One of the options to apply to at Viterbi is Undeclared Engineering. This tells us that you are interested in being an engineer but just have no idea which one sounds more interesting. This is totally fine, and kind of interested in engineering is perfect. We know that you don’t have much exposure to what engineering really is beyond an interest in math and science, and we want to give you the chance to make the right decision for you.
It is really important that if you are at all interested in engineering, but just do not want to declare a major at this point, that you choose undeclared engineering as your first choice major on the application. This means that your application will be reviewed by both the Viterbi Admission team and the USC Admission team. Unless you list one of the engineering majors as your first choice, we never see your application, and we want to make sure that if you want to be an engineer you can start in engineering classes right away.
The Student Perspective
Our students have flexibility to choose and change their major easily. They can get involved in research, internships, and student organizations to help make that decision easier. Hear from some current Viterbi students about their experiences.
“I wasn't ready to commit to a major when I applied but after senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to pursue Chemical Engineering! I changed my major at summer orientation and then after doing research during my first year, I chose the Nanotechnology emphasis.”Vanessa PangbourneChemical Engineering '19
“I took Introduction to Industrial & Systems Engineering during my first semester but didn't officially decide on the major until the summer after my sophomore year when I took more classes in ISE that solidified my interest in it.”Mala PatelIndustrial & Systems Engineering '20
“I immediately changed my major to pursue Computer Engineering & Computer Science, but after taking a few Computer Science and Electrical Engineering classes, I knew EE wasn't the right choice for me. Changing my major a second time from CECS to just CS was super easy!”Kate LivingstonComputer Science '19
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Viterbi Majors Playlist
Check out all of our podcast episodes related to the 10 different disciplines (and 30 different undergraduate majors) that Viterbi offers. Whether it’s Dr. Soibelman discussing the Civil and Environmental Engineering department’s unique approach to research or Dr. Spedding explaining the difference between Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, this playlist was made for you.
Viterbi Voices: The Podcast is your chance to hear stories about research, classes, student life, and more directly from our faculty, students, and other members of our engineering community. Click the link below to see the rest of our episodes!
We want you to be successful here. That’s why Viterbi students are not rushed into choosing a major and are provided with the necessary resources to help them decide on a major they want to pursue.
Introduction to Engineering
If you are admitted to Viterbi as an Undeclared Engineering Major, you will have the opportunity to choose your introductory course. Your first semester will see you picking what you are most interested in learning, and determining if you would like to continue on that particular degree path. Our academic advisors will work with you during your new student orientation to help advise on the best path for you to begin.
To help you get to know what all the majors mean, we also host spotlight series throughout the year that bring in professors and industry representatives to talk about what a future in each major looks like. This can help you decide what major will help you get to your dream career, and see what types of opportunities exist to graduates in each major.Spotlight Series
If after taking that introductory course, you decide that major is not for you, switching to a different Viterbi major is a simple process. If you change your major within the first three semesters, you are typically still on track to graduate in four years. We don’t want you to feel locked into a major you don’t love, which is why if you’re admitted to one engineering major, you’re admitted to them all.
At the end of the day, we know that you want to solve problems, and there is no right formula for the best way to solve those problems, but there is a right fit major for you. Our environment of interdisciplinary studies allows you to add to your repertoire of skills outside of your direct major.
You can join clubs different than your field, do research in a lab in a different department, or take technical electives in a variety of areas. Plus, adding an emphasis to your major allows you to gain depth in a specific branch of each major.
Here we've highlighted some of the awesome research happening in various Viterbi academic departments! Check out some of the professors you could be working with:
Dr. Megan L. McCain
Her research group develops 'Organ on Chips,' which are micro-scale, engineered mimics of human tissues that have applications in drug screening and personalized medicine. She was recently named one of MIT Technology Review's Top Innovators Under 35.
Dr. Paul Ronney
He researches combustion problems but also more generally what he calls “chemically reacting flows” such as autocatalytic chemical reactions, frontal polymerization and even studies of bacterial growth and electrical power production. He also teaches the Introduction course!
Dr. Nora Ayanian
Her research group, the ACT lab, conducts research in the area of coordinated multi-robot systems, where they provide theoretically sound solutions to practically motivated problems. You may also recognize them from the drones performance at the 2017 Super Bowl Half-Time Show!
Dr. Kelly Sanders
Her research focuses on the interdependent relationship of energy and water, coined the energy-water nexus. Dr. Sanders has degrees in 3 different engineering disciplines and when she's not winning awards for her research, she's advancing green initiatives on campus!
The Engineering Disciplines
Eventually you will have to limit your studies to one major, spread across eight departments, ten disciplines, and more than thirty major combinations. Take some time to explore all of the different opportunities available to you.