University of Southern California

School of Architecture

Undergraduate Degrees

Bachelor of Architecture

The bachelor’s degree program begins intensively with architectural studies in the first year and provides for a mix of architectural and general university studies throughout the program. The curriculum includes two cycles of development. The first cycle of six semesters provides a foundation in understanding architecture, concluding with integrative studies after two years of introductory work. The second cycle, four semesters, provides the opportunity to explore many aspects of architecture and to develop individual strengths and interests. During this period, a comprehensive design studio project is undertaken in the fall of the fifth year. The spring of the fifth (and final) year culminates in the development of that comprehensive building project in the context of a professional practice course, coupled with a research design studio taken along the lines of the students’ own interests.

Admission as a First Year Student

All applicants to the School of Architecture must complete the university application and submit it to the USC Office of Admission along with Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or other test scores. All applicants, including international students, must submit a portfolio.

Admission with Advanced Placement

It is possible, in selected instances, that a transfer student from an accredited community college or other university may be eligible for advanced placement at the second-year level if previous work includes a minimum of 32 semester units of acceptable academic credit in a pre-architecture program. The academic credit must include 8 semester units in architectural design or environmental design. Students accepted for advanced placement must still comply with all requirements for the degree.

Advanced placement applicants are required to submit a design portfolio to the School of Architecture.

Summer Transfer Courses

A summer design studio and drawing course allows highly qualified students transferring from community college or other university programs to be evaluated for advanced placement in the fall semester. Applicants must submit a university application and portfolio by February 1 for consideration. During the summer transfer courses, students must demonstrate significant design and drawing skills to justify advanced placement. Successfully completing these summer transfer courses allows students to reduce the required 10-semester design sequence by two semesters, reducing USC residency to four years. This either provides for advanced placement into the second year or gives credit for ARCH 102abL and ARCH 105L if these courses are passed with grades of B or above. For more information, contact the school at (213) 740-2420.

Transfer students who are admitted with fewer than 32 units of college level work and who have only limited drawing or design skills may be considered for placement in the first year of the five-year design sequence. Previous academic work may in part be applied toward required and elective courses for the five-year Bachelor of Architecture program.


The School of Architecture maintains student advisers for the benefit of all students in the school. Soon after being accepted, new students are advised to make an appointment for pre-registration advisement. A complete record is kept of the progress for each student while in attendance. An individual appointment with an adviser may be scheduled at any time during the academic year. In addition, students are strongly encouraged to attend a university orientation session.

Degree Requirements

Accredited degree programs awarding the B.Arch. degree must require a minimum of 150 semester credit hours or the quarter-hour equivalent, in academic course work in general studies, professional studies and electives. The curriculum leading to the architecture degree must include at least 45 credit hours, or the quarter-hour equivalent, outside of architectural studies either as general studies or as electives with content other than architectural.

Design Studio Grade Point Average Requirement

Less than average work in design is not considered sufficient for a professional degree. Students must receive a grade of C (2.0) or above in each semester of design (ARCH 102abL, ARCH 202abL, ARCH 302abL, ARCH 402abL, ARCH 500aL, ARCH 502aL) in order to continue in the design sequence and to graduate. Students will be required to repeat the course until such a grade is achieved.

Transfer Limit for Design Studio Credit

School of Architecture majors enrolling for a semester of study off campus are limited to the transfer of only one design studio course within the ARCH 402abL sequence. Approval of transfer credit will be dependent upon portfolio review by an appointed faculty review committee.

Pass/No Pass Courses

Architecture students are permitted to take a maximum of 24 units of non-architecture electives, exclusive of the writing requirements, MATH 108 and the PHYS 125L requirement, on a pass/no pass basis. No more than 4 units of pass/no pass courses may be applied to general education requirements; no more than 4 units may be taken in one semester. Students who have taken non-architecture courses pass/no pass in the past (i.e., before admission to architecture) may count such pass/no pass courses toward, but not in addition to, the maximum of 24 units.

Schedule Choices

Students in upper division (ARCH 402abL) may substitute any fall or spring semester by completing degree requirements, including design studio, by enrolling during summer session. This substitution does not provide for acceleration of the degree but does allow for make up so that students may get back on schedule for the five-year degree.

Time Limits

While there are no specific time limits for completing the bachelor’s degree (except in the case of discontinued programs) the School of Architecture may require additional course work of students who remain in the degree program beyond six years.

Five-Year Curriculum for the Bachelor of Architecture Degree

First Year, First Semester Units
ARCH 102aL Architectural Design I 4
ARCH 105L Fundamentals of Design Communication 2
ARCH 114 Architecture: Culture and Community 2
General Education Social Issues 4
MATH 108* Introductory College Mathematics, or
WRIT 150* Writing and Critical Reasoning — Thematic Approaches 4
First Year, Second Semester Units
ARCH 102bL Architectural Design I 4
ARCH 214a World History of Architecture 3
PHYS 125L** Physics for Architects General Education, or 4
WRIT 130* Analytical Writing 4
Second Year, First Semester Units
ARCH 202aL Architectural Design II 6
ARCH 213a Building Structures and Seismic Design 3
ARCH 214b World History of Architecture 3
General Education 4
Second Year, Second Semester Units
ARCH 202bL Architectural Design II 6
ARCH 211 Materials and Methods of Building Construction 3
ARCH 213b Building Structures and Seismic Design 3
General Education 4
Third Year, First Semester Units
ARCH 215 Design for the Thermal and Atmospheric Environment 3
ARCH 302aL Architectural Design III 6
ARCH 313 Design of Building Structures 3
General Education 4
Third Year, Second Semester Units
ARCH 302bL Architectural Design III 6
ARCH 315 Design for the Luminous and Sonic Environment 3
ARCH 411 Architectural Technology 3
General Education 4
Fourth Year, First Semester Units
ARCH 314 History of Architecture: Contemporary Issues 3
ARCH 402aL Architectural Design IV 6
ARCH 525 Professional Practice: Pre-Design, Project and Office Administration 3
Electives 4
Fourth Year, Second Semester Units
ARCH 402bL Architectural Design IV 6
Architecture history electives 2-4
Electives 7-9
Fifth Year, First Semester Units
ARCH 500aL Comprehensive Architectural Design 6
ARCH 501 Critical Topics in Architecture 2
WRIT 340 Advanced Writing 4
Electives 4
fifth Year, Second Semester Units
ARCH 502aL Architectural Design V 6
ARCH 526 Professional Practice: Legal and Economic Context, Project Documentation 3
Electives 7
*All students must enroll in WRIT 150 in the fall except those who are required to take MATH 108. These students must take WRIT 130 the following spring.

**PHYS 125L fulfills the General Education requirement in Category III. The PHYS 125L requirement may also be fulfilled by PHYS 135abL; 4 units will be applied toward the B.Arch. and 4 will count as electives.

Core Requirements

In order to take advantage of elective opportunities in the advanced program, students must complete the following courses before the end of the special integrative semester (third year, first semester): ARCH 102abL, ARCH 105L, ARCH 114, ARCH 202abL, ARCH 211, ARCH 213ab, ARCH 214ab, ARCH 215; MATH 108; PHYS 125L; and WRIT 150 or WRIT 130.

Allocation of Elective Units

A total of 20 units of electives and a 4-unit diversity course is included toward completion of the 160 units for the degree.

Professional Electives

A minimum of 12 units in architecture is required.

Free Electives

An additional 12 units in any category of professional courses, humanities, social sciences and communication and natural sciences. Natural sciences include astronomy, biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, geological sciences, mathematics (excluding MATH 108) and physics (excluding PHYS 125L or PHYS 135abL). One of these courses must satisfy the diversity requirement.

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 The USC Core and the General Education Program for more information.

Students who are required to take MATH 108 during the freshman year may take their Social Issues course in the fall and WRIT 130 separately in the spring.