The W.V.T. Rusch Undergraduate Engineering Honors Program is a great way for students to enrich their experience in the Viterbi School of Engineering.

The program provides a unique opportunity for talented students to participate in dynamic academic and social activities.

The vision of the W.V.T. Rusch Undergraduate Engineering Honors Program is to increase the competitiveness of our students after graduation through the completion of a thesis project or commercialization plan.
Students may apply to the program upon completion of their first or third semester at USC (Spring). Transfer students must apply with at least 3 remaining semesters at USC.


Program Policies


  • The Honors Colloquium
  • WRIT 340 class that assists in writing the Honors thesis or commercialization plan
  • Special events such as the Senior Symposium
  • Students who successfully complete the Honors Program will receive special recognition at commencement

Who was Professor Rusch?

W.V.T Rusch is the founding faculty member of the Engineering Honors Program at the University of Southern California.

Here is some information about Dr. Rusch, his life and accomplishments:

More Info

W.V.T. Rusch Honors Program Tracks

Each student in the program must choose one of the two focus areas:

  • Research:  Goal is acceptance into a top PhD program
  • Innovation:  Goal is acceptance into the innovation groups of world-class companies OR the skill set to go start your own company

Students build a foundation in ENGR 100a/b, then they craft their own project in ENGR 400 and write a thesis or commercialization plan with the help of WRIT 340.


Innovation Track

The Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship (TIE) track of the Honors curriculum is focused heavily on innovation – namely, the identification of opportunities for new technologies and alignment of technology and innovation strategies. We operate under the philosophy that innovation is fundamentally a mindset; and therefore, it is applied as the structure underlying technical content. We do not teach innovation, but we do teach innovative thinking.


Requirements                                              Units

ENGR 100 a/b: Honors colloquium               1-1

WRIT 340: Writing and Disciplinary                  4

Grand Challenges

ENGR 499: Engineering Economics                  2

and Technology Development**

Honor’s Project*                                                1


**Course number subject to change

Research Track

Unlike academic coursework, which is focused on training students in the fundamental knowledge of engineering, research is tackling the unknown problems and challenges facing society today.  As such, the research experience which students will gain through this two course series will complement their rigorous academic coursework. Additionally, by being immersed in a lab environment and interacting with graduate students and a faculty mentor, students will begin to develop a professional network. Students should also learn about the application of the scientific method and how to design an experiment.

Requirements                                            Units

ENGR 100 a/b: Honors colloquium              1-1

WRIT 340:

Writing and Disciplinary Grand Challenges   4

Honor’s Project*                                            1-1

WRIT 340: Focus Section

Because not all Viterbi students are actively involved in research or innovation, currently WRIT 340 is focused on short-term projects or interviews of active researchers in Viterbi. The new WRIT 340 focus section will integrate the honors project into the curriculum.

Specifically, the students will present and will write about their own research, and the class can culminate in a senior thesis.

*ENGR 400: This project will typically result in a senior thesis or a commercialization plan, and will be pursued under the supervision of a faculty mentor, either curricularly (e.g., via a department directed research or senior thesis course, ENGR 400 Engineering Honors Project, etc.) or extracurricularly (through volunteer or compensated research***).

If you plan to complete the ENGR 400 requirement with directed research, volunteer work or any other method that would result in not taking ENGR 400 you must get approval from the W.V.T. Rush Engineering Honors Program Faculty.

Innovation students please contact Dr. Alice Liu. Research students please contact Dr. Andrea Armani.

***Students utilizing a Merit or Deans research award cannot use compensated research to meet the ENGR 400 requirement.

Application for the W.V.T. Rusch Honors Program

Current Viterbi Students Interested in Joining the Program

Continuing undergraduate Viterbi students with a cumulative USC GPA of 3.5 or above are invited to apply for the W.V.T. Rusch Engineering Honors Program.

Students may apply to the program upon completion of their first or third semester at USC (Spring). Transfer students must apply with at least 3 remaining semesters at USC.

Deadline: February 14, 2020

Please note: Students should have received a decision by April 1, 2020.

Incoming Students

Students may apply to the program upon completion of their first or third semester at USC (Spring). Transfer students must apply with at least 3 remaining semesters at USC.

Students should have earned a minimum of 3.5 in both their cumulative GPA and in their major.

Acceptance to the program is based on the following criteria:

-Academic performance

-Motivation to complete the program

-Motivation to complete the track

Weekly Honors Colloquium

The Honors Colloquium is a credit/no-credit seminar class (ENGR 100ab and ENGR 100cd for students grandfathered into the old W.V.T Rusch Honors Program) that provides students with the opportunity to attend weekly lectures,  and network with leaders in the field of engineering.

Honors students are expected to complete the colloquium a varying number of times based on when they are admitted to the program. The pre-2019 Honors Program Policies section contains specific information on how many semesters of the Colloquium a student is expected to take.  Students in the new Honors Program will only take ENGR 100a and ENGR 100b.


I am in the Research Track and I have questions about my Thesis.

Please see the most frequent questions regarding the Research track thesis below:

Are there any further steps I need to take in the thesis process?

– Other than do the research and write the thesis, no.


When is it due?

-By the first day of finals week, the semester you plan to submit your thesis.


Who will be reading my thesis? Is it just my advisor?

– Dr. Armani, faculty lead of the Research track, and your advisor.


How long is the thesis expected to be? Is it essentially just a research paper with more background information?

– It should be around 50-80pgs, double spaced, with figures and references.


I wrote a research proposal as part of my WRIT 340 class in preparation for my senior thesis. However, I think it will be more productive to continue with the research I’ve been doing in lab already. I don’t need to stick to my proposal do I?

– Absolutely not.


I am working with grad students. I can use these results in my thesis, correct?

– The results and analysis that you present should be results and analysis that you have taken/performed or had a significant contribution to. However, it is understandable that the project idea may not have been your own conception. If you have follow-up questions, please ask. However, your advisor is the ultimate resource for this decision.​

Can I take directed research in in lieu of ENGR 400 a/b?

Yes, you may take directed research in lieu of ENGR 400 a/b if you are in the research track. However you must still write a substantial thesis during your directed research which will be used as your research thesis for the program.

What are my options if I am interested in pursuing the new Engineering Honors Program, but I have already completed WRIT 340?

If you have already completed a non honors section of WRIT 340 it will count towards the honors WRIT 340 requirement. You are not required to take WRIT 340 over again.

What are my options if I have already completed ISE 460 and/or I do not have room in my schedule to complete ENGR 461.

The faculty program advisors are currently reviewing options. Please email us at with this question. We will provide you with an update as soon as we receive additional information.