University of Southern California

Graduate and Professional Education

Graduate Degree Programs

USC is a major research university providing diverse academic programs. As such it has evolved into a complex organization. The basic underlying principle in its organization is simple: groups of faculty with similar areas of knowledge and interest are grouped together to form departments or schools. The faculty in these units work together in determining the courses to be offered, requirements for degrees, and the content and rationale underlying their curricula.

In practice, the organization becomes more complex. Certain areas of study are based on broad areas of knowledge which need to draw faculty from several departments. The following list of undergraduate and graduate degrees provides a guide to the organization of graduate study at USC. The index includes all degrees offered, and the school which administers the degree.

The basic graduate degrees are the Master of Arts, Master of Science, the Doctor of Philosophy and the professional doctoral degree. At USC there are approximately nine professional doctoral degrees, including law, dentistry and medicine. The Master of Arts degree is normally given for study in the humanities and social sciences. All Master of Arts degrees fall under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School.

At USC, the Master of Science degree is normally given for study in the natural sciences and engineering. Some of the Master of Science degree programs and several specialized master’s degree programs are also under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School.

Other master’s degrees are granted by USC for proficiency in professional fields. These professional master’s degrees are not generally conferred by the Graduate School.

Each school may provide programs for several types of degree objectives in similar areas of study. For example, the Thornton School of Music provides curricula for the Master of Arts with a major in early music performance and also offers Master of Music degree programs. These many shades of distinction between the types of degrees offered are to provide flexibility to students. Students must select degree objectives based on consideration of what will best prepare them for the career or further study they wish to pursue.

While many schools provide curricula leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree, all Doctor of Philosophy degrees are conferred by and are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. All Ph.D. candidates must meet the standards of scholarship and other regulations established by the Graduate School.

Other doctorates, which prepare students for leadership and expert service in certain fields of science, art and public welfare, are under the jurisdiction of the several schools. Professional doctorates, which are generally not under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School, include: Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of Education, Juris Doctor, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Music, Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Planning and Development Studies, Doctor of Pharmacy and Doctor of Physical Therapy.

University Certificates

In addition to the degree programs listed in the index, the university also offers a number of graduate certificate programs. Graduate credit certificate programs must be approved by the University Committee on Curriculum and meet the following requirements: (1) a minimum of 12 units is required; the maximum number of units may vary; (2) for certificate programs of 16 units or fewer, all course work must be at the 500 level or above. For programs of more than 16 units, not more than 25 percent of the total units for the program may be at the 400 level; (3) for completion, a minimum cumulative USC grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved on all course work applied to the certificate; (4) all course work must be earned at USC, except for programs of more than 16 units, in which case not more than 25 percent of the course work may be transfer credit.

Area of Emphasis

An Area of Emphasis is a specific focus within a major that has been formally approved. Areas of Emphasis are listed within parentheses following the appropriate majors and do not appear on diplomas but are indicated on transcripts.

Dual Degree

A dual degree program joins two distinct graduate degree programs under a single, new program and POST (program of study) code. (Applicants to dual degree programs must apply separately to each degree and be admitted to both programs. After admission to both degree programs, the student is assigned the single, dual degree POST code.) Upon completion of the dual degree program, two degrees (and two diplomas) are awarded. Both degrees in a dual degree program must be awarded with the same conferral date.

Progressive Degree Programs

A progressive degree program enables a USC undergraduate to begin work on a master’s degree while completing requirements for the bachelor’s degree. The degree may be in the same or different departments but should be in a similar field of study. Students in a progressive degree program must fulfill all requirements for both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree except for the combined total number of units for the degrees. The master’s degree may be awarded simultaneously with but not before the bachelor’s degree is awarded. See Progressive Degree Programs for additional information.

The Graduate Degree Programs List

All degrees are listed alphabetically by the school that provides the program for the degree objective.

Online Programs and Courses

The university does not distinguish online programs and courses from those offered on campus. Requests to provide information about which programs and courses are offered online will be denied.