Jul 24, 2021  
USC Catalogue 2019-2020 
USC Catalogue 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Programs

Return to the USC School of Architecture  


The school offers interrelated graduate programs in architecture, landscape architecture, building science and heritage conservation as well as three dual degree programs with the USC Price School of Public Policy.

Admission to Graduate Programs

Credentials for admission must include a complete record of all previous college or university work. The applicant must request the registrar of each college or university attended to forward official transcripts of record directly to the Office of Admission.

Following are the basic requirements for admission to the graduate programs: (1) the appropriate degree from an accredited college or university; (2) satisfactory scores on the verbal, analytical and quantitative portions of the aptitude test of the Graduate Record Examinations; (3) intellectual promise and clear study intentions that indicate an ability to do acceptable graduate work; (4) a portfolio of design work*; (5) strong personal qualifications.

All students must speak and write English. Foreign students must demonstrate such ability by taking the TOEFL or IELTS test before leaving their home countries, and, if necessary, by further tests upon arrival on campus.

International students may be required to enroll in American Language Institute (ALI) English courses, based on scores on the English Placement Tests. The cost of these additional courses is the responsibility of the student. In addition, international students should be aware that they may have to defer enrollment in some major courses because of the ALI courses, extending the number of semesters required to complete the program and increasing the overall tuition expense. International students are urged to read with care all information sent to them about English requirements and to take as many English language courses as possible prior to coming to the United States.

*The Master of Building Science and Master of Heritage Conservation programs accept computer programs, papers and other work as portfolio work.

Correspondence with the dean or individual faculty members does not constitute admission to the Graduate School or to the School of Architecture. Only a letter from the Director of Admissions grants official admission.

Graduate Program Policies

Graduate students are expected to complete between 12 and 16 units per semester, spring and fall, depending on the program in which they are enrolled.

A minimum grade of C (2.0) is required in a course to receive graduate credit. A grade point average of at least B (3.0) on all units attempted at USC toward a graduate degree is required for graduation. A total grade point average of at least a B (3.0) in all courses applied toward completion of a certificate is required prior to being awarded a particular certificate. Course work taken on a pass/no pass basis cannot be applied toward a graduate degree or a certificate. If a student does not meet these minimum grades the faculty member should meet with the student to provide timely advisory reviews.

Failure to complete program course work on schedule will result in the loss of financial awards from the School of Architecture and/or may result in suspension from the program upon recommendation from the program director and approval by the Dean of the School of Architecture and the Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Programs. Additional semesters may be taken to complete the thesis or directed design research when appropriate.

All appeals will be reviewed initially by the director(s) of the appropriate graduate program and then by a committee consisting of all graduate program directors (with the exception that design courses will be reviewed by the design review committee). Their recommendation(s) will be forwarded to the dean for consideration and action, and then forwarded to the Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Programs. All communications must be in writing.

Thesis Committees

In the School of Architecture’s master’s programs, thesis committees must include a minimum of three members. The chair will be a full-time faculty member in the student’s discipline in architecture. The second member must be a full- or part-time USC faculty member, not necessarily from the School of Architecture. The third member may be either a USC faculty member or a practitioner with a special expertise in the field; she or he may be full-time or part-time, tenure track, non-tenure track, or a non-academic practitioner. Thesis committees are ultimately subject to approval by the school dean.

Summer Graduate Studies Abroad

The School of Architecture offers programs for summer graduate study abroad. The purpose of the programs is to offer graduate architecture students the opportunity to study the built fabric of another culture firsthand and engage in a focused urban studies problem in that culture. The programs also strive to expand appreciation of the importance of development in the current world market and show practitioners USC graduates’ ability to engage in and contribute to international development.  

Exhibits of Student Work

Throughout the year, selected students are given the opportunity to show work in organized exhibitions, as well as to be included in our ongoing student work publication INDEX. The school seeks multiple formats and opportunities to have student work shown in the community at large and at cultural institutions throughout the city and the world, with recent exhibits in Shanghai, France, Italy and Washington, DC.

Field Trips

Field trips to locations in the larger California region as well as through the United States are organized each year in support of various aspects of the academic program.  In addition, students regularly visit the many sites of significance in the local Los Angeles area on an almost weekly basis for their general course work and personal interest.

Lectures and Exhibitions

The school provides significant service to the community and profession through public programs, and the participation of faculty members in community and professional activities. With the support and cooperation of the Architectural Guild, the school generates a vigorous program of lectures, exhibitions and tours.

Some of the world’s most distinguished and emerging architects, landscape architects and designers have lectured at USC. These include Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Mario Botta, Yona Friedman, Peter Cook,Yung Ho Chang, Thom Mayne, Michael Maltzan, Hitoshi Abe, Mia Lehrer, Fumihiko Maki, Jean Nouvel, Will Bruder, Francois Roche, Enrique Norten, Adriaan Geuze, Kazuyo Sejima, Ai Wei Wei, Rem Koolhaas, Shigeru Ban, Hans Hollein, Charles Waldhem, Nader Tehrani, Cesar Pelli, Javier Sanchez, Laurie Olin, Eric Owen Moss and Pei Zhu.

The school also provides the Helen Lindhurst Architecture Gallery and the Verle Annis Gallery for major architectural exhibitions by visiting guests, USC faculty, students and alumni.

Summer Program in Heritage Conservation

This program offers three weeks of classes with noted experts from Southern California and the United States. Taken together the courses act as a general introduction to the field of heritage conservation. In addition to examining the history and philosophy of the conservation movement as it has evolved during the past century, lectures and field trips to historic sites throughout the Los Angeles area will introduce students to a broad range of legal, economic, aesthetic and technical issues associated with the documentation, conservation and interpretation of historic structures, landscapes and communities.

For more information, call (213) 821-2168.