University of Southern California
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Undergraduate Education

The USC Core/General Education

All undergraduates must satisfy the USC Core, which includes general education, writing, and diversity requirements. The general education requirements are met with coursework provided by the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; the same is true for the lower-division writing requirement. The upper-division writing requirement and the diversity requirement may be satisfied with courses offered by USC College or by some of the university’s professional schools.

General Education Requirements

In the USC general education program, students learn to think critically and to understand the present in historical and cultural perspective -- to become generally well educated people. To achieve this goal, students in all undergraduate programs must complete one course that satisfies each of the following categories:

I. Western Cultures and Traditions
II. Global Cultures and Traditions
III. Scientific Inquiry

Case Studies:
IV. Science and Its Significance
V. Arts and Letters
VI. Social Issues

For more information about the general education requirements, see the course list and the description of the program.

Writing Requirement

In their writing classes, students learn to think critically, to build sound arguments, and to express their ideas with clarity. The writing requirement comprises two courses; most students meet this requirement with:

Lower-division requirement:
WRIT 140 Writing and Critical Reasoning

Upper-division requirement:
WRIT 340 Advanced Writing

Certain groups of students may meet this requirement with other coursework. For more information on the writing requirement, see The Writing Program.

Diversity Requirement

The diversity requirement is designed to provide undergraduate students with the background knowledge and analytical skills to enable them to understand and respect differences between groups of people and to understand the potential resources and/or conflicts arising from human differences on the contemporary American and international scene. Students will increasingly need to grapple with issues arising from different dimensions of human diversity such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender, language, race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, and social class. These dimensions and their social and cultural consequences will have important ramifications for students’ personal, professional, and intellectual lives, both for the time they are students and in later life. Students will gain exposure to analytical frameworks within which these issues are to be understood and addressed, including social, political, cultural, ethical, and public policy analyses. It is the university’s goal to prepare students through the study of human differences for responsible citizenship in an increasingly pluralistic and diverse society.

Course Requirement
The diversity requirement must be met by all students who began college at USC or elsewhere fall 1993 or later. It can be met by passing any one course from the following list of courses carrying the designation “m” for multiculturalism. In addition to fulfilling the diversity requirement, some of the courses on the list also meet general education requirements; others also meet major requirements; still others meet only the diversity requirement but count for elective unit credit. Courses that meet the diversity requirement are listed here.

Core Multimedia Program

USC undergraduates can learn to author multimedia projects designed to enrich their classes in the USC Core curriculum. MDA 140 Practicum in Multimedia Authorship is affiliated with courses that meet the requirements for General Education Categories I, II, IV and the diversity requirement. Participating students enroll in a designated core class and a 2-unit practicum that uses the content of the core class as an inspiration and source for multimedia authorship. Students explore questions of representation and visual literacy, multimedia scholarship and the expressive potential of multimedia as a critical and creative tool. For more information, visit