourth undergraduate years without graduate credit, 400 -- third and fourth undergraduate years with graduate credit for graduate students, 500 -- first graduate year, 600 -- second graduate year, 700 -- third graduate year.

Upper division courses (300- and 400-level courses) are generally more sophisticated and demanding. They may have prerequisites or other limitations on enrollment and are usually intended for students who have some preparation, either in the specific discipline or more generally in academic study. They tend to concentrate more narrowly and intensively in scope than lower division courses in the same discipline.

The lower case letters ab, abcd, etc., indicate the semesters of a course more than one semester in length. In such courses the a semester is prerequisite to the b semester, and so on. Courses designated g are available for general education credit. Courses designated m for multiculturalism meet the diversity requirement. Capital L indicates that all or part of the work is supervised laboratory or other work. Courses designated x are restricted in some manner. The course description will specify the restriction. Courses designated with a z are for repeated registrations for 0 credit, for which two units of tuition are charged.

The following are not available for graduate credit: courses numbered 000-399 and 490, courses designated g (general education), Senior Seminar courses, courses designated x where the description specifically excludes graduate credit.

Unit Value

The unit value of courses is indicated for each term of the course by a numeral in parentheses after the course title. All courses are on the semester unit basis. It is the student's responsibility to verify with an instructor correct units registered in any variable unit course. If the units are incorrect, the student must correct them by processing a Change of Program at the Office of Academic Records and Registrar.

Repeating Courses

Ordinarily, courses may not be repeated for credit. For courses which may be repeated for credit, the maximum amount of credit is indicated after the unit value.

Appropriate Course Enrollment

It is recommended that students register in courses appropriate to their academic standing -- lower division students in courses below 300, upper division students in courses below 500, graduate students in courses numbered 500 or higher.

Preparatory Courses

Preparatory courses (course numbers below 100) impart the minimum skills required for college-level work. Students completing preparatory course work may receive unit credit toward enrollment status but do not receive degree credit.


Prerequisites are courses and/or specific background required of students prior to advancing to the next course in a prescribed sequence of courses. Passage of appropriate examinations or consent of the academic unit offering the course will waive prerequisites. However, a prerequisite course within the same discipline taken after the higher level course has been passed will not be available for unit or grade point credit.


Corequisites are courses which must be taken at the same time as, or passed prior to, the designated course. Passage of the appropriate examinations or consent of the academic unit offering the course will waive corequisites.

Recommended Preparation

Recommended preparation indicates course work or specific background that is advisable but not mandatory in preparing the student for the designated course.

Guaranteeing a Space in a Class

Registration in a class does not by itself guarantee a space in that class. An instructor may replace any student who without prior consent does not attend these class sessions: (a) the first two class sessions of the semester, or (b) the first class session of the semester for once-a-week classes. It is then the student's responsibility to withdraw officially from the course. Any class added, whether by Web registration or in person, after the first week of classes should receive the approval of the instructor.

Pass/No Pass Enrollment Option

During the first three weeks of the semester (or the third week equivalent for any session that is scheduled for less than 15 weeks), students may elect to take a course numbered below 500 on a pass/no pass basis. Graduate students must receive department approval to enroll in a graduate course on a pass/no pass basis. Refer to the Pass/No Pass Graded Work section, (undergraduate) or (graduate), for details on degree credit restrictions on courses taken on a pass/no pass basis. Students should consult their academic advisor before enrolling in any course on a pass/no pass basis. To enroll, students must complete the Pass/No Pass Request for Change of Program; enrollment is not available by Web registration.

Credit/No Credit Courses

Certain courses have been authorized by the University Curriculum Committee to be graded Credit/No Credit. Students may not enroll in a course on a Credit/No Credit basis unless the course is listed as being offered as Credit/No Credit.

Courses Numbered 490x and 390

Many academic units offer courses numbered 490x and 390. These courses are offered on a letter-graded basis only and carry certain restrictions which are uniformly applied throughout the university.

490x Directed Research (2-8, max 8)
Courses numbered 490x are open to students who have demonstrated the ability to do independent work in the discipline. The courses require consent of instructor and a written contract of course requirements signed by both the instructor and department chair. They are not available for graduate credit and are not open to students with less than 2.0 GPA overall or in any restricted academic status (such as probation, Structured Curriculum Program [SCP] and the like). A student may accumulate a maximum of eight units of 490x in any one department and 16 units toward the degree.

390 Special Problems (1-4, max 4)
Courses numbered 390 are available only to seniors in their last semester who are made aware of a unit shortage after the enrollment period for that semester has passed. Students notified of a unit shortage prior to the close of the enrollment period are expected to register for regularly scheduled classes. Enrollment in a 390 class is available only by petition to the Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures (CAPP). A 390 is a supervised, individual studies course. The student and instructor must prepare a written contract of course requirements for presentation with the petition to CAPP. The petition must be recommended by the dean of the academic unit in which the student is seeking a degree. Evidence must be provided that the unit shortage was the result of circumstances beyond the student's control. Credit for only one 390 registration is accepted toward the student's baccalaureate degree.

Audited Courses

Students may elect to audit courses during the first three weeks of the semester (or the third week equivalent for any session that is scheduled for less than 15 weeks). A course taken for audit (V) will be assessed at the current tuition rate. A course taken for audit (V) will not receive credit and will not appear on the USC transcript or grade report. Changing to audit is a process that is not available by Web registration.

Limited Status Enrollment

Limited status enrollment allows persons who have not been admitted to the university to take a limited number of courses at USC.

Eligibility for Limited Status Enrollment
Students who have not yet completed a bachelor's degree are not eligible for limited status enrollment if they have been denied admission to USC or if they have been academically disqualified or suspended from any community college, college or university.

At the post-baccalaureate level, limited status enrollment is not available to students who have been denied admission to the department offering the course unless prior approval is granted by the department and the appropriate dean.

International Students
Limited status enrollment does not fulfill requirements for issuing a student visa. International students (students studying or wishing to study in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa) must have the approval of the Office of Admission (JHH 218A) before registering for classes.

Restrictions on Limited Status Enrollment
A pre-baccalaureate limited status student may not register for more than 16 units; a post-baccalaureate limited status student may not register for more than 12 units.

Exceptions to this policy will be considered by the Office of Admission for USC employees and for post-baccalaureate students who submit a disclaimer of intent to pursue a USC degree.

Prior approval of the department offering the course is required for all limited status enrollment. If a limited status student is subsequently admitted to regular standing, no more than the first 16 undergraduate or the first 12 graduate units taken through limited status enrollment can be applied toward a degree. Individual exceptions must be approved by the dean of the degree-conferring unit.

Dropping and Adding Courses

All such changes must be processed by Web registration or through the Registration Department. Failure to withdraw officially will result in the mark of "UW," which is computed in the GPA as zero (0) grade points. A student may withdraw from a course without academic penalty during the first 12 weeks of the semester. If the course is dropped within the first three weeks, it does not appear on the academic transcript; if the course is dropped within weeks four through 12, it will be recorded with a mark of "W." No course may be dropped after the end of the twelfth week. A student may not withdraw from a course in which he or she committed or was accused of committing an academic integrity violation. After registering, it is the student's responsibility to withdraw officially from a course if he or she decides not to continue in a course. Courses may be added only during the first three weeks of the semester.

Registration in Graduate-Level Courses by Undergraduate Students

Exceptional undergraduate students may enroll in a graduate course. In order to do so, students must receive approval of the instructor. Students must have prior approval from the chair of the major department to count the course for undergraduate credit or audit the course. The student's major department will notify the Degree Progress Department regarding the manner in which the graduate course will be used. In no case will a student be allowed to enroll in and receive credit for a graduate course if the student's cumulative USC GPA is below 2.0.

USC-UCLA Cross-Registration for Graduate Students

As part of an academic resource-sharing program, USC graduate students have an opportunity to take a portion of their program at UCLA. This cross-registration opportunity is only available for courses or seminars not offered at USC and only to selected students. For further information on requirements, contact the Resource Sharing Coordinator in the USC Graduate School (Grace Ford Salvatori Hall 315).

Approval for each course taken through this program must be obtained on a cross-registration form available in the USC Graduate School. Students must obtain signed approvals from their USC department chair, the UCLA course instructor, the UCLA Graduate Dean (or resource sharing coordinator) and, finally, the USC Vice Provost for Academic Programs (or Graduate School administrative coordinator). Completed forms must be returned to the USC Graduate School.

Credit (CR) will be granted only for work completed with a grade of B (3.0) or higher. The student's transcript will show that the course was taken at UCLA and also record the name of the course. Units attempted at UCLA are on the quarter system. USC students who complete course work at UCLA will have those units converted to 0.67 semester units for each unit completed at UCLA. Library privileges will be extended at UCLA but other privileges or services cannot be offered.

Conversion of Non-Degree Option Course Work

A student may file a Request for NDO Course Conversion form with the Registration Department to have USC courses previously taken under a non-degree option (NDO) converted to unit credit and thus appear on the USC transcript. Such a request must include all NDO courses previously attempted; requests for partial conversion will be denied. Conversion for credit requires retroactive registration in the term in which the course was attempted, including payment of the tuition differential between the NDO rate originally paid and the tuition rate in effect at the time of conversion. As in all USC courses taken in Limited Status, converted courses may not be considered for degree credit at USC unless the student is formally admitted to full standing at the university. Upon formal admission, only the first 16 NDO units taken that are available for credit toward the intended degree may be applied for baccalaureate credit, and only the first 12 NDO units taken that are available for credit toward the intended degree may be applied toward a graduate degree. Degree credit for units beyond the first 16 undergraduate or 12 graduate available units will not be allowed. All courses converted will appear on the USC transcript and will be included in the calculation of the USC GPA, regardless of whether they are being applied specifically toward the degree being pursued.

Permission to Register at Another Institution

Undergraduate students who wish to take course work at another institution while continuing as enrolled students at USC will be required to obtain various levels of permission to do so. For details, see the Course Work Taken Elsewhere section for undergraduates and graduates.