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Answers to questions every Dornsife student should know:

  • Do I have to take at least 16 units each semester?

    Taking at least 16 units each semester will help facilitate the completion of your degree within four years. Keep in mind that you are charged tuition on a flat fee basis between 12–18 units. You are considered a part-time student if you are enrolled in less than 12 units and are charged accordingly per unit. Please be sure to check with the USC Financial Aid Office and/or your scholarship coordinator to find out if being a part-time student will affect your financial aid package and/or scholarship. Being a part-time student may also affect you if you are covered under your parents’ health insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance company for verification.

  • What is the Foreign Language requirement for the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences?

    The foreign language requirement may be satisfied in one of the following ways: 1) Earning a passing grade in Course III of a foreign language sequence at USC or its equivalent elsewhere; or 2) Scoring on the placement examination at a level considered by the language program as equivalent to the completion of Course III; or 3) Scoring on a national or statewide examination (i.e. AP/IB)at a level set by the department and approved by the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences; or 4) If you are fluent in a language other than those used to meet the language requirement at USC, passing a competency exam of advanced language skills, administered at USC, subject to the availability of suitable academic examiners. The competency exam will test proficiency in speaking, reading and writing skills.

  • What is the USC College unit rule?

    For those undergraduate students earning a degree in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, a minimum of 104 units applicable to the degree must be earned in College academic departments. For students graduating with a minor or a second bachelor's degree, this minimum is reduced to 96 units.

  • Is a double-major the same as a Second Bachelor’s in the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences?

    A double major consists of two majors which allow the student to earn the same degree, either a B.A. or B.S. degree, within the college. The student must complete the requirements for both majors and whatever other course work is needed to complete 128 units.

    A second bachelor's consists of two majors that culminate in two different degrees. For example, the first degree within the college is a B.A. and the second degree is any of the following: B.S, B.M., B.F.A., B.Arch. or B.L.Arch. A second bachelor’s degree requires a minimum of 32 additional units above the 128 unit minimum. In some cases, more than the 32 additional units may be needed in order to successfully complete the requirements set forth for each degree.

  • What is the best way to inquire about my registration appointment-time for an upcoming academic semester?

    The best way to inquire about your registration appointment for an upcoming semester is to log in to MyUSC. Once logged into MyUSC select OASIS, and then Permit to Register. Your registration time and date will be displayed.

  • What is a mandatory academic advisement hold?

    A mandatory academic advisement hold indicates that a student must first meet with their respective major advisor prior to registration. Otherwise, a student will not be able to register for classes regardless of their registration appointment time. It is strongly recommended that a student contact and meet with his or her academic advisor for advisement well in advance of the registration appointment.

  • How do I declare a major in the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences?

    Students can declare any major in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.* The student should discuss his or her intent with the respective major advisor. The major advisor will help the student complete and submit a Change of Major form once the student has an understanding of the major requirements. The new major will be recorded in the student’s academic record.

    *The International Relations Global Business major requires an admission process.

  • How do I declare a major or minor in a Professional school?

    Declaring a major or minor in a Professional school requires admission through an internal application process. Students are encouraged to meet with a Professional school admission representative to discuss the application process. Students are expected to submit an application, pertinent documentation, and meet all admission criteria to the Professional school before an admission decision is reached and the major/minor is changed.

  • Where will USC College and its academic departments contact me to convey official University information?

    USC College and its academic departments use University e-mail addresses to provide official University information to its students. The information transmitted via e-mail may include important registration deadlines, advisement notices, scholarship and overseas opportunities, as well as degree completion and audit information. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the student to open, read, and address all University e-mail correspondence accordingly. Students may use a personal e-mail address to receive University correspondence, however, students are required to set-up and forward all USC e-mail to the preferred e-mail address. Please contact the University’s Information Technology Services for additional information.

  • What is an R-clearance class?

    If there is an “R” after the five-digit class number (ex: 10620R), it is an R-clearance class. R-clearance classes are restricted by room size and any undergraduate student, regardless of major, can typically register for R-clearance classes. When all of the seats are filled in a class that is designated as “R,” the class closes.

  • What is Departmental Clearance (D-clearance) and who needs it?

    The departmental clearance process is to ensure that required prerequisites have been met, as well as manage class enrollment within various departments. If there is a “D” after the five-digit class number (ex: 61495D), you must first obtain D-clearance before you can register. A D-clearance does not necessarily reserve a seat in the class for you. You have simply been given permission to add the course, based on you meeting the requirements set to register. D-clearances are given with an expiration date, so you must be sure to register by the assigned deadline given to you. If you fail to do so, your seat may be made available to other students interested in taking the course.

  • What is pass/no pass (P/NP)? When is the deadline to decide whether or not I want to take a class pass/no pass?

    Pass/no pass grades do not factor into your GPA. No more than 24 units of undergraduate course work may be taken on a P/NP basis and only a maximum of four of these 24 units may be applied to the General Education requirements (Categories I-VI GE). In the P/NP option, students must earn a C- or above to pass the course. Grades of D+ or below receive a “no pass.” A passing grade will be recorded as a P and a “no pass” will be recorded as an NP.

    Students have until the Friday of the third week of classes (or third week equivalency for any session lasting less than 15 weeks) to decide on whether or not to take a class P/NP. You cannot change a P/NP class to a letter grade or vice versa after the third week of classes. If you have any questions, please refer to the P/NP section in the USC Catalogue.

    Students can select the P/NP option via web registration.

  • What types of courses may be taken pass/no pass?

    • - One GE Course
    • - Foreign Language
    • - Diversity (Transfer)
    • - General Electives
    • - Others as determined by your major advisor (No minor courses may be taken P/NP).
  • What is credit/no credit (C/NC)?

    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 C/NC basis unless the course is listed as being offered as C/NC. To receive credit (CR) for a Credit/No Credit undergraduate course, students must earn the equivalent of a C- or higher. Students will receive no credit (NC) if they receive the grade equivalent of a D+ or lower. If you have any questions, please refer to the “Definitions of Grades and Marks” section on USC’s Department of Grades Web site.

  • What is “Freshman Forgiveness”?

    According to the USC Catalogue, a special provision governs the repeat of courses by students who enter USC as a first-time freshman. You may repeat a maximum of three courses taken during your first two semesters at USC if a grade of D+ or below is earned. This includes grades of UW and IX. Your first grade is eliminated from your GPA, and only your subsequent letter grade (even if lower) will be calculated into your GPA. These courses must be repeated at USC for a letter grade, and both grades will appear on your transcript. 

    Students who were admitted for spring and were first-time freshman elsewhere in the previous fall may repeat a maximum of two courses taken during the first semester at USC in which grades of D+ or below were received with the same set of provisions established for first-time freshmen.

    Students who have been assigned a grade as a result of a Student Conduct sanction may not repeat a course under this provision. In no case will additional degree credit be allowed for repeated courses or duplicated work.

  • What is an incomplete (IN)?

    According to the USC Catalogue and USC Department of Grades, an incomplete (IN) is assigned when work is not completed because of documented illness or other emergency occurring after the 12th week of the semester. An emergency is a situation or event which could not be foreseen, which is beyond the student's control, and which prevents the student from taking the final examination or completing other work during the final examination period. A student may not request an IN before the end of the 12th week, as students still have the option to drop the course until the end of the 12th week. Incompletes exist so there is a remedy for illness or emergency which occurs after the drop deadline.

    If an IN is assigned as the student’s grade, the instructor will fill out an Incomplete Completion Form (PDF) which will specify to the student and the department the work remaining to be done, the procedures for its completion, the grade in the course to date and the weight to be assigned to the work remaining to be done when computing the final grade. Both the instructor and student must sign the form with a copy of the form filed with your advisor in your home department.

    A student may remove the IN by completing only the portion of required work not finished as a result of documented illness or emergency occurring after the 12th week of the semester.  Previously graded work may not be repeated for credit.  It is not possible to remove an IN by re-registering for the course, even within the designated time.

  • When are my final examinations?

    Please refer to the “Final Examinations Schedule” each semester on the online Schedule of Classes. Students are advised to plan in advance to avoid scheduling conflicts for their final examinations. However, in the event that a student is scheduled for two final examinations at the same time or is scheduled for more than two final examinations on one day, an attempt will be made to make alternative arrangements.

  • I have been offered an internship; however they require that I receive internship or school credit. What classes can I take?

    A list of classes available for internship credit is available here. (PDF) Most of our students take EDCO 248 – Theories of Career Development (2 units), or MDA 250 – Internship for Liberal Arts: Work and Career, Theory and Practice (1-2 units).

  • I want to study abroad in the future. Do I need to see my academic advisor?

    We encourage you to meet with an advisor early on if you are interested in studying abroad, so that s/he can discuss how studying abroad fits in with your academic course plan. You will always want to meet with an advisor in the Office of Overseas Studies to familiarize yourself with the programs available to you. In addition, all USC financial aid including loans, grants, and scholarships, are applicable to USC-sponsored overseas studies programs.

  • I am thinking about taking a class in the summer at USC. How long is each summer session?

    Each summer session varies in length. Please consult the Schedule of Classes each summer. A link on the left-hand side of the summer Schedule of Classes titled “Session Codes” will direct you to the summer session code and length of the class. Please pay attention to the first three digits of the class number, as this indicates your summer session code and length of the class. For example, a class number of 050-50800R represents a summer session code of 050.

  • I am thinking about taking summer classes at another institution. What do I need to do?

    There are significant restrictions on transferring courses. Before taking courses at another college, please consult with your academic advisor and also log into OASIS to complete the online “Request for pre-approval to transfer course work to USC.” Select the school you would like to attend, and the courses you are considering transferring. Most undergraduates:

    • - May only transfer in a maximum of 64 units.
    • - May only transfer up to 8 units after completion of 64 college level units (combined USC and transfer) and only up to the 64-unit transfer limit.
    • - May take course work outside of USC in the summer term only.
    • - May complete the diversity and foreign language requirement outside of USC.
    • - May take lower level (100-299) courses only; no upper division courses may be transferred.
    • - May NOT take writing or general education requirements at another institution after starting classes at USC.

    Once you have completed your courses, please have your official transcripts sent to:

    University of Southern California
    University Park Campus
    Degree Progress Department
    700 Childs Way, JHH 010
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-0912

  • Course Conflicts

    Students who wish to register for a course where a scheduling conflict exists with another course need special approval before registration. Registration for courses with schedule conflicts is not available on-line via web registration. Registrations for courses with scheduling conflicts require an Undergraduate Form for Approval to Register with a Course Time Conflict. The approval forms provides for:

    1. 1. Desired enrollment term
    2. 2. The two courses which conflict in time
    3. 3. Enrollment in the courses if both instructors approve
    4. 4. Submission of approval form to the Registration Department (REG)
  • Academic Probation

    • - A student whose overall USC GPA falls below 2.0 is on academic probation
    • - Continued enrollment requires clearance from an academic review counselor

    Mandatory Advisement

    • - A student whose overall GPA falls below 2.0 is required to seek academic advisement prior to course selection each semester
    • - Proof of advisement must be filed with the Academic Review Department before any registration request will be processed
    • - The Academic Review Department will only accept an official Academic Review Advisement Record form with an authorized school signature as proof of advisement. This form may be obtained in TRO, Room 101

    Academic Disqualification

    • - Students on academic probation who do not raise their overall GPA to 2.0 after two semesters of enrollment, exempting summer enrollment, will be academically disqualified.
    • - However, if a student earns a minimum semester GPA of 2.3 in the second or any subsequent probation semester but has not yet reached the overall 2.0 GPA, the student will not be disqualified and will be allowed to enroll for an additional semester.
  • I've heard that there are new General Education (GE) requirements at USC. How do I know which GE requirements to satisfy?

    USC started a new General Education program in Fall 2015. If your are beginning college in Fall 2015 or later, you will complete the new General Education track which consists of Categories A-H with a General Education Seminar (GESM).

    If you began college before Fall 2015 semester you will satisfy the old GE track, which consists of categories I-VI.

Glossary of terms

Activity restriction

A restriction preventing university activity for student.

Advisement appointment

An individualized appointment with an academic advisor; typically to discuss and assess academic progress and degree completion.

Advisement hold

An academic hold restricting course registration.

Articulation Agreement

A list of courses from another institution which transfer to USC, indicating whether they transfer as electives or are equivalent to a USC course, as well as whether they fulfill general education, diversity, or the writing requirement.


Certification awarded upon completion of a major field of study and university degree requirements.

Elective coursework

Coursework elected by student typically not required by major, minor, or specific degree granting requirement.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The university maintains the privacy of student education records and allows students the right to inspect their education records as stated in the university's Student Education Records policy, consistent with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.

Full-time status

Enrollment in 12 units or more at USC.

General Education (GE) courses

A core set of courses required of all USC students that is designed to provide a breadth of knowledge. After taking these courses, USC students can consider themselves as being a well-educated person.

Leave of Absence

Procedure designed to allow student to take a leave from their academic career at the university.

Lower Division

Courses numbered 100-299 are intended primarily for freshmen and sophomores.


Coursework comprising a field of study.


On-line portal that allows personal access to wide ranging campus resources.


On-line Academic Student Information System.

Part-time status

Enrollment in 11 units or less at USC.


Permission granted to take and receive credit for courses taken in transfer, in summer, outside of USC.


Prerequisites are courses and/or specific background required of students prior to advancing to the next course in a prescribed sequence of courses.

Registration appointment

An individualized appointment indicating the date and time a student may register for a subsequent semester.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Academic progress defined by (1) Meeting a minimum grade point average requirement; (2) Earning a minimum number of units for credit per semester (yearly progress); and (3) Completing the degree objective within a maximum number of semesters enrolled and a maximum number of attempted units.

STARS report

A report that contains all USC course work and accepted transfer work that applies toward degree requirements.

Subject credit

This is credit toward a requirement, such as general education or a course requirement for a major or minor.

Transfer credit report

A report that records all transferable course work applicable toward the USC degree.


Coursework from other educational institutions that is eligible for degree credit at USC.

Tuition Refund Insurance

Elective insurance is available which provides full coverage for tuition and fees students who suffer serious illness or accident which makes it necessary for them to completely withdraw from all courses at the university before the semester is completed.

Upper Division

Courses numbered 300-400, intended primarily for juniors and seniors.