Spring Admits FAQ

Information for spring admits about transfer courses to be taken before entering USC:

Policies regarding transferable coursework can be found in the Course Work Taken Elsewhere section of the USC Catalogue. Most college-level courses from appropriately accredited schools will earn elective units in transfer. Some courses are also eligible for subject credit, General Education, Writing, Foreign Language, and USC course equivalence. For more information about transfer policies, please see our Transferring to USC brochure.

Beginning fall 2015, USC introduced a new set of General Education Program Requirements, or “NEW GE”. These requirements apply to students who started college as first-time freshmen in fall 2015 or later, or who will be first-time freshmen this year. 

Students who started at any college or university before fall 2015 will follow the GE Program in effect prior to Fall 2015, or “PRIOR GE”.

If you have questions about which GE Program requirements you’ll be following, please ask your admission counselor.

You can find articulation agreements with many California community colleges that state exactly what credit courses will receive. USC will honor the transfer credit shown on these agreements. The articulation agreements currently display subject credit for the NEW GE Program. Incoming students following the NEW GE Program may use these resources to review elective credit, GE, Writing, Foreign Language, and USC course equivalence.

For schools without an agreement, USC maintains an articulation history for each school from which we’ve received transfer work. Articulation histories are unofficial summaries of courses students have reported. These are not comprehensive and will vary significantly in the amount of classes available depending on the number of students who have reported transfer work from each institution. The articulation history display is term specific, and students selecting a term of fall 2014 or earlier will see the PRIOR GE Program credit we’ve awarded in the past. Your admission counselor can help you access the articulation history for your transfer institution and use it to help you select your fall classes.

First, look at Transferring to USC, which gives guidelines for determining whether a course transfers for elective credit and fulfills a graduation requirement.

Second, view our Transfer Planning Guide (TPG). For many institutions, the TPG will display courses we have evaluated that earn subject credit or satisfy lower division requirements for the selected major. The TPG does NOT contain a complete list of courses taught at these colleges. Therefore, if the school you are planning to attend is not listed or the courses you want to take do not appear, please continue to the third step.

Third, speak with your admission counselor, who may be able to provide information from our database of courses that have already transferred from the college you plan to attend. You can identify your counselor, with contact information, on the Find Your Counselor page, or call Admission at (213) 740-1111.


Requirements for majors are described in the USC Catalogue. Most departments prefer that students take General Education requirements and courses preparatory to the major (if applicable) before starting at USC, then take major coursework at USC.


Please reach out to Student Development Programs for assistance and resources regarding course planning and your overall transition to USC.

We also encourage new spring admits to use our Find Your Counselor tool to identify the admissions counselor for the institution at which you are hoping to take transferable courses. Your counselor can help you understand how the transfer credit process works generally and has access to the articulation history of any courses we have accepted from their transfer institution in the past. They will also know the kind of credit we award for certain types of commonly transferred classes and can make some educated guesses as to what you are likely to receive (or not receive) in transfer. Your counselor should be a good resource for you in predicting your transfer credit for completed classes and selecting courses for the summer or fall before you start.

Please note that due to our need to quickly process transfer credit evaluations of coursework for the students starting in the fall semester, summer pre-approval of transfer coursework for newly admitted students is not available.

For more information, please visit the askUSC portal or call the Admission and Financial Aid Contact Center at (213) 740-1111.

Possibly, but not all overseas programs transfer to USC. Every study abroad program is different and there are several variables that might affect transfer credit. However, USC looks for the following basic criteria to determine if a program will transfer.

Programs through U.S. Colleges and Universities
Some students study abroad through a U.S. college or university. The U.S. institution providing the transcript must be regionally accredited, and USC expects that the U.S. institution’s faculty either teach the courses being transferred or retain direct, detailed curricular oversight over the program. If the program involves enrolling directly in an international institution, then the foreign university must be recognized by its own country’s Ministry of Education to grant undergraduate degrees, and the courses must be part of the regular degree curriculum and be applicable to a degree at that institution.

Direct enroll programs at international institutions
Some students enroll directly at an international university. The foreign university must be recognized by its own country’s Ministry of Education to grant undergraduate degrees. The courses the student takes must be part of the host institution’s regular degree curriculum* and be applicable to a degree** at that institution. USC expects that faculty from this institution either teach the courses being transferred or retain direct, detailed curricular oversight over the program. 

Transfer credit from this type of program also requires an evaluation from our foreign credit evaluation service, IERF, which cannot be completed in advance. After students complete the program, they should set up a discounted account at www.ierf.org/usc and provide original, authentic transcripts to IERF for review. IERF will then make credit recommendations directly to USC. There is an additional fee for the Detail Report, so we strongly recommend that you research the program you plan to attend to ascertain whether or not it is a program USC has already determined will transfer (as described here).

*Many schools have created programs with an “American-style” curriculum designed to earn credit at U.S. universities. These programs generally have “American-style” course numbers and titles/content (e.g., Intro to U.S. Politics, U.S. History 1, etc.) and are taught by faculty visiting for a term from schools throughout the U.S. These courses are not part of the regular degree curriculum at the host institution, and USC does not accept these programs for transfer credit.

**Some schools create summer sessions intended solely for a study abroad audience to give foreign students an experience with the host institution’s faculty and content. These courses are not part of the regular degree curriculum, generally not open to regular degree-seeking students and, in most cases, are not applicable to a degree at the host institution. USC does not accept these programs for transfer credit.

Programs taught by unaccredited/unrecognized institutions
Many students study abroad through unaccredited institutions such as language institutes, schools that are not recognized by their home government to grant university degrees, or for-profit study abroad organizations, etc. While such programs may offer students the chance to receive a transcript from an accredited or recognized institution (often for a fee), USC will not accept these programs for transfer credit. USC expects that the host institution that provides the transcript teaches the courses, and/or retains direct, detailed curricular oversight over the courses offered, and meets all of the criteria listed above.

In most cases online courses will receive the same credit in transfer as the classroom version at the sending institution. However, online or hybrid laboratory science classes will not satisfy GE Categories 3, D or E, nor earn equivalence to USC lab science courses. Online or hybrid foreign language courses are not equivalent to USC foreign language courses nor will they fulfill the language requirement. 

If you take a traditional classroom version of one of these courses at a school where the course is also available online, we cannot guarantee equivalence or subject credit in advance. You will need to provide additional documentation after you complete the course to demonstrate that you were enrolled in the classroom version of the class. Documentation typically includes a registration summary and your course syllabus; please keep copies of all related materials.

Any courses taught in non-traditional settings or timeframes, including compact intersessions or open-ended distance education courses, require individual review after completion of course. In these cases no advance guarantee of credit can be made.