Office of Admission & Student Success
Fall 2024 Upcoming Deadline
January 15 (Regular Decision)



Thematic Option

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.

Freshman science honors

Imagine a community of aspiring scientists who share a drive to understand the natural world and solve the most difficult scientific questions of our time. USC Dornsife’s Freshman Science Honors (FSH) is more than just great classes and award-winning faculty; it’s a dynamic learning environment that includes special events, small science labs, academic support, and a lively student community. Freshman Science Honors offers honors-level sections of General Chemistry and Introductory Biology to 60 outstanding Dornsife fall admitted freshmen majoring in the natural sciences or Health and Human Sciences. In addition, students are offered advanced laboratory research seminars and faculty-guided tours of USC’s renowned science facilities. The FSH experience is about developing a strong grounding in the basics of scientific inquiry, while simultaneously being exposed to new developments in science and preparing for graduate schools and careers in natural science. If you’re interested in participating, you’ll be able to submit an application in the spring after being admitted to USC.

Academic department honors

Exceptional students who are looking for greater engagement with scholarship through research can explore academic department honors programs. By conducting an independent research project, you can make a contribution to the scholarly community in your chosen major and graduate from USC Dornsife with honors. USC Dornsife majors have varying requirements for their departmental honors distinction, but most of them require a minimum GPA and the completion and defense of an honors thesis before graduation. Past honors thesis topics have covered areas such as domestic reactions to the deployment of military forces (International Relations), the apparent dichotomy between fashion and art (Art History), and the application of Game Theory to virtual/online economies (Economics). Students apply for an academic department honors program in their sophomore or junior year as a current USC Dornsife student.