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    Columbia Campus
  Jul 13, 2024
2015-2016 Graduate Studies Bulletin 
2015-2016 Graduate Studies Bulletin [Archived Catalog]

Degree-Seeking Admission

Admission Process for Degree-Seeking Students   

Admissions Decisions   

University Registration Requirements   

Course Registration   

Admission Process for Degree-Seeking Students

Submission of Application

Degree-seeking students applying to the University of South Carolina for the first time must complete the online application process. Applicants should visit to the homepage of The Graduate School, select the Prospective Students Tab, and then click on “Apply Now,” or may directly access the application. An account must be created in order to begin the degree application process.

All supporting documents must be sent to The Graduate School unless applying to the Moore School of Business or the Arnold School of Public Health. An application will not be given final consideration until all required documents have been received and the application fee is paid. Therefore, applicants are advised to arrange for the transmittal of all documents well ahead of the application deadline.

International Students and Credentials

Graduates of international universities or colleges who have completed academic programs equivalent to an American baccalaureate degree may apply to any of the graduate degree programs  and be fully admitted if they meet admission standards. International applicants must submit with their application an official certified transcript indicating the nature and scope of their academic training. Only international students who are interested in seeking a degree and pursuing a full course of study are considered for admission.

An applicant whose native language is not English is required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 Internet-based, or 570 paper-based, but many programs have set higher standards. The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5. The minimum acceptable score on PTE Academic is 53. Some programs may require higher scores.

For testing information contact:

Test of English as a Foreign Language
Educational Testing Service
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA

IELTS International
100 East Corson Street, Suite 200
Pasadena, CA 91103, USA

PTE Academic


In addition, admitted applicants whose native language is not English are required to take a diagnostic test in English when they arrive at the University. Students with deficiencies are provided an opportunity for further study in reading, writing, and speaking English.

U.S. government regulations require that international applicants provide evidence of financial resources sufficient to cover the expense of one year of study, including tuition and room and board. Applicants may contact the Office of International Programs for Students ( to determine how much financial support must be indicated. Evidence of financial support may include graduate assistantships, scholarships, or fellowships as well as support from sponsoring agencies and personal funds. Evidence of financial support must be received in the Office of International Programs for Students before an I-20 or a DS-2019 document can be issued.

Application Requirements

1. Application

A completed application with all requested information and supporting documents supplied.

2. Transcripts

Official transcripts showing all college-level course work attempted and the award of the baccalaureate or higher degree by an accredited college or university. Official transcripts verifying all previous college-level course work are required for the University’s records. To be considered official, transcripts must be sent directly from the institution to The Graduate School or delivered in a sealed envelope bearing a registrar’s stamp. Please send transcripts to:

The Graduate School
901 Sumter St. #304
Columbia, SC 29208

3. Letters of Recommendation

At least two letters of recommendation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit letters of recommendation through the electronic application process. Please consider carefully the waiver of right to view letters of recommendation because this decision cannot be altered after submission.

4. Test Scores

Most programs require an admissions test such as the GRE, GMAT or MAT. Please consult the of the Graduate Studies Bulletin appropriate program for the test requirements for admission. Applications for the GRE and the GMAT can be obtained from the Educational Testing Service, Box 955, Princeton, NJ 08540 or by visiting the website Applicants from western states should contact the Educational Testing Service, 1947 Center Street, Berkeley, CA 94704 or visit the website.

Note: GRE, GMAT, and MAT test scores are valid for five years.

5. International Applicants

International applicants whose native language is not English are also required to submit a satisfactory score on the TOEFL or the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam. The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 80 Internet-based or 570 paper-based. The minimum acceptable overall band score on the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam is 6.5. The minimum acceptable score on PTE Academic is 53. Some programs may require higher scores. Programs may set higher score requirements. See International Students and Credentials  for more information.

Note: TOEFL, PTE and IELTS scores are valid for two years.

Change of Status Request

The Update Request Form should be used to request an update or to make a change in an existing application or admission. It must be accompanied by a non-refundable $15 fee (unless otherwise indicated on the application), payable online. Applicants may access the Update Request Form by visiting The Graduate School’s Forms Library

Program transfers and reconsideration of previously declined applications for the same program require departmental action recommendations before a change of status can be approved by The Graduate School.

If your request for a change of status requires supporting documents (ie, revised test scores, resume, or transcripts) please send those documents to:

The Graduate School
901 Sumter St. #304
Columbia, SC 29208
Fax: 803-777-2972

If it has been more than three years since your last Graduate School enrollment at USC, you must submit a new application and be readmitted before continuing in your academic program. You cannot use the Update Request Form to re-apply to a degree program.

Application Fees

A nonrefundable application fee of $50 is required of all first-time applicants to The Graduate School and for applicants reapplying after a three-year period of non-enrollment. An Update Request fee of $15 is charged when requesting a change in program or degree intent with submission of an Update Request Form.

Application Deadlines

Most programs have established deadlines or admit students only in specified terms. Consult the Graduate Studies Bulletin for the appropriate program for these dates. Applications received after the announced program deadline may not be reviewed in time for admission for the desired term.

Note: Applicants seeking financial aid for the fall term should apply no later than March 1.

Admissions Decisions

Conditional Admissions Recommendation

Academic units have the option of recommending the applicant for admission with conditions. This indicates that an admissions committee has met and determined that it is not yet ready to recommend full admission for the applicant. This conditional recommendation is appropriate for applicants who:

  • need to take undergraduate courses or other prerequisites;
  • need to prove themselves capable of graduate course work in the program by making grades of B or higher in two or three required courses;
  • need to satisfy any other valid conditions that a committee sets before full admission can be recommended; and
  • reside in a foreign country that does not offer the GRE. Students in this last category may be granted, on the basis of a hardship, a one-semester postponement of the GRE but not of the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. Permission to register for subsequent semesters will require the submission of acceptable GRE scores, as defined by the academic unit.

Applicants wishing to discuss the conditions of the admission should contact the academic unit.

Up to 12 graduate hours that are successfully completed by students admitted with conditions may be used in their programs of study, subject to approval by the academic unit. The academic unit must monitor the progress of such students and send a new action sheet to The Graduate School recommending full admission once conditions have been met. Failure to meet said conditions may result in the cancellation of the student’s admission or enrollment privileges.

Graduate students admitted with conditions may receive financial aid, including assistantships and fellowships, but only if they meet all other requirements for such aid.


Applicants may cancel their application for admission at any time by submitting a written request to:

The Graduate School
901 Sumter St. #304
Columbia, SC 29208
Fax: 803-777-2972

Departments have the option to cancel an application if the application or required supporting documents are received after the announced deadlines and will not be reviewed in time for admission for the desired term. In this instance the applicant has 30 days to submit a written request for a term change, to avoid incurring additional fees.


The academic unit may recommend that an applicant be declined for admission. Applicants wishing to discuss the declination of admission decision should contact the academic unit. Upon receipt of the admission decision, the applicant has the option to seek reconsideration, reapply, or transfer the application to another program. The applicant should complete the respective application or Update Request Form that corresponds with such action. Information on the reapplication or change of status process can be found by visiting The Graduate School’s application webpage

Valid Period of Admission

Students are admitted to the Graduate School for the study specific degree granting program indicated on the application and defined in the letter of acceptance from The Graduate School. An offer of admission to The Graduate School is effective for the term applied. Admission may be deferred for up to four successive terms without reapplication, but a student who fails to enroll within four successive terms must submit a new application and pay a $50 application fee. In order to defer enrollment, an Update Request Form must be submitted and approved by the program. In addition, the student becomes subject to the regulations of the Graduate Studies Bulletin in effect when the student begins course work.

After enrollment, students are expected to make satisfactory and timely progress toward degree. Following three years of nonenrollment (less in some programs), the graduate admission of students admitted to degree programs becomes invalid. Degree-seeking students must reapply and meet current admission requirements. Upon readmission, students are subject to regulations of the Graduate Studies Bulletin in effect at the time of reenrollment.

The University reserves the right to decline admission to applicants, to suspend students, or to require the withdrawal of students when, for any reason, such action is deemed to be in the interest of the University.

Additional Coursework

Students are admitted to the Graduate School for the specific degree granting program indicated on the application. If a student wishes to pursue additional coursework or degrees once the degree has been completed a new application and required fees must be submitted. For example, a student completing a master’s degree program must submit a new application, associated fee, and be admitted in order to take additional courses whether without a degree objective, to pursue a second master’s degree, or to work toward a more advanced degree (specialist or doctorate).

Students may not use admission and enrollment privileges in one degree program to enroll in courses in another program without the explicit permission of the other program.

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

The Graduate School adheres to a mandatory hard-waiver health insurance program implemented for all graduate assistants (teaching, research, instructional, and staff), all international students, and other full-time enrolled graduate students (9 credit hours or more, 6 hours for Graduate Assistants). Graduate students in these categories will be required to have health insurance coverage as a condition of enrollment.

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 

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 Graduate Studies.


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. The maximum course load in each summer session is 6 hours.

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, or have received approval for a special enrollment requeset. 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 Graduate Studies 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.