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Viterbi School Reorganizes and Upgrades Professional Education Programs

"The primary goal is to combine flexibility with engineering talent, continually focusing on national needs."

July 10, 2009 —

The Viterbi School of Engineering has made education for engineering professionals a top priority, ranking alongside graduate research and undergraduate study.

Associate Dean Kelly Goulis
The change is embodied in a new division, the Viterbi School of the Office of Master’s and Professional Programs, headed by Associate Dean Kelly Goulis.

"Both the practice of engineering and the needs of the economy are changing," says Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. "We believe the structure that we are evolving is a creative, proactive response to this new environment."

As laid out by Yortsos and Goulis, this initiative responds to national and global trends and industry demand. The growth of knowledge and of new specialties in the field of engineering is accelerating. Even though the undergraduate engineering curriculum remains one of the most intensive, four years is often not enough to bring a student up to the state of practice in many fields.

At the same time, the national need for professionals in these fields is exploding, creating a training bottleneck.

“We’ve had our ear to the ground for a long time,” says Goulis, “Now we are expanding by developing and delivering relevant professional education programs that engineers can directly
For more information about new M.S. programs and short courses, click on the logo.
apply to their careers.”

The changes so far fall in four areas and build on the success of the Viterbi School’s Distance Education Network (DEN), which for 37 years has enabled professional engineers to earn their degree without attending class on the USC campus. 

The four areas include:

  • Creation of a new portfolio of short-course non-degree programs, beginning in July 2009, initially in four areas (Health Care Management and Engineering, Industrial Systems and Engineering Management, Astronautics and Space Technologies, and Civil and Construction Engineering)
  • Implementation of M.S. professional offerings into new fields, applying engineering principles in areas not usually associated with engineering, such as health care management.
  • Creation of special custom courses for specific customers and needs.
  • Laying the groundwork for a 5-year terminal masters program for undergraduates both at USC and at partner institutions, now including California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo and Olin College of Engineering. 

Goulis notes that the Viterbi School has been uniquely well situated to provide a new approach to these problems. One element has been its long association with industry in developing educational programs addressing real-world needs, including the DEN program, which awarded 358 M.S. degrees in Spring 2009.

Across the board, she said, the message is clear.

"The primary goal," says Goulis, "is to combine flexibility with engineering talent, continually focusing on national needs. The nation needs a whole generation of new kinds of experts, professionals with talent and knowledge, and the willingness to apply it. The Viterbi School is well-positioned to prepare them for that challenge.”

More information is available on the division home page,