New Student Orientation
USC Orientation welcomes new students to the Trojan Family and provides events that promote success for all graduate and undergraduate students beginning their studies at USC. The university strongly recommends that all students attend an Orientation event to familiarize themselves with the campus services and academic requirements that will assist them in their transition to USC.
Numerous Orientation events are held for new freshman and transfer students. During Orientation, students meet with academic advisers to plan their first-semester schedule. Guests are invited to attend Orientation with their students to become acquainted with the university. There is an additional charge for guests to attend Orientation. Please see the Office of Orientation Programs Website at usc.edu/orientation for details.
All international students are required to complete their Passport Verification (PPV), which is offered during the International Student Orientation. More details can be found on the Orientation Website at usc.edu/orientation.
Graduate students are offered a centralized Graduate Orientation event before the start of the semester. Many academic departments and professional schools offer additional orientation sessions for their specific departments. Sessions are also available for graduate assistants through the Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET). For information about CET’s programs, see Special Study Options or visit usc.edu/cet. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to the Friends of CET weekly updates.
All students entering USC for the first time will be assessed a New Student Fee that will appear on the fee bill. This is a one-time fee assessed for all services available on campus, internationally and online. Fee details can be found on the Orientation Website at usc.edu/orientation.
Undergraduate Education Admission
Offices of Admission and Financial Aid
Admission to undergraduate programs is granted by the USC Office of Admission. This office receives and processes all applications, evaluates credentials, and mails letters of acceptance to applicants who qualify for entrance. Admission to the university’s degree programs must be granted in all cases by the USC Office of Admission and the appropriate selection committees. Only a letter from the Office of Admission grants official admission.
As a private university, USC seeks a wide geographical distribution among its student body, and evaluates its out-of-state applicants using the same criteria as those used for California residents. Tuition and fees are the same for all students, regardless of state or country of residence.
The University of Southern California admits qualified men and women as students regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, sexual orientation or status as a disabled veteran. After admission, students are accorded equal rights to participate in all university-sponsored programs and activities. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, sexual orientation or status as a disabled veteran in the administration of its educational policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics and other student activities.
Applicants with Disabilities
In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), USC offers equal access to its degree programs to academically qualified applicants with documented disabilities. Applicants will be expected to have demonstrated by their record in a college preparatory high school curriculum or in an appropriate transferable college course of study that they can perform well in a competitive academic environment. See here for a discussion of possible accommodations. USC is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities.
Retention of Records
Credentials submitted to the Office of Admission become the property of the university and cannot be returned to the student or duplicated for any purpose.
Students submit applications online through the Common Application at commonapp.org. A nonrefundable fee will be charged with the completed application, although students with financial need may request a fee waiver. For specific application deadlines and requirements, refer to usc.edu/uga or the Meet USC brochure.
Credentials for admission must include complete records of all previous high school and college or university work and the required test scores.
USC does not undertake the collection of these credentials. The application for admission and complete credentials should be submitted via the Common App by the appropriate deadlines.
Factors given prime consideration for admission to undergraduate study are an applicant’s previous academic success and the quality of all records presented. To ensure diversity in the composition of the student body, other considerations may include outstanding talent and abilities, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation.
Deferring Admission A student is accepted only for the semester and program specified in the letter of admission. If a different semester is desired or if the student cannot arrive on campus in time for the specified semester, students may defer admission for one year by submitting a USC Admission Deferral Request Form to the Admission Office. A deferral may be requested within one year of the original semester of application. (Example: A student applied for the fall 2016 semester and wishes to have admission deferred to the fall 2017 semester.) Longer gaps required for religious reasons or for compulsory military service will also be considered.
Once students have been admitted, they complete, sign and date the Admission Deferral Request Form and submit it to the Office of Admission as soon as possible. Only students who have been formally admitted to USC may request a deferral.
School and Department Application Requirements
Because of strong competition for admission, several schools and academic departments require supplementary application materials and may employ separate deadlines.
Leventhal School of Accounting Transfer applicants interested in accounting must first apply to business administration. A formal request to transfer to the Leventhal School of Accounting can be made once the resident accounting course(s) are successfully completed. In some cases, high school students who have demonstrated exceptional scholastic aptitude for the accounting major will be considered for admission as first-year students. For more information, write or call the USC Marshall School of Business, Office of Undergraduate Admission, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0805, (213) 740-8885, email email@example.com or visit marshall.usc.edu/lsoa.
School of Architecture (BArch, BS, Architectural Studies) Transfer students should note that the core curriculum will take five years to complete. A portfolio is required of all applicants. For more information, write or call the USC School of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0291, (213) 740-2420, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit arch.usc.edu.
Roski School of Art and Design (BFA and BA) Portfolios are required of all applicants to the BFA and BA (Studio Arts) programs. Applicants may contact the USC Roski School of Art and Design, Watt Hall 104, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0292, (213) 740-2787, for questions about applications and required supplementary materials.
Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation (BS) To apply, submit the Common Application and the USC Writing Supplement by December 1. Applicants must include a one-minute proposal video and are encouraged to submit a portfolio of creative work. Current USC students who wish to transfer in to the Academy should complete only the SlideRoom portion of the application. The Academy is not currently accepting transfer applicants from institutions outside USC. For more information, please call (213) 821-6140, email email@example.com or visit iovine-young.usc.edu.
Marshall School of Business Students may be admitted as incoming first-year students, as USC undergraduates transferring from another major or as students transferring from another college or university. Transfer students will be considered for admission to the Marshall School of Business once they have completed the prerequisite college writing and business calculus courses. Students should contact the Marshall School for a detailed list of equivalent courses. For further information, write or call the USC Marshall School of Business, Office of Undergraduate Admission, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0805, (213) 740-8885, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or refer to marshall.usc.edu.
School of Cinematic Arts (Animation and Digital Arts, Cinema and Media Studies, Film and Television Production, Interactive Media and Games, Media Arts and Practice, and Writing for Screen and Television) Supplemental materials for first-year applicants are due December 1. Transfer students should apply by February 1. Transfer students applying to the writing program should note that the application deadline is December 1 and that the core curriculum takes four years to complete. For specific instructions on applications and required supplementary material, contact the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Student Affairs Office, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2211, (213) 740-8358, email email@example.com or visit cinema.usc.edu.
Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (Communication, Journalism and Public Relations) All applicants to the Annenberg programs must include a statement of intent explaining their reasons for pursuing an education and a career in communication, journalism or public relations. Statements are read with great attention to commitment and literacy. For more information, contact the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Recruitment Office, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0281, (213) 821-0770, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit annenberg.usc.edu.
Kaufman School of Dance (BFA) Admission to the USC Kaufman School is competitive: No more than 15 to 20 students will be invited to enroll. In addition to the Common Application, applicants must submit the USC Kaufman School Supplement via SlideRoom. All required materials must be received by December 1. Finalists will be invited to audition in person. Current USC students and transfer students are welcome to apply but should note that the BFA in Dance is a four-year program. For more information, contact the USC Kaufman School at 849 West 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089-3521, email email@example.com or visit kaufman.usc.edu.
Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry (Dental Hygiene) All prerequisite and general education course work must be completed prior to entering dental hygiene classes, which begin in the fall of the student’s junior year. Contact the department about completing necessary courses at USC or elsewhere. Admission is for the fall semester only. The deadline to submit the USC Common Application is February 1. Only junior transfer students may apply.
For further information and a supplemental application, write or call the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, Office of Admissions and Student Affairs, 925 West 34th Street, Room 201, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0641, (213) 740-2841 or visit usc.edu/dental.
School of Dramatic Arts (BFA and BA) Applicants must complete portfolio requirements for the School of Dramatic Arts. The deadline for all first-year programs, and transfer BFA programs, is December 1. The deadline for BA transfer programs is February 1. An audition/interview is required for admission to the BFA program; applicants will be notified of the dates and locations for auditions and interviews after the departmental application is received. Additional information is available by calling (213) 740-1286 or visiting dramaticarts.usc.edu.
Viterbi School of Engineering Applicants to engineering and computer science majors must respond to the two short-answer questions on the USC Writing Supplement. For first-year applicants to all majors in engineering and computer science, four years of mathematics are required for admission consideration, preferably with calculus in progress or completed by senior year. Three years of natural sciences are also required. Transfer applicants to all majors in engineering and computer science should have completed one or more semesters of college-level calculus and meet USC admission requirements. Transfer students are encouraged to complete additional pre-engineering course work as available; visit viterbi.usc.edu/admission for a list of relevant courses. For more information, contact the Viterbi School of Engineering Admission and Student Affairs Office at (213) 740-4530 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thornton School of Music The deadline for all music majors (first-year and transfer) is December 1. All required supplementary materials must be received by this date. An audition is required for most majors. Audition requirements and dates can be found at usc.edu/music or by contacting the Thornton School of Music Office of Admission, University Park, UUC 218, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2991, (213) 740-8986. Applicants are urged to apply as early as possible.
USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy This program accepts applications from first-year students only. For information about admission criteria, program course sequence and application procedures, visit chan.usc.edu. Alternatively, write or call the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at 1540 Alcazar Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9003, (866) 385-4250.
School of Pharmacy The Trojan Admission Pre-Pharmacy (TAP) program is a unique program for entering first-year students: a pre-pharmacy/doctor of pharmacy curriculum that affords students continuity in their professional education. Students admitted to TAP begin their pre-pharmacy course work at USC in the freshman year and are guaranteed admission to the USC School of Pharmacy, provided they meet specified criteria. All applicants should contact the School of Pharmacy for instructions at USC School of Pharmacy, 1985 Zonal Avenue, PSC 206A, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9121, (323) 442-1466 or pharmacyschool.usc.edu/programs/pre/tap.
Admission from Secondary Schools
Prospective first-year students are evaluated on the content and rigor of their high school course work, their grades, standardized test scores, activity summary, essay, short answers and counselor/teacher recommendations. There are no absolute “cutoffs” or minimums for grades, rank in class or test scores. We are interested in the interplay of these elements as well as personal accomplishments and potential for success.
The most fundamental expectation of each entering student at USC is that she or he will have completed a rigorous high school curriculum in English, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign language and the arts. We realize, of course, that individual talents, circumstances and opportunities vary greatly. Therefore, no specific curriculum is prescribed. However, we do expect that prospective students will take advantage of the highest level of classes offered to them in their secondary schools.
Grade Point Average
When assessing grade point average, consideration is also given to class rank and to the strength and frequency of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or A-Level course work in a student’s curriculum, if this course work is offered by his or her school. Naturally, we are interested in consistently strong academic performance throughout the four-year high school record. However, we realize that some bright students, for one reason or another, may encounter difficulties in ninth grade. In these cases, special attention is given to steady and substantial improvement throughout the sophomore, junior and senior years.
Standardized Test Requirement
SAT and ACT
USC requires either SAT or ACT scores (with the optional writing test) from all first-year applicants, and from transfer students who have accumulated fewer than 30 transferable semester units since finishing high school. For students who take the SAT more than once, USC records the highest scores for each section, even if achieved in different sittings. For students taking the ACT, USC will record the highest composite score.
Students applying for fall 2017 admission may submit either version of the SAT. Students applying for fall 2018 admission must submit the new format. We will not require the optional essay in either case.
If test information and application forms are not readily available, write to the College Board SAT Program, 901 South 42nd Street, Mount Vernon, IL 62824; or the American College Testing Program, P.O. Box 414, Iowa City, IA 52240. For the SAT, visit collegeboard.org; for the ACT visit act.org.
SAT Subject Tests
We require SAT subject tests only from first-year applicants who do not attend a regionally accredited high school, e.g., home schools, some private, parochial or even some new schools. These students must submit three SAT subject exams, including one in mathematics, in addition to the SAT or ACT. For all other applicants, these exams are optional. We find them helpful in evaluating applications for merit scholarships.
First-year applicants who have taken Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or A-Level examinations are encouraged to provide those results.
International first-year and transfer applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the PTE Academic test. International first-year applicants with minimum scores of 600 on the SAT Reading test or a 27 on the ACT English are exempt from taking the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic. The TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic must have been taken within two years of the application date.
Credit by Examination
Students may earn a total of 32 semester units of credit toward their bachelor’s degree by examination. Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and A-Level credit is granted at USC for exams taken before matriculation at a two-year or four-year college and will be evaluated solely according to USC’s standardized exam policies.
Students who have also earned credit for college courses taken while in high school should refer to the Course Work Taken Elsewhere page.
Advanced Placement Examinations (AP)
USC grants college credit for the Advanced Placement Examinations of the Educational Testing Service. A student may be granted four semester units of credit for most AP tests with scores of four or five. For specific AP credit information call the Office of Admission, (213) 740-1111 or visit usc.edu/transfercredit.
USC grants either 20 units of credit to students who earn the International Baccalaureate diploma with a score of 30 or higher, or six units for each score of 5 or higher on the IB Higher Level exams, for a maximum of four exams, whichever is higher. International Baccalaureate results should be sent directly from the International Baccalaureate Organization to: University of Southern California, Articulation Office, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0912. For more information, visit usc.edu/transfercredit.
USC typically awards 8 semester units for most A-Level exams with an appropriate score. Results must be sent directly from the examining agency. Refer to the Articulation Office Website at usc.edu/transfercredit for additional polices regarding transfer credits and AP, IB and A-Level exams.
Subject Credit by Special Examination
See the Subject Credit by Special Examination section for further information.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
USC does not grant credit on the basis of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).
Admission from Colleges and Universities
An applicant may be admitted by transfer from a fully accredited college, university or community college, under the following conditions: (1) if the applicant has completed 30 or more transferable college semester units with an appropriately strong grade point average in an academically rigorous selection of courses; (2) if the applicant is not under the penalty of academic or disciplinary disqualification at any college or university previously attended and is entitled to an honorable dismissal; and (3) if proof of high school graduation on a high school transcript, or the equivalent (such as a GED or finishing certificate), has been provided as part of the application materials. If fewer than 30 transferable semester units have been completed at the time of application, the applicant must submit — in addition to the high school transcript — the results of the SAT or the ACT assessment test.
Students intending to transfer to USC should refer to the Transferring to USC brochure for detailed information about the university’s transfer, admission and credit policies. Call the USC Office of Admission at (213) 740-1111 or visit usc.edu/transferring.
The amount of advanced standing granted to a student transferring from another institution is determined in each individual case by the Office of Academic Records and Registrar. A minimum of 64 units toward the bachelor’s degree must be earned in residence at USC. For a degree in Architecture, a minimum of 80 units must be earned in residence at USC. A maximum of 70 of the transferable units for this program may be earned at two-year colleges. For students in Engineering’s “3-2” Program, at least 48 units must be earned in residence at USC. Two-thirds of any transferable course work must be completed at one of USC’s four-year partner institutions.
It is the student’s responsibility to report all college-level course work completed outside USC to the Office of Admission when completing the application form. Omitting such information constitutes a violation of the applicant’s affidavit and may result in the revocation of admission to the university.
Records of all courses including correspondence study, extension or summer session courses taken in other institutions after the student’s admission to USC must also be filed with the Office of Academic Records and Registrar immediately following completion of the work.
Admission of International Students
The University of Southern California has an outstanding record of commitment to international education. From a small presence during our early history, our international enrollment grew to an average of 200 students by the 1930s. After declining international enrollments in the years surrounding World War II, USC began rebuilding and in 1951 began providing specialized admission services to international students. By 1964, more than 1,000 international students were enrolled at USC. Today, the Office of Admission serves thousands of prospective students each year by providing both general and specialized information and by maintaining the expertise necessary to evaluate academic records from the various educational systems around the world. The Office of Admission also issues the required eligibility certificates for students to enter the United States.
At USC, an international student is an individual of foreign nationality who will be entering or has already entered the United States with a student visa. However, students already residing in the United States and holding other non-immigrant visas (such as E2, H2 or L2) are also international students. International students do not qualify for need-based financial aid. U.S. permanent residents, naturalized U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens residing and attending school outside the United States are not considered international students and are eligible for need-based financial aid.
English Language Requirements
Academic success at USC is strongly dependent upon the ability to communicate in English. Listening, speaking, reading and writing proficiency must be well developed in order to assimilate large amounts of difficult material under limited time conditions with full comprehension. Such proficiency is much greater than that required for ordinary everyday living. Therefore, every effort should be made to acquire English proficiency prior to entering the university.
Admitted international students whose first language is not English are normally required to take the International Student English Examination (ISE Exam) at the beginning of the first term of study. The examination results determine whether students must take additional English for academic purposes course work.
International students who meet one of the following conditions may be exempt from taking the ISE Exam:
- International students who have completed their entire bachelor’s degree at regionally accredited universities located in the United States or in another country in which English is both the language of instruction and the only official language of the country.
- Applicants to master’s programs who have attained an Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 90, with no less than 20 on each sub-score; or an IELTS score of 6.5, with no less than 6 on each band score.
- PhD and undergraduate applicants who have achieved an Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 100 with no less than 20 on each sub-score; or an IELTS score of 7, with no less than 6 on each band score.
American Language Institute
Any student not demonstrating adequate English proficiency will be required to enroll in courses at the American Language Institute (ALI) at USC. The ALI provides courses designed to improve an international student’s oral and written communication skills in English. The extent to which a student may be required to take courses at the ALI is determined by his or her performance on the International Student English Examination (ISE Exam) or, in the case of potential teaching assistants, the ITA Exam.
ALI tuition units are charged at the regular university rate. Entering students who need English language classes should be aware that the ALI course requirements will likely increase the overall cost of their degree program. ALI classes can normally be taken concurrently with a student’s other university classes and must be completed at the earliest opportunity.
All new teaching assistants (TAs) for whom English is a second language must demonstrate their competence in spoken English before assuming classroom or laboratory duties. Normally, new international teaching assistants (ITAs) demonstrate their English proficiency by taking the ITA Exam, administered by the American Language Institute (ALI) located on the USC University Park campus.
The exam must be taken before assuming classroom or laboratory duties and no later than the first day of classes. The ITA exam is graded on a scale of 1 to 7. Those who achieve a score of 6 or higher are cleared for classroom duties and have no English oral skills requirement. Those who score 5 or 5.5 are cleared for classroom duties, but are required to enroll in an English language course through the ALI while performing their ITA responsibilities. Those who score below 5 on the exam are not cleared for classroom duties. These students are normally required to enroll in an English language course offered by ALI until adequate English proficiency is obtained. For more information, call (213) 740-0079 or visit ALI’s Website at ali.usc.edu.
Those ITAs denied clearance for teaching duties may have their offer of graduate assistantship withdrawn or alternative responsibilities assigned. An ITA who is denied clearance to teach should immediately seek assistance from the chair of his/her home department or program director.
Graduate and Professional Education Admission
Office of Admission and Financial Aid
At the graduate level, admission to graduate and professional programs is granted by the dean of the school conferring the degree. However, only a letter from the university’s Office of Graduate Admission constitutes an official offer of admission; correspondence with department chairs, program directors or individual faculty members does not constitute admission.
The University of Southern California admits qualified individuals as students regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, sexual orientation or status as a disabled veteran. After admission, students are accorded equal rights to participate in all university-sponsored programs and activities. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, sexual orientation or status as a disabled veteran in the administration of its educational policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics and other student activities.
The USC Application for Graduate Admission should be used by all applicants to all programs except law, medicine and some professional programs in the schools of dentistry and pharmacy, and the division of physical therapy. Applicants should confirm application requirements with their intended school or academic program before application submission.
Online Graduate Programs
Admission to the University of Southern California’s online graduate programs is offered to candidates meeting the university’s admission standards. USC’s online programs are designed to be as rigorous and comprehensive as their traditional on-campus counterparts. Official offers of admission to a majority of these programs will come directly from the administering school or college.
Prospective online program students must submit an application for admission, application fee, official academic records and supplemental documents as required by their intended program. Applicants are encouraged to contact the department, program or school to which they are applying for further program information and additional requirements.
Applicants with Disabilities
In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), USC offers equal access to its degree programs to academically qualified applicants with physical, psychological or learning disabilities. Applicants will be expected to have demonstrated by their record in course work completed toward their undergraduate degree that they can perform well in a competitive academic environment. See here for a discussion of possible accommodations. USC is committed to providing appropriate, reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities.
Retention of Records and All Application Documents
All documents and credentials submitted to the Office of Admission, at the time of application and thereafter, become the property of the university and cannot be returned to the student or duplicated for any purpose.
Continuing Registration Requirement
The minimum standard for graduate admission is a U.S. bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, from a regionally accredited institution or ministry of education recognized institution. The Graduate School and some professional schools have additional minimum requirements for applicants seeking degrees. Continuing registration requirement status is applied to those students who have not yet met all requirements for admission to full graduate status or who have not filed all relevant documents with the appropriate school or department. Students admitted in this status must satisfy their conditions by the end of the first term of enrollment, or within the time period deemed appropriate by the department, program or Office of Degree Progress. Students who fail to satisfy their continuing registration requirement within the alloted time frame will not be allowed to register for classes.
Students who have continuing registration holds on their records for academic requirements must complete at least 6 units of graduate level course work with no grade below a B in each class, and must be recommended for regular admission by a faculty committee. Once those conditions have been met within the stipulated term period, the department chair or program director can authorize registration for the following semester. If the conditions are not met, the student may be dismissed from the program.
Individual exceptions must be approved by the dean of the degree-conferring unit.
Doctoral Admission with Advanced Standing
Some doctoral programs at USC admit students with Advanced Standing (entry with an appropriate completed graduate degree from an accredited institution).
A minimum of 36 units of course work beyond the first graduate degree, exclusive of 794 Doctoral Dissertation preparation, is required for the doctoral degree if students are admitted with Advanced Standing. Additional course work may be required if deemed necessary by the student’s faculty. See the Course Work Taken Elsewhere page.
Admission to Candidacy
Admission to graduate study does not imply admission to candidacy for an advanced degree and gives no right or claim to be so admitted. Candidacy is determined after the student has demonstrated the ability to do graduate work with originality and independence at USC.
Faculty members shall not be candidates for degrees in the same schools in which they have appointments. In addition, assistant professors on the tenure track should not simultaneously be candidates for degrees anywhere at the university. Individual exceptions to either of these policies may be made only with the approval of the provost or of a special committee appointed by the president. Individual exceptions are considered when the individual submits a request for tuition waiver, which is forwarded for approval to the vice provost for faculty affairs. The form should be accompanied by a memo from the dean of the school. For candidacy within the same school, the dean’s memo explains how conflict of interest issues will be dealt with; for assistant professors on the tenure-track, the memo explains how pursuit of the degree will advance rather than detract from meeting the criteria for tenure.
The Graduate School
The Graduate School establishes and monitors the standards under which students are admitted for study in all graduate degree programs except the Doctor of Dental Surgery, Juris Doctor and Doctor of Medicine. An alphabetical listing of degree programs by school can be found under Degree Programs. Details of admission standards are provided in the Graduate School section of this catalogue and in the sections of schools and departments providing the curricula for these programs.
Professional Master’s and Doctoral Degrees
Details of admission standards to professional degrees available at USC are detailed in appropriate school listings.
Dual Degree Programs
Applicants wishing to pursue a dual degree program offered by the university must apply separately to each degree program, meet the admission requirements of each school, and be admitted by both academic units. Applicants to a professional degree program should consult the particular school for information on admission requirements and programs of study.
Admission of International Students
The University of Southern California has an outstanding record of commitment to international education. From a small presence during our early history, our international enrollment grew to an average of 200 students by the 1930s. After declining international enrollments in the years surrounding World War II, USC began rebuilding and in 1951 began providing specialized admission services to international students. By 1964, more than 1,000 international students were enrolled at USC. Today, the Office of Graduate Admission serves thousands of prospective students each year by providing both general and specialized information and by maintaining the expertise necessary to evaluate academic records from the various educational systems around the world. The Office of Graduate Admission also issues the required certificates of eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019) to admitted students who certify to attend USC so that they can apply for a student or scholar visa to enter the United States.
At USC, an international student is an individual of foreign nationality who will be entering or has already entered the United States with a student visa. However, students already residing in the United States and holding other non-immigrant visas (such as E2, H1 or L2) are also international students. International students do not qualify for need-based financial aid. U.S. permanent residents, naturalized U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens residing abroad and attending school outside the United States are not considered to be international students and are eligible for need-based financial aid.
International applicants (those who are or will be in the United States on non-immigrant visas) are required to submit the following documents:
- Application for Admission;
- Application fee paid by credit card, check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. currency and made payable to the University of Southern California must accompany the application; the fee is non-refundable and cannot be deferred;
- Scores on all examinations required for admission (e.g., GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) sent to USC electronically by the testing agency;
- One official copy of academic records from every postsecondary institution attended, along with certified English translation, where applicable;
- Documented evidence of financial support with a passport copy (see financial guarantee statement); and
- Letters of recommendation, as per the guidelines provided by the intended program of study.
Additional information may be required by the academic departments. General admission guidelines are available by country on the USC Graduate Admission Website and subject to change without prior notice.
Financial Guarantee Statement
The United States government requires all international applicants to provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses before a formal letter of admission or the forms needed for obtaining a visa will be issued. International students are also required to have health and accident insurance. The cost of university-provided insurance will be added to the student’s fees unless he or she presents proof of adequate coverage.
Each applicant relying on personal or family support must furnish, at the time of application, an official financial-guarantee letter — preferably a bank letter — indicating the sponsor’s name and address and verifying the ability to pay the annual cost in education-related expenses for the first academic year. This document must be verified by a bank seal. It is not necessary to show proof of funding in order to be considered for admission to USC. However, it is crucial for students to submit their financial-guarantee letters once they have submitted their applications if they wish to receive notification of admission in the timeliest manner possible.
Prospective doctoral students do not need to submit a financial-guarantee letter at the time of application since most admitted students will be fully funded by the university. Applicants whose financial support will come from their home governments or other official agencies (e.g., AMIDEAST, IIE, etc.) must submit similarly appropriate documents from their sponsors.
International students cannot meet the full amount of their educational expenses by working while in the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) only allows students to work off-campus under limited circumstances, and employment opportunities are further limited by legislation that requires holders of student visas to be full-time students.
Additionally, all international students must submit a copy of a valid passport.
Deadline for International Applications
Once students complete their online applications and have received their 10-digit USC IDs, they should send the required documents and fee to the Office of Graduate Admission. All international students must follow the deadlines in the application for their particular program of study.
Only an admission letter from the Office of Admission grants official admission; correspondence with department chairpersons, program directors or individual faculty members does not constitute admission.
Official Document to Enter the United States
The Office of Admission will issue the I-20 (for the F-1 visa) or DS-2019 (for the J-1 visa), whichever is appropriate, for the student to apply for the visa required to enter the United States. Any students entering the United States by means of these documents issued by USC must register for the semester to which they are admitted to USC.
Registration Requirements for International Students
International students must maintain full-time student status as determined by the Office of International Services and the departmental adviser. Such students are not eligible to be considered students without formal registration and are in violation of immigration laws when not properly registered. Any international student having questions about registration requirements should consult the Office of International Services, Parking Structure D (PSD), Suite 101.
Admission evaluations for international students are completed by the Office of Admission. Official transcripts for all previous academic work completed should be directed to the Office of Admission.