All USC undergraduates complete a series of general education requirements before graduation. These requirements include courses in broad categories designed to ensure that they will become well-rounded college graduates regardless of their majors. Instead of selecting general education courses focused on single areas of study – say, Psychology or Art History – imagine taking courses that weave together literature, politics, history, biology, and other disciplines linked by unique themes. This is the idea behind Thematic Option. There’s a reason Thematic Option (TO) is widely regarded as one of the best undergraduate general education programs in the country. TO engages students in critical analysis, thought-provoking discussion, and lively debate. TO students come from a wide range of majors across the university, bringing diverse perspectives to classroom conversation.
TO is a rigorous, humanities-based alternative to USC’s General Education Core program. The program takes an interdisciplinary look at academic areas linked through overarching themes and encourages students to participate in discussion-based learning. Recent courses have included “Icons,” “Madness, Science, and Society in the Modern World,” “Undergrounds,” and “The Knowledge of Good and Evil.” The TO curriculum is organized around four core classes, as well as writing seminars, individual writing tutorials, and an annual research conference. TO courses are taught by some of the university’s best undergraduate teachers, and are kept small in order to ensure personal attention and spirited conversation in the classroom. First-year fall admits are eligible to apply. If you’re interested in participating, you’ll be able to submit an application in the spring after being admitted to USC.