University of San Carlos
Latin: Universitatis Sancti Caroli
Former names
Colegio–Seminario de San Carlos (1783-1924)
Colegio de San Carlos (1924-1948)
MottoScientia, Virtus, Devotio (Latin)
Motto in English
Knowledge/Excellence, Valor/Integrity, Fidelity/Commitment
TypePrivate, Roman Catholic, Research, Non-stock, Coeducational Basic and Higher education institution
  • 1783 (as Colegio–Seminario de San Carlos)
  • 1924 (as Colegio de San Carlos)
  • 1935 (managed by SVD)
FounderBishop Mateo Joaquin de Arevalo (Colegio–Seminario de San Carlos)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Society of the Divine Word)
Academic affiliations
PAASCU, PTC-ACBET (Washington Accord), Integrity Initiative, PCNC, CHED PHERNET-Zonal Research Center, DOST-ERDT Consortium, DOST-National Science Consortium, DOST-PCHRD, ACUP, PIDS, PASCN, UK-Phils British Council & CHED TNE, AUN, ISA, IAU, IFCU, UNDP- Phil Dev & CHED TechHub, USAID STRIDE, US Embassy Phils. American Corner & Education USA Center, WIPO- IPOPHL
ChairmanFr. Dionisio M. Miranda, SVD, STHD
PresidentFr. Francisco Antonio Estepa , SVD, PhD
  • Fr. Jesuraj Anthoniappen, SVD, PhD Physics
    (VP for Academic Affairs)
  • Atty. Joan S. Largo, LLM
    (VP for Administration)
  • Fr. Arthur Z.Villanueva, SVD, MA
    (VP for Finance)
Academic staff
950 (2022)
Students16,000 (2022)
P. del Rosario St.
, ,
10°17′58″N 123°53′56″E / 10.29944°N 123.89889°E / 10.29944; 123.89889
Campus5 urban campuses
88 hectares (880,000 m2)
  • Downtown Campus
  • Talamban Campus
  • North Campus
  • South Campus
  • Montessori Academy
NewspapaerToday's Carolinian
ColorsGreen   and   Gold
Sporting affiliations
University of San Carlos is located in Visayas
University of San Carlos
Location in the Visayas
University of San Carlos is located in Philippines
University of San Carlos
Location in the Philippines

The University of San Carlos (USC or colloquially San Carlos) is a private, Catholic, research, coeducational basic and higher education institution administered by the Philippine Southern Province of the Society of the Divine Word missionaries in Cebu City, Philippines, since 1935. It offers basic education (Montessori academy, grade school, junior high school and senior high school) and higher education (undergraduate and graduate studies). Founded originally in 1595 as Colegio de San Ildefonso, it later became the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos in 1783 and finally obtained university charter in 1948.

USC has 5 campuses with combined land area of 88 hectares or 217 acres (Talamban campus has 78 hectares).[1] The Commission on Higher Education has recognized 8 of its programs as Centers of Excellence and 12 of its programs as Centers of Development as of March, 2016.[2][3][4]

USC debuts the QS Quacquarelli Symonds World University Ranking (WUR) 2024 ranked within 1,201-1,400, as well in QS Asia university ranking within 551-600 and QS Asia -South-eastern Asia university ranking as number 88. [5] The Scimago institution ranking for research and innovation ranked USC as 8th (2024) among universities in the Philippines.[6] The Institute for Research, Innovation and Scholarship (IRIS) ranking of Philippine universities research productivity in science, engineering and health ranked USC as 8th in science, 9th in engineering and 7th in health (2021-2022).

The university is certified with the International Standards Organization 9001:2015 Quality Management System for Institutional and Student Support Services as of April 2022 by the British Standards Institution (BSI) International.

USC celebrated its 75th university charter anniversary on July 1, 2023.

USC has about 16,000 students (2022) who are called by the name Carolinians of which 300 are international students, enrolled in collegiate undergraduate and graduate programs and served by about 950 academic faculty and staff with a teacher to student ratio of 1:17. About 500 Carolinian students are academic scholars.[7]


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 (TC) along Gov. Manuel Cuenco Ave., Brgy. Talamban; the North Campus (formerly the Boys High Campus) along Gen. Maxilom Ave; the South Campus (formerly the Girls High Campus) 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).


Claim of being the oldest in the Philippines

Main article: Dispute over the oldest school in the Philippines

USC's claims as the "oldest educational institution or school in Asia" has been a long time subject of disputes with the University of Santo Tomas which on the other hand claims to be the "oldest university in Asia".[8][9][10]

The University of San Carlos was originally founded as Colegio de San Ildefonso a primary and secondary education school. It was established by Spanish Jesuit missionaries Antonio Sedeno, Pedro Chirino and Antonio Pereira in 1595. Except for a brief period in the 18th century, the institution of education has remained in constant operation for over 400 years, obtaining university status in 1948.

It was closed in 1769 at the expulsion of the Jesuits. In 1783, Bishop Mateo Joaquin de Arevalo initiated the opening of the Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos. In 1852, the management of the college was entrusted to the Dominican Christian priests, replaced in 1867 by the Vincentian Fathers then, in 1935, by the Societas Verbi Divini or the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). The Second World War led to the interruption of the operation of the school in 1941 because several buildings suffered various degrees of destruction. The school reopened as repairs of the damaged buildings which started in 1945 were completed by 1946. The Colegio de San Carlos (CSC) was granted its university charter in 1948. The university was named after San Carlos Borromeo.[11]

However, this position is contested by 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.”[12][13] 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.

The university, as an autonomous institute as per the modern definition of a university, started to function in 1867. Though claims have been made to its origin as an autonomous institute at the time of opening of a seminary as a religious school of indoctrination in 1783. University even stretches the claim of its origin back to founding of another center of religious teaching in 1595, which was later closed down. Thus claims about being the oldest, and being a university in its earlier versions or the claims of using shut down institutes as its constituents are concocted and disputed.[12][13] In 2010, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines installed a bronze marker declaring USC's foundation late in the 18th century, effectively disproving any direct connection with the Colegio de San Ildefonso.[14]

According to Dr. Victor Torres of the De La Salle University, the University of San Carlos' claim dates back to 1948 only when USC was declared a university.[15] Fidel Villarroel from the University of Santo Tomas argued that USC only took over the facility of the former Colegio de San Ildefonso and that there is no 'visible' and 'clear' link between San Carlos and San Ildefonso.[16] In 2010, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines installed a bronze marker declaring USC's foundation late in the 18th century, effectively disproving any direct connection with the Colegio de San Ildefonso.[14]

Later history

Facade of the old main building in Downtown Campus

In 1924, Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos was split into two by virtue of a Vatican decree that seminaries should only be for priestly training.[12][13] One of the schools that emerged from this split was named San Carlos College. 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.[17]

The Second World War saw the closure and occupation of USC by Japanese troops. Shortly before Liberation, in 1944, bombs from US planes fell on San Carlos, almost reducing the school to rubble. San Carlos became a university in 1948, three years after it reopened. The seminary, meanwhile, was returned to diocesan control in 1998.[17]

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, in the Philippines. This would have tremendous impact on the nation's Post-War reconstruction.[17]

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.[17]


The academic and curricular programs below are offered by the different schools of the university, the following are :

USC houses Graduate Studies offering programs in School of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business and Economics, School of Education, School of Engineering, School of Healthcare Professions, and School of Law and Governance.


The university has drawn in external grants amounting to about PHP350M (US$7M) from 2018 to 2022. Internal research grants of about PHP45M (US$830T) have also been awarded from the University Research Trust Fund within the same time period, while an additional PHP325M (US$6M) has been earmarked for laboratory facilities development anticipating the current changes in the Philippine educational system. About 140 faculty members are actively engaged in research with 315 papers published in international referred journals and 46 research collaboration agreements with international and Philippine based institutions (2018-2022).

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 three respected scholarly journals, The Philippine Scientist, the Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society and Devotio: Journal of Business and Economics Studies. 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.

Nineteen patents have been filed by the university with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and two patents granted from 2012 to 2022, and one start-up company, Green Enviro Management Systems (GEMS), Inc., has been established.[18]

USC has the following specialized research centers, research groups and laboratories operated and maintained by the different academic departments:[19]

Research Centers

I. Newly established research centers:

II.Regular research centers:

Research Groups and Laboratories

I. Sciences research groups/laboratories:

II. Engineering research groups/laboratories:

III. Other research groups:

University publications

Today's Carolinian

The official student publication of USC is Today's Carolinian (TC), which is run by its editorial board and staff composed of graduate and undergraduate students of the university. The official slogan of the publication is "Our Commitment. Your Paper." According to its website and Facebook page, the publication began as a re-established student publication of the University of San Carlos during the 80's, almost 10 years after Marcos' Martial Law seized the existence of student publications and other student institutions nationwide. It happened when the students launched its first strike against the administration to reinstate the student council and the student publication of the USC. The students were victorious in reinstating the student government. The latter eventually brought back the student publication in September 1983. After some time in the early 2000s, the publication was shut down again and, with the efforts of the university's supreme student council, re-emerged in 2012.

In 2020, Today's Carolinian published an editorial on Facebook titled “A GOVERNOR IS NOT ABOVE THE CONSTITUTION,” condemning the alleged intimidation of the Cebu Provincial Governor Gwendolyn Garcia against critics.[20] The governor, through her personal Facebook account, invited the editor-in-chief of TC, Berns Mitra, to her office on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, to discuss the matter. For the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), this affirms the statement of TC that the governor is trying to intimidate her critics. CEGP urged the provincial government to focus on implementing mitigating measures against COVID-19 instead of focusing on criticisms.

USC Publishing House

The USC Publishing House, formerly the USC Press, has published about 500 volumes of research journals and about 110 books of academic research by the university's faculty, scholars, alumni and partners since 1975. Its three major research journals published are: The Philippine Scientist, a journal of natural sciences; Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, a journal of humanities, arts, culture, history and social sciences; and Devotio: Journal of Business and Economics Studies. It also publishes research journals produced by different research centers and units of USC such as the Cebuano Studies Center, Kabilin Heritage Center, Water Resources Center, Office of Population Studies, Business Resource Center, and various academic schools and departments of the university.


University rankings
Regional – Overall
QS Asia[21]551-600 (2024)
National – Overall
QS National[22]5 (2024)

Criticisms and controversies

Resumption of classes during COVID-19 Lockdown

On April 26, 2020, during Cebu City's initial ECQ as a response to COVID-19, a newspaper column by broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro worried over a reported announcement by the University of San Carlos that classes in all levels of the Cebu-based school would reopen on May 4, which is barely a week after the enhanced community quarantine in the city (ECQ) was to end under the city's original lockdown schedule of April 28.[32] However, on April 22, Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella reset the lifting of an ECQ to May 15.[33] President Duterte also approved the May 15 emergency task force (or IATF-EID) recommendation for Cebu City and Cebu Province, among other cities and provinces outside Luzon.[32] This announcement by the school sparked a large online backlash from the students, which expanded to backlash from other concerned parties after the extension was announced.[32][34]

Notable alumni

Main article: List of University of San Carlos alumni

See also


  1. ^ "University of San Carlos". Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  2. ^ Cerdan, Joven (May 6, 2014). "University rankings: Find out how your school does!". Philippine Star.
  3. ^ a b c "CMO 37 series of 2015 : Extension of designation of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) granted as Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development in Teacher Education and Engineering Programs of Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering until March 30, 2016". Archived from the original on August 2, 2002. Retrieved August 2, 2002.
  4. ^ "CMO 38 series of 2015 : Designated Centers of Excellence and Centers of Development for Various Disciplines Effective January, 2016 to December, 2018". Archived from the original on August 2, 2002. Retrieved August 2, 2002.
  5. ^[permanent dead link] 14-phillipine-universities-make-it-on-2021-qs-asia-list-of-world's-best
  6. ^ "Scopus ranking of Philippine universities, January 2024".
  7. ^ "University of San Carlos students profile and scholarship".[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "UST, USC engages in friendly debate". Today's Carolinian. August 20, 2013. Archived from the original on April 22, 2019. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  9. ^ "History". University of Santo Tomas.
  10. ^ De Leon, Aljohn (August 6, 2014). "Fast Facts: What you should know about Cebu". Rappler. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  11. ^ About USC – University of San Carlos Archived 2012-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2012-04-24.
  12. ^ a b c Torres, Jose Victor (January 27, 2011). "No contest: UST is oldest". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c "UST is oldest, period". The Varsitarian. January 26, 2011.
  14. ^ a b NHCP historical marker for University of San Carlos in Cebu City 'National Historical Commission of the Philippines marker' accessed 19 April 2020
  15. ^ No contest: UST is oldest university 'Philippine Daily Inquirer' Accessed 19 April 2020
  16. ^ UST is oldest, period 'The Varsitarian' Accessed 19 April 2020
  17. ^ a b c d e f g "Brief History". University of San Carlos. Archived from the original on September 4, 2017.
  18. ^ "University of San Carlos research infrastructure".[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "University of San Carlos research infrastructure".[permanent dead link], "Driving Research & Innovation in Philippine Universities: USC Experience" by Dr. Danilo Largo, a technical paper presented at the Phil. Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) and Phil. APEC Study Center Network (PASCN) symposium and conference on "Disruptive Technologies, Challenges and Opportunities" October 8, 2018, UP Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila
  20. ^ Letigio, Delta (March 25, 2020). "CEGP cries foul over Gwen's reply to school pub's statement". Cebu Daily News. Retrieved July 4, 2021.
  21. ^ "QS World University Ranking (WUR) 2024 and QS Asia University Rankings 2024". Top Universities. Quacquarelli Symonds. November 25, 2020. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  22. ^ "QS Asia University Rankings 2024". December 12, 2023. Retrieved December 12, 2023.
  23. ^ "PTC - Philippine Technological Council".
  24. ^ "Home » International Engineering Alliance".
  25. ^ "CMO 18 series of 2012 :Updated List of Private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) granted Autonomous and Deregulated Status". Archived from the original on August 2, 2002. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Professional Regulation Commission".
  27. ^ "Cebu law students to compete in D.C." The Philippine STAR.
  28. ^ Mandatory Continuing Legal Education
  29. ^ "The Unofficial Philippine Internet Timeline".
  30. ^ "Commercializing IP: changing academic mindsets in the Philippines".
  31. ^ "UK-Philippines Transational Education". Archived from the original on May 4, 2020. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  32. ^ a b c Seares, Pachico A. (April 27, 2020). "EXPLAINER. The USC issue: May schools reopen ahead of dates set by government?". Sunstar. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  33. ^ Macasero, Ryan (April 22, 2020). "Cebu City lockdown extended to May 15". Rappler. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  34. ^ "Today's Carolinian". Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2020.