Special Programs

Progressive Degrees

Progressive degree programs enable USC undergraduate students to begin work on master’s degrees while continuing to complete requirements for their bachelor’s degrees. Applicants must complete between 64 and 96 units of undergraduate coursework. A master’s degree may be awarded simultaneously with, but not before, a bachelor’s degree is awarded.

Progressive degree students may enroll in both graduate and undergraduate courses, regardless of class level classification.

Financial Aid for Enrollment in a Progressive Degree Program

Progressive degree students are classified as undergraduate students until their undergraduate degree is conferred or they complete 144 units, whichever comes first. If a transfer student’s course work is not accepted for credit toward the degree, he or she may appeal to request that those units not count toward the 144 units.

Undergraduate Classification

While classified as undergraduates, students are assessed the undergraduate tuition rate, and their enrollment status and financial aid eligibility are determined by undergraduate standards. Undergraduate-level progressive degree students maintain their eligibility for Federal Pell Grants, Federal SEOG Grants, Cal Grants, Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans and any applicable eligibility for USC Merit Scholarships or USC University Grants, as long as they are enrolled in courses that are required for, or that can be applied as an eligible elective credit toward, their undergraduate degree. The Registrar’s Office determines when a student has completed their undergraduate degree and manages the process of posting degrees to a student’s record. The Financial Aid Office relies on the Registrar’s determination of the applicability of a course to a degree program and the completion of the undergraduate degree.

Graduate Classification

Once the undergraduate degree is conferred or the student has completed 144 units, a progressive degree student can no longer be considered an undergraduate for financial aid purposes. At that time, progressive degree students will be reclassified as graduate students. While classified as graduate students, they are assessed the graduate tuition rate, and their enrollment status and financial aid eligibility are determined by graduate standards. Graduate students are not eligible for federal, state or university need-based grants. Graduate-level progressive degree students are eligible to borrow Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans, up to the maximum yearly amounts established for graduate students.

Students who receive a research assistant or teaching assistant award before completing 144 units or their undergraduate degree are classified as graduate students and are not eligible to receive undergraduate financial aid.


Progressive Degree Appeals for Transfer Students

Academic departments may appeal on a transfer student’s behalf for an extension of undergraduate status if the student’s USC undergraduate program is structured such that additional time is needed. Progressive Degree Appeals (“PD Appeals”) are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Please note that all PD Appeals must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office no later than the Drop/Add date of the semester for which the student is appealing his or her class-level status. However, we strongly encourage students to submit their PD Appeals no later than six (6) weeks prior to the start of the semester so that a timely decision can be made.

To appeal, a transfer student must submit to the Financial Aid Office the following information from his or her academic advisor:

1. A brief letter from the student’s academic advisor that includes:

a. The student’s name and USC ID number;

b. The student’s major;

c. The total number of units the student’s major requires for completion;

d. The number of units the student transferred to USC; and

e. The number of transfer units applied to the USC degree requirements.


a. Mary Smith, USCID 9999-9999-99

b. Chemical Engineering

c. Total units required for the major: 133

d. Units the student transferred to USC: 64

e. Out of the 64 units that Mary transferred to USC, only 36 of these units were applied to degree requirements for this Viterbi major (including general USC and Viterbi requirements, both GE and major).

2. A Course Approval Plan as approved by the academic advisor that outlines the remaining undergraduate and graduate courses, from the current semester to completion of both the bachelor’s and master’s degree. This Course Approval Plan must also confirm the date on which the student will finish his or her bachelor’s degree.

3. The academic advisor’s signature block with contact information.