The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (also known as USC), Southern California's oldest private research university, is located in the urban center of Los Angeles, California.



Founded in 1880 as a Methodist University, on land donated by three wealthy Los Angeles residents, it has grown to international prominence. The university opened with an enrollment of 53 students and a faculty of 10. Its first graduating class in 1884 was a class of three - two men and a woman valedictorian. The University is no longer a Methodist institution, having ended formal ties with the church several decades ago; it is currently not religiously affiliated.

USC has grown substantially since its founding. Besides its main campus ("University Park Campus"), which lies about 2 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles, the university includes the Health Sciences Campus about 2 miles northeast of downtown and the Information Sciences Institute in Marina del Rey. The School of Public Policy and Development runs a satellite campus in Sacramento, California. Another satellite campus in Washington, D.C. was closed down in 2002.

USC's nickname is the Trojan, epitomized in the statue of Tommy Trojan near the center of campus. Until 1912, USC students (especially athletes) were known as Methodists or Wesleyans, though neither name was approved by the university. Following a fateful track and field meet with Stanford University, which USC lost tremendously, sportswriter Owen Bird reported that the USC athletes "fought like Trojans," and then university President George Bovard approved the name officially.

Pleasant in appearance (it has stood in for such institutions as Harvard and UC Berkeley in films), the University Park campus is adjacent to South Los Angeles (commonly known as South Central), and located 2 miles southwest of downtown.

USC's role in making visible and sustained improvements in the crime-plagued neighborhoods surrounding both the University Park and Health Sciences campuses earned it the distinction of College of the Year 2000 by TIME magazine and The Princeton Review. Roughly half of the university's students volunteer in community-service programs in neighborhoods around campus and throughout Los Angeles.

USC's most recent fund-raising drive raised nearly $2.9 billion, which is the largest total of any academic fund-raising drive in the history of higher education. USC and its partner institutions have recently completed or soon will be constructing 27 new buildings, which will provide nearly 8.1 million square feet (750,000 m²) of new space for research, teaching, patient care, and enrichment of student life.


The following figures are accurate as of the 2003-2004 academic year.

USC has a total enrollment of approximately 32,000 students, of which 15,500 are at the postgraduate level. 350 postdoctoral fellows are supported along with 900 medical residents. There are currently about 4,300 faculty and 14,000 support staff. There are roughly 180,000 living USC alumni. The university has attracted more international students over the years than any other American university. Currently, about 10 percent of USC's students represent over 115 countries. The USC Alumni Association has more than 200,000 current members.

The male:female ratio at USC is 1:1, and about 1/3 of students come from out of state. Ethnic breakdown is:

  • 48% Caucasian
  • 22% Asian
  • 13% Hispanic
  • 7% African-American
  • 1% Native American


While the school is best known for its outstanding professional schools in law, film, medicine, business, engineering, journalism and architecture, USC is most well-known by many for its glamorous and famous School of Cinema-Television. Currently, USC ranks among the top 10 private universities receiving federal funds for research and development support and in the top 20 among all universities in the United States. It is a longtime member of the Association of American Universities and the oldest research university in the American West.

The School of Cinema-Television, perhaps USC's most famous wing, confers degrees in critical studies, screenwriting, and production. In 2001, the film school added an Interactive Media Division studying video games, virtual reality and mobile media. The school, well supported by its famous alumni, is known for such well-known graduates as George Lucas, Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis, John Milius, Ben Burtt, and David Wolper .

Annenberg, the journalism school, holds its own among the best in the nation, but it has adopted a fairly grueling convergence core curriculum that requires students to devote themselves equally to print, broadcast and online media for the first year of study. While this approach promises a breadth of knowledge across various journalistic media, many students resent being compelled to devote so much time and energy to disciplines they aren't interested in pursuing. On the other hand, USC's Annenberg School of Journalism has a massive endowment, and the school is generous with promising students.

On March 2, 2004, the USC School of Engineering, headed by Dean Max Nikias, was renamed to the Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering. This was done to honor Qualcomm founder Andrew Viterbi and his wife Erna, who had recently donated $52 million to the school. According to the USC website, this gift was "the largest ever to rename an existing school of engineering."

Recently, USC has risen fairly rapidly in the U.S. News & World Report America's Best Colleges rankings, from 42nd in 2000 to 30th in 2005, leaving it five places behind its cross-town rival, UCLA (25th in both 2000 and 2005). The Times Higher Education Supplement, however, recently ranked USC 180th among the world's colleges and universities, whereas UCLA was ranked 26th. It should be noted that despite this, the incoming freshman class for the 2004 fall term had an average GPA of 4.0 (this figure is the average of weighted and unweighted reported GPAs), below UCLA's 4.12 and slightly above UC Berkeley's 3.93, and an average SAT score of 1350, well above the 1290 of UCLA and 1300 of UC Berkeley. Additionally, the 2006 Best Graduate Schools rankings ranked the Viterbi School of Engineering as 7th, the School of Policy, Planning, and Development as 7th, the Leventhal School of Accounting as 7th, the Marshall School of Business as 26th, and the Law School as 18th. The magazine consistently ranks the School of Cinema-Television and the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy as No. 1 in the nation.

Academic subdivisions

USC's academic departments fall either under the general liberal arts and sciences banner of the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences for undergraduates or of The Graduate School for graduates, or under one of the university's 18 professional schools. A full listing of academic subdivisions follows alphabetically by subject:

Areas of study

USC offers 77 majors, 101 minors, and 139 distinct areas of graduate study.

The most popular majors are Business Administration, Communications, and Psychology.

USC grades on a standard 4.0 scale, with +0.3 for a "plus" grade, and -0.3 for a "minus" grade. USC does not award the grade A+.


USC logo

USC participates in the NCAA Division I-A Pacific Ten Conference. Their traditional rival is UCLA across many sports, but even more traditional is the rivalry with Notre Dame in America's most-watched college sport: football. This is widely considered the greatest cross-country rivalry of college football. The team has been voted National Champions 11 times, placing the program among the top handful of historical programs. There have been more Trojans in the Olympics than from any other university in the world. Trojan men's teams are tops in the nation in NCAA championships with 72 - more than any other university. Including the women's teams, USC has won 83 national team titles.

Men's NCAA National Title

Women's NCAA National Title

USC is also known for its marching band, known as "The Spirit of Troy", which also calls itself "The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe". This band performed in the 1932 and 1984 summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, in addition to their countless appearances in movies, television shows, and performances with other renowned musicians. It is the only marching band in the U.S. that has earned a platinum record (in fact, the band's earned two).

The band was notable in the late 1970s for its appearance on the title track of the 1979 Fleetwood Mac album Tusk, which won the band many awards.

Most recently, the band produced an instrumental version of the popular song "Hit That" by The Offspring (whose lead singer is a USC alumnus), and it appeared with Outkast at the 2004 Grammy Awards in their hit song "Hey Ya!".


USC is a private corporation, and is ultimately controlled by a Board of Trustees , with roughly 50 voting members and several Life Trustees, Honorary Trustees, and Trustees Emeritus who do not vote. Voting members of the Board of Trustees are elected for five-year terms. One fifth of the Trustees stand for re-election each year, and votes are cast only by the Trustees not standing for election. Trustees tend to be high-ranking executives of large corporations (both domestic and international), successful alumni, members of the upper echelons of university administration or some combination of the three.

University administration consists of a President, a Provost, several Vice Presidents of various departments, a Treasurer, a Chief Information Officer, and an Athletic Director . As of the beginning of 2004, the President is Steven B. Sample, and the Provost is Lloyd Armstrong, Jr. The Dean of the Viterbi School of Engineering, C.L. Max Nikias, has been promoted to replace Armstrong as Provost beginning June 1, 2005.

The College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, The Graduate School, and the 18 Professional Schools are each lead by an Academic Dean.

USC also occasionally awards emeritus titles to former administrators. There are currently six Administrators Emeritus.

Student Government

USC Annually elects members to a Student Senate, which is incorporated with the USC Student Affairs department. The Senate President and Vice-President are currently Jess Lall and Chase Tajima, elected in the spring of 2005. Students also run organizations such as SPECTRUM and the Program Board, which sponsors major events on campus throughout the year. USC places an emphasis on "networking" with people in your chosen field, and student organizations go to great lengths to provide opportunities to affiliated students to meet people in their industry.

Notable people affiliated with the USC

See List of University of Southern California people

External links

Last updated: 05-07-2005 07:01:11
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04