University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California
www.usc.edu/ University Park, Los Angeles, CA, 90089

USC Admissions

Acceptance Rate 13%
Acceptance Deadline January 15

The University of Southern California is a world-renowned private research institution located in the heart of Los Angeles. Its prestige has led to much popularity amongst high school students, making the USC admissions statistics quite impressive. USC admissions is highly selective and highly competitive. Understanding the USC requirements and admissions process is key when it comes to successfully completing the USC application and planning how to get into USC. 

USC Admissions – What do I need to apply?

Here are the USC admissions requirements that hopeful students must submit: 

  • Common App
  • USC Supplemental Essays
  • Transcripts
  • Letter of Recommendation (1 required, 2 required for School of Cinematic Arts)
  • Portfolio, resume, and/or writing samples (depending on your intended major)
  • Senior year fall grades (submitted via Common App or USC admissions portal)
  • Application affirmation (completed once the USC application is completed)

You may note that the University of Southern California admissions does not list standardized test scores as one of the USC requirements. This is because the USC admissions process is holistic, and students who choose not to submit test scores will not be penalized by USC admissions in the evaluation process. However, if you have high test scores, submitting them would be a wise decision as part of your “how to get into USC” plan. Check out some FAQ on the test optional policy

USC requirements and deadlines may be different based on the major that you declare. Be sure to check the first-year student application requirements for specific schools when applying. 

What is the USC admissions rate?

The USC admissions rate for the 2023 University of Southern California admissions cycle was its lowest to date at 9.9%. The most recent USC admissions rate is the lowest it’s been in years. Out of 80,790 applications, the USC admissions office admitted only 8,032 students. 

With a highly selective USC admissions rate, it may be no surprise that USC is high-ranking nationally. U.S. News ranked USC as #25 on their National Universities list for 2022-2023. While high national rankings and international prestige aren’t the only factors when it comes to choosing a university, they certainly do create lower acceptance rates, as is the case for the USC acceptance rate. 

Is USC hard to get into?

The low USC acceptance rate tells us that the University of Southern California admissions is highly selective. The University of Southern California admissions team is looking for more from applicants than simply meeting the USC requirements; applicants need to stand out amongst a large pool of students. 

The 2022-23 admitted applicants had an average GPA of 3.90 unweighted. So, we can assume unofficial  USC GPA requirements that are high. When evaluating applicants, USC admissions notes that academic achievement (meeting the assumed USC GPA requirements) is one of their top criteria. Applicants hoping to meet or exceed the USC admissions requirements should prepare early on in their high school career by taking a rigorous academic course load. 

The USC admissions office will take a holistic approach when evaluating prospective students. There is much more taken into consideration in the USC admissions process than just meeting the USC admissions requirements and the USC GPA requirements. Importance is placed on all parts of the USC application: academics, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and supplemental essays

Check out this “How to Get Into USC” guide in order to stand out amongst the many USC applicants. 

Is UCLA or USC more prestigious?

Determining which school is more prestigious will likely depend on who you talk to. Ultimately, when deciding the best school for you, think less about prestige and more about how you feel on campus. Your intended area of study should also play an important role in the selection process.

Both UCLA and USC are prestigious universities. If we compare the UCLA acceptance rate to the USC acceptance rate, USC is slightly more selective. The USC admissions rate is just under 10%, while the UCLA admissions rate is 11%

But, UCLA ranks higher on the U.S. News National Universities list, coming in at #20, while USC comes in at #25. Both universities rank highly and have very competitive acceptance rates, thus making them both nationally reputable institutions. 

Is USC rolling admission?

The USC admissions deadline for students applying Early Action is November 1st. Students will receive their decisions by mid-January. The deadline to submit the USC admissions requirements for regular decision is December 1st, and students will be notified of USC admissions decisions by April 1st. About 20-25% of applicants are accepted Early Action. If interested in applying to universities’ Early Action deadlines, learn how to best prepare.

While the University of Southern California admissions team doesn’t officially state they have rolling admission, students don’t all receive their decisions on the same date. Once a USC application is completed, the team at the USC admissions office reviews it and sends out a decision. Students can check their application status on the USC admission portal. 

Does USC prefer ACT or SAT?

The University of Southern California admissions currently has a test-optional policy. This means that students aren’t required to submit standardized test scores. However, if students choose to submit their scores, USC admissions has no preference between the ACT and SAT. 

In previous years, the USC admissions statistics showed that the average range for the SAT was 1410-1540 and for the ACT it was 32-35. With the USC acceptance rate at its lowest, students should only submit high standardized test scores that make their application more competitive. 

USC admissions: More statistics and contact info

The USC admissions statistics are impressive. When making USC admissions decisions, the team at the USC admissions office considers every application as a whole. They want to learn more about your personal narrative, which can be emphasized with well-written essays

Here are some USC admissions statistics from a recent fall admissions cycle: 

  • 80,790 applicants
  • USC admissions rate: 9.9%
  • 23% of admitted students identified as first-generation college students
  • Undergraduate USC enrollment is about 20,000

For any additional questions about the USC admissions portal, USC requirements, USC application, or USC enrollment, reach out to USC admissions. The USC admissions contact page provides everything from contacting an admissions counselor to scheduling a virtual tour. And remember, final USC admissions decisions can be found via the USC admissions portal. 

Additional information can be found on the USC admissions page, but for specific questions, use the USC admissions contact page to get in touch with the USC admissions office. 

USC admissions – Final thoughts

USC admissions is highly selective. Understanding how admissions officers in the USC admissions office evaluate applicants is helpful when starting the application process. 

While the numbers may seem intimidating, if you are choosing to apply to USC, take it one step at a time. Make sure to show academic achievement, write impressive essays, obtain a letter of recommendation, and meet (or ideally exceed) all of the USC admissions requirements. 

USC Tuition

Average Cost* $32,569
Average Total Aid Awarded $58,131
Students Receiving Financial Aid 39.51%
*Average cost after financial aid for students receiving grant or scholarship aid, as reported by the college.

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Classes at USC

Student Faculty Ratio 9:1

USC Majors

Most Popular Majors
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Biology
  • Accounting
  • International Relations
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Psychology
  • Political Science and Government
  • Film and Video Studies

USC Online

Offers Online Courses Yes

Our clients got into University of Southern California last admissions cycle. Are you next?

Our advisors graduated from the nation’s best universities and know what it takes to stand out in the admissions process.

USC Students

Full-Time Undergrad Enrollment 20,790
Part-Time Undergraduates 713

USC Alumni at CollegeAdvisor

Howard University

I earned my degree in Electrical Engineering from Howard University, with Magna Cum Laude Latin Honors, finishing my program in three years. I am currently a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) department. My research focuses on the field of physical electronics, particularly optoelectronics. Optoelectronics is widely considered a sub-discipline of photonics, which refers to the study and application of the physical science of light.

My Passion for Advising Students:

In my own undergraduate college journey, I was accepted to over ten universities with $1 million USD in financial aid. Similarly, for my graduate school process, I was accepted to top universities for engineering with fully funded offers to pursue my PhD. During this process, I was on my own researching and applying to my schools of interest. I believe that my vast experiences in engineering will enable me to assist anyone to create their own story and achieve their collegiate dreams. This can be a difficult process to navigate, with many different hidden hurdles involved, and I am passionate about leveraging my experience to help students. Below, you will find a summary of my engineering experience!

Undergraduate Academic Experience:

During my three years at Howard University, I completed various hardware electronics projects. For my senior capstone project, I worked with The Aerospace Corporation on a project titled, “Machine Learning Based Sensing for Autonomous Robotic Manipulation”. I was also amongst a group of 30 students selected for a Google program called Hardware Product Sprint. In Summer 2022, I had a great experience working with Google engineers to learn about consumer electronics. Additionally, I have experience conducting undergraduate academic research projects in quantum materials science. In Summer 2023, I was one of three students selected for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Global Quantum Leap International Research and Training Experience Program at the National Institute of Materials Science in Japan. This project was supported by Cornell University. In Summer 2022, I was a research intern at the NSF Center for Integrated Quantum Materials at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both these research projects had applications for advanced computing with the long-term goal of developing next generation electronic devices.

Engineering Leadership Experience:

Aside from my academic experiences, I am very involved in engineering leadership. At UC Berkeley, I am the professional development chair for the Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students, which is the graduate chapter for the National Society of Black Engineers. I also serve as delegate in the EECS Graduate Assembly, which is a student government that advocates for EECS graduate students. At Howard University, I was a resident assistant in a freshman dorm, I was the campus ambassador for Raytheon Technologies, I was the membership and academic excellence chair of the Howard University Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, I was the programs chair of the Howard University Chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and I was the diversity representative of the Howard University College of Engineering and Architecture Student Council. Additionally, I am an initiated member of the DC Alpha chapter of Tau Beta Pi, which is an engineering honor society for students at in the top percentile of their academic year group.

Also Accepted to

University of California – Berkeley

I am a higher education professional with over 10 years of experience specializing in college access, counseling, student services, and academic advising. In addition to my contributions to the positive learning outcomes of my immediate community, I am a lifelong advocate for the betterment of all youth. Above all, I consider myself a servant to young people everywhere. I have made a career in counseling high-achieving youth nationwide and currently serve as College Access Manager at Thrive Scholars. I am passionate about coaching and supporting young people through the application process, from building a college list to reviewing financial aid award letters to helping young people and their families decide where they will go next. I am a coach and use my managerial experience to build character and set high expectations for all my clients. I am a trained historian and often seek opportunities to create dialogue and share ideas in education, contemporary politics, popular culture, and music. Last but certainly not least, I am a musician with 15 years of experience producing and performing. I believe in using technology to build well-informed communities. I invite all art-medium creatives, future healthcare professionals, and potential clients interested in humanities to consider working with me to build a spectacular college application.

Also Accepted to

University of Southern California

I recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. I stayed at USC to complete my Masters of Science in Medical Device and Diagnostic Engineering with a Product Development focus through the Progressive Degree Program that allowed me to overlap my B.S. and M.S. programs. While at USC for both degrees, I was a full-tuition scholarship Trustee Scholar, a USC Viterbi School of Engineering Merit Research Fellow, and a member of the W.V.T Rusch Engineering Honors Program. My favorite activities outside of classes were my research fellowship where I worked on design validation testing of a force sensing glove for interface with a wearable orthotic robot arm, my volunteer work with the Science Outreach club teaching science curriculum to low income elementary schools in central LA, and my leadership roles on the executive board for the Women in Engineering organization. During my time at USC, I served as an advisor in multiple mentorship programs where I guided underclassmen students in strategic course selection, applying to research positions and summer internships, selecting extracurriculars for skill development, and overall adapting to college life. In my present full-time career, I work on the college student summer intern recruitment team - allowing me the opportunity to return to target university campuses to develop and identify star engineering student talent to recruit for co-op and intern programs. In this role I mentor students going through the internship application process on their resumes, interview skills, networking basics, and overall career advising. These experiences have helped me to hone the ability to discern the distinctive qualities of every student, enabling me to guide them in showcasing their unique strengths and potential within their applications. I have worked with students who major in Engineering, Pre-Med and Health Professions, Science and Biology, Computer Science and Technology, Entrepreneurship and Business, and any other major looking to connect their work to the STEM fields. My purpose as an advisor is to help students select the correct educational path for their futures and use that motivation to highlight to colleges why they will be an outstanding addition to any academic program. I strive to help every student and family find a program that will not only provide the academic rigor and extracurricular activities that they desire, but also the community and foundation as a young adult that will set them up for an outstanding future. I experienced the stress of helping a loved one through college applications while supporting my sister applying mid-pandemic, and my mission as an advisor is to be the extra set of eyes and ears to identify key facets of every program to find the best fit for every student. I am currently working as a Research & Development Biomedical Engineer at a cardiovascular medical device company based in Southern California, currently leading a global project team developing a novel minimally invasive device to treat failing heart valves. I love having a role that pushes my technical knowledge as an engineer and my connections to others through the cross-functional nature of medical device development. Outside of my career, I enjoy playing competitive roller derby, learning new crafting skills, baking treats to spoil my friends with, and exploring the beautiful state of California.

Also Accepted to

University of California – Berkeley

I am a proud former first-generation college student who is now a first-generation professional. I have 6+ years of professional experience working with students and their families to navigate the higher education system. I recently (within the last 5 years) obtained a master's degree in education with an emphasis in Student Affairs from UCLA. I attended University of California, Berkeley for my undergraduate education and my major was Psychology with a minor in Chicano Studies. My passion is to assist students and their families on their higher education journey. A skill I feel I have while working with students is truly listening to their wants and needs and adapting my advising from there. I approach my work by honoring my students' lived experiences. On a one-on-one basis I’ve assisted with creating college school lists, academic road mapping, how to choose and change a major, financial aid, and career prep. Outside of student affairs I enjoy reading, cycling, and spending time with my family and friends.

Also Accepted to

Northwestern University

Getting into college is becoming increasingly difficult day by day. With more students getting top scores and developing strong extracurricular backgrounds, it's extremely tough to set yourself apart. However, I can help with the nuanced components of each individual application, helping to build a cohesive, unique story that can maximize your chances. I have extensive experience advising students on undergraduate admissions, running my own independent admissions consultancy for multiple years. I have helped students get into many of the top schools in the United States, such as Northwestern, UChicago, Duke, and more. I view the college admissions process as holistic in nature -- meaning I will work with students to optimize each and every component of their application. Whether it be maximizing impact on the resume, crafting school-specific essays, or applying for competitive scholarships, I know what it takes to build the "complete package" necessary for admissions in today's age. I have a particular interest in writing, something I've been passionate about for as long as I can remember. I specialize in helping brainstorm, plan, and edit essays that are impactful for top-school admissions.

Also Accepted to

Yale University

Hello! My name is Naomi Beckley and I am a recent graduate of Yale University. I majored in Global Affairs in addition to a certificate in Education Studies. I am very passionate about working towards a state of equity in education, particularly improving the quality of education and access to academic resources for marginalized students. I professionally hope to do so by attending law school and becoming involved with education policy and legislation. I have 4 years of experience of advising high school students through their college application processes, with my students going on to attend schools like Vanderbilt, University of Southern California, University of Wisconsin - Madison, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and University of Pennsylvania. I really enjoy the work that goes into being an advisor, particularly guiding a student in figuring out their college fit and reading essays. Super excited to meet and work with you on what will be a challenging but ultimately fulfilling journey!

Also Accepted to

George Washington University

I am a true military child, having grown up around the country and overseas. I am a proud alumna of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where I received my BS in Health Sciences. I am also a graduate of The George Washington University where I received my Master of Public Health in Health Communications and Program Planning & Evaluation in January 2020. For over 8 years I worked in Admissions for TAMUCC including 3 and a half years recruiting in Houston and helped over 5,000 students. I currently work as an Academic Advisor for students pursuing graduate certificates, MD/MPH, Ph.D./MPH, DDS/MPH, MS/MPH, MBA/MPH, MSW/MPH, and JD/MPH programs at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health. I am very passionate about helping people in any aspect of their life. College is such an amazing, exciting experience and I love to be a guide for students to find their true fit for college. Can't wait to meet you and help you on this journey!

Also Accepted to

University of Southern California

Hello! My name is Kassandra Casillas and I received my B.A from Amherst College in 2015 where I double majored in psychology and history. In 2020, I graduated from The University of Southern California, USC, with my master’s degree in Educational Counseling. I have 8 years of experience working in college advising, admissions and financial aid. While at Amherst, I advised QuestBridge senior scholars through the college and financial aid application process. After graduating, I worked as a college advisor for the USC College Advising Corps. There I advised an annual caseload of approximately 650 seniors with every aspect of the college application process, from creating college lists, to editing personal statements, to submitting scholarship applications and comparing financial aid awards. I also have experience as a comprehensive review reader for first year college applications for The University of California, Irvine. I transitioned from working as a college advisor to now working in financial aid. I am currently the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Scripps College where I assist families as they navigate paying for college. I’m excited to partner with students that are ready to make the commitment to higher education.

Also Accepted to

University of California – San Diego

I have a strong commitment to college education access, matriculation, transition and retention. I am currently in the pursuit of my PhD in Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA, have an MEd in Higher Education Student Affairs, and International Education Policy (University of Maryland, 2022) and a BA in Sociology and Ethnic Studies (UC San Diego, 2018). Throughout my undergraduate career, in addition to obtaining a minor in Education Studies, I actively worked with high schools by providing campus tour, hosting student for overnight programs, facilitating classes for a summer bridge program, presenting during high school conferences, conducting research at a high school and being an active mentor to high school students that were connected with me via personal networks. From 2018-2022, I was a College Advisor for the University of Southern California College Advising Corps where I worked predominantly with senior students and advised them based on their goals, aspirations and circumstances. I have given presentations on various topics (A-G, FAFSA, CalGrant, scholarships, transition programs, on-campus resources, etc.), have extensive resume, statement of purpose, and personal statement editing experience both for the college admission process and scholarship applications. I am a proud recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship (2013), which has an award rate of under 1% and has funded my bachelor’s, master’s, and is now funding my doctoral degree. In my 10 years of working with high school and college students in summer bridge programs, college access programs, outreach, programming, fraternity and sorority life, residence life, and research, I have developed an advising style that meets students where they are based on their knowledge. The premise of my advising style is to meet the needs of the student and their families/guardians with integrity and resourcefulness. I like to provide students with information to facilitate taking ownership of their decisions and can similarly have the confidence to answer questions and discuss topics with their families and guardians. I have enjoyed the process of involving parents to ensure they are equally informed as their students and together support students in their college-going process.

Also Accepted to

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Rohan Kumar

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Jyoti Rani
University of California - Berkeley

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Hiya Shah
Stanford University

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Avery Medina

My experience with CollegeAdvisor was excellent. My advisor, Carolyn, was always available for help and kept me on track with a well planned out timeline. She helped me refine my essay ideas and was fantastic when it came to editing and clarifying ideas in my writing. My college application experience would have been much tougher had it not been for CollegeAdvisor. I definitely recommend!

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USC Supplemental Essays

USC Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Are you interested in applying to USC? Strong USC supplemental essays can make all the difference in the application process. In this guide, we will discuss […]

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USC Essay Examples – Introduction  If you’ve been searching for USC Essay Examples, you’re in the right place. The University of Southern California is a private university located in Los […]

For the latest information on USC’s supplemental essays, check out our 2021-2022 USC Essay Guide. In this University of Southern California Essay Guide, we will cover how to approach the 2020-2021 USC […]

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