Administered by the Society of the Divine Word (Societas Verbi Divini, SVD) since 1935, the University of San Carlos (USC) traces its roots to the Colegio de San Ildefonso founded in August 1595 in Cebu City. The school closed in 1769 following the expulsion of Jesuit priests from the Philippines, and was reopened in 1783 as Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos which operated until the Colegio split from the seminary in 1930. Following another brief closure during World War II, Colegio de San Carlos became a University in 1948.
Rapid growth in the ‘50s saturated the campus near the city center prompting expansion of the University to what was then called the Boys’ High School in 1956 (now North Campus), and in 1964 to the Teacher Education Center and Girls’ High School (now South Campus) and to Talamban Campus. In 2008, the erstwhile SVD Formation Center was transformed into the Montessori Campus. Total land area of the University’s five campuses is almost 88 hectares (or 217 acres), with about 78 hectares in Talamban Campus alone and potentially ample room for future growth.
Today, the University is one of the most respected higher education institutions in the Philippines, offering 45 undergraduate and 62 graduate programs. Many of these programs have received Level II or Level III accreditation from the Federation of Accrediting Associations of the Philippines (FAAP), as evaluated by the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (PAASCU). Six engineering programs are also accredited by the Philippine Technological Council-Accreditation and Certification Board for Engineering and Technology (PTC-ACBET). The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) also granted Autonomous Status to the University, and designated eight Centers of Excellence (COE) and 12 Centers of Development (COD) in USC. Nearly 22,000 students in basic to graduate education are enrolled in the University, with almost 200 international students. On average, the teacher-to-student ratio at USC is 1:20. USC is ranked between 451 to 500 in the QS University Rankings for Asia 2021.
Recognized as a research hub in southern Philippines, USC has drawn in external grants amounting to PHP113,762,670.93 (USD2,288,297.45 as of Jan. 31, 2017) between AY 2011-2016. Internal research grants of PHP34,035,344.90 (USD684,609.17) have also been awarded from the University Research Trust Fund within the same time period, while an additional PHP300M (~USD6M) has been earmarked for laboratory development anticipating the current changes in the Philippine educational system. Research efforts are supported by a print collection of over 200,000 titles and almost 10,000 non-print volumes housed in the University’s Library System, along with subscriptions to 17 online journals. USC also publishes two respected scholarly journals, The Philippine Scientist and the Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. Additional support for researchers are available through offices or committees providing ethics review, intellectual property and innovation and technology support, and animal care and use. Ten patents have been filed by the University since 2012, and one start-up company, Green Enviro Management Systems (GEMS), Inc., has been established.
Student support in the University includes an international students’ office, online enrolment, dormitories, numerous cafes and canteens, and a transport system within Talamban Campus. USC has more than 600 undergraduate and graduate scholars at any given time. Since 2014, USC has been designated as a Donee Institution by the Philippine Council of Non-Governmental Organization Certification (PCNC).