University of Southern California

Undergraduate Education

Course Work Taken Elsewhere

Admitted students receive a transfer credit report prepared by the Degree Progress Department showing unit and subject credit granted for college courses and relevant exams, such as AP, IB and A-levels.

Students are required to submit complete, official transcripts of all course work attempted at any postsecondary institution as soon as final grades are posted. All post-secondary transcripts must be submitted regardless of the type of course(s) or the quality of the work. A student’s failure to provide transcripts for all course work attempted prior to enrollment at USC or while away from USC may result in denial of transferred course work and a charge of a violation of the university’s academic integrity policies.


The University of Southern California affirms the practice of accreditation of American post-secondary academic institutions by the six regional accreditation agencies: the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Acceptance of course work and/or degrees completed by undergraduate and graduate students applying to the University of Southern California will be based on accreditation by these six agencies. Certain graduate schools, seminaries, conservatories and professional institutions of national renown that are not accredited by a regional agency may be considered for graduate transfer work by the Articulation Office in consultation with the USC department or professional school to which the student is applying.

Acceptance of course work and/or degrees from post-secondary institutions overseas will be based on the recognition and approval of the college or university as a degree-granting institution by the Ministry of Education within the respective country.

Non-transferable Course Work

USC’s transfer policies have been established to enable students to achieve either an undergraduate or graduate degree that will reflect traditional academic study and research. For that reason, the following types of non-traditional course work will not transfer to USC for undergraduate credit:

  • Life experience; portfolio work; continuing education; work experience; formally structured courses offered by civilian non‑collegiate sponsors such as businesses, corporations, government agencies and labor unions, even if evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE).
  • Extension courses not accepted toward a degree by the offering institution.
  • Equivalency examinations.
  • Remedial (e.g., mathematics below college algebra), college preparatory and personal development/life skills courses.
  • Independent study, directed study, internships and correspondence courses from two-year schools.
  • Areas of study offered by other accredited institutions toward the baccalaureate but not offered by USC, such as agriculture, business office procedures, hotel management, interior design, food services, industrial mechanics, fire science, police academy and similar technical or professional programs.
  • Undergraduates will not receive credit for graduate level transfer courses.

In addition, no more than 4 units of English as a Second Language (toward the maximum of 12 ESL/ALI units that may apply to a degree) will transfer. Also, a maximum of 4 units of physical education activity courses and music ensemble will transfer. A maximum of 8 units of dance, 12 units of physical education theory courses and 16 units of individual instruction in music will transfer.

Course Work Requiring Review

USC will determine on a case-by-case basis whether to grant credit for certain types of courses taken at accredited institutions. Courses that require review by the Articulation Office include:

  • Independent study, directed study and internships taken at four-year schools.
  • Courses in which the traditionally expected number of contact hours may not have occurred, including distance learning, televised, online or correspondence courses, and courses taught in non-traditional time modes such as concentrated “intensive” sessions or special weekend modules.
  • Transfer credit from studio courses in fine arts, music and theatre is limited. See articulation agreements or

Articulation Agreements

Articulation agreements with California community colleges are issued by the Articulation Office and indicate courses available for transfer to USC. These agreements can be found at These agreements are revised periodically and are subject to change, depending on course content, availability and changes in USC’s academic policies. Articulation agreements are not issued for four-year colleges and universities.

Credit for Military Education

Academic credit will be awarded for course work taken at one of the regionally accredited U.S. Military academies upon receipt of official transcripts.

The university will also evaluate course work/experience completed through the armed services and may award credit for such courses if they meet the following criteria:

  • Students must provide official Joint Services (JST) or Coast Guard Institute (CGI) transcripts to Degree Progress.
  • Course work must be evaluated by ACE as upper-division credit.

USC will not grant credit for the following:

  • DD-214 or DD-295.
  • Course work not offered in an area of study taught at USC.
  • Course work/experience not evaluated by ACE.
  • Course work from the Community College of the Air Force.
  • DSST, CLEP and DLPT exam scores.
  • Other Learning Experiences (OLEs).

College Courses Taken During High School Enrollment

All undergraduate students entering USC may receive a combined maximum of 32 elective units for college courses taken before high school graduation and/or examinations (e.g., AP or IB) taken before matriculation at a two-year or four-year college. A maximum of 16 of these 32 units will be allowed for college courses taken before high school graduation. These courses must appear on the college transcript as part of the regular college curriculum and are expected to be taught on the college campus by college faculty and not used toward high school graduation. Students whose courses are taken at a college and were not used toward high school graduation may file an articulation petition to request more than 16 units. These courses (as well as AP and IB exams) will not receive course equivalence or credit toward writing, diversity or foreign language requirements, although they may fulfill general education categories I, II, III or V where appropriate. However, departments may use them as a basis to waive prerequisites or specific course requirements on a case-by-case basis.

Students may not receive credit for both an AP exam (or IB or other international exam) and a college course taken before high school graduation covering the same subject matter, nor for an AP and IB exam covering the same subject matter.

Besides earning elective units, some AP tests and international exams fulfill general education requirements. Finally, scores of 4 or 5 on AP tests in modern languages if taken in spring 2007 or later will satisfy the third-semester foreign language requirement. Details will be reported on the student’s transfer credit report.

Students who began full-time college study at four-year institutions before completing their high school diplomas can submit transcripts for special evaluation. These programs, which typically are conducted on a college campus and are taught by regular faculty, will be evaluated on an individual basis. More than 16 units may be granted. Students entering full-time college programs at two-year colleges before graduating from high school are subject to the 16 unit maximum stated above.