University of San Carlos

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For the similarly named university in Guatemala, see Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.
University of San Carlos
Unibersidad sa San Carlos
Pamantasan ng San Carlos
Universidad de San Carlos
University of San Carlos logo.png
Latin: Universitas Sancti Caroli
Motto Scientia Virtus Devotio
Motto in English
"Witness to the Word"
"Knowledge, Leadership, Service"
Type Private, Catholic
Chairman Magdaleno B. Albarracin, DBA
President Fr. Dionisio M. Miranda, SVD, STD
Academic staff
Students 27,000+
Undergraduates 12,269
Location Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines
Campus Urban; 5 campuses
Colors Green and Gold         
Nickname Carolinians, USC Warriors

The University of San Carlos (USC) is a private Catholic university in Cebu City which is administered and managed by the Society of the Divine Word since 1935. It offers a Montessori preparatory academy, Basic Education, 80 Undergraduate, and 85 Graduate programs, with a broad spectrum of academic disciplines through its 8 colleges and 27 departments.

USC has been considered as the de facto premier university in Cebu and one of the top 10 leading universities in the country ranked by the International / World QS rating among the top 300 universities in Asia (only 2 universities in the Visayas are cited; USC in Cebu City and Silliman University in Dumaguete City among world class universities in the Philippines).

USC's claims as the "oldest educational institution or school in Asia" has been a long time subject of disputes from the University of Sto. Tomas who on the other hand claims to be the "oldest university in Asia".


USC consists of five campuses in different areas of Metro Cebu – the Downtown Campus (formerly the Main Campus) along P. del Rosario St.; the Talamban Campus along Gov. M. Cuenco Ave., Brgy. Talamban; the North Campus (formerly the Boys High Campus) along Gen. Maxilom Ave.; the South Campus (formerly the Girls High) along corners J. Alcantara St. (P. del Rosario Ext.) and V. Rama Avenue; and the newest is the Montessori Academy along F. Sotto Drive (at the back of USC North Campus).


Aerial view of the University of San Carlos - Talamban Campus

According to the university's claim, San Carlos traces its roots to the Colegio de San Ildefonso founded by the Spanish Jesuits fathers Antonio Sedeno, Pedro Chirino and Antonio Pereira on August 1, 1595. It was closed in 1769 at the expulsion of the Jesuits. In 1783, the initiative of the Bishop Mateo Joaquin de Arevalo opened the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos. In 1852, the management of the college was entrusted to the Dominican fathers, replaced in 1867 by the Vincentian Fathers then, in 1935, the Societas Verbi Divini or the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). The Second World War led to the interruption of the courses in 1941 because several buildings suffered various amounts of destruction. The buildings reopened as repairs were made over the course of 1945 and 1946. The Colegio de San Carlos was granted its university charter in 1948. The University was named after St. Charles Borromeo.[1]

However, this position is contested by some scholars. According to Fr. Aloysius Cartagenas, a professor at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos of Cebu, “following Church tradition, the foundation event and date of University of San Carlos should be the decree of Bishop Romualdo Jimeno on 15 May 1867 (turning over the seminary to the Congregation of the Missions) and the first day of classes in the history of what is now USC is 1 July 1867, the day P. Jose Casarramona welcomed the first lay students to attend classes at the Seminario de San Carlos.”[2][3] Thus, he says that San Carlos cannot claim to have descended from the Colegio de San Ildefonso founded by the Jesuits in 1595, despite taking over the latter’s facilities when the Jesuits were expelled by Spanish authorities in 1769. According to him there is “no visible and clear link” between Colegio de San Ildefonso and USC. San Carlos was specifically for the training of diocesan priests, and it simply took over the facility of the former, a Jesuit central house with an attached day school.

Old facade of the University of San Carlos - Downtown Campus

In 1924, San Carlos split into two under a Vatican decree that seminaries should only be for priestly training.[2][3] In the 1930s, the San Carlos college moved to a different location, P. Del Rosario Street, while the seminary remained at Martires Street. The Society of the Divine Word took over the college in 1935. It became a university in 1948. The seminary, meanwhile, was returned to diocesan control in 1998.

The Second World War saw the closure and occupation of CSC by Japanese troops. And shortly before Liberation, in 1944, bombs from US planes fell on San Carlos, almost reducing the school to rubbles. San Carlos became a university in 1948, three years after it reopened.

Following Communist persecution of the foreign clergy in China in 1949, the University of San Carlos would benefit from the migration of SVD priest-scholars to the Philippines. This accidental émigré culture in USC spawned pioneering research in anthropology, physics, engineering, philosophy, and other fields, here in the Philippines. This would have tremendous impact on the nation’s Post-War reconstruction.

Rapid expansion of the University during the 1960s under the leadership of foreign priest-academicians came with the decade’s wave of militant nationalism, which culminated in calls for the Filipinization of the administration of all Catholic schools in the country. In 1970, Fr. Amante Castillo became the first Filipino president of USC.


The University of San Carlos offers academic programs in all levels of instruction. The South and North campuses cater to coed students in the pre-elementary and basic education (grade school and secondary) levels.

Undergraduate and graduate students can choose from a wide range of courses offered by different departments under the seven schools/colleges of the University. Except for the Department of Teacher Education, which is located at the South Campus, all other departments offering undergraduate and graduate programs are found at the Downtown Campus and the Talamban Campus.

  • Baccalaureate Programs:
    • College of Fine Arts and Architecture
    • College of Arts and Sciences
    • School of Business and Economics
    • College of Education
    • College of Engineering
    • School of Law and Governance
    • School of Health Care Professions

USC also houses a Graduate School offering programs in College of Fine Arts and Architecture, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Economics, College of Education, College of Engineering, School of Health Care Professions, and School of Law and Governance.


  • Charter and founding member of the PAASCU, one of the first accredited universities in the country since 1961. The USC College of Engineering is the first PAASCU accredited engineering school in 1973.
  • USC has been granted with an autonomous status by Commission on Higher Education (Philippines) (CHED) in 2001, 2005, 2009 up to present.
  • USC is recognized by CHED as a Center of Excellence in Chemistry, the only one in the Visayas. CHED recognizes as well, its Teacher Education and recently its Anthropology and Sociology program as Centers of Excellence.
  • USC is a Center of Development in Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics & Communications Engineering, Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, the only engineering school recognized in Central Visayas. CHED recognizes its Business Education, Biology, Physics, Marine Sciences and Philosophy as CHED Center of Development as well. Thus, USC is among the universities nationwide with the most centers of excellence and centers of development recognized by CHED.
  • The Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) ranked USC as one of the top performing schools for the five years 2008–2012 in the board exams for Accountancy, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Architecture, Pharmacy, Mechanical Engineering, among others.
  • The USC College of Law has been consistently in the Top Ten Law Schools in the Philippines (based on the Supreme Court Statistical Data), placing second to Ateneo de Manila University in the 2005 Bar Exams and 4th in the 2006 Bar exams (based on new candidates).
  • The USC College of Engineering is the lone Philippine university member of the School on the Internet-Asia (SOI-Asia), a consortium of 15 universities situated in 11 countries across Asia. It can be noted that the Philippines was first connected to the Internet at the 1st International E- mail conference held at USC in March 1994.[4]
  • The USC College of Commerce has been selected for the 2007/2008 EDUNIVERSAL 1,000 business schools that count on Earth by an International Scientific Committee.
  • The university's Accountancy, Architecture, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Law, Mechanical Engineering and Pharmacy programs are regarded as one of the best in the country, consistently topping the Board Examinations according to number of passers and producing board passers on the TOP TEN.
  • USC has been noted as among leading universities in the country with long tradition and track record of research and publications. Among its research centers and facilities are the USC Museum, Cebuano Studies Center, Business Resource Center, Kabilin Heritage Studies Center and San Carlos Publications which are located in the main campus downtown Cebu City.
  • USC academic excellence and research leadership in the sciences and technology is evidenced with its Research Centers and laboratories located in the Talamban campus north district of Cebu City: Water Resources Center, Water Analysis Laboratory, Office of Population Studies, BioProcess Engineering and Research Center, Chemical, Environmental Research & Analytical Instrumentation laboratory, Microelectronics / PCB Design & Prototyping laboratory, CAD/CAE/CAM /CNC Machine Tool laboratory, Calibration, Repair & Maintenance laboratory, Hydrology & Soils Engineering laboratory, Materials Testing laboratory, Software Development laboratory, Applied Physics and Biophysics research laboratory, Natural Products research laboratory, Biological & Entomological Collections Museum, Marine Collections Museum, Botanical Garden and Nature Park, Affiliated Non Conventional Energy (Clean Energy) research center and Power Plant & Hydraulics Engineering laboratory. The Marine research station is located at Mactan island,Cebu. The College of Architecture & Fine Arts has specialized arts, multimedia design studios and performing arts theater. In 2012, USC inaugurated one of the country's biggest and largest Central Libraries and Learning Resource Center at the Talamban campus.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

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Coordinates: 10°17′58″N 123°53′56″E / 10.29944°N 123.89889°E / 10.29944; 123.89889