Apply: Transfer Students

As a transfer student at USC, you will enjoy unparalleled opportunities in and outside the classroom. From access to world-class faculty and the ability to conduct your own original research, to acquiring real-world experience through service learning and internship programs, the possibilities are endless. Transfer admission to USC remains highly competitive, and we look for students with outstanding talents and leadership skills. Fight On!

Essential Information

Successful Transfer Applicants:

  • Present at least one year of rigorous, full-time academic coursework, with strong grades. In 2017, the average GPA of admitted transfer students was 3.7. Consistent progress toward a degree and strong academic performance greatly influence our admission decisions.
  • Complete the equivalent of USC’s lower-division Writing requirement, Writing 130.
  • Meet our minimum Math requirement by demonstrating a mastery of Algebra II in high school, or Intermediate Algebra in college with a grade of C or better. Many majors require more math.
  • Make satisfactory progress toward meeting USC General Education requirements.
  • Complete additional lower-division courses required by their intended major, if applicable. Refer to Additional Coursework by Major to see if your intended major requires lower-division courses that should be completed before you transfer. This is especially important for students pursuing degrees in science, engineering, architecture, dental hygiene or business.
  • Students whose native language is not English must also demonstrate English-language proficiency.
When to transfer
USC accepts both sophomore and junior transfer students.

By transferring as early as your sophomore year, you can take more of your General Education and elective courses at USC. You will be part of the USC community for a longer time and have more opportunities to get involved with campus life and make the connections that can help you after graduation.

If your academic record in high school fell short of USC expectations, you may be able to position yourself as a stronger candidate if you complete two years of solid undergraduate coursework at another institution.

Additionally, if you complete most of your General Education requirements before transferring, you will have more time to pursue a double major, a major-minor combination, or a unit-heavy major while you are enrolled at USC.

Current high school students, please note: If you are still in high school, USC considers you a first-year applicant, regardless of the number of college units completed prior to high school graduation. If you have questions about your class standing, please call the USC Office of Admission at (213) 740-1111.

Transfer Units
USC does not require a minimum number of transfer units. However, if you have earned fewer than 30 transferable semester units, we will base our decision either primarily on your high school record and SAT or ACT scores, or wait to receive your spring-term grades
College Transcripts
You must submit official college transcripts from any and all colleges you have attended, regardless of whether or not all coursework or degree requirements were completed. Failure to do so may be viewed as a violation of academic integrity, which could result in revocation of admission and/or dismissal from the university.
Selecting a Major
Applicants may indicate a first- and second-choice major on the application. We also consider transfer students for “open/undecided” status.
English Proficiency Requirement
International transfer applicants whose native language is not English must submit a TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic score earned within two years of their application date
Remedial Coursework
Placement exams offered at your current college will determine your need for any remedial coursework in writing and mathematics prior to your admission to USC. Remedial courses are not transferable.
Required Courses Taken on a Pass/No Pass Basis
As many as 24 semester units, including up to 4 units of General Education courses, may be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis. One Core Literacy course may be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis, and both of the Global Perspectives courses may be taken on a Pass/ No Pass basis. Please note that writing courses taken on a Pass/No Pass basis will not fulfill USC’s lower-division Writing requirement.

Checklist

  • Common Application and the USC Writing Supplement
  • Official final high school transcripts with date of graduation.
    • Students who completed secondary school outside the US may substitute a copy of a diploma or leaving certificate.
    • Students who did not finish high school should also submit a copy of their completion certificate (such as a GED) and may also submit a letter of explanation.
  • All official college transcripts. Official transcripts of any and all college coursework completed through the fall term.
  • SAT or ACT Scores. Required from applicants who have completed fewer than 30 semester units of college coursework.
  • Letter(s) of recommendation. (Optional, although may be required for some majors.)
  • Portfolio, resumé and/or additional writing samples: if required by major. Performance majors may also require auditions. Refer to the Additional Major Requirements page for more information.

 

International applicants please refer to the International Students page for an Application Checklist.

Credit & Policies

Students Who Began College in Fall 2015 or After:
Students are required to follow these revised General Education requirements if they graduated high school in spring or summer 2015 and their first full-time term of college enrollment was fall 2015 or after (excluding summers).

Students Who Began College Prior to Fall 2015:
Students who started at any college or university before summer 2015 will follow the GE program in effect prior to fall 2015.

Click below to learn about Transfer Credit and Policies:

Units That Must Be Earned at USC
Transfer students must complete a minimum of 64 units in residence at USC, or half the units typically required for graduation. A few exceptions are noted below.

While in residence at USC, you are also expected to:

  • Complete all upper-division units in your major and minor.
  • Complete WRIT 340, a minimum of two Core Literacy GE courses, and any remaining General Education courses not taken before entering USC.
  • Take all your fall- and spring-semester courses for credit at USC. Courses may be taken at other institutions only during summer sessions, with limitations.


Exceptions:

  • Engineering “3-2” Program: Students must complete a minimum of 48 units in residence at USC. Two-thirds of any transferable coursework must be completed at one of USC’s four-year partner institutions.
  • Bachelor of Architecture: Students must earn at least 80 units at USC. A maximum of 70 of the transferable units for this program may be earned elsewhere.
Transfer Unit Limits
USC limits the transfer of credit in certain categories. You may transfer up to:

  • Sixty-four (64) units of credit from other institutions, except where noted.
  • Four (4) units each of English as a Second Language, physical education activity courses and music ensemble courses.
  • Eight (8) units of dance.
  • Twelve (12) units of physical education theory courses.
  • Sixteen (16) units of individual instruction in music. • Other studio and performing arts classes are also limited. Check with an advisor.
Courses/Units That Will Transfer
Accredited courses: Coursework completed at, or degrees from, U.S. institutions accredited by the six regional accrediting agencies are generally accepted. Coursework completed at international post-secondary institutions approved by the local Ministry of Education as degree-granting institutions may also transfer.

Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and other standardized examinations: We accept a maximum of 32 units for standardized examinations.

Please visit arr.usc.edu/transfercredit for a list of standardized exams and the course requirements they fulfill.

College courses taken during high school: We accept a maximum of 16 units, included in the 32-unit combined maximum for AP/IB credits. These courses must be taught by college faculty on a college campus, appear on your college transcript as part of the regular college curriculum and must not be applied to your high school diploma. They can fulfill General Education requirements, but they cannot fulfill the Writing or Foreign Language requirements nor receive equivalence to USC courses.

Courses/Units That May Transfer
Courses in these categories will be considered by petition, and credit is granted on a case-by-case basis. Be sure to keep copies of course syllabi, exams and papers, as we may ask for these in making our determination.

Nontraditional formats/time frames: Distance-learning, online courses, concentrated “intensive” sessions, special weekend modules, and other nontraditional course formats and time frames.

Please note that elective units only — not equivalence to USC courses or fulfillment of requirements — are granted for foreign language and laboratory science courses taught via distance learning, TV, or in an online or correspondence course.

Courses/Units That Will Not Transfer
Unaccredited institutions: Coursework or degrees completed at U.S. institutions not accredited by a regional accrediting agency.

Low grades: Courses in which your grade was less than C– (1.7).

No degree credit: College extension courses and courses taken at international institutions not credited toward a degree at that college.

Areas of study not offered by USC: These include agriculture, business office procedures, hotel management, food services, industrial mechanics, interior design, fire science, forestry, police academy, and similar professional and technical programs.

Duplicated material: An AP exam and IB exam or college course covering the same material.

Life and work experience: Including portfolio work, continuing education, equivalency examination units, and courses offered by business and governmental agencies (even if evaluated by the American Council on Education).

Placement exams: Courses and/ or unit credits awarded by another institution for placement examinations or credit by exam.

Remedial/college preparatory/ personal development: Including mathematics courses below the level of college-level algebra. (Intermediate Algebra, USC’s minimum math requirement for admission, is not transferable.)

Nontraditional formats at two-year colleges: Including independent study, directed study, correspondence courses, internships and travel courses.

Graduate-level courses: Graduate-level coursework taken by undergraduate students.

Determining Your Transfer GPA
USC calculates your transfer GPA on the basis of your grades in all USC-transferable courses, including grades of D and below. Plus and minus grading is taken into account. Expired incompletes, unofficial withdrawals and missing grades are treated as an “F.” Credit/No Credit and Pass/No Pass marks are not included in the transfer GPA.

USC does not honor other colleges’ academic “renewal” or “forgiveness” programs that permit students to improve a substandard grade. If you repeat a transferable course for which you earned a grade of D+ or lower, both grades will be included in your transfer GPA. If the grade on the first course was a C- or higher, only the first grade is included.

Your transfer GPA is different from the GPA earned in courses you take at USC. The transfer GPA and your USC GPA are kept separate until it is time to determine if you are eligible to graduate and earn graduation honors, as described in the USC Catalogue.

Academic Standards and Requirements
The USC Catalogue is the document of authority on policy matters, and it changes from time to time. It provides complete information about academic standards governing coursework taken at other colleges, as well as specific requirements for your major field. Please visit catalogue.usc.edu for the most current version.

Our Transfer Students Come From…

50% California Community Colleges
7% California Private Colleges and Universities
10% California State University /
University of California
27% Colleges Outside California
6% International Colleges and Universities

Transfer Tools

The key to a successful transfer is good planning. The following resources will help you determine which courses and credits will transfer to USC. Click on the links below to access an interactive planning guide, download useful brochures, checklists, worksheets, and information.

Transfer Planning Brochure (PDF)
This brochure will help you navigate the application and transfer process, and introduce you to our transfer policies. Download the Transfer Planning Brochure.

Interactive Planning Guide
This online resource will help you determine which undergraduate courses at other institutions will satisfy USC’s General Education courses, as well as the lower-division coursework required for any major. Go to the Interactive Planning Guide.

Transfer Planning Worksheet (PDF)
This worksheet will help you keep track of the transferable courses you have completed and what courses are still in progress. Download the Transfer Planning Worksheet here (PDF).

Students who began full-time, college-level work prior to fall 2015 (excluding summer semesters) will need to follow these General Education requirements.

Additional Coursework by Major (PDF)
Find the lower-division, introductory coursework that may be recommended or required for your intended major. Download the Additional Coursework by Major file here.

Articulation Agreements: Community Colleges
These lists indicate the community college courses that fulfill General Education and other requirements, as well as equivalents to lower-division courses at USC. Go to the Articulation Agreements with Community Colleges.

Articulation Histories with Local Four-Year Colleges
Though USC does not maintain formal articulation agreements with four-year colleges, this resource will help you determine which courses have been accepted for transfer in the past. Click here to view.

Veterans

Through an array of affiliated services and programs, the Veterans Resource Center helps ease the transition to USC for military veterans. Services range from academic and career counseling, to financial aid and veteran benefits information, to religious life. Click to visit the USC Veterans Resource Center.

Immigration-DACA Status

USC admission, enrollment and tuition policies are not based on your immigration or DACA status. Your admission and enrollment will not be affected if you do not have, or if you lose your, immigration or DACA status. Financial assistance is available for undocumented students who meet certain criteria.  California residents may qualify for additional assistance under AB540 (the “California Dream Act”). For more information, please visit dream.csac.ca.gov.

For help navigating the admission and financial aid process, please refer to the Undergraduate Student Government’s Undocumented Student Guide, which includes a link to contact the USC Office of Financial Aid.