University of Southern California
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Undergraduate Degrees

Common Requirements

Certain general requirements are common to all undergraduate curricula for Bachelor of Science degrees in Engineering. These are as follows:

Total Units

A minimum total of 128 acceptable units is required to earn the Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Exceptions are: biomedical engineering (electrical engineering), 133 units; biomedical engineering (mechanical engineering), 132 units; chemical engineering, 129 units; chemical engineering (biochemical engineering), 133 units; chemical engineering (environmental engineering), 132 units; chemical engineering (nanotechnology), 128 units; chemical engineering (petroleum engineering), 133 units; chemical engineering (polymer science), 136 units; civil engineering, 131 units; civil engineering (building science), 133 units; civil engineering (environmental engineering), 130 units; civil engineering (structural), 131 units; computer science/business administration, 137 units; computer science (games), 128 units; electrical engineering, 131 units; environmental engineering, 132-134 units.

Not more than 4 units may be physical education activity courses, provided the department allows it in the program.

General Education Requirements

The university's general education program provides a coherent, integrated introduction to the breadth of knowledge you will need to consider yourself (and to be considered by other people) a generally well-educated person. This program requires six courses in different categories, plus writing and diversity requirements, which together comprise the USC Core. See here and here for more information. In addition, students pursuing a degree in computer science must meet the foreign language requirement described here.

The Provost has allowed an exception to the rules governing the general education program for students in the Viterbi School of Engineering, who may elect to satisfy the requirement for Category IV with a "wild card" course, which may be a second course in Categories I, II or VI, or with a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement U.S. History exam.

Students in the engineering "3-2" program are not required to satisfy general education requirements; these students are understood to have satisfied USC's general education requirements when they have satisfied the general education requirements at their previous institution. All students must, however, complete the WRIT 340 requirement.

Students in aerospace and mechanical engineering complete Social Issues and WRIT 130 in different semesters.

In all other respects, students in the Viterbi School of Engineering must satisfy the general education requirements as described here and here.

Mathematics (16 units minimum)

Sixteen units or more, including three semesters of calculus, are required.

Basic Sciences (12 units minimum)

Twelve units or more of biology, chemistry or physics are required.

Residence Requirement

All students must complete a minimum of 64 units at USC in order to receive a USC degree. In addition, the Viterbi School of Engineering requires that students complete all upper division units required for the major in residence.

For students in the Viterbi School of Engineering "3-2" Program, at least 48 units must be earned in courses taken at USC.

Scholarship Requirement in Major Subject

For graduation with a bachelor's degree, a grade point average of C (2.0) or higher is required in all upper division courses taken in the major department including any approved substitutes for these courses taken at USC. Additional scholarship requirements for the various majors are listed under the departmental headings.

Grade Point Requirement

A grade point average of at least 2.0 is required on all course work attempted at USC.

Transfer students must meet these averages, both on residence work attempted and on combined transferred and residence courses attempted.


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

Each semester, students on academic probation are required to receive academic advisement. Proof of advisement must be filed with the Academic Review Department before any registration requests will be processed. The only acceptable proof of advisement is an official academic review advisement record signed by the student's academic advisor and a representative from the Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division. Academic review advisement forms may be obtained from Tutor Hall of Engineering (RTH) 110 or JHH 113.

Students on probation are encouraged to utilize the academic services (advisement and free tutoring) provided by the Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division.

Students on academic probation who do not raise their overall GPA to 2.0 after two semesters of enrollment (excluding summers) will be academically disqualified from the university. 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 an overall 2.0 GPA, the student will not be disqualified and will be allowed to enroll an additional semester.

Petitions for readmission after academic disqualification are initiated by the student through the Academic Review Department. All grade issues (IN, MG, etc.) must be resolved prior to the submission of such a petition. Before petitioning for readmission, a student must complete a minimum of 12 semester units of transferable course work (applicable to USC degree requirements) with a minimum 3.0 GPA. University residency requirements will determine whether these units are accepted as transfer credit.

As readmission to the university is never guaranteed, any indication of strong academic performance beyond the 12 unit minimum would strengthen a readmission petition.

Students must petition for readmission by December 30 for the spring semester and by May 1 for the fall semester. Late petitions will not be accepted. A non-refundable $50 fee must accompany all readmission petitions.

Special Educational Opportunities

Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division

The Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division, located in Ronald Tutor Hall of Engineering (RTH) 110, begins to assist students as soon as they express an interest in engineering and continues working with them until, and in some cases after, they graduate.

The office is not only responsible for working with prospective students, but with continuing students as well. It directs special services and programs, provides a variety of support services, sponsors student organizations, is involved with student government and acts as a liaison with other university offices.

In short, the office enables engineering students to have a successful experience at USC. To help students become acquainted with its services, the office holds an annual welcome reception the week before fall classes where students have an opportunity to meet staff members, faculty and other engineering students.

Center for Engineering Diversity

The Center for Engineering Diversity (CED) provides a variety of services for African-American, Hispanic and Native American students. Freshmen can participate in a summer transition-to-college program ("Summer Bridge") prior to their first semester at USC.

Contact the Center for Engineering Diversity at (213) 740-1999 for more information.

Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life

The Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life (KIUEL) was established to provide Viterbi undergraduates with a variety of personal and professional activities to enhance undergraduate engineering student life experiences outside the classroom. KIUEL plans programs around leadership, service learning and globalization, and cross-disciplinary learning. Past KIUEL events have included the KIUEL Weekend for Leaders, the Viterbi Book Club and the Technology Assistance Program. For more information, visit

Merit Research Program

Every year, a select group of promising incoming freshmen are invited by faculty to work on projects in their research laboratories. These student researchers actively participate in the development of new technology throughout their undergraduate careers.

In addition to giving students excellent first-hand experience, this program can help offset the cost of education since each participant earns an annual stipend for his or her work. This renewable award is separate from other financial assistance offered by the university.

The student must apply for renewal of his or her award by March 1 of each year.

First Year Excellence

The First Year Excellence (FYE) program helps freshmen develop strong connections to the university and Viterbi school. FYE promotes academic exploration and success through its co-curricular programs, support services and resources during the first year. Freshman academies, introductory courses and the Viterbi Spotlight Series are available to guide freshmen as they explore engineering. Free tutoring, group-led supplemental instruction sessions, and workshops and seminars on time management and networking with faculty are offered to help freshmen accomplish their goals. Academic advisors work with all freshmen to make sure they are on track with course work and to help them acclimate to college life and USC.

Viterbi Career Services

The Viterbi School of Engineering provides extensive career services to its students. Students are encouraged to register with Viterbi Career Services their first year at USC. By doing so, they will be kept informed of all career-related events such as company information sessions, career preparation workshops, industry luncheons and career fairs. In addition, students are able to participate in the school's extensive on-campus interview program.

USC's Viterbi School of Engineering attracts employers not only from Southern California, but from across the country. A few of the many companies that have recently hired Co-ops, interns and permanent employees from the Viterbi school include: Accenture, Activision, Inc., Alcon Laboratories, Inc., BAE Systems, Chevron Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc., Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P., IBM, Intel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Kiewit Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Parsons Corporation, QUALCOMM Incorporated, Stryker Corporation, Turner Construction Company, Universal Music Group and Walt Disney Imagineering.

Cooperative Education
By participating in the Co-op Program, students can earn degree credit and industry work experience before they graduate. Co-op improves students' understanding of the relationship between theory and practice, helps them fine tune their career goals and aids in the acquisition of important engineering skills. Students' work assignments are closely related to their specific degree program and are appropriate to their current academic level.

Participation in the program is open to all full-time undergraduate engineering majors. Students are eligible to apply for Co-op the second semester of their sophomore year. Though the sequence may vary, students typically have one summer work experience in addition to one semester immediately preceding or following one of the summer sessions. While on assignment, students enroll in a 1-2 unit course (ENGR 395) that aids in the integration of both on-campus and off-campus learning. With departmental approval, credit toward a degree may be earned upon completion of this course.

3-2 Program

For those students wishing greater depth and breadth in the liberal arts, the Viterbi School of Engineering has developed agreements with more than 20 liberal arts colleges nationwide in which a student attends a liberal arts institution for his or her first three years of college, pursuing pre-engineering courses in addition to a solid program in the liberal arts. At the end of the three years, upon recommendation from the liberal arts college, the student enters the Viterbi School of Engineering as a junior and, in two years, completes the remaining requirements for a B.S. degree. After these five years are complete, the student will receive two degrees -- a B.A. from the liberal arts college and a B.S. from USC.

Engineering Overseas Programs

Every summer the Viterbi School of Engineering sponsors a seven-week academic program in either London, Paris, Madrid, Rome or other locations which provides students with the opportunity to enroll in engineering and humanities courses, as well as participate in a directed studies project. This program is open to all engineering majors.

International Exchange Programs

The Viterbi School of Engineering Undergraduate International Exchange Program gives students the opportunity to broaden their exposure to the global context of engineering theory and practice by spending a semester or year abroad in a challenging academic environment at an international host institution. The International Exchange Program allows students to satisfy technical electives and/or approved degree requirements by attending approved partner institutions. This program is open to students entering their junior or senior year. Students apply at the Engineering Student Affairs Office. Candidates must meet all admission requirements of both the Viterbi School of Engineering as well as those of the international host institution. Contact the Admission and Student Affairs Office for a complete list of international exchange partners.

Honor Societies

The Viterbi School of Engineering has established a variety of honor societies to recognize academic excellence, creativity and service. These are: Alpha Pi Mu (industrial and systems engineering), Chi Epsilon (civil engineering), Eta Kappa Nu (electrical engineering), Omega Chi Epsilon (chemical engineering), Omega Rho (industrial and systems engineering), Pi Tau Sigma (mechanical engineering), Sigma Gamma Tau (aerospace engineering), Tau Beta Pi (nationwide honor society), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (computer science).

Minor in Engineering Technology Commercialization

The undergraduate minor in engineering technology commercialization is interdisciplinary in nature, requiring courses from both the business and engineering schools and providing education in the economic, technological and management aspects of commercializing new engineering ideas. Business courses include those in technology entrepreneurship, case studies in new ventures and an elective in business plans. Engineering courses cover engineering economy and engineering law. There is also a dean's seminar jointly taught by the business and engineering schools. Elective courses in technologically specific areas of commercialization, such as biomedical devices, are also included.

This program is especially suited to engineering majors.

A minimum of 16 units is required for the minor. Courses required for a student's major that are listed below are not included in the unit total.

BAEP 452Cases in Entrepreneurship4
BUAD 301Technical Entrepreneurship3
CE 404Business and Intellectual Property Law for Engineers3
ENGR 493xDean's Seminar in Entrepreneurship2
ISE 460Engineering Economy3

BAEP 454The Entrepreneurial Business Plan4<.5b0>
BME 416Development and Regulation of Medical Products3
ISE 344Engineering Team Management3
ISE 440Work, Technology, and Organization3
ISE 490xDirected Research2-3

Directed research units can be in any department and supervised by any faculty but must be approved by the faculty chair of USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, a dean within the engineering school or a designate idenfied by an engineering dean to count toward this minor. This ensures that the directed research is relevant to technology commercialization.