Return to: Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
College Academic Services Building, Room 200
FAX: (213) 740-4839
Director: Richard Fliegel, PhD
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 is effective for all students entering USC in fall 2015 or later, or transfer students beginning college elsewhere at that time and subsequently transferring to USC. It requires eight courses in six Core Literacies, plus two courses in Global Perspectives (which may double-count with courses in the Core Literacies) and two courses in writing. For more information about USC’s general education requirements, see here .
For a complete list of general education courses, see the general education section.
In addition, all students at USC must complete a two-course writing requirement. All students in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and some in the professional schools (see listing for each school’s requirements) must also satisfy the foreign language requirement.
In their writing classes students learn to think critically, to build sound arguments and to express their ideas with clarity. The writing requirement comprises two courses (which cannot be taken on a pass/no pass basis).
Lower-division Writing Requirement
Most undergraduates take WRIT 150 Writing and Critical Reasoning–Thematic Approaches as their first writing course. Students enroll in this writing course either in the fall or spring of their freshman year.
Students in the Thematic Option program satisfy this requirement with CORE 111 .
Some students are better served by taking a preparatory course before they enroll in WRIT 150 . Entering freshmen who score below a specified level on the verbal portion of the SAT take the University Writing Examination. Based on the result of this examination, certain students enroll in WRIT 120 Introduction to College Writing or WRIT 121 Introduction to College Writing in a Second Language during their first semester at USC. Clearance to register for these preparatory courses may be obtained at the Writing Program Office.
International students take the University Writing Examination after having completed any course work required by the American Language Institute.
Upper-division Writing Requirement
An advanced writing course, taken in a student’s junior or senior year, is geared toward students’ areas of special interest, such as the arts and humanities, science, law, engineering or business. In this course, students learn to integrate more complex information and construct more sophisticated arguments.
Foreign Language Requirement
Students may satisfy the foreign language requirement only by (1) earning a passing grade in Course III of a foreign language sequence at USC or its equivalent elsewhere or (2) scoring on the placement examination at a level considered by the department as equivalent to the completion of Course III or (3) scoring on a national or statewide examination at a level set by the department and approved by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Students who can supply proof of at least two years of full-time secondary schooling beyond the age of 14 taught in a foreign language may request exemption from the foreign language requirement. The USC Language Center has established a procedure for students who have demonstrated chronic difficulties with foreign language acquisition. Students may in some cases be approved to complete the requirement using an alternative set of courses. For additional information contact the USC Language Center, THH 309, (213)740-1188, language.usc.edu.
All students earning degrees granted by or under the jurisdiction of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences or earning degrees in programs of other schools that require three semesters of foreign language who do not meet the criteria of (1), above, must take a placement examination to determine their level of language proficiency. Placement in elementary and intermediate foreign language courses is made by the appropriate placement examination. Transfer courses, which meet foreign language level I and level II subject requirements will not meet the prerequisite for the next course in a sequence. Students may be advised to repeat, without additional credit, a semester or semesters of instruction if their skills are judged insufficient at the time of testing.
All students who as freshmen enrolled in degree programs that have a foreign language requirement are expected to fulfill that requirement by the time they have completed 64 units at USC. Students who do not satisfy the foreign language requirement before the completion of 48 units at USC will have a “mandatory advisement requirement” warning them of the need to complete the foreign language requirement. Students who do not satisfy the requirement before the completion of 64 units at USC will be required to seek approval to register.
Students admitted as transfers for whom foreign language is a requirement should fulfill it before they have completed 48 units at USC. Students who do not satisfy the foreign language requirement before the completion of 32 units at USC will have a “mandatory advisement requirement” warning them of the need to complete the foreign language requirement. Students who do not satisfy the requirement before the completion of 48 units at USC will be required to seek approval to register.
Students admitted into programs without a foreign language requirement who subsequently make a change of major into a program with a foreign language requirement must satisfy the requirement before completion of 48 units at USC after switching into the major.
International students whose native language is not English are exempt from the foreign language requirement. Students with advanced skills in languages other than those taught at USC may request exemption from the foreign language requirement if (1) they can supply proof of at least two years of full-time secondary schooling taught in a foreign language beyond the age of 14, or (2) if they can pass a competency exam testing for advanced language skills and administered at USC subject to the availability of suitable academic examiners; the competency exam will test proficiency in speaking, reading and writing skills. Students with documented learning disabilities or physical impairments inhibiting language acquisition may petition for substitution.