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Student Success Center

Information for Academic Advisors & Units

Pay Here. Go There. The National Student Exchange (NSE) is a domestic study away opportunity for students to experience a different culture a little closer to home. NSE allows USC students to study at one of nearly 200 universities across the USA, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada. USC operates under HOME payment plan, which means students pay their tuition to USC.

Application Paperwork

Students applying for NSE go through a lengthy application process. They must submit an application, résumé, letter of recommendation, pay an application fee, and other items. See the Interested Students section above.One of the most important components is the College Approval Form. This form gives initial approval for the student to participate in an NSE exchange from the academic unit. It should be signed by the academic advisor and the dean of the school (or whomever the dean designates). Once signed the student can attach the completed document to their application. The SSC will NOT move forward with a student's application unless this form is completed.


Letters of Recommendation

Students that apply for NSE are required to submit one letter of recommendation. Sometimes academic advisors are asked to do this. Those who write a letter of recommendation may fill out this FORM. A letter of recommendation can also be uploaded in the same form. The NSE office and the person who writes the letter receive an email copy of the submission, the student does not.


Notes About GPA

NSE at USC requires that students going out on exchange have a minimum 2.75 GPA. Occasionally students will be allowed to participate if it falls slightly below a 2.75 but still above a 2.5, but it is on a case by case basis. Some schools may require a higher GPA. Please encourage students to make an NSE Consultation in the SSC if there are GPA concerns.


Application Timeline

The priority application deadline for NSE is generally the fist week of February each year. The regular application deadline is typically in late February. Placement decisions will be made for the upcoming Summer term, Fall term, Spring term during the first or second week of March each year. These decisions are made at the annual NSE placement conference. Starting mid-March applications for those same terms will be accepted on a rolling basis until early November. Not all schools may have openings after the March placement conference. Please encourage any interested students to schedule an NSE Consultation in the Student Success Center.



NSE realizes that some academic units prefer to allow exchanges to institutions that may have the same academic accreditation agency, such as Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. We've compiled a known list of these schools, email to request.  While updated each academic year, the list may change without notice.


Course Approval

When a student initially applies for NSE, they are usually listing somewhere between 3-8 institutions as possible host sites. They are encouraged to look at the academic bulletin at each school of interest and discuss this with academic advisors, but not to come up with 3-8 ideal course schedules or do course equivalency requests for 3-8 potential host institutions. Once a placement has been made and accepted, students are encouraged to start the process of determining what exact classes will transfer back to USC and determine exact course equivalences with their academic advisors. Students are instructed to start talking about this process with their academic advisor and to begin to work on the Special Enrollment Request Form (aka SERF or AS30 form) quickly once a host site has been finalized. Financial aid will not be released for a participating student if this form is not completed and signed by the student, the academic advisor, and the dean (or whomever they designate). The importance of completing this form correctly and on time is stressed to students from the moment they accept their NSE placement.


Presentations and Partnerships

If an academic advisor or campus partner works with a student group and would like to request a presentation about NSE for student groups, they can do so on the SSC website. Presentations for student groups can be customized for 5-10 minutes, 15-30 minutes, or a full hour.

If a faculty or staff member would like to have a conversation on how a unit or office area may be able to partner with NSE in the future, please email In addition to sending students out on exchange, NSE at USC also welcome students TO USC each year. If a faculty or staff member is interested in setting up an exchange agreement with a program or unit at a member school, that may be possible through NSE! Finally, many students who exchange to USC may apply to transfer after their exchange or return for graduate school.



Want to learn more about NSE? Curious about how the placement process works? What is the most popular location after Hawaii? Need more information about anything? Please email at

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