University of Southern California Review

The University of Southern California offers one of the largest selections of online master's degrees in engineering. The school boasts an impressive array of online learning and collaboration tools, and online lectures can even be viewed live if you prefer.

Learn More

The Good

Huge selection of online master's degrees in engineering

The Viterbi school of engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) offers 40 different online master’s degrees in 13 engineering areas through its DEN program, or distance education network. This selection of master’s degrees is the largest and most comprehensive offering among all other online engineering programs. The DEN program also offers a number of graduate certificates in the field of engineering which can supplement your previous degree or update your industry knowledge. Each master’s degree requires 27-34 credit hours to graduate, and can be completed entirely online with the exception of a few exams.

Live course delivery offers real-time interactivity

The online engineering courses are made of up the same lectures that are given on-campus students by transmitting live course sessions over the internet. On-campus engineering classes are delivered in studio classrooms that are ideal for recording live classroom lectures. As an online student you can view lectures live, in real-time, or you can watch the recording later at your own convenience. You can also ask your instructor questions during lectures by calling in on a toll-free phone line. Access to digitized versions of your professor’s class notes, and all materials for each course session can be viewed at any time. USC’s DEN program is one of the only online programs to offer online students this level of interactivity during live classroom sessions.

Exam proctors are arranged for you

As an online student there are two possible options for taking your course exams in a proctored setting. If you are located in Los Angeles, Orange, or Ventura county, your exam location will be the main campus of USC. If you live outside of these areas, the program will identify and coordinate with a testing center that is in your local area, and you will be notified of the examination date, time, and location by email. Most other online graduate programs will require you to find your own proctor or testing center, which can be an inconvenience if you are busy student and working professional. USC has an exam coordinator to make the arrangements for you, but you will still have to pay your own testing center fee, if necessary.

Three enrollment options

You can take online engineering courses through USC’s DEN program under three different student status types. If you applied to the online engineering program and have been accepted, you are an admitted, off-campus student. If you have not applied to the program, you are still able to take online courses as a limited student or as an audit student. Limited students are officially enrolled at USC and have a bachelor’s in engineering. Under this enrollment type you can take up to four online courses, and the grades earned will be considered if you later apply to the program. Audit students can take any online course, but do not earn any academic credit. Audited courses will not appear on your transcript, but you still have to pay full tuition costs for the course.

Superior online tools and technical support

The ability view live lectures and call-in to ask questions during a course session is just one example of the innovative tools available to online students at USC. The engineering degrees offered through the DEN program at USC also offer online students the capability to have and participate in virtual meetings and presentations. Live chats and threaded discussions make it easy to communicate with classmates, but you will also have other collaboration tools to help. There is also full technical support available and there are ways to get immediate assistance if you ever have a technology emergency. The DEN program at USC has a full range of innovative and useful online tools that go above and beyond the offerings available at many other online schools.

Highly ranked and respected program

The online engineering program offered through DEN is one of the most established and innovative online programs. The school has been offering distance education for over 40 years, and the school’s e-learning expertise is apparent from the awards and rankings it receives. The most recent U.S. News & World Report names USC’s online graduate engineering at the number four spot. There is no difference between online students and on-campus students, which maintains consistent high academic quality. As an online student you will be fully integrated into lectures and classroom experiences. There is a wide and powerful network of alumni from the DEN program, which has alumni at many major corporations in 40 states and multiple countries around the world.

The Bad

Tuition rates run high

The tuition rates for the online engineering program at USC’s Viterbi are one of the highest among all other top online engineering programs. USC is a private school, which often means a higher tuition rate can be expected. While the cost of attendance is high, you should keep in mind that the online engineering program was rated as the number one program by U.S. News & World Report. The program is highly desirable and the cost to attendance may partially be in reaction to the high demand of applicants. If you are looking for a more economically priced online engineering program, you may want to consider a few state school options including North Carolina State University, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Auburn University.

The Details

General Information

  • Academic Year Founded: 1999-2000
  • Application Deadline: Fall: January 15, Spring: September 15
  • Application Fee: $85
  • Location: CA
  • Number of Graduate Engineering Programs: 45
  • Region: West
  • School Type: Private
  • Term Schedule: Semester

Tuition Rates (Per Credit)

  • In-State: $1,636
  • Out-of-State: $1,636


  • Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Product Development Engineering
  • Nuclear Power
  • Astronautical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medical Device and Diagnostic Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Construction Management
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Financial Engineering
  • Green Technologies
  • Engineering Management
  • Health Systems Management Engineering
  • Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Operations Research Engineering
  • Systems Architecting and Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering


  • N/A

Class Profile

  • Acceptance Rate: 44%
  • Average Student Age: 29
  • Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.34
  • Avg. GRE Analytical Writing: 4.0
  • Avg. GRE Quantitative: 159
  • Avg. GRE Verbal: 155
  • Gender Ratio: 18.6% female, 81.4% male
  • Maximum Class Size: 125
  • Total Enrollment: 810


  • Average Online Teaching Experience: 7 years
  • Full-Time Instructional Faculty: 107
  • Part-Time Instructional Faculty: 79

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2009): 82%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2010): 91%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2011): 86%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2013): 92%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2011-2012): 83%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2012-2013): 67%

U.S. News Rankings

  • Admissions Selectivity Rank: 3
  • Admissions Selectivity Score: 89/100
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Rank: 12
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Score: 83/100
  • Peer Reputation Mean Score (1-5): 4
  • Student Engagement Rank: 15
  • Student Engagement Score: 72/100
  • Student Services and Technology Rank: 6
  • Student Services and Technology Score: 61/100

Similar Products