Academic Course Catalogs

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Academic Regulations

The completion of the registration process is interpreted to indicate that the student understands all the academic regulations of the university, accepts them, and pledges that he or she will abide by them.

Integrity of Scholarship

The University of San Diego is an academic institution, an instrument of learning. As such, the university is predicated on the principles of scholastic honesty. It is an academic community whose members are all expected to abide by ethical standards both in their conduct and in their exercise of responsibility toward other members of the community.

Academic dishonesty is an affront to the integrity of scholarship at USD and a threat to the quality of learning. To maintain its credibility and uphold its reputation, the university has procedures to deal with academic dishonesty that are uniform and that should be understood by all. Violations of academic integrity include: a) unauthorized assistance on an examination; b) falsification or invention of data; c) unauthorized collaboration on an academic exercise; d) plagiarism; e) misappropriation of research materials; f) any unauthorized access of an instructor's files or computer account; or, g) any other serious violation of academic integrity as established by the instructor. Acts of dishonesty can lead to penalties in a course such as: reduction of grade; withdrawal from the course; a requirement that all or part of a course be retaken; and a requirement that additional work be undertaken in connection with the course. Because of the seriousness of academic dishonesty, further penalties at the level of the university community may be applied; such penalties include probation, a letter of censure, suspension, or expulsion. Full copies of the policy on academic integrity are available at the offices of the Provost, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Academic Deans, in the university Policy and Procedure Manual, and Archways (undergraduate student handbook). Instructors also explain their expectations regarding academic integrity in their classes.


Registration takes place when the student completes the required advising and pays the required fees. No credit will be given in courses for which the student is not officially registered. The time and place of registration is announced in advance by the registrar. Late registrants are required to pay an extra fee of $150. (For registration procedures during Summer Sessions and Intersession, otherwise, please refer to appropriate bulletins for these sessions.)

Declaring or Changing the Major

The entering student may declare a major at any time after the beginning of the first semester of attendance by completing the Declaration of Major form, which is available at the Office of the Registrar website at Go to "Forms," then select "Declaration of Major." The same form is used to declare a minor, a certificate program, a second major, etc. As with the major, all these other programs must be declared formally. In addition, the same form is used to officially change advisors. Students must obtain the necessary signatures on the form and return it to the Office of the Registrar. Students must declare a major before selecting a minor.

The selection of a major concentration has important and long-lasting consequences. Students who make their choice hastily and thoughtlessly run the risk either of finding themselves in an unsatisfying career or of making a subsequent costly adjustment to their program. Those who needlessly postpone their decision beyond a reasonable time also make a potentially costly error. Students should declare their major as early as possible so that their advisors can guide them in the selection of appropriate courses. Students choosing to major in diversified liberal studies, the sciences, or in business administration should select those majors early in their academic career. Students majoring in engineering must consult an engineering advisor at the beginning of the freshman year.

The University's Office of Career Services is prepared to offer its services to students who face this difficult decision. Through personal interviews and extensive standardized testing, counselors in the counseling center help students to assess their academic assets, dominant interest patterns, and potential for success.

When a decision to change a major concentration has been reached the student must complete the Change of Major form. Juniors and seniors who contemplate a change of major should be aware that a change is likely to necessitate taking additional courses in order to complete their requirements.

Student Load

For a student to qualify as full time, 12 units minimum are required. However, the normal student load is 15-16 units. To exceed 18 units, the authorization of the student's advisor and of the pertinent dean must be obtained in writing. Ordinarily, no enrollment beyond 18 units will be approved unless the applicant has maintained a GPA of 3.0 cumulatively and in the immediate past semester. These restrictions on student load also apply to courses taken concurrently at another college or university for transfer to USD.

The maximum student load during Intersession is four units, and the maximum student load for the summer sessions is 13 units in a 12-week period. These maxima also apply to any combination of courses taken concurrently at USD and another college or university. Please refer to the section on Intersession (page 64) for a complete discussion of these regulations.

Dropping or Adding Courses

Program changes involving the addition of courses are permitted within the first eight class days of a regular semester. Freshman students must have the approval of the preceptor to add or drop a course. Unofficial withdrawal from a course results in a grade of F.

Course withdrawal after the first eight academic class days of the semester, without risk of academic penalty, will be allowed until the end of the 10th week of the semester. Withdrawal within that time limit will be recorded as W. After that date there is no possibility of withdrawal; the student will receive a grade for the course. A grade of W does not enter into the computation of the GPA.

Withdrawal from the University

A student withdrawing from the university during a semester or for a future semester must file an official Undergraduate Student Withdrawal Form with the Center for Student Success located in the University Center, room 114. Failure to do so before leaving the campus or, in the case of illness or other emergency, as soon as the decision not to continue has been made, will result in non-passing grades in all courses, thereby jeopardizing eligibility to re-enter USD or acceptance in another institution. After the last day to enroll in classes, and continuing through the end of the 10th week of the semester (the last day to withdraw from classes), students may process a withdrawal to drop all their classes with grades recorded as Ws. After the last day to withdraw from classes, the student will receive grades for courses.

A student whose registration at the university is interrupted for one or more semesters must apply for readmission through the Office of the Registrar, unless a leave of absence has been granted in writing.

Leave of Absence

A student who will not be registered at the university during a regular semester, but would like to return without applying for readmission, must request a leave of absence by the last day to enroll in classes for that semester. Students must file the official Undergraduate Student Leave of Absence form with the Center for Student Success located in the University Center, room 114. To incur no tuition charges, students should request a leave of absence before the first day of classes. The request must state the reason for which the leave is requested and the semester in which the student will again register at the university. Requests for leaves of absence must be approved by the Center for Student Success. Leaves of absence are granted for a maximum of two consecutive semesters.


Auditing a course means attending a class without credit, without the obligation of regular attendance, and without the right to have tests and examinations scored or corrected.

Students register for audit in the same manner as for credit. Those who audit courses are not eligible for credit by examination in such courses, nor are they eligible for financial aid, nor may auditors register for credit after the last official day to register in a class. Switching from credit to audit or audit to credit is not allowed after the last official day to register in a class. Each course audited is entered on the student's permanent record. Auditing of laboratory courses or education recreation courses is not permitted.

The fee for all who audit courses is one-half the standard tuition charge. Students wishing to register for credit have priority over those who desire to audit.


Regular and prompt attendance at class is deemed essential for the optimal educational progress of the student, and for the orderly conduct of academic life. There is no generally specified number of allowed absences. Each instructor will publish attendance regulations at the beginning of the course and will state what penalties will be imposed for excessive absences.


Final examinations are held in all courses at the end of each semester. Dates and schedules for the final examinations are not to be changed without the approval of the appropriate dean. Permission to take a make-up examination necessitated by serious illness or other legitimate reason may be granted by the dean.

In fall and spring semesters, examinations are limited during the week prior to final examinations. There may be no major examinations; minor quizzes are permitted as long as they are listed on syllabi at the beginning of a semester and do not count for more than 10 percent of the course grade. Laboratory practica, papers, oral reports, and make-up examinations are permitted. Students are responsible for class attendance and material presented during the week before final examinations.

Students who wish to fulfill specific competency requirements for graduation by examination may petition the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for permission to take such examinations. The dates for these examinations are announced in the academic calendar (found at the beginning of this bulletin). Students should check with the dean for fees and locations for the examinations. No academic credit will be given for these examinations.

Credit by Examination

A number of the Subject Examinations of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) have received approval by the university faculty, so that in certain specified subjects students may qualify for college credit by satisfactory performance in the CLEP tests. Inquiries may be made at the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Founders Hall, Room 114.

Grade Reports

Grade reports are available on the USD website. Students must have a USD e-mail account to access grade reports.

Pass / Fail Option

Students in good academic standing, that is, with a grade point average of 2.0 at USD, may elect to enroll for courses on the pass/fail plan. All students who wish to exercise the pass/fail option must have prior authorization from their advisor. Courses taken at other institutions and transferred to USD for unit credit only are not considered to fall under the pass/fail option. Note the deadline announced in the academic calendar for changing a course to the pass/fail option or vice-versa. No changes will be made after this date. The following regulations apply:

Lower-division students must have successfully completed at least 12 units at this university.

If the course is part of a regular semester, the student must be enrolled in at least 9 other units on a regular grading basis.

Students may take intersession and summer sessions courses on a pass/fail basis provided that no more than one course is taken in any session or semester and that no more than two courses per calendar year are taken pass/fail. (Courses offered exclusively on a pass/fail basis for all students are not counted in arriving at the limit.).

Major courses (and major prerequisites) are excluded. Courses used in fulfillment of core curriculum requirements must be taken for a grade. Once a student has fulfilled a core curriculum requirement, then additional courses in the same area may be taken pass/fail.

Courses required for any state teaching credential are excluded.

Certain advanced or highly specialized courses may be excluded by departments acting in concert.

Research and reading courses, performance and independent study courses, and courses not lending themselves to specific grading practices may, by determination of the faculty, be included.

All courses designated as "activity" courses may be pass/fail (at faculty determination, not students).

There will be no change from pass/fail to grade or vice-versa after the deadline listed in the academic calendar.

The course, quiz, paper, examination, and attendance requirements for pass/fail students will be the same as for students receiving a letter grade.

Pass requires a grade of C– grade or better.

Pass does not affect grade point average; Fail does affect grade point average.

A course taken on a pass/fail basis may only be repeated as a pass/fail course.

A course in which a grade of D or F is received may not be repeated on pass/fail basis, but may be repeated for a grade.

For first honors or second honors consideration, 12 semester units must be earned in fall or spring semesters in which traditional grades are issued.

A student wishing to major in a field in which he or she previously earned pass/fail credit may, with departmental permission, select another course to fulfill the requirement.

A maximum of 15 pass/fail units at USD is applicable to the fulfillment of degree requirements. However, in the Electrical Engineering (EE), Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), and Mechanical Engineering (ME) majors, pass/fail is not permitted in any required (by title) course; pass/fail enrollment in certain core curriculum elective courses requires prior approval of the Director of Engineering Programs and may be utilized for a maximum of 21 units of required elective core curriculum course units.

Grading System

At the end of each semester, a student's work in each course is recorded with one of the following grades: A, superior; B, very good; C, average; D, inferior; F, failure; P, credit awarded, but units do not enter into computation of grade point average; W, withdrawal; Inc., incomplete.

Professors may not change final grades unless there is a computational error.

Grade points are assigned to the above grades as follows: A = 4.0; A– = 3.67; B+ = 3.33; B = 3.00; B- = 2.67; C+ = 2.33; C = 2.00; C– = 1.67; D+ = 1.33; D = 1.00; D- = 0.67; F = 0.00.

The grade of Inc. (incomplete) may be recorded to indicate that the requirements of a course have been substantially completed, but, for a legitimate reason, a small fraction of the work remains to be completed and the record of the student in the course justifies the expectation that he or she will obtain a passing grade upon completion. The instructor who gives an incomplete should know the reason for non-completion of the work in order to ascertain the legitimacy of that reason. The responsibility is on the student to come forth with the request for an incomplete prior to the posting of final grades. The incomplete grade is not counted in the computation of the grade point average for the semester for which the incomplete grade was authorized.

A student who receives a grade of incomplete must complete all the missing work by the end of the 10th week of the next regular semester; otherwise, the incomplete grade results in an F.

The instructor assigning a grade of incomplete will file a signed form with the dean of the appropriate school or college, indicating the reason for the incomplete. The form is filed when the incomplete is posted.

Only courses for which grades D or F were received may be repeated for credit. Only one repetition is permitted unless authorized in writing by the dean. On course repetitions, the units are applied toward a degree only once, but the grade assigned at each enrollment shall be permanently recorded. A course in which grades D or F were assigned may not be repeated on a pass/fail basis.

In computing the grade point average of an undergraduate student who repeats courses in which a D or F was received, only the most recently earned grades and grade points shall be used for the first 10 units repeated. When courses are repeated by transfer work, the lower grade will be removed from the USD grade point average and credit for the course will be given without grade points. In the case of further repetitions, the grade point average shall be based on all grades assigned and total units attempted. The student should notify the registrar when a course is repeated so that adjustment of the cumulative grade point average, if necessary, may be done promptly.

The grade point average (GPA) is computed by dividing the total grade points by the total units attempted, considering only courses taken at USD in the calculation.

Duplication of Credit

Each of the academic courses counted toward the 124 units required for graduation must represent an increment in the student's knowledge. Consequently, courses which duplicate previous work, either in high school (for example, foreign language) or in college, cannot be counted toward graduation, nor can elementary courses which are prerequisite to advanced courses if they are taken concurrently with or after the more advanced work.

Experiential Education Credit

A maximum of 6 units of combined practicum, field experience and/or internship taken within the College of Arts and Sciences can be applied to the 124 unit degree requirement, 48 unit upper-division requirement, and/or upper-division requirements in the student's major. Only students eligible for upper-division credit (second semester sophomore standing) will be allowed to register in these courses. The university neither gives nor accepts transfer credit for prior experiential learning. Other restrictions (that is, junior and/or senior standing) are at the discretion of the department.

Scholastic Probation and Disqualification

A student will be placed on scholastic probation if:

  • the semester GPA falls below a C average (GPA 2.0) for coursework in a given semester
  • the GPA falls below 2.0 for all work attempted at USD. In either case, the student will be placed on probation for the next semester (or portion thereof if the resolution of incomplete grades leads to a semester GPA of less than 2.0).

The probationary status of a student can be ended only at the close of the probationary semester when the following conditions are met:

  • C average (GPA 2.0) for all college work attempted at USD, and for all coursework attempted during the semester of probation
  • there are no grades of incomplete for the probationary semester.

If the student does not end probationary status at the conclusion of the probationary semester, he or she will be disqualified scholastically.

An extension of scholastic probation for one semester only may be considered if a student appeals in writing to the dean of his or her school or college within 10 days of the postmark date on the notice of disqualification. The appeal should set forth the reasons which would justify an extension and the specific plans for raising the GPA.


At the end of each semester, each dean receives the names of full-time (12 units or more) honor students. Those with a GPA of 3.65 or higher receive First Honors; those with 3.40 to 3.64 receive Second Honors. All honor students receive a personal commendation letter from the appropriate dean.

Students of outstanding academic merit receive special honors at graduation. Eligibility for these special honors is based upon USD GPA: a) for summa cum laude, 3.85 or higher; b) for magna cum laude, 3.65 to 3.84; and c) for cum laude 3.46 to 3.64. The senior with the highest USD GPA within each commencement group will give the valedictory address at his/her respective ceremony. At least half of the degree work must be completed at USD. In the event of ties, the student with the most coursework completed at USD will give the valedictory address at his/her respective ceremony. Also presented at graduation are the Alcalá Leadership Awards to two outstanding seniors.

Upon graduation, honor students with the scholastic and leadership qualifications may be awarded membership in Kappa Gamma Pi, the national honor society for Catholic college women and men. No more than 10 percent of the seniors may be awarded this honor.

At the annual University of San Diego Honors Convocation, a formal year-end assembly, awards are presented to a number of students who have shown exceptional attainment in academic and other areas of university life. Departmental honors are awarded to seniors who have petitioned to graduate and have maintained a USD grade point average of 3.5 in upper-division courses in their major, provided that a minimum of 12 such units have been completed at USD prior to February 1 of the year of graduation. However, a student may lose eligibility for special honors and departmental honors if the student has been found to have committed a serious violation of the academic integrity policy.

Graduation Petition and Participation

By the date indicated in the current academic calendar, seniors who wish to graduate in January, May, or August must file in the registrar's office a petition for graduation.

Seniors graduating in August may participate in the previous May ceremony provided that they: 1) take their remaining courses in USD's summer sessions; and 2) have registered (including payment) in USD's summer sessions for their remaining courses by May 1 and have given to the registrar's office written evidence of such completed registration. Seniors graduating in August may not take an independent study course during the summer sessions. Exceptions to this policy may be approved by the student's dean when there are extraordinary circumstances beyond the student's' control. August graduates who wish to take courses elsewhere (after procuring the appropriate waivers) may do so, but they may not participate in the May ceremony. (Note: Summer courses taken in USD's own Guadalajara program and USD sponsored summer study abroad programs will meet the requirement for courses taken at USD.)

August graduates who wish to participate in the May Commencement ceremony should register in the spring semester previous to the May ceremony for any needed courses that are being offered at USD in the Summer Sessions immediately following Commencement. To facilitate the process of looking at the spring and summer courses together, the courses, dates, and times of USD spring semester and summer sessions offerings are made available each fall on the university's website. Unavailability of a needed course in USD's summer Sessions will not be grounds for an exception to the policy about Commencement participation; all information is made available to students the previous fall to anticipate and avoid any such problems.

Unit and Grade Point Requirements

To qualify for a degree, the student must earn a minimum of 124 semester units of credit. A unit is defined as the amount of credit awarded for satisfactory performance in one lecture period or one laboratory period for one semester. A minimum grade point average of C (GPA 2.0) is required in the total work attempted at USD.

Of the 124 units required for graduation, 48 must be in upper-division courses, that is, those numbered 300 or higher. In order to enroll in courses which carry upper-division credit the student is normally required to have reached 45 units for the College of Arts and Sciences and 60 units for the School of Business Administration.

In the College of Arts and Sciences, where, in the judgment of the instructor of record or department chair, the student has acquired the necessary basic proficiency, the student may be permitted to enroll in upper-division courses for upper-division credit even though he or she may still have only freshman or first semester sophomore standing. In such cases, the approval from the instructor of record or department chair is required.

In the School of Business Administration, a student is permitted to enroll in upper-division business courses when he or she has earned 60 credit units, attended the School of Business Administration Orientation and successfully completed MATH 130 or 150 with a grade of C– or better. The one exception to taking upper-division business classes is Fundamentals of Marketing, in which a student may enroll with 45 credit units presuming all other requirements are met.

Class Standing

Students reach sophomore standing after satisfactory completion of 30 units. Junior class and upper-division standing are reached upon completion of 60 units. For senior class standing, 90 units must be completed.

Residence Requirement

Students are expected to complete the preponderance of their baccalaureate work at the university, especially in their junior and senior years. Leaves of absence for foreign study or transfer of courses to USD from other universities are permitted to meet legitimate educational goals of students prior to their senior year.

To satisfy the requirements for a degree, students must earn a minimum of the final 30 semester units of credit at USD. This residence requirement may be partially waived. Waiver is at the discretion of the student's dean. Waiver is possible only if the preponderance of academic work has been at USD and if there are valid educational reasons.

Transfer of Credit

Academic courses from other accredited institutions are normally transferable if the grades are C– or better, and if the institution from which the grades were received is USD-approved. However, students should note that USD has full discretion concerning which credits are applicable to its curricula and are therefore transferable. In addition to transcripts, students may need to provide documentation of courses taken. All courses transferred to USD are transferred for unit credit only and are not calculated into the GPA.

A course will not be accepted if it duplicates work (that is, repeats essentially the same content) taken at USD, except in cases where a grade of D or F was received in the USD course.

Students also should be aware that the core curriculum requirement in human values may be affected by the number of credits transferred at entry to USD. For example, a student entering USD at junior standing (60-90 units) needs only two theology and religious studies classes after entrance. A student entering at 90 credits or over need take one (upper-division) theology and religious studies class and one (upper-division) philosophy ethics course after entrance.

Students of the university who wish to take courses at other institutions should obtain advance written approval on a Petition to Transfer Credit form, which can be found online at The student will get the signature of their advisor, the department chair in the comparable department in which the course is being taken, and the dean if they expect such courses to be accepted in fulfillment of degree requirements at USD. Coursework taken at another university after a student leaves USD is not posted to the official transcript unless the student is readmitted to the university.

Policy for International Studies Abroad

The University of San Diego recognizes full academic credit toward an undergraduate degree fro students choosing to participate in an international experience when the chosen program is directly affiliated with USD and approved by the International Studies Abroad Committee. Students who wish to take courses in unaffiliated international programs and receive academic credit must obtain advance written approval, for sound academic reasons, at the discretion of their Academic Dean in concert with the Office of International Affairs. USD transfer of credit policies will apply for any such approved course. No academic credit will be transferred without advance written approval as described above. This policy applies to all programs: short-term, semester-long, and year-long programs.


Any student may request official transcripts of his or her academic work. A fee of $5 is charged for each transcript. Applications for official transcripts should be made in writing to Student Financial Services in the Hughes Administration Center. Unofficial transcript requests may be made in person or by writing directly to the One Stop office at USD.

The Degree Audit (DARS)

The degree audit is a computerized version, or "road map," of courses or requirements that a student has fulfilled and a listing of those yet to be accomplished. The degree audit will aid both student and advisor in keeping track of the student's progress at USD semester by semester and can be accessed on the one stop tab at

Course Numbering System

Courses offered by the university are listed in alphabetical order by discipline within each school or college.

Course numbers are three digits in the following ranges:
100-199 Lower-division courses
200-299 Lower-division courses
300-399 Upper-division courses
400-499 Upper-division courses
500-599 Graduate/master's/law courses
600-699 Doctoral/law courses

Course types are indicated by the following characters:
C Community service-learning
D Diversity
H Honors
L Laboratory
P Practicum
R Recitation
S Seminar
W Writing

Some courses without this letter designation may still carry credit for lab, writing, diversity, etc. at the section level. Check the course notes contained in the schedule of classes for more information.

The semester in which a course is offered is indicated in parentheses at the end of the course description.

The numbers in parentheses after the title of the course indicate the number of semester units.