Curious about what life will be like as a student in the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences? Let us answer your most commonly-asked questions relating to:
USC Dornsife affords students a unique opportunity to experience a true liberal arts education while also enjoying the expansive resources of a major research university. Students in USC Dornsife engage in scholarly debate with their peers, pursue a myriad of diverse interests across the spectrum of academic disciplines, and forge strong teacher-student relationships with Dornsife faculty, all while enjoying the vibrant campus life of USC.
When can I register for classes?
You won't need to register for classes until you come to USC for Orientation this summer, so slow down! Whether at the first orientation session or the last, you will have access to an equal number of class options. Until then, enjoy the good amount of time you have left at your high school.
Will someone help me pick my classes?
We have professional academic advisors specific to each major who work closely with students on a daily basis. Your academic advisor will help you plan your four years in USC Dornsife and answer any questions you have along the way.
Will my academic advisor help me prepare for law or medical school?
In addition to advisors for your major, USC Dornsife also offers advisors for your pre-professional emphasis (Pre-Law, Pre-Health, Pre-Graduate School, etc.). These advisors focus solely on preparing students for Graduate/Professional School by answering questions and announcing special opportunities.
What if I am undecided?
We have advisors who work specifically with undecided students (which, incidentally, is our most popular "major"). They will get to know you, assess your interests, and help you craft a curriculum that exposes you to a wide array of academic disciplines in order to find a major you'll love.
An important part of providing you the opportunity to conduct research is helping you pick a specific topic. We encourage you to get to know your faculty, ask probing questions about their academic interests, and seek knowledge in your own. Once you have found a topic you're passionate about, USC Dornsife will help fund your research. Our Dean's office provides 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). Students also venture off-campus to conduct hands-on research on global problems through our Problems Without Passports program.
To learn more about undergraduate research opportunities in USC Dornsife, click here.
You are not alone! About half the student body at USC is from outside of California, and we are proud to boast perhaps the most diverse student population in the United States. You will be surrounded by students from every corner of the globe, and all of you will make the transition into USC and Los Angeles together. Even native Californians stay on-campus most weekends because there is so much to do, so it will be a new experience for everyone.
What is the food like on campus?
There are three residential college cafeteria-style eateries (Cafe 84, Parkside and Everybody’s Kitchen [EVK]) that offer all-you-can-eat, self-serve food. But after several weeks of that, you might want more variety. There are a number restaurants on campus, including Panda Express, The Habit Burger Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Lemonade, and Seeds Marketplace, to name a few. Many students purchase meal plans that include “dining dollars,” which is money specifically designated for use at the non-cafeteria eateries.
What’s the best place to live as a freshman?
Maybe the suite-style of Fluor Tower sounds good to you. Maybe you would like to live close to Everybody’s Kitchen (EVK) in a residence hall like New or North Residential College. Or perhaps the diverse environment provided by the Parkside International Residential College sound most exciting to you.
The short answer is that there is no “best” when it comes to housing. To figure out what is best for you, spend some time reading about and taking virtual tours of the different facilities on campus on the USC Housing website, located here.
How do students typically get around the campus?
Many students will skateboard or bike; however, you don’t need a bike or board to get around. The campus is closed to automobile traffic, so it's very pedestrian-friendly. And it only takes about fifteen minutes to walk from one corner to the other (which you'll rarely have to do).
The USC Office of Overseas Studies offers over 50 semester-long and year-long study abroad programs in 30 different countries. There are programs offered in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Russia, South Africa and Taiwan, to name a few. While many require foreign language skills, there are 27 programs that do not.
You can read more about study abroad here.
Are study abroad programs expensive?
Programs vary in cost, and all USC financial aid funds, including loans, grants, and scholarships, are applicable to USC-sponsored overseas studies programs.
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. Programs include Thematic Option, Freshman Science Honors Program, and honors programs in specific academic departments.
Can you tell me more about Thematic Option (T.O.)?
Through Thematic Option, students engage in an interdisciplinary, humanities-based honors alternative to the General Education program under themes rather than by discipline, and these small, challenging courses are both reading and writing intensive. If you absolutely love to read and write, then this program might be for you — if not, we recommend taking the more traditional approach to your Core curriculum through the regular General Education program.
Students are generally invited to apply to T.O., although any motivated and dedicated student who is interested may apply (even if you do not receive an invitation). Students may not apply before being admitted to the university. For more information on Thematic Option, click here.
Can you tell me more about Freshman Science Honors?
Through the Freshman Science Honors Program, students take advanced versions of their 1st-year General Chemistry and Introductory Biology courses in a small community of 60 students. Students are generally invited to apply to Freshman Science Honors, but any motivated and dedicated student majoring in a natural science may apply. Applications are made available in the spring, after students have been admitted to USC. For more information relating to Freshman Science Honors, click here.
What are “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 senior year and receive a departmental honors designation on their transcripts. They must also maintain a minimum GPA and remain in good standing with student judicial affairs.
USC awards 4 units of elective credit for most AP examinations with a score of 4 or 5. Some tests will satisfy Core requirements, while others will satisfy foreign language requirements or specific course requirements in certain majors. For detailed, up-to-date information regarding AP credit articulation, please visit the articulation website and read our official AP policy by clicking here.
What advanced credit can I receive for International Baccalaureate 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.
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.
AP and IB Articulation is pretty complicated — will somebody help me figure it out?
Yes, your academic advisor will be happy to help you navigate our AP and IB credit policies when you visit us for Orientation this summer.
Yes, and we would love to see you at one of them! USC runs admitted student visit programs throughout the month of April, both on our campus and in various metropolitan areas around the country and all over the world.
National Decision Deadline Date is May 1st, so we would like you to let us know by then. However, if you make your decision before May 1st, you are more than welcome to accept our offer of admission early!
How do I commit to USC?
Visit you.usc.edu and submit your enrollment deposit. About 7-10 days after receiving your deposit, USC will send you information regarding Orientation, and you will be able to begin planning for your first semester at the University of Southern California.
What if I have questions that are less frequently asked than these?
Please feel free to call us at (213) 740-5930, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions or concerns you might have. Our office is open from 8:30am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday.