Is USC known for easy or hard grading?

My D was accepted yesterday into Vitterbi. She loves the engineering school and the university, but she wants to keep her options open for med school. Does anyone know whether USC and especially Vitterbi is known for grade deflation or inflation?


It depends on the major. My son says that certain majors such as Marshall Business School has a steeper Bell Curve (less A’s and more B’s and possibly C’s given) than other majors like the social sciences. I would imagine that Viterbi Engineering School, Computer Science or other competitive majors such as the life sciences (to get into health professions like medical, dental, pharmacy, etc.) would also have very competitive grading. My son is in Dornsife and has a 3.97GPA (all A’s and 2 A-'s at USC so far) and plans to attend law school. He works hard to maintain that GPA, but says that if he were in the Marshall Business School, his GPA would be lower. Some majors have steep Bell Curves and other majors at USC not as steep. Also, with the high quality of students admitted to USC, there is tough competition to get top grades. My son tells me that there are quite a few USC students who are admitted to Ivies, etc., but choose USC for the free ride because the parents cannot afford to pay for Ivy League education. These types of students increase the competition for top grades. My son’s roommate is a hard worker who was admitted to UC Berkeley’s PhD program. I believe a school like UC Berkeley is more known for harsh grading than USC, but USC is no cakewalk.

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I wouldn’t worry as much about Viterbi as I would about the pre-med courses. Because students applying to grad schools (med, dental, vet, etc) want top grades, there is naturally going to be more competition in those courses.

Yep, but it’s near impossible to keep a top GPA when the pre med and engineering classes are uber competitive. My D really needs to decide between pre med and engineering or go to a less rigorous school.

Rigorous does not mean competitive or grade deflation.

Viterbi is more collaborative than competitive. From the About the School - Viterbi website. Scroll down to “our philosophy.”

In the real world, engineers work in teams. We foster a collaborative, non-competitive environment to simulate what working post college will be like. You’ll never worry about staying in a class, or competing on a harsh grading curve. There will be group projects and team work throughout your curriculum, and we foster interdisciplinary projects as well, because it never takes just one engineer to solve a problem.