University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California 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

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USC Students

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

USC Alumni at CollegeAdvisor

Kevin Kim
Northwestern University
Hi everyone! My name's Kevin, and I plan on double majoring in political science and economics at Northwestern University. Even without super unique extracurriculars or experiences (finding the cure to cancer or starting a million dollar business at the age of two), I know that each applicant has the potential to present a unique story to the admission officers! As your advisor, I will work to help highlight the unique parts of your application in your essays. I'm excited to share the tips and tricks of the college process that I learned while applying for colleges and advising other students. I can't wait to help make these polar opposite terms (fun and the college process) seem like synonyms :)

Also Accepted to

Dovie Siaway
University of California – Berkeley
Hi everyone! My name is Dovie! I'm originally from Alabama but I grew up in the Bay Area. I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017 with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in American Studies with an emphasis in Education. (Go Bears!) While at Cal, I served as the Assistant Director of Recruitment for the Black Recruitment and Retention Center and joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I have worked in education for over 10 years from tutoring/advising jobs to recruitment work for Cal to managing an Education & Careers department at a nonprofit. I love advising high school students and what I've learned over the years is that there are many pathways for students to achieve their academic goals. As an advisor, I enjoy helping students paint the full picture of themselves through their essays and assisting with career/major exploration. In my every day life I enjoy listening to music, watching movies, and reading. My latest read was "All About Love" by bell hooks which I highly recommend! I look forward to working with you to achieve your college goals!

Also Accepted to

Corbin Chu
Williams College
College advisor with 10 years of experience supporting students from all walks of life pursuing top US universities and liberal arts colleges in various subjects, especially STEM, business, and undecided majors.

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Cedric Jones
University of California – Berkeley
My love for college advising began at UC Berkeley where I studied Landscape Architecture and also was the Executive Director of a recruitment and retention center in partnership with Cal's Office of Admissions. Over the last 7 years, I've served in the capacity of a STEM Teacher and Principal, supporting hundreds of students with their college applications through High School & College Options programming of which I have instituted at multiple school sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. I look forward to aiding youth in their pursuits of higher education!

Also Accepted to

Arshia Malek, M.Ed.
University of Southern California
Thank you for visiting my profile! My name is Arshia, and I'm an Advising Manager and Senior Consultant for I hold a B.A. in Sociology and M.Ed. in Educational Counseling from University of Southern California and a Certificate in College Admission Consulting from UC Berkeley. I look forward to partnering with you and assisting you in your college admissions journey. Key experiences: admission and advisement at USC, QuestBridge, and University of California system. Expertise: college admissions and planning, academic and career counseling, major exploration, transfer, resume and cover letter review, interview preparation, and pre-health advisement.

Also Accepted to

Aaron Brown
University of Southern California
I have worked in higher education for 14 years across highly selective admissions (at both public and private colleges) and recently transitioned to college counseling. Over that time I have read thousands of essays, conducted hundreds of interviews, and have enjoyed every moment in which I have been able to help students and their parents navigate the college search and admission process.

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Josie Pearce
Dartmouth College
Josie graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College in 2020. At Dartmouth, she majored in Government, minored in Spanish, and was an editor at the Dartmouth Law Journal. She works as a PR Assistant at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in their Boston office. Josie is pursuing a JD/MD joint degree and is attending Harvard for her pre-medical post-bacc. She is an admissions interviewer for Dartmouth College and has ample experience with the college interview process and essay writing.

Also Accepted to

Angela Park-Pennington
University of California – Berkeley
Angela is an experienced admissions counselor based in Los Angeles, California who most recently served as an Associate Director of Admissions at the Marshall School of Business at USC. She has evaluated thousands of applications, from highly selective scholarship organizations like Questbridge and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to renowned universities like USC and UC Berkeley. She brings years of insight to students who seek to make their application stand out from the rest.

Also Accepted to

Katie Chiou
Brown University
Hi! My name is Katie and I'm a rising senior in Brown's Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) concentrating in medical anthropology. I've worked for over three years in college advising, with experience in essay editing and extracurricular advising. I specialize in BS/MD applications and interview prep.

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Hear from Clients Accepted to USC

Rohan Kumar

I think my experience as a whole was a success. I got a lot of constructive feedback from my advisors and it really helped me with my applications. I really appreciate all the help and support I received. In the end, I am happy that I chose ChollegeAdvisor and would definitely recommend it to others.

Jyoti Rani
University of California - Berkeley

CollegeAdvisor’s flexibility proved how much they really put their customers first. After speaking with the founder, I understood the personal story behind why CollegeAdvisor’s services are such a steal: incredible value at an affordable price! The college application process has now become one of the most valuable periods in my young life because the personal development and insight I gained are truly invaluable. My hearty thanks to my incredible advisor in shaping such a critical aspect of my journey and career.

Hiya Shah
Stanford University


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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