University of Southern California

Academic Policies


Final Examinations Make-up Policy

When a final examination falls at a time that conflicts with a student’s observance of a holy day, faculty members must accommodate a request for an alternate examination date at a time that does not violate the student’s religious creed.

A student must discuss a final examination conflict with the professor no later than two weeks prior to the scheduled examination date to arrange an acceptable alternate examination date.

Administrative Examinations

The following administrative examinations are given at USC:

Placement Examinations

Placement examinations determine the student’s level of ability and appropriate placement in mathematics, chemistry and foreign languages. These exams carry no unit credit but can be used to fulfill a required or elective subject area.

Placement exams are administered by the USC Center for Testing and Assessment in mathematics (MATH 040x, 108, 116, 117, 118 and 125), chemistry (CHEM 050, 102, 105a or 105), and the International Student English Examination (ISE) in conjunction with the American Language Institute. These placement exams are administered on scheduled dates on the USC campus and require a reservation with the Center for Testing and Assessment. All exams require a USC ID and/or proof of USC enrollment. For additional information, contact the USC Center for Testing and Assessment, STU 301, (213) 740-7166,

Placement in elementary and intermediate foreign language courses is made by the foreign language placement exams. Foreign Language placement exams are administered by the Language Center on scheduled dates throughout the academic year and during summer. Transfer courses in foreign languages do not fulfill the prerequisite for the next course in the sequence; students are required to take the USC placement exam to continue in language courses at USC. For additional information concerning foreign language exams, contact the Language Center, THH 309, (213) 740-1188,

Transfer students may be advised to repeat, without additional credit, a semester or semesters of instruction to qualify for the next level in the sequence if their skills are judged insufficient at the time of testing.

University Writing Examination

Students who score below specified levels on certain sections of the SAT or ACT exams and students completing American Language Institute course work are required to take the University Writing Examination to determine if they must complete preparatory course work before enrolling in Writing 150. See the Writing Program section.

Equivalency Examinations

Equivalency examinations are given at the discretion of the academic unit to determine whether upper division transferred course work may be applied as subject credit to the major requirements for the degree. Passing the examination does not provide additional unit credit. Contact the appropriate academic unit for specific details.

Subject Credit by Special Examination

Special examinations for subject credit establish subject credit in a subject area in which the student is sufficiently prepared but in which no previous credit has been accepted or attempted toward the USC degree.

Students who would like to request a waiver from the normal course requirements may request that the chair of the department in which the course is offered allow them to take a special examination challenging the course for subject credit only. The fee for the examination is one half of a unit per examination.

With the permission of the dean of the academic unit in which the student is a degree candidate, the student may file a Request for Credit by Special Examination form in the Grade Department (Hubbard Hall 106). The following rules apply:

(1) Credit by special examination is available to undergraduate students only.

(2) No more than one special examination may be taken in a given course.

(3) Special examinations will not be allowed in any course for which a student has received an unsatisfactory grade or mark on the transcript (e.g., W, UW, IN, IX, F or D) at USC or elsewhere.

(4) A special examination will not be allowed if the course is a prerequisite to or sequentially precedes a course or courses that appear on a college level transcript, unless USC allows similar courses to be taken out of sequence.

(5) Credit cannot be earned by special examination for the writing requirement, the first three semesters of any foreign language or Mathematics 040x.

(6) Native speakers of a foreign language may challenge only literature or linguistics courses offered through the respective language department.

(7) Results of all special examinations taken for subject credit only will appear on the USC transcript with a grade of “CR” (credit) or “NC” (no credit) and will not reflect unit value.