How to Get Into USC – General Information 

The University of Southern California is a private university located in Los Angeles, California. USC was founded in 1880 and has a total undergraduate enrollment of 21,000 students. 

What we’ll cover in this “How to Get Into USC” guide: 

  • The USC average GPA
  • Average USC SAT scores
  • Interpreting the USC acceptance rate
  • USC admission statistics
  • Meeting the USC application deadline
  • Mastering the USC supplemental essays
  • Alternatives to the USC interview, and more. 

When thinking about how to get into USC, consider how each part of your application will enrich your personal narrative. Maintain a high USC GPA, explore your passions through extracurricular activities, and use statistics like the USC average GPA and USC SAT scores to see how you stack up to admitted students. 

Figuring out how to get into USC takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes graduates from some of the country’s top schools. Want to maximize your USC admission odds? Create your account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272. 

How to Get Into USC 

There are many factors to consider as you begin your research on how to get into USC. This “How to Get into USC” guide will help you plan the strongest “how to get into USC” strategy possible, well before the USC application deadline. 

If you want to learn how to get into USC, know that the USC acceptance rate is competitive. So, to maximize your USC admission odds, start preparing early. Study for standardized tests, participate in meaningful extracurricular activities, strive for a high USC GPA, and start your application well before the USC application deadline. This is how to get into USC successfully!

Is it hard to get into USC?

The USC admission process is extremely competitive. Over 70,000 students applied last year, bringing the USC acceptance rate down to 12%. 

Over 25% of students admitted to the USC Class of 2025 had perfect grades in high school. Although submitting test scores is currently optional, the average USC SAT score ranged from 1340-1530. The USC average GPA is equally high. 

Keep these statistics in mind as you think about how to get into USC. USC admission may become even more competitive, so it is crucial that you prepare your application well before the USC application deadline. It will take much more than just meeting the USC average GPA or USC SAT scores to stand out from other applicants. 

What is the average GPA needed for USC?

USC admissions does not have a required minimum for the USC GPA. There is also no set USC GPA that will guarantee you admission to the university. To maximize your USC admission odds, try to match the USC average GPA. 

The USC average GPA for the class of 2025 was 3.83. This USC GPA, along with the USC average GPA from the class of 2024, is the highest USC average GPA in the history of the university. 

It is important to always strive for a high GPA, as the USC average GPA can change each year based on the academic profile of the incoming class. Based on the current trend, the USC GPA will likely increase with each application cycle. 

USC will use your junior year GPA to evaluate your USC admission odds. So, it is crucial that you do well in your high school classes. That starts with choosing the right courses for you. You will have a better chance of matching the USC average GPA if you take advantage of the resources available to you. 

USC looks for students who show an interest in learning, research, and serving their communities. So, if your USC GPA is lower than the USC average GPA, don’t worry. There are other aspects of your application that you can improve in order to be competitive. 

Wondering how to get into USC if you do not meet the average USC GPA? Read our article here. You’ll find helpful tips to make your application stand out, even if your academic profile doesn’t match the average USC GPA or USC SAT scores. 

What does the USC application look like? 

As you strategize about how to get into USC, you may be curious about what the USC application looks like. There are multiple parts of the USC application, and we will list them later in this guide.

In addition to what is required, you should be prepared to submit all optional materials before the USC application deadline, too. Since the USC acceptance rate is so low, you want to go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd. 

Find more advice on how to perfect your application timeline for USC here

What does the USC application require? 

The USC application has a checklist of requirements. Each part is essential to your “how to get into USC” strategy. We suggest you submit all USC supplemental essays and optional test scores well in advance of the USC application deadline. 

There are two dates to remember for the USC application deadline. To be considered for scholarships, students must apply by December 1st. The final USC application deadline is January 15th

Applicants must submit: 

  • The Common Application
  • USC supplemental essays
  • One teacher or counselor recommendation 
    • Applicants to the School of Cinematic Arts must submit two letters of recommendation
  • Official high school transcript
  • Mid-year grades

Optional application materials include: 

  • SAT or ACT scores 
  • Major specific portfolio, resumé, and/or additional writing samples

USC admission has adopted a test-optional policy for all applicants through 2023. If your test scores match the average USC SAT and ACT scores, you should submit them. However, USC admissions will not penalize applicants who choose not to submit test scores. 

Additionally, USC admissions doesn’t require a USC interview for admission. In lieu of a USC interview, applicants can contact their USC admission counselor with any questions about the application process. 

For more information on how to ace the Common App, click here. To learn more about the USC application deadline and USC admission process, visit their website. The rest of this “How to get into USC” guide will explain how to perfect each part of your application. 

What extracurriculars does USC look for?

Want to know how to get into USC? Start by identifying your passions and academic interests. 

Your academics and extracurricular activities make up your candidate profile. Your candidate profile is a 1-2 sentence description of who you are, what you do, and why colleges should admit you. A strong candidate profile is a key part of any strong “how to get into USC” strategy.

Aside from the USC average GPA and USC SAT scores, USC wants to see that you have participated in activities that highlight your leadership, achievements, and community involvement. As you select your extracurriculars, think about the quality of your involvements rather than the quantity. Since the USC acceptance rate is so low, it’s important to include information that helps you stand out. 

For ideas on suitable high school extracurriculars, check out this article. Also, here’s some guidance on what to do if your school doesn’t offer extracurriculars.

What is the acceptance rate for USC?

The USC acceptance rate is 12%, according to statistics from the 2021-2022 incoming class. It is important to consider the USC acceptance rate as you prepare your “how to get into USC” approach. 

To give you some context, USC admission received 71,031 applications for the class of 2025. Roughly 8,884 students were admitted to USC, and 3,668 ultimately enrolled. 

In just one year, the USC acceptance rate dropped from 16% to 12%. The USC acceptance rate can be influenced by a variety of factors. These include the total number of applicants and the available space in the freshman class. Additionally, students are applying to more colleges every year. So, the USC acceptance rate will likely continue this downward trend for the next application cycle. 

One factor that may contribute to this increase in applicants is USC’s test-optional policy. Although USC currently has a test-optional policy through 2023, we encourage you to take standardized tests if you can do so. You should plan to take your first standardized test during your junior year. This will give you plenty of time to retake the test if necessary. 

For more tips on how to perfect your USC admission timeline, click here

Do USC applicants get interviews?

As you explore how to get into USC, you might be curious if you can schedule a USC interview. Unfortunately, students are not currently able to arrange a USC interview. A USC interview is neither offered nor required for USC admission. 

In lieu of a USC interview, students can contact their USC admission counselor to ask questions about the admission process. We recommend meeting with your USC admission counselor well before the USC application deadline. They can provide you with the same information you would get from a USC interview. Also, getting to know your admission counselor will serve a similar purpose as a USC interview. 

So, what could you talk to your USC admission counselor about, in lieu of a USC interview?

Here are some ideas: 

  • USC average GPA
  • Average USC SAT scores
  • USC supplemental essays
  • Most popular majors at USC

Students can find their USC admission counselor by searching here. Because a USC interview is not offered, it is important to reach out to your USC admission counselor to get all your questions answered before the final USC application deadline. 

How many essays do you have to write for USC?

In addition to the main essay prompt found in the 2022-2023 Common App, there are four required USC supplemental essays. The first two prompts of the USC supplemental essays have a maximum of 250 words. The third prompt has a 25-character limit, and the last of the USC supplemental essays has a 100-character limit per prompt. You can find the prompts and more advice on how to approach them here.

Short Essays (250 words)

The first of the four required USC supplemental essays asks you to choose between three different prompts. Be careful not to choose a prompt that is too similar to your Common App essay. Instead, choose a prompt that will highlight new and distinct information about yourself. But, whichever prompt you choose, make sure to provide as many specific details as possible in your response. The more detailed you are in your USC supplemental essays, the more likely it is that the USC admission committee will connect to you. 

The second of the USC supplemental essays asks about your academic interests and passions, but it is also USC’s version of the “Why Us” supplemental essay question. You should approach this essay by making a list of what excites you most about USC. Use as many specific details as possible. What are you interested in academically? And, why can you only pursue this interest at USC? USC wants to know that you are a great fit and serious about attending their university. 

Short takes (25-100 characters)

The third of the USC supplemental essays is more straightforward, so don’t overthink it! The words you choose matter just as much as the order you put them in. For this prompt, you can showcase parts of yourself that aren’t seen elsewhere in your USC supplemental essays. 

Finally, the last of the USC supplemental essays asks you to answer different questions about yourself. You want to be memorable. Because you only have 100 characters, every word counts! 

If your academic profile places you below the USC average GPA or USC SAT scores, the USC supplemental essays could be your chance to stand out. So, we suggest writing the USC supplemental essays well in advance of the USC application deadline. 

How does USC review applications?

We’ve looked at the USC average GPA, USC SAT scores, USC acceptance rate, and USC application deadline. So, let’s move on to the next part of your “how to get into USC” strategy. 

After the USC application deadline, USC admission officers will begin their holistic review process. 

USC wants to admit students that are open to exploring new ideas, willing to become lifelong learners, and ready to contribute to the learning environment and community at large. So, as you prepare your application, be sure to highlight these qualities in your USC supplemental essays. Since you won’t have a USC interview, take every chance to help your personality shine through. 

Want to explore more statistics about the USC average GPA, USC SAT scores, and USC acceptance rate from the class of 2025? Click here.

Will USC review my social media accounts?

As you think about how to get into USC, you might wonder if your social media presence could affect your application. Don’t worry—USC does not look at applicants’ social media during the review process. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can or should post offensive or hateful content on your social media accounts. While these kinds of posts might not directly affect your USC admission odds, they could negatively impact other areas of your life. 

Above all, we suggest you use social media responsibly. Although it isn’t likely that USC admission officers will check your Facebook or Twitter accounts, there is always a chance. 

Is USC the school for me? 

As you reflect on how to get into USC, it is important to ask yourself whether USC is the right place for you. Yes, the USC acceptance rate is extremely competitive, and students who attend USC will benefit from the 9:1 student-faculty ratio and access to the city of Los Angeles. However, this doesn’t mean that USC is right for everyone. 

Academics are an important part of a USC education, as evidenced by the USC average GPA and USC SAT scores. The most popular majors at USC are business, biology, and communications. 

USC admissions officers will also consider a student’s alumni relations when reviewing their application. In fact, 13% of the incoming USC freshman class are legacy students. This information, coupled with the USC average GPA, average USC SAT scores, and the increasingly low USC acceptance rate, will have a large impact on your “how to get into USC” strategy. 

Additionally, USC practices need-blind admission. This means that a student’s ability to pay for tuition and fees has no bearing on the admissions process. 

USC offers generous merit scholarships to highly qualified students. To be considered for a USC merit scholarship, students must submit their materials before the final USC application deadline. 

As you think about how to get into USC, ask yourself the following: 

  • Am I interested in attending a university focused on learning and research? 
  • Does USC offer the major I want to study? 
  • How can USC help me achieve my future goals? 

If you decide that USC is the place for you, be sure to submit all materials well before the USC application deadline. 

Additional tips to get into USC

Write compelling USC supplemental essays

With no USC interview available, you should write genuine and thoughtful responses to the USC supplemental essays. Use the USC supplemental essays to share more information about your personal narrative, background, and circumstances. 

Apply early

To be considered for the USC merit scholarship, you must apply early—by December 1st. You want to build the strongest application possible, so give yourself plenty of time to do so. 

Don’t let the USC average GPA, USC SAT scores, or the lack of a USC interview stop you from applying. Although there is no guarantee that you will be admitted to USC, the tips in our “How to get into USC” guide will help you prepare the strongest application possible. Good luck!


This guide was written by Claire Babbs, UT Austin ’12. If you want to know how to get into USC, we’ve got you covered. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes graduates from some of the country’s top schools. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.