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 during their second or fourth semester at USC (Spring). 

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

Fall 2021 Information Session Recording

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**

ENGR 400: Honor’s Project*                                                1

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

ENGR 400 a/b: Honor’s Project*                                            1-1

*The Honors 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 490 or senior thesis course, ENGR 400 Engineering Honors Project, or similar) or extracurricularly (through volunteer or compensated research).  Typically this is accomplished over a period of several semesters.  For questions, innovation track students should contact the innovation track faculty lead, and research track students should contact Dr. Andrea Armani

** ENGR 499 was formerly know as ENGR 461


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 during their second or fourth semester at USC (Spring).

Please note: Applications are now open! 

Application forstudents with 3 semesters remaining

The application deadline for students that have 3 remaining (not counting fall 2021) is December 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PST

Application forstudents with more than 3 semesters remaining

The application deadline for students that have more than 3 semesters remaining (not counting fall 2021) is February 14, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. PST

Please note: Students should have received a decision by April 1, 2022.

Weekly Honors Colloquium

The Honors Colloquium is a credit/no-credit seminar class (ENGR 100a & ENGR 100b) that provides students with the opportunity to attend weekly lectures,  and network with leaders in the field of engineering.

W.V.T. Rusch Engineering Honors students are required to take both ENGR 100a and ENGR 100b and receive credit to complete the honors program.

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.


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

Published on September 17th, 2020

Last updated on November 22nd, 2021