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When it comes to selecting your housing as an engineering student – you have a ton of options. Should you live in Birnkrant?  What about Pardee?  Did you hear that Fluor Tower was the best – or was it Parkside International?  Do you have to be a Arts & Humanities major to live in the Parkside Arts & Humanities building?  What about these “special interest floors?”

This can get overwhelming, and fast! Read on for some great insight as well as a fantastic video that shows you all the types of USC housing options.

Housing For Engineering Students

First – there is no Engineering Dorm.  The university does not house by major – and this is a good thing!  You will get to know all of your engineering peers in classes, student orgs, and more… no need to live together as well.  USC is such a diverse place, it would be a shame to only know one type of student.  I hope your roommate is a different major than you – a very different major.  I can only imagine the conversations and ideas that may come out of an engineering student rooming with a cinema, arts, international relations, or even philosophy student.  The exchange of ideas can be easier and greater if you are in an environment that promotes such academic, cultural and social coalescence.

You will not have a housing option that is closer-to or farther-away from your classes.  Check out a map of campus.  You’ll notice there are three areas (Parkside, Fluor/Webb Area, McCarthy Quad Area) where you have options to live as an incoming freshman.  Those three points form a triangle in the campus…. in the middle of that triangle are your classes.  Plus, your classes are not in one building, they are spread across the campus.  This is a small campus – you will never be farther than a ten minute walk away from any of your classes as a freshman.  Additionally, each of these three areas have dedicated dining facilities associated with each.  You are never far from food!


First – check out  you can see virtual tours, floor maps and more about each of the facilities – and this is in addition to the “Living At USC” brochure that was sent to you as part of your admission packet.

2 Beds, Desks, Dressers and Closet. Pretty Standard!

Ready for the secret?  Here it is:  All of the housing options are practically the same.  Yup, its true.  Now, there are big differences in styles – you should be deciding whether you want to live in an apartment, typical “dorm-style,” or a suite.  Those are big differences.  Beyond that…. here’s what you are looking at:  You are sharing a bedroom.  In that room there are two beds, two desks, two dresser-drawers, and a closet.  While some buildings may be older than others, all of the buildings are kept up to date and refurbished frequently – in fact most of the furniture in each building is exactly the same.

But, what’s the best?!

Rumors abound: one building is better for this, one building is better for that… but think about it for a second.  Practically everyone only lives there for their freshman year – you have no idea who will be in one building vs. another during your freshman year.  The personalities of the people each year will determine the personality of each building.

One thing is certain – you will meet some of your best friends in your residence hall next year.  You may not like everyone, but that’s just how it goes.  When I ask our students what the “best dorm” is, I often get ten different answers… and it almost always lines up with whatever building they lived in for their freshman year.

To help you a bit more the Viterbi Student Ambassadors made a great video to show you a little more about all of your housing options:

PLUS – each one of our Ambassadors wrote a blog post about their personal experiences in all of our housing options – check out their posts on Viterbi Voices.

Special Interest Floors

Your best barometer for the special interest floors is your “gut.”  Does it sound cool?  It is not about your academic interests, necessarily.  Do you share a passion for that idea, and want to live in a community where that theme will be part of your programming and activities.  If not, don’t worry about it!  All of our housing options have Resident Advisors who work tirelessly to make sure your experiences in the housing communities are robust.  You will have a number of things going on in your residence hall – so much so, you probably won’t even have the time to participate in everything!

Reserving your Spot

Read your “Living at USC’ brochure for all the details you need to make the decision, not to mention the resources we mentioned at  You do not need to commit to USC in order to get your housing preference submitted – you can send it in now for the nominal processing fee.  Either way, as long as you get your housing forms turned in by May, you will be guaranteed housing at USC for your freshman year.

If you still need more ideas, and want to see more – you should visit campus.  Check out our previous post on campus visit programs to learn more about your options in the coming weeks.

Paul Ledesma

As Executive Director, Paul oversees Undergraduate Admission for all programs at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. He was born and raised in southern California and is a lifetime Dodgers fan. He enjoys traveling (Italy may be a second home), discovering new restaurants in LA (tacos anyone?), and while he may not qualify as a bonafide movie-buff, he loves movies (especially comic book movies). He studied Psychology for his bachelor's degree, minored in Public Management, and was active in leadership for community service groups Troy Camp and Dance Marathon while attending USC. When he's not working he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and rescued pup and kitty in Redondo Beach, CA. (well, maybe not the cat so much) Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his