University of Southern California

Viterbi School of Engineering

Undergraduate Degrees

Change of Major to Engineering

USC undergraduate students who have not been admitted to the Viterbi School of Engineering may apply to add an engineering major with the approval of the Associate Dean for Admission for the Viterbi School. Students seeking approval to add an engineering major must complete required prerequisite courses and submit a Request to Change Major to Engineering form to the Admission and Student Affairs Office in Ronald Tutor Hall 110. Approval is granted on the basis of academic performance at USC and in the required prerequisite courses in the Viterbi School within a specific number of semesters.

Non-engineering students may complete a maximum of four engineering courses. No further engineering courses may be taken unless admission has been approved.

Common Requirements

Certain general requirements are common to all undergraduate curricula for Bachelor of Science degrees in Engineering. These are as follows:

Total Units

A minimum total of 128 acceptable units is required to earn the Bachelor of Science in Engineering. Exceptions are: biomedical engineering with an emphasis in electrical engineering, 133 units; biomedical engineering with an emphasis in mechanical engineering, 132 units; chemical engineering, 129 units; chemical engineering with an emphasis in biochemical engineering, 133 units; chemical engineering with an emphasis in environmental engineering, 132 units; chemical engineering with an emphasis in nanotechnology, 128 units; chemical engineering with an emphasis in petroleum engineering, 133 units; chemical engineering with an emphasis in polymer/materials science engineering, 133 units; civil engineering, 131 units; civil engineering with an emphasis in building science, 135–36 units; civil engineering with an emphasis in environmental engineering, 130 units; civil engineering with an emphasis in structural engineering, 131 units; computer science/business administration, 135 units; computer science (games), 128 units; electrical engineering, 131 units; environmental engineering, 131–134 units.

Not more than 4 units may be physical education activity courses, provided the department allows it in the program.

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 requires six courses in different categories, plus writing and diversity requirements, which together comprise the USC Core. See The USC Core and the General Education Program for more information. In addition, students pursuing a degree in computer science must meet the foreign language requirement described on the General Education Program page.

The provost has allowed an exception to the rules governing the general education program for students in the Viterbi School of Engineering, who may elect to satisfy the requirement for Category IV with a “wild card” course, which may be a second course in Categories I, II or VI, or with a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement U.S. History exam.

Students in the engineering “3-2” program are not required to satisfy general education requirements and the WRIT 140 or WRIT 130 requirement; these students are understood to have satisfied USC’s general education requirements when they have satisfied the general education requirements and lower level writing requirement at their previous institution. All students must, however, complete the WRIT 340 requirement.

Students in aerospace, astronautical and mechanical engineering complete Social Issues and WRIT 130 in different semesters.

In all other respects, students in the Viterbi School of Engineering must satisfy the general education requirements as described on The USC Core page and the General Education Program page.

Mathematics (16 units minimum)

Sixteen units or more, including three semesters of calculus, are required.

Basic Sciences (12 units minimum)

Twelve units or more of biology, chemistry or physics are required.

Residence Requirement

All students must complete a minimum of 64 units at USC in order to receive a USC degree. In addition, the Viterbi School of Engineering requires that students complete all upper division units required for the major in residence.

For students in the Viterbi School of Engineering “3-2” Program, at least 48 units must be earned in courses taken at USC.

Scholarship Requirement in Major Subject

For graduation with a bachelor’s degree, a grade point average of C (2.0) or higher is required in all upper division courses applied toward the major including any approved substitutes for these courses taken at USC. Additional scholarship requirements for the various majors are listed under the departmental headings.

Grade Point Requirement

A grade point average of at least 2.0 is required on all course work attempted at USC.

Transfer students must meet these averages, both on residence work attempted and on combined transferred and residence courses attempted.


A student whose overall GPA falls below 2.0 is placed on academic probation. Continued enrollment requires clearance from an academic review counselor.

Each semester, students on academic probation are required to receive academic advisement. Proof of advisement must be filed with the Academic Review Department before any registration requests will be processed. The only acceptable proof of advisement is an official academic review advisement record signed by the student’s academic adviser and a representative from the Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division. Academic review advisement forms may be obtained from Tutor Hall of Engineering (RTH) 110 or John Hubbard Hall 113.

Students on probation are encouraged to utilize the academic services (advisement and free tutoring) provided by the Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division.

Students on academic probation who do not raise their overall GPA to 2.0 after two semesters of enrollment (excluding summers) will be academically disqualified from the university. However, if a student earns a minimum semester GPA of 2.3 in the second or any subsequent probation semester but has not yet reached an overall 2.0 GPA, the student will not be disqualified and will be allowed to enroll an additional semester.

Petitions for readmission after academic disqualification are initiated by the student through the Academic Review Department. All grade issues (IN, MG, etc.) must be resolved prior to the submission of such a petition. Before petitioning for readmission, a student must complete a minimum of 12 semester units of transferable course work (applicable to USC degree requirements) with a minimum 3.0 GPA. University residency requirements will determine whether these units are accepted as transfer credit.

As readmission to the university is never guaranteed, any indication of strong academic performance beyond the 12 unit minimum would strengthen a readmission petition.

Students must petition for readmission by December 30 for the spring semester, by May 1 for the summer session and by August 15 for the fall semester. Late petitions will not be accepted. A non-refundable fee determined by the Academic Review Office must accompany all readmission petitions.

Special Educational Opportunities

Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division

The Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division, located in Ronald Tutor Hall of Engineering (RTH) 110, begins to assist students as soon as they express an interest in engineering and continues working with them until, and in some cases after, they graduate.

The office is not only responsible for working with prospective students, but with continuing students as well. It directs special services and programs, provides a variety of support services, sponsors student organizations, is involved with student government and acts as a liaison with other university offices.

The Viterbi Admission and Student Affairs Division enables engineering students to have a successful experience at USC.

Center for Engineering Diversity and Women in Engineering Office (WIE)

The Center for Engineering Diversity (CED) provides a variety of services for historically underrepresented students in engineering (African-American, Hispanic and Native American students, including women). Prior to their first semester in Viterbi, freshmen can participate in a four-week summer residential program (Summer Institute).

Contact the Center for Engineering Diversity at (213) 740-1999 for more information.

The Women in Engineering Office (WIE) offers professional, academic and co-curricular support to the women of the Viterbi School. The goal of the Viterbi Women in Engineering Office is to recognize the unique challenges that female engineering students will face, provide resources and overall support to address these challenges, and allow our female students to find academic and personal success during their Viterbi career and beyond.

Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life

The Klein Institute for Undergraduate Engineering Life (KIUEL) was established to provide Viterbi undergraduates with a variety of personal and professional activities designed to enhance undergraduate engineering student life experiences outside the classroom. KIUEL plans programs around leadership, service learning and globalization, and cross-disciplinary learning. Past KIUEL events have included the KIUEL Weekend for Leaders, the KIUEL Showcase and the Senior Design Expo. For more information, visit

Merit Research Program

Every year, a select group of promising incoming freshmen are invited by faculty to work on projects in their research laboratories. These student researchers actively participate in the development of new technology throughout their undergraduate careers.

In addition to giving students excellent first-hand experience, this program can help offset the cost of education since each participant earns wages for his or her work. This renewable award is separate from other financial assistance offered by the university.

The student must apply for renewal of his or her award by March 1 of each year. Continuing students can use the same application form to apply for the award starting in their sophomore year.

First Year Excellence

The First Year Excellence (FYE) program helps first-year students develop strong connections to the university and the Viterbi school. FYE promotes academic exploration and success through its co-curricular programs, support services and resources during students’ first year. Freshman academies, introductory courses and the Viterbi Spotlight Series help guide students as they explore engineering. Academic advisers work with all freshman students to ensure they are on track academically and to assist with acclimating to college life and USC. Free tutoring, group-led supplemental instruction sessions, workshops and seminars on time management and networking with faculty are available to students to assist them in accomplishing their goals.

Viterbi Career Services

The Viterbi School of Engineering provides extensive career services to all students. Students are encouraged to register with Viterbi Career Services their first year at USC. By doing so, they will be kept informed of all career-related events such as company information sessions, career preparation workshops, industry luncheons and career fairs. In addition, students are able to participate in the school’s extensive on-campus interview program.

USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering attracts employers not only from Southern California, but from across the country. A few of the many companies that have recently hired Co-ops, interns and permanent employees from the Viterbi school include: Accenture, Amgen, Alcon Laboratories, Inc., Chevron Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc., Clark Construction, Google, Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P., IBM, Intel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Kiewit Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Morley Builders, NASA, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Parsons Corporation, Raytheon, Turner Construction Company, Walt Disney Imagineering and Yahoo.

Cooperative Education

By participating in the Co-op Program, students can earn degree credit and industry work experience before they graduate. Co-op improves students’ understanding of the relationship between theory and practice, helps them fine tune their career goals and aids in the acquisition of important engineering skills. Students’ work assignments are closely related to their specific degree program and are appropriate to their current academic level.

Participation in the program is open to all full-time undergraduate engineering majors. Students are eligible to apply for Co-op the second semester of their sophomore year. Though the sequence may vary, students typically have one summer work experience in addition to one semester immediately preceding or following one of the summer sessions. While on assignment, students enroll in a 1–2 unit course (ENGR 395) that aids in the integration of both on-campus and off-campus learning. With departmental approval, credit toward a degree may be earned upon completion of this course.

3-2 Program

For those students wishing greater depth and breadth in the liberal arts, the Viterbi School of Engineering has developed agreements with more than 20 liberal arts colleges nationwide in which a student attends a liberal arts institution for his or her first three years of college, pursuing pre-engineering courses in addition to a solid program in the liberal arts. At the end of the three years, upon recommendation from the liberal arts college, the student enters the Viterbi School of Engineering as a junior and, in two years, completes the remaining requirements for a B.S. degree. After these five years are complete, the student will receive two degrees — a B.A. from the liberal arts college and a B.S. from USC.

Engineering Overseas Programs

Every summer the Viterbi School of Engineering sponsors a seven-week academic program in either Florence, London, Paris, Madrid, Rome or another location that provides students with the opportunity to enroll in engineering and humanities courses, as well as participate in a directed studies project. This program is open to all engineering majors.

International Exchange Programs

The Viterbi School of Engineering International Exchange Program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to broaden their exposure to the global context of engineering theory and practice by spending a semester abroad in a challenging academic environment at an international host institution. The International Exchange Program allows students to satisfy technical electives and/or approved degree requirements by attending approved partner institutions. This program is open to students entering their junior or senior year. Students apply at the Viterbi Student Affairs Office. Candidates must meet all admission requirements of both the Viterbi School of Engineering as well as those of the international host institution. Contact the Admission and Student Affairs Office for a complete list of international exchange partners.

Honor Societies

The Viterbi School of Engineering has established a variety of honor societies to recognize academic excellence, creativity and service. These are: Alpha Pi Mu (industrial and systems engineering), Chi Epsilon (civil engineering), Eta Kappa Nu (electrical engineering), Omega Chi Epsilon (chemical engineering), Omega Rho (industrial and systems engineering), Pi Tau Sigma (mechanical engineering), Sigma Gamma Tau (aerospace engineering), Tau Beta Pi (nationwide honor society), and Upsilon Pi Epsilon (computer science).

Minor in Engineering Technology Commercialization

The undergraduate minor in engineering technology commercialization is interdisciplinary in nature, requiring courses from both the business and engineering schools and providing education in the economic, technological and management aspects of commercializing new engineering ideas. Business courses include those in technology entrepreneurship, case studies in new ventures and an elective in business plans. Engineering courses cover engineering economy and engineering law. There is also a dean’s seminar jointly taught by the business and engineering schools. Elective courses in technologically specific areas of commercialization, such as biomedical devices, are also included.

This program is especially suited to engineering majors.

A minimum of 16 units is required for the minor. Courses required for a student’s major that are listed below are not included in the unit total.

BAEP 452 Cases in Entrepreneurship 4
BUAD 301 Technical Entrepreneurship 3
CE 404 Business and Intellectual Property Law for Engineers 3
ENGR 493x Dean’s Seminar in Entrepreneurship 2
ISE 460 Engineering Economy 3
BAEP 454 The Entrepreneurial Business Plan 4
BME 416 Development and Regulation of Medical Products 3
ISE 344 Engineering Team Management 3
ISE 440 Work, Technology, and Organization 3
ISE 490x Directed Research 2-3

Directed research units can be in any department and supervised by any faculty but must be approved by the faculty chair of USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, a dean within the engineering school or a designate identified by an engineering dean to count toward this minor. This ensures that the directed research is relevant to technology commercialization.