Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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Graduate Degrees


Applicants for admission to the Master of Health Administration; Executive Master of Health Administration; Executive Master of Leadership; Master of Planning; Master of Planning and Development Studies; Master of Public Administration; Master of Public Policy; Master of Public Policy and Management; Master of Real Estate Development; Doctor of Policy, Planning, and Development; Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Management; and Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning and Development must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited educational institution. In recognition of the increasing diversity of capabilities required as the theories and practices of policy, planning, and development evolve, students from a variety of undergraduate and graduate backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Applicants for admission will be expected to have completed a broad range of undergraduate courses in addition to their academic major or professional concentration. Generally, this will be reflected in completion of courses from the following fields: English; economics (basic theory); political science, history or sociology; physical or natural science; art or philosophy. In addition, mathematics (algebra, calculus, probability theory) and a course in statistics are strongly recommended.

Application for Admission

Admission to graduate programs in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development is highly selective and competitive. Preference is given to those with a record of high educational achievement and personal qualities favoring success in the fields of planning or development. Applicants must have achieved superior grades during undergraduate and any graduate education. A grade point average of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) is normally expected as well as satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). The GRE and GMAT are neither accepted nor required for the D.P.P.D. or executive M.H.A. programs. Students applying for admission to the Master of Planning, Master of Planning and Development Studies or the Master of Real Estate Development program may also submit either the Graduate Management Administration Test (GMAT) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). In exceptional cases, an applicant who has not met these scholarship requirements may be admitted with conditions of admission.

For specific information on admission requirements and application procedures, contact the School of Policy, Planning, and Development, Office of Recruitment and Admissions, at (213) 740-0550. Certificate in Transportation Systems applicants should apply to the Viterbi School of Engineering. For additional information, contact the school at (213) 740-0587.

Transfer Credit

The Degree Progress Department determines whether work done elsewhere is available for consideration for credit toward the USC degree. That office requires official transcripts of all course work done before entering USC. A Graduate Transfer Credit Statement of these official transcripts, done after a student has been admitted to regular status at USC, will indicate which units are available for transfer. These courses do not apply toward the degree unless, and until, the student’s major department approves and submits transfer credit to the Degree Progress Department in the Office of Academic Records and Registrar.

Application of any available transfer credits toward a graduate degree will be determined by the director of the particular degree program, based on the semester units available for transfer as shown on the Transfer Credit Statement.

These general guidelines are followed by the admissions evaluator and by faculty members: (1) the work must be completed at an accredited graduate school; (2) the grade must be B or better; (3) the work must be a fair and reasonable equivalent to current USC course work at the graduate level which fits into the logical program for the degree; (4) the units are not more than seven years old at the time of admission to their master’s program (or 10 years old for a doctoral program); (5) the units must reflect current knowledge in the field; and (6) the work must be completed prior to admission to the USC program.

USC does not give transfer credit for life experience, credit by examination, noncredit extension courses or thesis course supervision.

Please consult with your degree director before enrolling in courses outside of USC. In many of SPPD’s master’s degree programs, only courses taken outside of USC prior to admission may be applied to your degree.

Waiver of Course Content

The school recognizes that some applicants may have covered the material contained in core courses or courses required for a particular specialization. Under these circumstances, one particular course requirement may be waived, allowing the student to complete a more advanced course in the same area. Students who have a background in a particular area of study may be allowed to substitute other courses. In these situations students do not receive unit credit but are permitted to take course work which does not repeat earlier academic experiences.

Waiver of content is usually given only in the case of previous academic study of the subject, not in the case of experiential background in the area.

Students who believe they are eligible for content waiver decisions must petition the faculty of the school, providing evidence of the previous work through transcripts, syllabi and other pertinent material. Contact the school’s Student Affairs Office for information.