Academic Policies
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Registration Procedures and Current Course Offerings

The Fall, Spring and Summer Schedules of Classes contain details describing registration procedures, including the Touch-Tone and Web registration processes, courses offered, faculty listings, and time and meeting place of classes. The Schedule of Classes is available at the Office of Academic Records and Registrar, Office of College Advising, Topping Student Center, and Leavey Library during registration each semester and on USCweb ( It is recommended that students register as early as possible, either by use of Touch-Tone or Web registration, to save time and avoid inconvenience. Permits to Register may be obtained at the Office of Academic Records and Registrar in July for new students entering in the fall semester and in December for students entering in the spring semester. Registration appointment times and permit to register information are available to continuing students in October and March on USCweb ( Open registration for all students continues the week prior to the start of the semester. Students can access their class schedules and various other forms and services at the information kiosks located throughout the University Park campus and on USCweb.

Full-Time Enrollment Status

A student is considered to be enrolled full time in a semester when the student has registered for 12 or more units as an undergraduate student or eight or more units as a graduate student. The student’s department and/or school may have additional requirements for full-time status. Units taken for audit do not apply to enrollment status calculation. The university has also approved several exceptional courses which confer full-time enrollment status on the students enrolled in them. Some of these courses are: 594 Master’s Thesis, 794 Doctoral Dissertation, GRSC 800 Studies for the Qualifying Examination and GRSC 810 Studies for the Master’s Examination. Verification of student enrollment status is provided by the Office of Academic Records and Registrar (SAS Lobby)

Extra Units

A normal academic load is 16 units per semester for undergraduate students and 8 units (500-level) for graduate students. The university recommends that undergraduates register for no more than 18 units and graduates for no more than 16 units. Permission to enroll in more than 20 units requires written approval from the school or home department.

Declaration of Major

All students must record their primary major in the Office of Academic Records and Registrar by the start of their junior year (on completion of 64 semester units). All major and minor programs of study should be recorded in the Office of Academic Records and Registrar three semesters before the intended graduation date. Degree checks will be done at this point based on the major(s) and minor(s) recorded. Many academic departments can also perform changes of major for their students.

Declaration of Minor

Application for a minor must be made to the department or professional school and an appropriate signature must appear on a Change/Addition of a Major or Minor Degree Objective form.

Classification and Numbering of Courses

The first digit of the course number indicates the year level of the course: 000 — preparatory courses or non-credit, 100 — first undergraduate year, 200 — second undergraduate year, 300 — third and fourth undergraduate years without graduate credit, 400 — third and fourth undergraduate years with graduate credit for graduate students, 500 — first graduate year, 600 — second graduate year, 700 — third graduate year.

Upper division courses (300- and 400-level courses) are generally more sophisticated and demanding. They may have prerequisites or other limitations on enrollment and are usually intended for students who have some preparation, either in the specific discipline or more generally in academic study. They tend to concentrate more narrowly and intensively in scope than lower division courses in the same discipline.

The lower case letters ab, abcd, etc., indicate the semesters of a course more than one semester in length. In such courses the a semester is prerequisite to the b semester, and so on. Courses designated g are available for general education credit. Courses designated m for multiculturalism meet the diversity requirement. Capital L indicates that all or part of the work is supervised laboratory or other work. Courses designated x are restricted in some manner. The course description will specify the restriction. Courses designated with a z are for repeated registrations for 0 credit, for which two units of tuition are charged.

The following are not available for graduate credit: courses numbered 000-399, courses designated g (general education), Senior Seminar courses, courses designated x where the description specifically excludes graduate credit.

Unit Value

The unit value of courses is indicated for each term of the course by a numeral in parentheses after the course title. All courses are on the semester unit basis. It is the student’s responsibility to verify with an instructor correct units registered in any variable unit course. If the units are incorrect, the student must correct them by processing a Change of Program at the Office of Academic Records and Registrar.

Duplication of Courses

Ordinarily, courses may not be repeated for credit. For courses which may be repeated for credit, the maximum amount of credit is indicated after the unit value.

Appropriate Course Enrollment

It is recommended that students register in courses appropriate to their academic standing — lower division students in courses below 300, upper division students in courses below 500, graduate students in courses numbered 500 or higher.

Preparatory Courses

Preparatory courses (course numbers below 100) impart the minimum skills required for college-level work. Students completing preparatory course work may receive unit credit toward enrollment status but do not receive degree credit.


Prerequisites are courses and/or specific background required of students prior to advancing to the next course in a prescribed sequence of courses. Passage of appropriate examinations or consent of the academic unit offering the course will waive prerequisites. However, a prerequisite course within the same discipline taken after the higher level course has been passed will not be available for unit or grade point credit.


Corequisites are courses which must be taken at the same time as, or passed prior to, the designated course. Passage of the appropriate examinations or consent of the academic unit offering the course will waive corequisites.

Recommended Preparation

Recommended preparation indicates course work or specific background that is advisable but not mandatory in preparing the student for the designated course.

Guaranteeing a Space in a Class

Registration in a class does not by itself guarantee a space in that class. An instructor may replace any student who without prior consent does not attend these class sessions: (a) the first two class sessions of the semester, or (b) the first class session of the semester for once-a-week classes. It is then the student’s responsibility to withdraw officially from the course. Any class added, whether by Touch-Tone, Web registration or in person, after the first week of classes requires the approval of the instructor.

Pass/No Pass Enrollment Option

During the first three weeks of the semester, students may elect to take a course numbered below 500 on a pass/no pass basis. Graduate students must receive department approval to enroll in a graduate course on a pass/no pass basis. Refer to the Pass/No Pass Graded Work section,(Undergraduate or Graduate), for details on degree credit restrictions on courses taken on a pass/no pass basis. Students should consult their academic advisor before enrolling in any course on a pass/no pass basis. To enroll, students must complete the Pass/No Pass Request for Change of Program; enrollment is not available by Touch-Tone telephone or Web registration.

Credit/No Credit Courses

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 Credit/No Credit basis unless the course is listed as being offered as Credit/No Credit.

Courses Numbered 490x and 390

Many academic units offer courses numbered 490x and 390. Courses numbered 490x provide undergraduate students with opportunities for directed research in subject areas not covered in regularly scheduled courses. In contrast, courses numbered 390 may be made available at the end of the drop/add period at the discretion of the academic department to allow graduating seniors to complete unit requirements for the degree through individual study when regularly-offered courses would not do so.

Courses numbered 490x and 390 are offered on a letter-graded basis only and carry certain restrictions which are uniformly applied throughout the university.

490x Directed Research (2-8, max 8)

Courses numbered 490x are open only to upper-division students who have demonstrated the ability to do independent work in the discipline. The courses require consent of instructor and a written contract of course requirements signed by both the instructor and department chair. They are not available for graduate credit and are not open to students with less than 2.0 GPA overall or in any restricted academic status (such as probation, Structured Curriculum Program [SCP] and the like). A student may accumulate a maximum of eight units of 490x in any one department and 16 units toward the degree.

390 Special Problems (1-4, max 4)

Courses numbered 390 are supervised, individual studies courses which are reserved for use by last semester seniors to complete up to four units of their remaining degree requirements which could not be completed through a regularly offered course before their scheduled graduation date. Enrollment requires approval by the Committee on Academic Policies and Procedures (CAPP). CAPP will consider petitions for 390 registration only with evidence that the problem was created by circumstances beyond the student’s control. The student and instructor must prepare a written contract of course requirements for presentation with the petition to CAPP. In all cases, a petition for 390 registration must be recommended by the dean of the academic unit in which the student is seeking a degree. Credit for only one 390 registration is accepted toward the student’s baccalaureate degree.

Audited Courses

Students may elect to audit courses during the first three weeks of the semester. A course taken for audit (V) will be assessed at the current tuition rate. A course taken for audit (V) will not receive credit and will not appear on the USC transcript or grade report. Changing to audit is a process that is not available by Touch-Tone telephone or Web registration.

Limited Status Enrollment

Limited status enrollment allows persons who have not been admitted to the university to take a limited number of courses at USC.

Eligibility for Limited Status Enrollment

Students who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree are not eligible for limited status enrollment if they have been denied admission to USC or if they have been academically disqualified or suspended from any community college, college or university.

At the post-baccalaureate level, limited status enrollment is not available to students who have been denied admission to the department offering the course unless prior approval is granted by the department and the appropriate dean.

International Students

Limited status enrollment does not fulfill requirements for issuing a student visa. International students (students studying or wishing to study in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa) must have the approval of the Office of International Admissions (Student Administrative Services Building 218A) before registering for classes.

Restrictions on Limited Status Enrollment

A pre-baccalaureate limited status student may not register for more than 16 units; a post-baccalaureate limited status student may not register for more than 12 units.

Exceptions to this policy will be considered by the Office of Admission for USC employees and for post-baccalaureate students who submit a disclaimer of intent to pursue a USC degree.

Prior approval of the department offering the course is required for all limited status enrollment. If a limited status student is subsequently admitted to regular standing, no more than the first 16 undergraduate or the first 12 graduate units taken thrĎugh limited status enrollment can be applied toward a degree. Individual exceptions must be approved by the dean of the degree-conferring unit.

Dropping and Adding Courses

All such changes must be processed by Touch-Tone registration, Web registration or through the Registration Department. Failure to withdraw officially will result in the mark of “UW,” which is computed in the GPA as zero (0) grade points. A student may withdraw from a course without academic penalty during the first 12 weeks of the semester. If the course is dropped within the first three weeks, it does not appear on the academic transcript; if the course is dropped within weeks four through 12, it will be recorded with a mark of “W.” No course may be dropped after the end of the twelfth week. A student may not withdraw from a course in which he or she committed or was accused of committing an academic integrity violation. After registering, it is the student’s responsibility to withdraw officially from a course if he or she decides not to continue in a course. Courses may be added only during the first three weeks of the semester.

Registration in Graduate-Level Courses by Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students will not be allowed to enroll in a graduate course unless they have received prior approval to (1) reserve the course for a possible graduate degree or (2) count the course for undergraduate credit or (3) audit the course. Students must present official proof of such approval to the Registration Department at the time of enrollment. Details describing how such approval is obtained can be found on page 62 in the sections titled Undergraduate Credit for a Graduate Course and Graduate Credit for 400 and 500 Level Work Taken as an Undergraduate.

USC-UCLA Cross-Registration for Graduate Students

As part of an academic resource sharing program, USC graduate students have an opportunity to take a portion of their program at UCLA. This cross-registration opportunity is only available for courses or seminars not offered at USC and only to selected students. For further information on requirements, contact the Resource Sharing Coordinator in the USC Graduate School (Grace Ford Salvatori Hall 315).

Approval for each course taken through this program must be obtained on a cross-registration form available in the USC Graduate School. Students must obtain signed approvals from their USC department chair, the UCLA course instructor, the UCLA Graduat— Dean (or Resource Sharing Coordinator) and, finally, the USC Vice Provost for Academic Programs (or Graduate School Administrative Coordinator). Completed forms must be returned to the USC Graduate School.

After submitting the completed form, students enroll in USC 700o Off-Campus Studies, CR/NC, through the USC Registration Department. At the conclusion of the course, the UCLA instructor will report the student’s grade to the USC Graduate School Resource Sharing Coordinator. Credit (CR) will be granted only for work completed with a grade of B (3.0) or higher. The student’s transcript will show that the course was taken at UCLA and also record the name of the course. Library privileges will be extended at UCLA but other privileges or services cannot be offered.

Conversion of Non-Degree Option Course Work

A student may file a Request for NDO Course Conversion form with the Registration Department to have USC courses previously enrolled in under a non-degree option (NDO) converted to unit credit and thus appear on the USC transcript. Such a request must include all NDO courses previously attempted; requests for partial conversion will be denied. Conversion for credit requires retroactive registration in the term in which the course was attempted, including payment of the tuition differential between the NDO rate originally paid and the tuition rate in effect at the time of conversion. As in all USC courses taken in Limited Status, converted courses may not be considered for degree credit at USC unless the student is formally admitted to full standing at the university. Upon formal admission, only the first 16 NDO units taken that are available for credit toward the intended degree may be applied for baccalaureate credit and only the first 12 NDO units taken that are available for credit toward the intended degree may be applied toward a graduate degree. Degree credit for units beyond the first 16 undergraduate, or 12 graduate, available units will not be allowed. All courses converted will appear on the USC transcript and will be included in the calculation of the USC GPA, regardless of whether they are being applied specifically toward the degree being pursued.

Permission to Register at Another Institution

Undergraduate students who wish to take course work at another institution while continuing as enrolled students at USC will be required to obtain various levels of permission to do so. For details, see the Course Work Taken Elsewhere section.