The USC undergraduate architecture program has been committed to the fundamental concerns of the built environment for over 100 years. Rooted in Los Angeles but embracing a global outlook, our programs encourage progressive, cultural thinking about architecture and its role in social change.
The USC School of Architecture nurtures its students, supporting your interests, challenging you and helping you transition into the professional world of design and architecture. The unbeatable combination of a world-class research university, Trojan spirit and Los Angeles—a center of architectural culture—will present you with an education that will forever change your life.
Beyond design studios and other classes, there is much going on at the School, including student events, lectures, exhibitions, global travel opportunities and workshops. The School is a constant hive of activity and invention, and the deeply knit undergraduate architecture community progresses our ideals into the future built environment.
The Bachelor of Architecture degree is a STEM program in Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology (CIP code 04.0902). International students who graduate from USC’s Bachelor of Architecture or Master of Architecture degree may be eligible for a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 36 months). The 24-month STEM OPT extension is adjudicated (approved) by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
“Our program stresses the importance of being a citizen architect. It is important for students to find purpose in design in order to make this world a better place for all. In doing so, work will not be laborious but rather something much more fulfilling.”
— Doris Sung, Director of Undergraduate Architecture Programs
The curriculum includes two cycles of development. The first cycle of six semesters provides a foundation in understanding architecture, concluding with integrative studies after two years of introductory work. The second cycle, four semesters, provides the opportunity to explore many aspects of architecture and to develop individual strengths and interests. During this period, a comprehensive design studio project is undertaken in the fall of the fifth year. The spring of the fifth (and final) year culminates in the development of that comprehensive building project in the context of a professional practice course, coupled with a research design studio taken along the lines of the students’ own interests.
RELATED LINKS: Learning Objectives for this Program
Following is the program curriculum for the 2020-2021 Academic Year. For previous years, please consult the online USC Catalogue archive.
- YEAR ONE, SEMESTER ONE (TOTAL UNITS: 16)
- YEAR ONE, SEMESTER TWO (TOTAL UNITS: 15)
102BL Architectural Design I (4 units)
214AG* World History of Architecture (3 units)
PHYS 125LG** Physics for Architects (4 units)
WRIT 150 Writing and Critical Reasoning: Thematic Approaches (4 units)
*ARCH 214a, ARCH 214b fulfill the General Education requirement in Category A: The Arts.
**PHYS 125L fulfills the General Education requirement in Category E: Physical Sciences. The PHYS 125L requirement may also be fulfilled by PHYS 135abL; 4 units will be applied toward the B.Arch. and 4 will count as electives.
- YEAR TWO, SEMESTER ONE (TOTAL UNITS: 16)
202AL Architectural Design II (6 units)
213AG*** Building Structures and Seismic Design (3 units)
214BG* World History of Architecture (3 units)
GE General Education (4 units)
*ARCH 214a, ARCH 214b fulfill the General Education requirement in Category A: The Arts.
***ARCH 213a, ARCH 213b fulfills the General Education requirement in Category F: Quantitative Reasoning.
- YEAR TWO, SEMESTER TWO (TOTAL UNITS: 16)
- YEAR THREE, SEMESTER ONE (TOTAL UNITS: 15)
215 Design for the Thermal and Atmospheric Environment (3 units)
302AL Architectural Design III (6 units)
313 Design of Building Structures (3 units)
314 History of Architecture: Contemporary Issues (3 units)
- YEAR THREE, SEMESTER TWO (TOTAL UNITS: 16)
- YEAR FOUR, SEMESTER ONE (TOTAL UNITS: 18)
402AL Architectural Design IV (6 units)
WRIT 430 Advanced Writing (3 units)
GE General Education (4 units)
Electives (4 units)
- YEAR FOUR, SEMESTER TWO (TOTAL UNITS: 16)
402BL Architectural Design IV (6 units)
Architecture History Elective (2-4 units)
Electives (3-5 units)
- YEAR FIVE, SEMESTER ONE (TOTAL UNITS: 16)
- YEAR FIVE, SEMESTER TWO (TOTAL UNITS: 16)
502AL Architectural Design V (6 units)
Electives (7 units)
The USC Catalogue is the document of authority for all students. The program requirements listed in the USC Catalogue supersede any information which may be contained in any bulletin of any school or department. The university reserves the right to change its policies, rules, regulations, requirements for graduation, course offerings and any other contents of this catalogue at any time.
- ADMISSION AS A FIRST YEAR STUDENT
All applicants to the School of Architecture must complete the Common Application and submit it to the USC Office of Admission along with Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or other test scores. All applicants, including international students, must submit a portfolio.
- ADMISSION WITH ADVANCED PLACEMENT
It is possible, in selected instances, that a transfer student from an accredited community college or other university may be eligible for advanced placement at the second-year level if previous work includes a minimum of 32 semester units of acceptable academic credit in a pre-architecture program. The academic credit must include 8 semester units in architectural design or environmental design. Students accepted for advanced placement must still comply with all requirements for the degree. Advanced placement applicants are required to submit a design portfolio to the School of Architecture at the time of application.
- SUMMER TRANSFER COURSES
A summer design studio and drawing course allows highly qualified students transferring from community college or other university programs to be evaluated for advanced placement in the fall semester. Applicants must submit a university application and portfolio by February 15 for consideration. During the summer transfer courses, students must demonstrate significant design and drawing skills to justify advanced placement. Successfully completing these summer transfer courses allows students to reduce the required 10-semester design sequence by two semesters, reducing USC residency to four years. This either provides for advanced placement into the second year or gives credit for ARCH 102abL and ARCH 105L if these courses are passed with grades of B or above. For more information, contact the school at (213) 740-2420.
Transfer students who are admitted with fewer than 32 units of college level work and who have only limited drawing or design skills may be considered for placement in the first year of the five-year design sequence. Previous academic work may in part be applied toward required and elective courses for the five-year Bachelor of Architecture program.
The School of Architecture maintains academic advisers for the benefit of all students in the school. All incoming students will participate in new student orientation and receive information about course requirements and planning. An individual appointment with an adviser may be scheduled at any time during the academic year to review coursework in progress or to plan for future semesters.
- DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
Accredited degree programs awarding the B.Arch. degree must require a minimum of 160 semester credit hours or the quarter-hour equivalent, in academic course work in general studies, professional studies and electives. The curriculum leading to the architecture degree must include at least 45 credit hours, or the quarter-hour equivalent, outside of architectural studies either as general studies or as electives with content other than architectural.
- DESIGN STUDIO AND DEGREE SEMINAR GRADE POINT AVERAGE REQUIREMENT
Less than average work in design and design research is not considered sufficient for a professional degree. Students must receive a grade of C (2.0) or above in each semester of design and design research (ARCH 102abL, ARCH 202abL, ARCH 302abL, ARCH 402abL, ARCH 500aL, ARCH 501, ARCH 502aL) in order to continue in the design sequence and to graduate. Students will be required to repeat the course until such a grade is achieved.
- TRANSFER LIMIT FOR DESIGN STUDIO CREDIT
School of Architecture majors enrolling for a semester of study off campus are limited to the transfer of only one design studio course within the ARCH 402abL sequence. Approval of transfer credit will be dependent upon portfolio review by an appointed faculty review committee.
- PASS/NO PASS COURSES
Architecture students are permitted to take a maximum of 24 units of non-architecture electives, exclusive of the writing requirements, MATH 108 and the PHYS 125L requirement, on a pass/no pass basis. No more than 4 units of pass/no pass courses may be applied to general education requirements; no more than 4 units may be taken in one semester. Students who have taken non-architecture courses pass/no pass in the past (i.e., before admission to architecture) may count such pass/no pass courses toward, but not in addition to, the maximum of 24 units.
- SCHEDULE CHOICES
Students in upper division (ARCH 402abL) may substitute any fall or spring semester by completing degree requirements, including design studio, by enrolling during summer session. This substitution does not provide for acceleration of the degree but does allow for make up so that students may get back on schedule for the five-year degree.
- TIME LIMITS
While there are no specific time limits for completing the bachelor’s degree (except in the case of discontinued programs) the School of Architecture may require additional course work of students who remain in the degree program beyond six years.
- GENERAL EDUCATION
All students who begin college in fall 2015 or later at USC (or who begin elsewhere in fall 2015 and then transfer to USC) must satisfy the 2015 General Education Program, which includes six Core Literacy and two Global Perspectives requirements. Together these provide training in the liberal arts — the critical skills necessary for a free person to function effectively, thoughtfully and productively in a complex world. This General Education program has been designed to nurture habits of thought essential for professional success and personal development, and to establish a background for lifelong learning.
To fulfill a minimum 160 units for the Bachelor of Architecture degree, courses in the Global Perspectives categories should be used to satisfy requirements in the Core Literacies as well. A single course can satisfy one Global Perspective and one Core Literacy requirement.
Students must complete eight courses in the six Core Literacy categories:
GE-A: The Arts (one course)
GE-B: Humanistic Inquiry (two courses)
GE-C: Social Analysis (two courses)
GE-D: Life Sciences (one course)
GE-E: Physical Sciences (one course)
GE-F: Quantitative Reasoning (one course)
Students must complete one course for each of the two Global Perspectives requirements:
GE-G: Citizenship in a Global Era (one course)
GE-H: Traditions and Historical Foundations (one course)
However, because a single course can satisfy both a Core Literacy and a Global Perspective requirement, students can satisfy all 10 requirements with eight appropriately chosen courses.
GENERAL EDUCATION SEMINARS
All entering freshmen must complete one General Education Seminar during their first year at USC. Each GE Seminar satisfies one of the Core Literacy requirements above. Students may count only one GE Seminar for degree credit.
Eight units of writing requirements: WRIT 150 & WRIT 340
PHYSICS AND MATH
Eight units, including PHYS 125L (or equivalent) (4) and MATH 108 (or equivalent) (4)
- CORE REQUIREMENTS
In order to take advantage of elective opportunities at the upper division level, students MUST complete the following courses before the end of the integrative semester (third year, second semester): ARCH 102abL, ARCH 105L, ARCH 114, ARCH 202abL, ARCH 211, ARCH 213ab, and ARCH 214ab, MATH 108 (or equivalent), PHYS 125L (or equivalent), and WRIT 150.
COURSES: ARCH 102abL Architectural Design I A/B, ARCH 105L Fundamentals of Design Communication, ARCH 114 Architecture: Culture and Community, ARCH 202abL Architectural Design II A/B, ARCH 211 Materials and Methods of Building Construction, ARCH 213abg Building Structures and Seismic Design A/B, ARCH 214abg World History of Architecture A/B, MATH 108 Contemporary Precalculus (or equivalent), PHYS 125Lg Physics for Architects (or equivalent)
- ALLOCATION OF ELECTIVE UNITS
A minimum of 12 units of professional electives in architecture is required.
ARCHITECTURE HISTORY ELECTIVE
A minimum of 2 units in architecture history is required.
A minimum of 8 units in any area of liberal arts or sciences excluding MATH 108, PHYS 125 (or PHYS 135ab)