ACS Referral Process

About USC Academic Counseling Services (ACS)

Academic Counseling Services (ACS) is the designated advising office for students who are still exploring their major options.  Students may identify as Exploratory (Undecided), Undeclared or Students-In-Transition.  Most students experience some academic uncertainty during their time at USC, and the ACS lead academic advisors are here to assist you each step of the way.

ACS advisors collaborate closely with other campus partners including, but not limited to, professional academic and Dornsife departments and faculty, Academic Review and Retention, Degree Progress, Disability Services and Programs, Financial Aid and the Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity.

ACS lead advisors are available to meet with students at any point during the semester and once a student has received a referral to the ACS office through the USC Advisement Database appointments can be made online.

ACS Referral Process 

Undergraduate USC students may be referred to ACS for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Exploring new majors, typically as an Undecided (UNDE) major
  • Assistance with applying to a major with admission pre-requisites, typically as an Undeclared (UNDL) major
  • Maintaining your current major program or USC school affiliation while discussing additional or alternative majors

NOTE: A referral to ACS simply sends your information to the ACS team; your major is not changed until an ACS advisor has your permission to do so.

An official referral to ACS should be made by a student’s major advisor.  If the student has also identified a potential major with admission pre-requisites, we ask that the student also be sent a referral to that department by their major advisor.  These referrals are made through the USC Advisement Database.

If you are not sure that your current academic department is the right fit for you, you can request a referral from your major advisor to the ACS office.  After being referred, and ACS advisor will contact you within two business days.  You will then be able to set up an appointment in myUSC to meet one-on-one with the advisor and discuss your potential future path at USC.

A Road Map for your ACS Experience

Current Students

  1. Meet with your current major advisor and let them know you are considering an alternative or additional major; request a referral to ACS.
  2. Receive an automated email with information about ACS.
  3. You will be contacted by ACS within 2 business days and assigned an ACS lead advisor. This advisor will work with you until you declare a major in a USC school.
  4. Set up an appointment to discuss your possible options with the ACS advisor and come up with next actions to take, which could include:
      • Changing your major to Undecided/Undeclared,
      • Doing additional research on academic programs on your own, or
      • Deciding to stay in your current program and not change to a different major.
  5. Follow through on your action plan as appropriate, including attending workshops/information sessions or registering for pre-requisite classes.
  6. Set up follow up appointments with your ACS advisor, who will help keep you on track for future semesters. You will meet with your ACS advisor each semester until you have determined a major program that fits your needs and interests.
  7. Once you are ready, declare or apply to your chosen field of study.

Incoming Students

  1. At least three business days prior to your New Student Orientation session, if you are not sure that you plan to remain in your admitted major, reach out to the advisor for your major program of study and request a referral to ACS.
  2. Receive an automated email with information about ACS.
  3. You will be contacted by ACS within 2 business days and you will be invited to attend the ACS Academic Expectations presentation during Orientation.
  4. During orientation you will have an opportunity to meet with an ACS lead advisor before registration.  At this appointment you will discuss possible options which could include:
      • Changing your major to Undecided/Undeclared,
      • Doing additional research on academic programs on your own, or
      • Deciding to stay in your current program and not change to a different major.
  5. Follow through on your action plan as appropriate, including attending workshops/information sessions or registering for pre-requisite classes.
  6. Set up follow up appointments with your ACS advisor, who will help keep you on track for future semesters. You will meet with your ACS advisor each semester until you have determined a major program that fits your needs and interests.
  7. Once you are ready, declare or apply to your chosen field of study.

Note: For students who do not declare their interest at least three business days prior to Orientation, please work with your currently declared major advisors at Orientation and request that a referral to ACS be sent after the Orientation session is completed.  You will then follow the steps outlined above for Continuing Students.

ACS Referral FAQs

Q. What does it mean to be Undecided, Undeclared or In Transition?

A. Undecided students are in an exploratory phase; they may have several different fields of interest, and still be narrowing their focus to one specific area. Undecided students typically take a range of classes to satisfy their university requirements, as well as exploring their potential major options.

Undeclared students have identified their focus, but are planning on pursing a major that has admissions pre-requisites.  These must be completed before the student can declare a major.  Undeclared students typically integrate the pre-requisites for their intended major while completing university requirements.

Students-In-Transition are those students who may be interested in a different field, but may also plan on staying with their current major.  These students typically focus their coursework on their current major and university requirements, while possibly adding an exploratory class.

Q. Do I have to change my major to Undecided or Undeclared to meet with an ACS advisor?

A. No. It’s completely up to you if you want to switch. You will work with your ACS advisor to determine your best path forward.  ACS advisors are available to meet all USC students who are interested in exploring alternative programs of study.

Q. Can my ACS advisor lift my departmental hold if I remain in my current major?

A. No. We are happy to work with any student in transition; however, students who maintain a declared major other than Undecided or Undeclared must meet with their declared major advisor to have registration restrictions lifted before they can register.

Q. Will changing my major to Undeclared impact my admission to my intended major?

A. No. Being undeclared does NOT negatively impact your competitiveness to your intended major.

Q. How can I ask for a referral to an ACS advisor?

A. Ask your declared major advisor to refer you to ACS through the USC Advisement Database. If you intend to apply for a major with admission pre-requisites, ask your declared major advisor to refer you to that pre-major special program.

Q. Once I am referred, how long will it take for an ACS advisor to follow-up with me?

A. A student referred to ACS will hear from an ACS advisor within 2 business days.