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High School Students: Spend Summer 2013 exploring USC Dornsife majors

Enrich your summer and jump start your entry into university life.  Earn 3 units of USC elective credit with peers from across the country and around the world in Summer@USC taught by instructors from the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.  Courses offer a preview of some of the most popular majors in USC Dornsife. 

Whether you commute daily to the USC campus or stay in the freshman dorms, summer's your chance to explore interdisciplinary approaches and college-level topics.

APPLY NOW for Summer 2013:

Summer 2013 Course Offerings:

BodyWorks: Human Physiology in Health and Disease

Considering a career in medicine, nursing, dentistry or other health care profession? In this introductory course in physiology, you will learn how the human body functions and explore the effects of disease on organs and other systems. The course is excellent preparation for future college science courses, in both general education and the pre-med science track.


  • Learn from expert Biological Sciences faculty in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
  • Participate in regular hands-on laboratory exercises focused on the heart, the nervous system and sensory illusions
  • Apply what you learn to an individual research project that you will present at the end of the course

Prerequisite:  High School Biology and Chemistry with a grade of B or better.


Creative Writing Workshop

New to creative writing, or haven’t tried it yet? Experience the intensive yet inspiring environment of a writers’ workshop. Learn four different literary forms and analyze the literary techniques of accomplished authors in these forms. Through your own study and input from fellow workshop participants, you will learn to “read as a writer” and “write for a reader.” Above all else, this course will encourage you to experiment in order to define and refine your own voice.


  • Produce a portfolio of your own work, including a polished personal essay suitable for college applications
  • Experience the environment of a writing workshop, including peer review

Exploring Psychology

What factors contribute to the development of a human being? The answer is found in a study of the psychological influences that impact each person’s life.  Trace the factors that affect infants through childhood and adolescence into adulthood.   Consider personality characteristics and psychological disorders in group discussions, lab experiences, and field trips.


  • Participate in group research projects, lab experiences, and creative student presentations. Previous activities have included a tour of an MRI machine and intelligence testing
  • Enhance your understanding with off-campus field trips. Previous trips have included the Museum of Tolerance and the California Science Center


Forensic Psychology: The Mind and the Legal System

Interested in psychology, social science, or law? This course involves the application of psychology to legal issues. In this course, you will be introduced to areas where psychology and law intersect and learn the scientific principles underlying psychological science.


  • Enhance your understanding with classroom discussions and lectures from guest speakers who are practicing professionals
  • Take field trips to Los Angeles County courthouses
  • Examine real world legal cases to highlight topics being discussed in class
  • Engage in legal and psychological research and apply what you learn to scientific writing


Future Physicians

View the video Summer Programs: Future Physicians

Interested in becoming a physician? Gain insights into the academic preparation necessary to become a successful medical school applicant. Learn about medical training and issues affecting the practice of medicine today. "Shadow" physicians on the faculty of the Keck School of Medicine of USC.


  • Classroom experience complemented by labs, clinical sessions, and observations
  • Learn at a world-class hospital and teaching site for the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
  • Hear talks by practicing physicians about preparing for medical school, life as a resident, and career options in health care

Recommended: 2 years of high school science with grades of B or better


International Relations

Are you interested in what causes war and how we can make the world more peaceful?  Are you considering a career in diplomacy, law, conflict resolution, humanitarian aid, environmental protection, human rights, or politics?  In this course, you will examine the causes of war and what constitutes successful conflict resolution.  Examine the different stages of conflict and then apply them to the areas of the globe that have experienced war and violence.  Study the economic causes of conflict, and explore the role of individuals, popular culture, peace initiatives, governments and international organizations.  You will develop a case study of a real conflict in the world, examining its causes and proposing a peace agreement and suggestions to resolve the conflict.


  • Engage in active learning with simulations, role playing, and negotiation exercises, including a Model UN simulation
  • Examine case studies that will help you make sense of news headlines and the history of conflicts internationally
  • Visit the Museum of Tolerance as part of your exploration of genocide
  • Develop an individual case study with an eye toward practical steps in conflict resolution, a writing assignment that will prepare you for more advanced college work
  • Analyze popular culture and its role in either promoting conflict or peace (including movies, television, music, literature, and art)


 Legal Reasoning, Writing, and Argumentation

Interested in learning the skills it takes to be a successful lawyer? Have you ever wondered how lawyers think, and why they think, differently from other people? Learn the skills necessary for success in legal thinking, including legal reasoning and how to relate this knowledge to everyday problems.  Attend federal and state appellate court proceedings and see these skills applied (and mis-applied) in real life. At the end of the course, you will have a portfolio of legal documents that demonstrate your experience with legal analysis and writing.


  • Analyze real legal cases
  • Attend U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and CA 2nd District Court of Appeal proceedings
  • Prepare and deliver closing oral arguments
  • Create a portfolio of legal documents that shows what you have learned
  • Hear from guest speakers who are experts in the field
  • Learn how to prepare for, apply to, and succeed in law school
  • Meet with law school admissions officers
  • Talk with USC alumni currently attending law school


Navigating Our World: Science, Digital Mapping, and Communication

Learn how to use maps in multimedia settings to understand and tell a story about a place, its people, and the environment. Work closely with expert faculty in USC’s Spatial Sciences Institute, the only academic unit of its kind in the nation. You will collect your own digital, geographically-referenced data, combine it with census data, satellite images, and other datasets, and learn how to use mobile devices and industry software to analyze and visually present your findings.


  • Work “in the field” with USC researchers using GPS-enabled cameras, smart phones, and tablets
  • Integrate, analyze and visualize your data in our state-of-the-art laboratory using the ArcGIS spatial analysis and modeling platform, including CityEngine, used to visualize indoor and outdoor spaces in 3D (see image below)
  • Build and share web maps describing local features and learn how to identify opportunities to promote environmentally friendly and sustainable development
  • Learn about the new field of GeoDesign, which combines spatial analysis with design skills (from architecture) and collective action (planning, sustainability)
  • Talk with USC professors and industry leaders about how they use digital mapping technologies in their careers and research

Logic is the basis for how we make rational decisions in everyday life. In this course, you will learn to evaluate and structure arguments using principles of logic and reasoning. Students will engage in structured debates and analyze important contemporary issues as well as topics in philosophy and science. 


  • Classroom experience enhanced with discussions, debates, and group assignments
  • Strengthen your ability to present your ideas in essays, debates, and presentations
  • Build your analytic and argumentative skills for a competitive edge in school or a future career in almost any professional field, including law and business