Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones)

1. Policy

Issued: March 1, 2016
Last Revised: March 1, 2016
Last Reviewed: November 23, 2021                                                      

2. Policy Purpose

To define the restrictions and parameters for operating an Unmanned Aerial System, commonly known as a “drone”, on or above University of Southern California (“USC”) property and/or in connection with a USC-sanctioned or affiliated event or other activity to include commercial, recreational, hobbyist and other uses.  

3. Scope and Application

This policy applies to all USC students, faculty, staff, and visitors on all USC properties and/or during USC-sanctioned or affiliated events or activities.

4. Definitions

Unmanned Aerial System(“UAS”)UASs are also known as or may be characterized as unmanned aircraft systems, model aircraft, drones, quadcopter, quadrotor, etc. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a UAS is the unmanned aircraft and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft.
Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) RegulationsPlease visit https://www.faa.gov/uas/ to review current FAA regulations for owning and operating a UAS.
USC Unmanned Aerial Systems (“UAS”) Review BoardThe UAS Board is comprised of staff members representing the Offices of the General CounselCulture, Ethics and ComplianceFire Safety & Emergency PlanningRisk Management, and the Department of Public Safety.  The UAS Board meets regularly to review applications for UAS use on university property and/or during university-affiliated events. Decisions to approve or disapprove UAS applications are based on federal, local and university regulations with the goal of ensuring the safety and security of the university’s property and its community members.

5. Policy Details

Due to safety, security and privacy risks, USC generally prohibits operations of Unmanned Aerial Systems (“UAS”, or commonly known as a “drone”) on or above USC property or in connection with USC-sanctioned or affiliated events or activities to include commercial, recreational, hobbyist, or other uses.

Exceptions to this policy will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the USC UAS Review Board. Those seeking an exception must submit a completed UAS prohibition exemption request form, and drone operating plan to the USC UAS Review Board for consideration.

Please see Procedures section below for detailed instructions.

USC reserves the right to immediately shut down and confiscate a UAS if it poses a risk to individuals or property, creates electronic interference and/or disrupts any USC activity.

Individuals who violate this policy may be subject to disciplinary actions up to and including termination, suspension, or expulsion from the University in accordance with student code of conduct and policies (“SCampus”), the Faculty Handbook and/or staff employment policies. Non-USC third parties may be subject to legal action if violating this policy, and individuals, schools / departments, or third parties will be responsible for fines or other damages incurred if acting in violation of this policy.

Please submit question regarding this policy to the USC UAS Review Board at  drone@admin.usc.edu.

6. Procedures

Procedures related to the Unmanned Aerial Systems

7. Forms

UAS Exemption Application Request Form:


UAS Operating Plan Form:


8. Responsibilities

USC Office of Fire Safety & Emergency Planning (“FSEP”)Responsible for policy implementation and management, including administration of the USC UAS Review Board.
USC UAS Review BoardReviews Unmanned Aerial Systems policy exception requests and plans for approval or disapproval. The UAS Board is also responsible for monitoring this policy and proposing updates as needed.
UAS OperatorsRequired to comply with this policy, relevant Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) regulations, state and local laws, and any other requirements imposed by the university.
Students, Faculty, Staff and VisitorsRequired to comply with this policy, violators may be subject to university disciplinary policies, or legal actions.

9. Related Information

USC UAS (Drone) Filming Information:


USC Filming Safety Requirements:


California Film Commission UAS Requirements:


USC Student Code of Conduct & Policies (“SCampus”):


USC Faculty Handbook:


Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) UAS Regulations:


10. Contacts

Please direct any questions regarding this policy to:

USC FSEP(213) 740-5527firesafety@usc.edu ordrone@admin.usc.edu (UAS Review Board)