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Frequently Asked Questions



Application Process

Academic Life

Honors Programs

Transferring Credit to USC Dornsife


Application Process

How can I get an application for admission?

We encourage you to complete your application for admission online. USC uses the Common Application; click here to access the Common App.


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What are the application deadlines?

The application deadlines for Fall 2016 are:

  • December 1, 2015: Freshman Application Deadline for Scholarship Consideration
  • January 15, 2016: Freshman Application Deadline
  • February 1, 2016: Transfer Application Deadline for Scholarship and Regular Consideration


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When will I hear from you regarding admission?

All freshman applicants who submit a complete application by the deadline will be mailed an admission decision by April 1, 2016. All transfer applicants who submit a complete application by the deadline will be mailed an admission decision or a request for spring semester grades by June 1, 2016. USC does not have an early decision or early action program. Only notification from the Office of Admission constitutes an offer of admission.


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Are admission interviews required? What if I can't make it to the USC campus but still want to interview?

Admission interviews are not required at USC. We offer interviews as an opportunity for freshman applicants to meet members of our staff one-on-one. Interviews are not available for transfer students.

Should you choose to interview, we will consider the information provided during your interview as a supplemental part of your application. This information assists us in understanding your academic and extracurricular interests and establishing what type of contribution you can make at USC. Students who do not interview are not disadvantaged during the application process. We will simply use the information provided in your paper or online application to understand your interests and contributions.

Interviews with members of the USC Dornsife Admission office are available only for high school seniors both on-campus and in selected cities around country from early September through mid-December. Appointments are required. Interview spaces are limited and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you are interested in signing up for an on-campus interview with the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, click here.

If you are interested in signing up for an off-campus interview, click here.


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What happened to the Baccalaureate/MD Progam?

Following an extensive evaluation, a university-wide decision has been reached to discontinue the Baccalaureate/MD program at the University of Southern California. We no longer have a program at USC which involves early or guaranteed acceptance to the USC Keck School of Medicine.

When the program was created over 20 years ago, it provided health-related involvement opportunities and advising for a small group of students. We have now progressed to our ultimate goal of opening a comprehensive Dornsife-Keck Pre-Health Services Center which provides involvement opportunities and advisement for ALL of our pre-health students, rather than just a few selected students. We will continue our close working relationships with some of the top researchers and scientists in the medical fields and will be able to provide MORE students with access to these selective opportunities.

The Dornsife-Keck Pre-Health Center includes a team of full-time professional academic advisors who assist students in exploring all opportunities related to careers in the health professions. The Dornsife-Keck Pre-Health Center also provides continuity with the original design for our Baccalaureate/MD Program to ensure that students can select from a wide variety of majors in USC Dornsife College, while staying on track with the courses necessary for successful application to health professional schools.

Many undergraduate students discover new academic interests, personal passions, and co-curricular commitments during their years in the USC Dornsife College. When combined with our rigorous academic courses and collaborative learning environments, these activities make students highly successful in the application processes to medical schools and other health-related professions.


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Academic Life

Is it really possible to combine different majors and minors?

Yes! USC Dornsife offers 70 majors and over 70 minors, and we encourage students to add a minor or a second major to their academic programs. You will enhance your overall academic experience and become a more well-rounded and informed individual. In addition, by combining diverse interests in your academic program, you will broaden your knowledge base and strengthen your skills in considering a single issue from multiple points of view. In the past, students have combined academic areas like Art History and Chemistry, Economics and Philosophy, and East Asian Languages & Cultures and Natural Science, to name a few. Every semester, you'll meet with academic advisors from each major and/or minor you declare to ensure you are covering all of your requirements.


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Is it possible to have a major in USC Dornsife and a minor in another school at USC?

Yes!  Many of our students have diverse academic interests and decide to supplement their major in USC Dornsife with a minor in one of USC's 18 professional schools to satisfy their personal and professional goals. In past years, we have seen students combine a Psychology major with minors in Business and Philosophy; a Political Science major with a Piano Performance minor; and a Biological Sciences major with minors in Dance and Sociology. Every semester, you'll meet with academic advisors from each major and/or minor you declare to ensure you are covering all of your requirements.


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Is it really alright to be an undecided/open major?

Of course! We know that it may be difficult for you to narrow your academic interests at this point in your life, and we also know that your perfect major may be in an area which you haven't yet encountered. We have a team of academic advisors who meet with current USC students who are undecided at least once a semester. These knowledgeable staff members can help you navigate various major possibilities and discover the major that will fit your personal and professional interests. We recommend, however, that you declare a major by the end of your Sophomore year at USC so you will have time to complete all of your major requirements and graduate on-time.

If you are a transfer student applicant, it is recommended that you select a major before transferring. Depending on the number of academic units you have already completed, being undecided may delay your graduation date, especially if you will be transferring with 64 units already completed. Being truly undecided, however, will not negatively impact how we view your application for admission.


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What is the average class size? Who teaches?

The average class size is 26 students, and the overall student to faculty ratio is 9:1. Professors or lecturers teach all courses at USC; teaching assistants do not teach classes. Teaching assistants lead discussion sessions or labs to supplement lectures given by professors.


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What are the opportunities for undergraduate research?

USC is known for its excellence in both teaching and research, and our university has made a name for itself among some of the top research universities in the country without compromising its commitment to undergraduate education. To that end, USC offers extensive opportunities for undergraduate research from basic to applied research in all academic disciplines. Individual academic departments often advertise research positions to undergraduates through academic advisors.  Students who engage in their own original scholarly research can receive an honors designation at graduation or apply for special recognition as a Discovery Scholar. The dean's office within USC Dornsife provides funding of up to $1,000 for research projects conducted in the fall or spring through SOAR (Student Opportunities for Academic Research), and up to $3,000 for research projects conducted in the summer through SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fund). In addition, we send students away from campus to conduct on-site research in global problems through our Problems Without Passports program.

To learn more about undergraduate research opportunities at USC Dornsife, click here.


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What kinds of study abroad programs are available?

The USC Office of Overseas Studies provides students with extensive opportunities to study abroad as undergraduates. There are over 50 semester-long and year-long study abroad programs in 30 countries. There are programs offered in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Russia, South Africa and Taiwan, to name a few. Programs vary in cost, and all USC financial aid, including loans, grants, and scholarships, is applicable to USC-sponsored overseas studies programs. Not all programs require foreign language skills; in fact, there are 17 programs that have absolutely no foreign language requirement at all. Students can study abroad after the completion of two semesters at USC, and must have at least sophomore status.

To learn more about Overseas Studies, click here.


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Honors Programs

How can I apply to the honors program?

Rather than having one single honors program, USC Dornsife offers a number of different honors opportunities so that students can choose how they would like to challenge themselves within the academic curriculum.  

Thematic Option
Through Thematic Option (T.O.), students engage in honors alternative to the undergraduate general education curriculum. T.O. courses are organized in an interdisciplinary manner under themes rather than by discipline, and the small, challenging courses are both reading and writing intensive.  Students are generally invited to apply to T.O., although any motivated and dedicated student who is interested in T.O. may apply to the program. Applications are made available in the spring, after students have been admitted to USC, and are due well before the May 1st decision deadline.  For more information on Thematic Option, click here.

Freshman Science Honors Program
Through the Freshman Science Honors Program, natural science students take advanced versions of the General Chemistry and Introductory Biology courses in a small community of 60 students. Students are generally invited to apply to Freshman Science Honors. Applications are made available in the spring, after students have been admitted to USC, and are due well before the May 1st decision deadline. For more information on Freshman Science Honors, click here.

Resident Honors Program
Through the Resident Honors Program, mature, high-achieving high school juniors skip their senior year of high school and attend USC a year early. Applications for Fall 2015 are due by December 1, 2014. For more information on the Resident Honors Program, click here.

Departmental honors
Students may also engage in honors programs through their majors. Through many of these programs, students complete a formal research project by the end of their senior year and receive a departmental honors designation on their transcripts. For more information, click here.


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Transferring Credit to USC Dornsife

I am interested in transferring to USC; what classes are transferable from my college, and what classes should I take?

USC has articulation agreements with most two-year accredited institutions in California. An articulation agreement contains a list of courses that will transfer to USC for either general credit or as an equivalency for a specific USC class or requirement. You can use articulation agreements to help you decide which classes you should enroll in as you apply to transfer to USC.  

We have articulation histories with a limited number of four-year accredited institutions in southern California. These articulation histories represent course work which USC will accept in transfer to meet course credit, equivalencies, and general education. The histories have been developed without assistance or input from the universities and were developed for the sole use of USC students. Courses not listed in the histories have not yet been reviewed for transfer and in some cases may be appropriate for transfer.

To assist you in selecting courses for particular major programs, we also offer transfer planning guides. By selecting a particular transfer college and a particular major, the transfer planning guide displays which transfer courses taken during the current academic year at your transfer college will satisfy those requirements.

To view articulation agreements and articulation histories, click here. To review information on applying for transfer to USC, click here. To access the transfer planning guides, click here.

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How can I get more information about majors and minors in USC Dornsife?

Information on each of the majors and minors in USC Dornsife can be found on our website. If you have further questions about any of our major or minor programs, please contact the Dornsife Office of Admission at or (213)740-5930.


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What advanced credit can I receive for my Advanced Placement (AP) test scores?  

USC awards 4 units of elective credit for most AP examinations with a score of 4 or 5. A maximum of 32 units will be granted for AP exam credit.

In addition to elective credit, scores of 4 or 5 for certain exams will satisfy the following Core requirements:


  • Arts: Art History
  • Life Sciences: Biology
  • Physical Sciences: Chemistry or Physics (any)
  • Quantiative Reasoning: Calculus (any), Economics (any) or Statistics
  • Traditions and Historical Foundtains: European History, US History, or World History
  • Foreign Language requirement: Chinese Language and Culture, French Language, French Literature, German Language, Italian Language and Culture, Japanese Language and Culture, Spanish Language, or Spanish Literature.

Some departments may use AP scores of 4 or 5 to waive prerequisites or degree requirements as shown below. However, students will receive academic advisement and discuss whether it would be wise to waive a particular prerequisite.  Depending on your individual circumstances (e.g. major/minor requirements, post-baccalaureate plans, scholastic strengths and weaknesses), it could be to your advantage to take a prerequisite instead of waiving it. This is especially true for students interested in a health professional graduate program who hope to waive BISC 120, BISC 220, or CHEM 105a. You will be able to discuss your options further with academic advisors both during and after summer orientation.

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What advanced credit can I receive for my International Baccalaureate (IB) test scores?  

USC grants either: (1) 20 units of credit to students who earn the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a score of 30 or higher, or (2) 6 semester units of credit for each score of 5, 6 or 7 on the IB Higher Level exams, up to a maximum of four exams, whichever is higher. No credit is earned for the Standard Level exams. Advanced Placement (AP) credit can be earned in addition to IB credit for a maximum of 32 units. However, credit cannot be earned for AP and IB exams on the same topic.

Elective credit is awarded by the Articulation Office upon receipt of official IB scores. In addition, a number of IB exams may fulfill USC subject requirements. Click here for information on USC credit for specific IB courses. Some departments may use IB scores for placement purposes, such as waiving a course prerequisite. Also, your major department may use IB scores to waive certain degree requirements. Your academic advisor will provide you with assistance at orientation.


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