Advisement and Registration

  • You have access to many advisors at USC – Thematic Option advisors, major advisors, minor advisors, pre-professional advisors, career advisors, and more. We encourage you to reach out to various advisors depending on the help you’re looking for. At the very least, it’s a good idea to meet with your major advisor and a Thematic option advisor every semester to make sure you’re on track. In Thematic Option, you are not assigned a specific advisor; you can meet with any TO advisor you prefer.

    How do I meet with a Thematic Option advisor? During the “advisement season” in the middle of each semester, you will need to make an official advisement appointment online through myUSC in order to meet with a TO advisor. This “official” appointment is when you will select your TO courses for the following semester, but is also a great time to talk about any other questions or concerns you might have.

    Most of the year, Thematic Option advising is open and flexible. Please see our Advisement page for information on how to set up an appointment.

  • The exact dates of the advisement appointments fluctuate from year to year, so expect an email detailing the specific days. There will also be an email letting students know what day and time the appointment scheduling feature will be activated, ensuring that all students get a fair chance to secure an early appointment.

  • Students can sign up for appointments using their myUSC account. There is an option to schedule an appointment under the “Advisement” tab. Students may meet with any of the three Thematic Option advisors and are encouraged to sign up for the earliest available appointment time that fits their schedule (i.e. NOT during a class).

  • Yes. Prior to the start of these appointments, the staff will email course descriptions for all upcoming TO classes. Students should read these descriptions thoroughly and bring a copy with them to their appointment. In addition, students should review the course catalogue and try to determine major and minor requirements.

  • All freshmen in TO are required to meet with an advisor for a half-hour, one-on-one appointment in both the Fall and Spring semesters. During this session, students will plan their schedules for the upcoming semester, receive D-clearances for their TO classes, and discuss future plans including majors and minors, overseas studies, internships, and various academic opportunities at USC.

  • Majors and minors need to be declared with their respective departmental advisors. Only the Thematic Approaches to Humanities and Society minor can be declared at the TO office.

  • Generally speaking, courses for a major or minor may not be taken Pass/No Pass. For information about taking a major or minor course Pass/No Pass, speak with your advisor for that department.

    It depends on the course. CORE 101, CORE 102, CORE 103, CORE 104, CORE 111, and CORE 112 must all be taken for a letter grade. Students who started college in fall 2015 or later may take up to one of the other required GE courses (GE-A, GE-C, GE-E, and GE-F) Pass/No Pass. Students who started college before fall 2015 may take up to one Theme Course Pass/No Pass.

  • Students who enter as first-time freshmen (not enrolled at another college for a fall or spring semester prior to enrolling at USC) may repeat a maximum of three courses taken during the first two semesters of enrollment at USC in which grades of D+ or below (including UW and IX) were received. These courses must be retaken at USC.

    Only the subsequent grade, even if lower, will be calculated in the grade point average, but both courses and the grades received will appear on the transcript.

    The same course may only be repeated once for the benefit of substitution of grade. Students must repeat a course before taking any other courses for which it is a prerequisite.

    Students who have been assigned a grade as a result of a Student Conduct sanction may not repeat the course under the Freshman Forgiveness policy.

    Please note: Because CORE 102 and CORE 111 are only open to first year freshmen, these courses are not available for repeating through Freshman Forgiveness.

  • See below for the available options which depend on the grade earned in the course. Keep in mind that students must repeat a course before taking any other courses for which it is a prerequisite.

    Courses with a grade of D+ or below (but which do not fall under the Freshman Forgiveness policy):
    • The course can be retaken and both grades will be calculated in the grade point average.
    • The unit credit can only be earned once.
    Courses with a grade of C+, C, or C-:
    • The course can be retaken, but a petition must be submitted to the Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures (CAPP) for permission to get the subsequent grade calculated in the GPA.
    • This petition must be approved prior to re-registering in the course.
    • These petitions are rarely approved.
    Courses with a grade of B- or better:
    • No student may repeat a course in which a grade of B- or better was received.
  • USC requires that all general education, which includes TO, be taken on campus at USC. Therefore, no TO requirement can be taken abroad unless it is an actual TO course with its own international component, such as a Maymester or Problems Without Passports course.

  • Not necessarily. Spaces in Thematic Option courses are assigned based on the selections you make during Thematic Option advisement. If you did not request D-clearance for the course from a Thematic Option advisor, you will not be able to register until you receive clearance. We only give out as many D-clearances as there are spots in the class, which means the “open” spot you see online may already belong to a student who has received clearance but has not yet registered. If you would like to receive D-clearance for a course and have not yet come in for advisement, you will need to make an advisement appointment. If you have already come in for advisement, you are welcome to email us to request clearance for the new course.

  • The last possible date to add a new class to your schedule is the third Friday of the semester. However, many departments set earlier deadlines for their own courses. In Thematic Option, it is not possible to add a CORE course after the first week of classes due to the large amount of reading and writing that will have been missed. Please contact an advisor as soon as possible for more information about adding a specific course.

  • After all the D-clearances for a CORE course have been given out, we will add any additional interested students to a wait list. If a student who already has clearance decides not to take the course, we will offer their spot to the next student on the waitlist. If you are on a waitlist for a TO course, please remain patient. We will email you as soon as a spot opens up for you; there is no need to call or email the TO office.

  • Discussions: If your course has an attached discussion section, attendance at the discussion is ALWAYS required. If you have a conflict with the scheduled discussion, you may not enroll in the course.

    Labs: Your professor will let you know when the lab section will be used. If the lab is being used in a given week, you are expected to attend. If you have a course conflict with the scheduled lab, please contact a TO advisor to find out if you can still take the course with an alternate lab.

  • Some CORE courses have a TBA (to be announced) lab time available, which does not have a day or time associated with it and will allow you to register for both the CORE class and your conflicting class. If you are enrolled in the TBA lab, it is your responsibility to make arrangements with your professor to attend any scheduled lab times. Some CORE courses, including all CORE 102s, require the lab time, and no exceptions will be made for course conflicts. Please email your TO advisor for specific information and permission to enroll in a TBA lab.

  • No. You will be expected to underline and make notes in your books, and to follow along with the class based on the page numbers in the edition specified on the course’s book list. Both of these tasks will be extremely difficult or even impossible with a digital copy of the text. For more affordable course books, we recommend searching for used copies online (just make sure you’re getting the right edition, and that you leave adequate time for shipping).

  • No. TO students are not allowed to take GESM courses, though the registration system may allow you to add one as it does not know better. Enrolling in a GESM takes a seat away from another USC freshman who needs to fulfill that requirement.

  • Only TO students can enroll in CORE 102, 101, 103, 104, 111 and 112. Students who are not in TO may enroll in CORE 200: Liberal Arts Reading Salon, CORE 301: Modes of Inquiry, CORE 401: Leadership and Ethics, and CORE 450: Los Angeles: A Polymathic Inquiry.

  • Please make an appointment to talk with a TO advisor.

  • This question is only relevant for students who drop TO after taking TO classes. For those students shifting from TO to regular GE, their completed TO CORE classes will take the place of several GE requirements. Please talk to a TO advisor if you are considering leaving TO.

Thematic Option Newsletter and Events

  • Emails announcing unique opportunities for students (club meetings, guest speakers, screenings, scholarships, fellowships, internships, etc.) will come in the form of a weekly newsletter email from MacKenzie Edwards. Students wishing to include an announcement in the newsletter should submit a prepared message to this submission form prior to the Monday before the event. Multiple messages for the same event will not be sent, and we will not send out an announcement received on the same day as an event. Announcements will be screened before being sent out, so please avoid profanity or other forms of offensive content. Announcements that may suggest TO has an opinion or stance on a controversial issue may not be sent. For example, do not ask TO to send out an email that seems to endorse your candidacy for student body president.

  • Unless otherwise noted, TO events are only open to TO students. Please do not bring along a friend from outside the program unless you have received permission to do so.

  • Many of TO’s events are ticketed and/or require bus transportation, so seating may be limited. Such events will have a sign-up list.

  • If you sign up for an event, please show courtesy to your fellow students by attending. If you find that you will be unable to attend, please notify one of the advisors at least 24 hours before the event so they can give your spot to someone on the waitlist as early as possible.

  • Email your suggestion (and any related information, including website links, ticketing details, etc.) to MacKenzie Edwards (


    • A student may receive up to two levels of formal appeal after review by the instructor. In the interest of preserving the very important student-instructor relationship, the student and instructor should try to resolve the grade dispute by direct communication. If the issue cannot be resolved by this dialogue, the grade dispute should move beyond the instructor to the next level of review. All grade appeals must be brought no later than the end of the semester following the semester for which the student received the disputed grade. The two levels of appeal beyond the instructor are the department chair (the director of Thematic Option) and the USC Dornsife dean. If a resolution cannot be reached, SCampus outlines the following steps:
      1. The department chair (the director of Thematic Option) at their discretion may review the matter personally or conduct a formal hearing through an ad hoc or standing committee. The hearing committee is appointed by the department chair and consists of a faculty member from outside the involved department or academic unit, a student, a faculty member of the appealing student’s choice, and two faculty members from the department or academic unit. A written decision will be given to the student after the department chair’s decision or the hearing committee decision. Normally a decision should be sent to the student within approximately 15 days after the hearing. This time may be extended if necessary. The student should be informed in writing if the decision will be delayed.
      2. If either the student or faculty member who assigned the grade wishes to appeal the decision of the chair or the hearing committee, in the next level of appeal beyond the instructor and the department chair, they must appeal in writing to the dean of the academic unit within 2 weeks after receiving the written decision. The dean of the academic unit may review the matter personally or, if a hearing has not been conducted by the department, the dean must conduct a hearing. The hearing committee consists of the same categories of members within the academic unit as described above. The committee will make a recommendation to the dean who will make a decision which is final and binding. Normally a written decision should be sent to the student within approximately 15 days after a hearing. This time may be extended if necessary. The student should be informed in writing if the decision will be delayed.