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Only current students may schedule advising appointments.

Students may email or call (213) 740-0587 with any questions.

Undergraduate Students: myUSC
Graduate Students: myViterbi

Directed Research


A student who wants to take Directed Research (CE 490 for undergraduate students, CE 590 for master's students, CE 790 for Ph.D. students) must follow the steps below to register for Directed Research:

  1. Get verbal approval from a faculty member for a Directed Research course, including number of units and a project title/description.
  2. Fill out the online form in the Directed Research part of and specify with a pop-up menu the faculty member who will supervise the Directed Research.
    • The faculty member is automatically sent an email directing them to the admin site where they can log in and approve or deny students requests (as well as view all previous semesters).
  3. After the faculty member approves or denies the request, a confirmation email is sent to you (the student).
  4. If approved, you will receive D-clearance within 1-3 business days for the course.
  5. Register for the course via web registration.
    • At the end of the semester, the faculty advisor will be sent an email requesting them to log into the admin website to enter their grades.

Please contact the CEE Student Affairs Office at if you have any questions.


Q: How much time am I expected to spend on Directed Research

A: Similar to regular courses including class time, for each unit of Directed Research, you should spend 3-4 hours per week. For example, for a 3-unit Directed Research, you are expected to spend 10-12 hours per week (on average) over the 15-16 weeks of the semester.

Q: How is a Directed Research course evaluated?

A: Generally, the Directed Research should result in a final report, conference paper or (occasionally) a journal paper. Some faculty will also expect you to give an oral presentation in addition to a written report. CE/ENE 490 is letter-graded; CE/ENE 590/790 are graded CR (credit) or NC (no credit).

Q: How many units of Directed Research can be applied to my degree?

A: It depends on your program, so you should consult your advisor for details.

Master's students are limited to a maximum of 4 units of Directed Research used toward their degree. Petitions for rare exceptions for an additional 4 units may be considered.

A CEE PhD student with a prior non-USC master’s degree may apply up to 6 units of Directed Research  (CE/ENE 590 or 790) toward their PhD degree; a CEE PhD student without a prior non-USC master’s degree may apply up to 12 units of Directed Research toward the degree. An additional 6 units of Directed Research can be applied (i.e. 12 units total with a prior master’s, 18 units total without a prior master’s) if approved by the student's faculty advisor and by Director of CEE Graduate Programs.

Normally, CE/ENE 590 is for master's students and CE/ENE 790 for PhD students.

Q: Prof. _______ is listed on the Schedule of Classes as the CE/ENE 490/590/790 instructor; do I have to do research with that professor?

A: No, that professor is just the instructor of record for the class; you do the research with any one of the research-active faculty. See the instructions above for how to enroll in Directed Research.

Published on January 25th, 2017

Last updated on September 21st, 2021