Graduate Admissions

Admission Standards

For admission to The Graduate School, a baccalaureate or higher degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting agency is required. Applicants’ academic records should demonstrate adequate preparation in the field in which graduate work is to be undertaken. Standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and other materials specified by the individual academic program may also be required. The dean of The Graduate School admits applicants on the recommendation of the department or college concerned after an appraisal of the credentials submitted.

Applicants whose educational preparation is equivalent to that represented by a baccalaureate degree and who have sufficient maturity to undertake advanced study may be admitted after submitting their credentials, including appropriate test scores, for review by the dean of The Graduate School.

Note: Individual programs may have special application requirements in addition to those of The Graduate School. These requirements range from personal interviews to statements of purpose and employment histories to auditions and portfolios. Applicants should consult the appropriate college or department to learn what these requirements are. However, all materials must be submitted directly to The Graduate School to ensure that they are included in the applicant’s file.

Categories of Admission

The Graduate School provides prospective students with two categories of admission: Degree-seeking Admission and Nondegree-Seeking Admission.

For information about these categories of admission, visit the following links:

University Registration Requirements  

Immunization Requirements

The University of South Carolina requires all students, regardless of birthdate, to contact the Immunization Office at 803-777-9511. Students born after December 31, 1956 need to be immunized against, or provide proof of immunity to, measles (rubeola) and German measles (rubella). Proof of immunity and/or immunization requires documentation of one of the following:

  • two measles and one German measles (MR or MMR) shot after 1967 (not before first birthday)
  • positive serum titers (blood antibodies) to measles and German measles
  • physician-diagnosed measles illness and either shots or positive serum titer for German measles. (A history of German measles illness does not meet requirements.)

Mandatory Health Insurance

Mandatory health insurance is not required of nondegree students unless the student is enrolled in full time credit hours. Nondegree graduate students affected by this mandatory health insurance requirement will be automatically enrolled in the University Plan (with the cost included in students’ bills for tuition and fees) unless documentation of comparable alternative health insurance coverage is on file in the Health Insurance Assistance Office at the Thomson Student Health Center.

Citizenship Verification

USC students must present proof of citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S. before enrolling. This policy has been adopted by the University in order to comply with section 59-101-430 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, as amended, which requires that lawful presence in the United States is verified before enrollment at any public institution of higher education. Verification of immigration status for non-citizens will be conducted by International student officials. For other students, a proof of citizenship verification process has been adopted to deter and prevent false claims of citizenship by unlawful aliens attempting to evade the eligibility requirements of section 59-101-430. Students who are not verified as citizens during the Federal Financial Aid Application (FAFSA) process must present the USC’s Citizenship Status Verification form and one of the following acceptable documents:

  • Copy of the South Carolina driver’s license if the student first became a licensed driver in the state after January 1, 2002;
  • A Certified Birth Certificate indicating that you were born in the United States or a territory of the United States;
  • Current U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport that has not been expired more than 10 years;
  • Certificate of Naturalization — USCIS Form (N-550 or N-570);
  • U.S. government issued Consular Report of Birth Abroad;
  • Certificate of Citizenship (N-560 or N-561);
  • Unexpired U.S. Active Duty/Retiree/Reservist Military ID Card (DOD DD-2)

The University can accept photocopies of birth certificates and other citizenship documents so long as we reserve the right to demand production of the certified original in the event there are any questions about whether the copy is true and accurate, or in the event any of the information on the copy is unreadable.

For more information:

Course Registration

Course Enrollment

Courses numbered 700-899 are restricted to graduate students; courses numbered 500-699 are open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students registered for courses numbered 500-699 must complete graduate level course work and will receive graduate credit. Graduate students may not enroll for undergraduate credit in courses numbered 500-699 without the permission of their academic advisor and the dean of The Graduate School.

Access to Courses and Prerequisites

Access to graduate courses is always subject to departmental consent. Courses numbered 700-899 are restricted to graduate students; courses numbered 500-699 are open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students registered for courses numbered 500-699 must complete graduate level course work and will receive graduate credit. Graduate students may not enroll for undergraduate credit in course numbered 500-699 without permission of the dean of The Graduate School.

Course prerequisites are listed to inform students about the academic background required for satisfactory course completion. The instructor may approve the enrollment of students who have acquired the equivalent knowledge or skills through other courses or experiences. Special permission to enroll should be requested from the instructor prior to registration.

Course Loads

A graduate student may enroll for a semester load not to exceed 15 graduate hours. Some programs limit students to a 12-hour maximum semester load. A student with a load of 9 or more hours during a fall or spring term is classified as full-time for academic purposes. 

Graduate assistants carrying 6 or more hours for graduate credit are classified as full-time students. Graduate assistants are required to carry a minimum of 6 hours of graduate credit during the fall and spring terms and if employed during summer session are required to carry a minimum of 1 credit per session.

A student must be enrolled for at least 1 credit during any semester in which thesis or dissertation progress is made and such University resources as the library, computer facilities, or faculty time are used.

Students requesting an overload exception must submit the required Course Overload Enrollment Authorization (CEO) Form to the dean of The Graduate School for approval prior to the beginning of the term for which the exception is requested. Students seeking enrollment exceptions (Z-status) should contact their academic program for processing.

Right to an Advisor

Students permitted to enroll as nondegree students are not entitled to an advisor, but may consult an academic program’s graduate director for information or approvals as needed.

Transient Nondegree-Seeking Students

Students enrolled in or admitted to graduate degree programs at other accredited institutions may seek permission to attend The Graduate School of the University of South Carolina as transient students for a limited number of hours. Students wishing to be admitted as transient students must follow the application process and requirements for nondegree-seeking students.