How to Transfer to USC

Transfer students are important to USC, and the Office of Admission is here to help you navigate the application process. This guide will provide a breakdown of how to present a strong transfer application to USC. We’re sharing this information with you now, during the summer, so that any prospective transfer student can develop a course plan and prepare themselves to apply to USC for the fall.

But, first, it’s important to acknowledge that transferring to USC is very different from the first-year application process. While our evaluation of first-year applications centers on gauging the extent to which high school students will be successful in college, strong transfer applicants have already demonstrated this ability. Therefore, the evaluation of a student’s transfer application is based primarily on their academic performance. However, the non-academic components of a transfer application – especially the supplemental auditions or portfolios required by some majors – can also play a significant role, so make sure not to overlook those!

To present a strong transfer application to USC, you should focus on these three areas.

1. Maintaining Full-time Enrollment

Unlike some other institutions, USC accepts transfer applications from students in their first year of college. Many students transfer to USC as sophomores after demonstrating strong academic preparation during their freshman year. A significant aspect of demonstrating preparation for USC, where nearly all students are restricted from part-time enrollment, is showing that you can handle full-time college coursework over a full academic year.

For students attending semester calendar schools, this means the completion of around 30 transferable semester units between the fall and spring terms. For students at quarter schools, full-time status requires completion of roughly 45 transferable quarter units across the three terms that make up the academic year: fall, winter, and spring. A rule of thumb is that, in most cases, you should be completing four courses per term (excluding summer).

There are exceptions, though. We understand that some students are unable to maintain consistent full-time enrollment due to obligations at work or home. These students should explain their part-time status (along with any other necessary context, such as gaps in enrollment) somewhere within their application. As with any question related to your application, if you aren’t sure about your enrollment status, you should reach out to your admission counselor for clarification.

2. Taking the Right Courses

There are a few resources that you should utilize in selecting your courses.

Articulation agreement: a document that lists the courses that are transferable to USC from California’s community colleges and specifies certain requirements those courses can fulfill.

Articulation history: an unofficial breakdown of courses that have previously transferred from four-year institutions and out-of-state community colleges to USC; there is no guarantee the courses listed as transferable will continue to be in the future, and if an institution hasn’t had many students transfer to USC, its articulation history likely won’t be very comprehensive; however, this document can still be a very useful resource.

Transferring to USC brochure: a detailed overview of the process of transferring to USC, particularly useful for its list of recommended and required courses by major on pages 12-15 and its explanation of USC’s transfer credit policies on page 16.

Transfer Planning Guide: a tool that provides students attending California community colleges or a select few four-year institutions with a transfer course plan.

Here’s what your course priorities should be (in order of importance):

  1. Math and lower-division Writing requirements
  2. Courses required or recommended for your major
  3. General Education and foreign language coursework
  4. Transferable courses that would earn elective credit

Math and lower-division Writing requirements

All students interested in transferring to USC should ensure they are, first and foremost, meeting our minimum admission requirements. We have two: lower-division Writing and Intermediate Algebra, both of which must be completed with a grade of C or higher. You must satisfy both of these requirements by the conclusion of the spring in which you apply in order to receive transfer consideration.

You should refer to your institution’s articulation agreement or history to see which English or Writing course can satisfy our requirement (see below). It’s possible you will have multiple options to choose from; you only need to complete one of the listed courses. If you attend a four-year institution or out-of-state community college that does not offer a course equivalent to USC’s lower-division Writing course, this requirement will be waived for admission purposes.

Our math requirement can be satisfied through completion of Intermediate Algebra in college (or any higher level college math course, such as Pre-calculus). However, students can also meet this requirement through their high school math courses. If you earned a C or better in each term of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, then you are not required to take additional math before transferring, unless it is specifically required for your major.

Courses for your major

After ensuring you’ve met our minimum admission requirements, your next priority should be completing courses recommended or required for your major. The Transferring to USC brochure lists these courses.

You should use this information in conjunction with your institution’s articulation agreement or history. For example, while most transfer applicants do not have an additional math requirement, the Marshall School of Business states in the brochure that transfer applicants are required to complete either Math 118 or Math 125 (Business Calculus and Calculus I, respectively). By referencing the course-to-course equivalencies section of their articulation agreement or history (see below), a Business Administration applicant may find there are courses at their institution that are granted equivalency to USC’s calculus courses.

This cross-referencing should be done for all courses recommended or required for your major. If your institution does not offer an equivalent course, you should take the course that most closely aligns with the recommendation or requirement described in the brochure.

General Education courses, foreign language, and electives

After ensuring you have met our minimum admission requirements and completed the right courses for your intended major, you should prioritize the completion of additional courses that would provide progress toward your eventual graduation at USC. For most students, this means first taking courses that can be applied to USC’s General Education requirements. We want our students to graduate on time, and transfer applicants can stay on track by mirroring the academic experience of a USC student as closely as possible before transferring. Taking GE-applicable courses is a great way to accomplish that!

If you attend a California community college, your articulation agreement will provide a clear list of the various courses available at your school that can be applied to a GE category at USC (just make sure you’re looking at the right GE requirements, as students who began college prior to fall 2015 have a link at the top of the document to view their GE courses).

If you don’t attend a college with an articulation agreement or comprehensive articulation history, it’s a bit trickier for you to determine which courses to take for GE credit. The Transferring to USC brochure lists examples of acceptable courses by name for USC’s GE categories (see below); so, if you’re able to complete a course that mirrors one listed as acceptable in the brochure, there’s a good chance you would receive GE credit, if admitted to USC. Generally, though, applicants from four-year institutions are encouraged to follow the guidance of their academic advisor at their current institution, while simultaneously doing their best to make progress on USC’s GEs.

Foreign language courses can also provide degree progress and help a transfer applicant stay on track to graduate on time. If you’ve completed all the available courses at your institution to meet our requirements and the recommended courses for your major, you should make sure your remaining courses are transferable for elective credit – check your articulation document and the Transferring to USC brochure for further detail on our transfer credit policies.

3. Earning Strong Grades

Our average admitted transfer student’s cumulative GPA is a 3.7, which means that, to present a competitive application, you should be earning mostly A’s (and avoiding any grades lower than a B). However, this is not a minimum GPA requirement, and every year many transfer students with a positive grade trend are admitted to USC who fall under that 3.7 average. Finally, make sure to avoid course withdrawals resulting in W’s and pass/no pass grades; you should always take a course for a letter grade if that is an option (though we will of course be flexible with students whose Spring/Summer 2020 transcripts include P/NP work due to the pandemic).


4. Additional Requirements for International Applicants

At USC, an international student is an individual of foreign nationality who will be entering, or has already entered, the United States with a student visa.  

International and domestic applicants will complete the same application, but international applicants will need to submit some additional materials. The first is a financial statement and documentation of funds which will be necessary in order to issue an I-20. The second is a test score demonstrating English language proficiency (if your first language is not English). We require this score regardless of the English courses completed at your current college or university and regardless of how long you have studied in the U.S. You can read more about these requirements on our website 


I hope this guide has been helpful. For further guidance, you can register for one of our Transfer Information Sessions. Visit our website to sign up. You should also check out this Transfer FAQ and reach out to your admission counselor – we’re happy to discuss your situation and help you develop a plan to transfer to USC.  


 For updates regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on our community and the application process, please check the USC COVID-19 Resource Center and Admission COVID-19 page for the most up to date information.   Good luck! 



50 thoughts on “How to Transfer to USC”

  1. Hello,

    I went to multiple CCs so I could take all the classes I needed and have total of 4 transcripts. 3 from community colleges and one from my current university.

    Are multiple transcripts a hassle to review for admissions counselors and does it hurt my chances of admission or look bad?

    Would my gpas from all 4 schools be averaged or will only my current school gpa count?

    If I’m applying to Viterbi would the difficulty and relevancy of my coursework carry more weight than my gpa?

    Lastly, can I send in Spring grades before decisions/request are sent out and have it considered before a decision is made on my application?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Kara! We understand that some students have to go to multiple schools in order to get the classes they need, and this is in no way held against them. You must send us all transcripts so we can take all of your courses and grades into account. We take into consideration every aspect of the transcript (grades, major relevance, etc.) You can send your spring grades once they are available, but because semesters finish at different times, we can’t guarantee that they will arrive prior to decisions/spring grade requests going out.

  2. Should I be involved with many extracurriculars, as I was in high school, or are grades more important as a transfer applicant?

  3. I haven’t done so well this semester (predicting a not so good GPA) and I decided to switch majors. I’m registered for the Spring semester with courses that are a better fit for me. Can I explain that on any portion of my application and would I get a request for spring grades?

    1. Hi, Bobby! You should definitely explain the situation in your application. Whether or not we request spring grades is based on a variety of factors, so we aren’t able to predict that right now.

    1. Hi Shariam,

      All students must select a first choice major when applying to USC. You can change your mind later, but ideally we want you to start in a field you think you’re interested in.

      1. Hi Brittany,

        Thanks for the reply. Two more questions:

        1. Is transferring to certain majors more competitive than others?

        2. I am currently studying in the UK, and so I do not take any GE courses, but would hope the courses I do take are transferable. Is transferring from a school outside the US hindering? I have some IB courses that I could also get credit for.

        Thank you,

  4. I attended Summer@USC when I was a high school student and received college credit for it. I am applying to transfer to USC as a junior. Will I need to send that transcript to USC?
    It shows up on my current university’s transcript already

    1. Hi Catherine, no, for the purposes of the admission process, you do not need to send a college transcript for coursework that you completed while you were still in high school.

  5. Hi. I plan to be a Physics/ Computer Science. I’d like to transfer within one year. If I maintain a high average gpa will it be possible with 30 units completed after one year. Only thing won’t be possible will be completing every single major prep course.

    1. Hi, Aditya! Yes, we accept transfer students after one year of college. We know not everything will be done, so we just expect to see good progress in your GE and major classes.

      1. Okay. I Plan on completing one semester of Calculus before transfer and an introduction to programming class. Rest of my plan will be General Ed. It may not be great progress since there are more requirements. After transfer it may not be possible to complete in 3 years. Do I still have a strong chance of admission?

        1. Hi, Aditya! There are so many factors, it’s impossible to say before your application is fully reviewed.

  6. Hi. I will be a transfer student and was looking into transferring to USC. I know you have 30 units to be considered but in my case that will be completed after 1 year. My major will be Physics or Computer Science or combined major. By maintaining the average gpa will it be possible to be considered for admission?

    1. Hi, Aditya! Yes, this is a common path. Many students are still in their first year when they apply to transfer. Feel free to take a look at our Transferring to USC Brochure to learn more about our expectations.

  7. Hi, I just finished my first year of college at the University of Washington. I saw there are many GE recommended classes. Does it mean that I have to complete all of it to transfer to USC or it is just a recommendation list?

    1. Hi, Eric! You don’t have to complete them all, but the more you do, the more competitive you become in our process.

  8. Hi
    I am planning to submit my application for fall 2020 but from this time till September 2020 I am planing to attend community college so I will be able to transfer some unit my question that I will submit my application before I attend the community college should I apply as transfer or freshman ???? And if I apply as fresh men and when I get admitted to CSU I do have transferable unit is it going to be transferred ???

    1. Hi, Batool! If you graduated from high school already and are taking college courses, you must apply as a transfer student. If you are still enrolled in high school, you can apply as a first year student, but only some of your college courses will transfer (16 units is the cap and they can’t have been used to meet high school graduation requirements).

      1. I already graduated from high school in 2012 in KSA and I Have done a high diploma for 3 years and 6 months in 2015 in cardiac technology (echocardiography ) and I have work experience in the medical field for almost 3years as well I have CCI exams .My question how can I know if my diploma is transferable or no because I am international student I am confused should I apply as fresh men or transfer .please If you can contact me through email so I can send you my official transcript I need more information regarding the courses which I have already done is it going to be transferable or no because I want to complete my study to get BS degree in health promotion and disease prevention

  9. Hi, I’m currently a freshman at CalPoly and plan on applying as a sophomore transfer to USC. Do I need to send my official transcript by my application deadline (December 1st) or am I able to submit them at a later time? Official transcripts at my school are ordered after final grades have been posted December 20th since I am on the quarter system.

  10. Hi, I’m planing to transfer for 2020 fall as a junior. Since the deadline is February, will you still ask for the grades of spring semester( in my school’s case:winter quarter and spring quarter) because I didn’t do very well last quarter but I’m certainly showing improvements now.

    1. Hi, Shi Ying! There are many factors that go into why we request spring grades, but we always want to see winter grades. Please reach out to your admission counselor regarding your specific situation.

  11. Hi, I was wondering if a statistics class meets the math requirement for transfer? I managed to get an A in the class so would statistics meet the minimum? I saw you need intermediate algebra, but in my college, that class isn’t transferable, but statistics is. I just wanted to confirm. Thanks! I go to an LACCD community college, the statistics class is MATH 227.

  12. Hi – Any info about Trojan Transfer Plan for universities in Singapore would be much appreciated. Eg website, contacts, etc. My son was offered to join Trojan Transfer Program and interested in Singapore, if available.


    1. Hi, Narciso! When your son has his TTP appointment, the counselor will provide him with information on how to transfer courses from whichever university he decides to attend.

  13. Hi, I was wondering how difficult will it be to get accepted as a sophomore transfer under the major Business Administration.

    1. Hi, Julia! Business is a competitive major, but we are not focused on whether a student is applying as a sophomore or junior. The most important thing is to meet the calculus requirement.

  14. My freshman year of college was particularly tough due to family issues so I have two W’s in my transcript. How bad will that affect the possibility of being accepted? My grades are A’s and B’s and I have a very strong transcript from highschool.

    1. Hi, Maggie! If you did not explain the situation in your application, please reach out to your USC counselor to let them know why you withdrew. The context is important as we make these decisions.

  15. Hello,
    I wanted to know when the next transfer application deadline is for 2021? Is there a spring and fall admission for 2021?

    Thank you.

  16. Hi there, I recently applied to Santiago Community College for the Summer 2020 term and am pursuing a major in business administration. My plan is to transfer to USC after 2 semesters, at the end of freshman year at community college (so as a sophomore).

    I was just wondering if:
    1. The Writing 150 requirement for business majors is something to be completed at USC or before I transfer?
    2. If the recommended financial and managerial accounting courses are something I need to take before transferring to USC? (I don’t even see them on the USC Transfer Planning Guide)
    3. Are Math 126 and Math 226 viable options for completing my math requirement, or just Math 118 and Math 125 as shown on the “Additional Coursework by Major” sheet?
    4. Are there any classes you suggest I prioritize taking over the summer? (I am aware that my Math and English requirements should preferably be completed by the end of the fall semester)

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi, Christopher!
      1. Yes, you will not be admitted unless you have passed the writing requirement at your community college.
      2. No, you should focus on taking writing, calculus, and GE classes.
      3. If you have already taken Single-Variable Calculus and are prepared to succeed in Multi-Variable, that is fine.
      4. No, we do not have a recommendation on courses for the summer. Please remember, however, that even if you take classes in the summer, we still want to see you enrolled in 15-16 units in the fall and in the spring semesters.

  17. Hello. I am attending a CSU currently and I am planning to transfer to USC in the spring but I have over 64 units will all my credits still transfer correctly to USC?

    1. Hi, Kammie! You will only be able to transfer in 64 units (we will prioritize those that contribute most toward your USC degree.

  18. I’m a junior transfer which got my offer last month for spring 2021. However, I just finished my current spring term and ended up with a no pass grade due to the crazy virus COVID-19, has been sick. Will the no pass grade affect my admission decision. I accepted the offer for 2021 Spring already.

    If it is affecting my offer to USC,
    Can I take the same course in the summer to replace that NP grade and turn in the summer transcript by the time I got it?

    1. Hi, Andy! That depends on a variety of factors. Please reach out to your USC admission counselor to fully explain the situation.

  19. Hello!
    I’m going to be a junior this upcoming fall and I have decided to change my major to business admin. I took 59 units as a pre nursing major at CSU and I also have finished taking my GEs. I’m planning to take the business core classes this fall and spring at CC and apply for the fall of 2021. I was worried about exceeding over 64 units and not being able to apply. Is it possible for me to have my business classes and GEs transferable instead of my pre nursing classes when I apply?
    Thank you for your time!

  20. I’m working towards my Associate’s Degree in General Studies (so I can plan my classes the way I want). I currently attend a community college and I’m scheduling my classes in a way that can meet curriculum requirements for other schools plus USC’s. By doing this, I only have room to take one major- related class. Will this count against me for admission decisions?
    My desired major at USC is: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing for Screen & Television

    1. Hi, Kamryn! We actually prefer students applying to SCA take courses in GE categories and leave all major related coursework to take at USC. Please note that the program you are interested in requires students to study at USC for 4 years. If possible, you may wish to apply to USC before completing your Associates.

  21. Hello! I have just created my transfer Common App account, and I may be wrong, but I seemed to notice there is no Common App essay as the first-year applicants. Is this correct?

    1. Hi, Karen! Once you add USC to your list of schools, you will have an opportunity to click on “Program Materials.” From there, you will gain access to a list of questions as well as the prompts for a longer essay (650 words) and the two shorter USC supplements. It doesn’t look exactly like the Common App for first-year applicants, but there is still a major writing component.

  22. Hello,
    I want to transfer USC after one year of CC. I was wondering if I hadn’t completed any foreign language for dornsife economics major, will I still be a competitive applicant? Thank you!

    1. Hi, Simpson! You can still be competitive without having taken any foreign language, but taking foreign language your first year of college makes it less likely you’ll have a scheduling conflict later in your college career.

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