Jul 22, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Course Work Taken Elsewhere

Return to: Graduate and Professional Education  

Admitted students receive a transfer credit report showing unit and subject credit granted for graduate courses.

For course work taken at universities within the United States, the Degree Progress Department will prepare the transfer credit report. For course work taken at universities outside the United States, the Graduate Admissions Office will review the academic credentials and the academic department or program will determine subject credit granted.


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 Higher Learning Commission, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, 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 generally 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 Transfer Credit Services in consultation with the USC department, program 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.

Proof of Prior Degree

Students applying for graduate degrees conferred by the Graduate School must hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university comparable in standard to that awarded at USC. Students who have earned a master’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution with a GPA of 3.0 or higher may have the baccalaureate degree requirement waived after review. Diplomas granted for a preponderance of life experience, portfolio or equivalency examinations are not considered appropriate preparation for acceptance into USC’s graduate degree programs and are not the equivalent of USC’s undergraduate degrees. Verification of a completed undergraduate degree must be provided before enrollment in a second semester at USC.

Transfer Credit

Transfer of Course Work

The Degree Progress Department in the Office of Academic Records and Registrar determines whether course work taken elsewhere is available for transfer credit. Faculty of the student’s degree program determine whether such credit is applicable toward a specific graduate degree, subject to approval by the dean of the degree-conferring unit. The faculty’s decision should be made no later than the end of the first year in a master’s program or the second year in a doctoral program.

Credit will only be allowed for courses (1) from an accredited graduate school, (2) of a quality of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale, (3) constituting a fair and reasonable equivalent to current USC course work at the graduate level and (4) logically fitting into the program for the degree. The university also evaluates courses completed through the armed services and may grant credit for such courses as detailed in the subsequent Credit for Military Education section (see below). Transfer course work is applied as credit (CR) toward the degree and is not included in the calculation of a minimum grade point average for graduation.

Graduate transfer credit will not be granted for life experience, credit by examination, extension courses not accepted toward a degree by the offering institution, correspondence courses or thesis supervision. Graduate transfer credit will not be granted for course work taken elsewhere after a student has been admitted and enrolled at USC unless the student receives prior written approval from the department. Students may not take courses elsewhere as a substitute for courses in which they have received grades that fail to meet departmental or university requirements.

Transfer work must have been completed within seven years of admission to a USC master’s degree program (or 10 years for a doctoral program) to be applied toward that degree. Departments have the option of reevaluating transfer work when a student is readmitted to a USC graduate degree program. Requests for exceptions should be directed to the dean of the degree program for approval.

The faculty of a degree program may establish limits on the number of transfer credits stricter than those of the university, which follow:

  1. Courses used toward a degree completed elsewhere may not be applied toward a master’s degree at USC. If courses were not used toward a completed degree, the maximum number of transfer credits that may be applied toward a master’s degree, subject to departmental approval, is no more than 25 percent of the minimum units required for the program. Except in formally designated dual degree programs, the same limits apply if a student wishes to apply credits from any advanced degree previously completed at USC toward a master’s degree.
  2. A maximum of 30 units of transfer credit may be applied toward a doctoral degree.
  3. It is not permitted to apply more than 6 units of transfer credit toward a doctoral degree with Advanced Standing. Admission with Advanced Standing is based upon a completed graduate degree. The only course work available for transfer credit is course work taken after completion of that degree. No exceptions are allowed.
  4. A maximum of 4 units of transfer credit may be applied toward an approved dual degree program.

The University Committee on Curriculum (UCOC) must approve policies and procedures for considering individual exceptions within any specific program of study. Program exceptions to the transfer of course work policies require the approval of the UCOC and are listed in the departmental sections of this catalogue. Departments establishing lower maximum limits may waive their own policy (within the university’s limits) by approval of the dean of the degree-conferring unit.

Credit for Military Education

Academic credit will be awarded for graduate level course work taken at a regionally accredited U.S. military institute/college 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 graduate credit.
  • Students must submit an articulation petition for each course in which credit is requested. Each petition must include a statement of faculty support.

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.
  • DSST and CLEP exam scores.
  • Other Learning Experiences (OLE’s).

Application of Previous USC Course Work to a Current Degree

USC course work taken prior to matriculation to a current USC degree program must have been completed within seven years of admission or readmission to a master’s degree program (or 10 years for a doctoral program) to be applied toward that degree. Exceptions require approval from the Vice Provost for Academic Programs.

Credit Evaluation

The purpose of the evaluation is to verify all previously earned degrees and may list graduate course work completed at other institutions which is available for consideration toward the USC degree. Students who intend to apply transfer course work toward a USC degree program can request a comprehensive credit evaluation through the Degree Progress Department. Only courses with a grade of B (3.0) and above are available for transfer. These courses do not apply toward a specific USC degree unless approved by the student’s major department or program and school.

Concurrent Enrollment

If a student in a graduate degree program is simultaneously enrolled elsewhere, he or she may not seek to transfer credits to USC for those studies without advance permission from the dean of the degree program (except for concurrent enrollment at UCLA. See the Academic and University Policies  section for details). Failure to secure such permission will result in invalidation of course work taken during periods of unauthorized concurrent enrollment.