Apply: International Students

Who Is an International Student?

With students representing 135 countries around the world, USC’s vibrant student body mirrors the rich diversity of the global community. International students make up more than a quarter of our entire student population.

At USC, an international student is defined as an individual who will enter or has already entered the United States with a student visa to live and study in the U.S.–including those on non-immigrant visas such as the E2, H2 or L2 visa.

Please note that students with DACA or other undocumented statuses are not considered international students.


“The best thing about USC is the opportunity to meet, learn from and work with an internationally diverse group of people”.

—Juliana Roger. Delray Beach, Florida.

International Applicant Academic Considerations

Academic Records
With the few exceptions noted below, international applicants to USC will follow the same application steps as other first-year or transfer applicants. We are familiar with the educational systems of most countries and will consider your application within the context of your educational environment. When preparing their applications, international applicants must:

  • Provide official copies of academic records from all secondary or senior secondary schools, pre-university programs, and colleges and universities attended.* These records must be sent directly from the schools or testing agencies. They must also be submitted in the native language, accompanied by an English translation, if the native language is not English;
  • Send external examination results and/or predicted results, e.g., GCSE/IGCSE results as well as predicted IB or A-Level results, Indian board examination results, Australian ATAR, etc.; AND
  • Affirm that their application and all presented work is their own, factually true, and honestly presented.

When completing the Common Application, please write your name as it appears on your passport and/or your I–20 or DS–2019. If the name on your academic record is different from that on your passport, enter the name from your academic record in the “Preferred name” section. As an international student, you must provide a valid address outside the United States that is not a P.O. box, even if your current mailing address is in the United States. Please submit a copy of your current passport together with the required forms.

USC does not contract with, nor is represented by, non-USC entities such as educational agents in the recruitment and selection process.

*High school and/or secondary school academic records should include what is considered the equivalent of U.S. grade 9 through U.S. grade 12, with students on track or having already completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school diploma prior to the start of their USC enrollment.

Standardized Test Scores
USC will continue our test optional policy for two more years, meaning it is not compulsory for first-year applicants to the 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic years to send SAT or ACT scores to apply. If sent, SAT or ACT scores will be considered in admission review alongside other relevant academic information.

However, please note that international applicants who wish to use either the SAT or ACT to demonstrate their English language proficiency will have their scores assessed for both English language proficiency and general admission review.

More information about this test optional policy can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

International Applicant Financial Considerations

Need-Based Financial Aid for International Applicants
USC does not offer need-based financial aid for international applicants. Therefore, all international applicants must provide at the time of application financial documentation affirming their ability and intent to finance USC’s full cost of attendance (tuition and expenses) for at least the first academic year. Financial documentation must be verified by a bank and dated within the past year. Applicants relying on support from their home government or another official agency must send USC a similarly appropriate financial support document from their sponsor at the time of application.
Merit Scholarships Eligibility for International Applicants
All international applicants who submit an application by the appropriate deadline are eligible for USC Merit Scholarships. Merit scholarships are non-need based and are awarded on the basis of a comprehensive academic and scholastic review of an applicant’s candidacy. There are no minimum eligibility requirements for USC Merit Scholarships. Scholarship selection is highly competitive process, and therefore international applicants should not rely on these awards to demonstrate their ability to pay. No USC Merit Scholarship covers the full cost of USC attendance. Less than 1 percent of international applicants who apply each year are admitted without providing a sufficient financial statement, inclusive of international students who apply and receive a USC Merit Scholarship.
Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support
The United States government requires all international applicants to provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses before USC can issue a formal letter of admission and the forms required to obtain a visa.

Please be aware that international students will not be able to pay for the full amount of their educational expenses by working while they are in the United States. U.S. government regulations strictly limit employment authorization and require holders of student visas to be full-time students; therefore, job opportunities are extremely limited.

The Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support includes:

  • A signed form
  • Proof of sufficient funds (see list of acceptable documents below)
  • Copy of current passport

The Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support should be uploaded directly via your USC applicant portal at time of application for timely and accurate admission review. To see the current estimated cost of attendance for USC students, please visit the Financial Aid website.

Acceptable documents:
  • Bank statement
  • Bank letter
  • Organizational sponsor (government, corporation, etc.)
  • Loans
  • Investment portfolio

*Documents must be dated August 2020 or later.

Documents NOT typically accepted:

  • Tax returns
  • Tax documents in general
  • Mortgages
  • Employment or salary statements
  • Property (real estate, jewelry, automobiles, etc.) valuations
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement accounts

 

English Proficiency Expectations

Academic, extracurricular, and professional success at USC depends on the ability to engage in academic English confidently and comfortably. Because of this, all USC international applicants must effectively demonstrate their English language proficiency as part of the admission review process.

All international applicants should plan on submitting an USC-approved English proficiency examination for admission consideration. USC’s approved exams and recommended minimums are:

  • TOEFL (or TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition) with a minimum score of 100 and no less than a score of 20 in each section*;
  • IELTS (or IELTS Indicator) score of 7;
  • PTE score of 68;
  • 650 on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section;
  • 27 on the ACT English section

*We do not accept TOEFL ITP Plus for China.

USC’s most competitive applicants submit English proficiency exams above the minimum ranges; for example, the average incoming admitted student TOEFL iBT score is 111. Applicants are admissible with scores below the recommended minimums, however, at reduced admission rates.

Considering the continued challenges with testing accessibility abroad due to COVID-19, we have expanded our options to demonstrate your English language abilities. If you are not able to sit for one of the USC-approved examinations, you should instead sit for the Duolingo English Test and achieve a minimum score of 120.

If for some reason you are not able to sit for an USC-approved English proficiency examination and/or the Duolingo English Test, you must provide an English Proficiency declaration and explanation via your USC applicant portal. Explanations may include information about the amount of time spent studying in an entirely English-speaking institution or a different English proficiency examination not currently approved by USC, such as the Cambridge English: Advance or Proficiency or iTEP exams.

All international applicants admitted to USC with only the Duolingo English Test or an English Language Proficiency declaration are required to sit for the International Student Exam offered through USC’s American Language Institute upon matriculation. Students who submit a valid USC-approved English Language Proficiency exam do not need to sit for the ISE exam upon matriculation. International applicants who hold citizenship in countries where English is the official language and is spoken by the majority may not be required to submit additional English proficiency documentation.

English Language Proficiency Supplements
USC does not offer evaluative admission interviews. However, we understand that international students, particularly those in China, want to provide additional evidence of English language ability. To accommodate this, USC applicants may choose to submit DuoLingo, InitialView, and/or Vericant interviews as additional and optional means of showcasing their English proficiency. Third-party interviews are only used as an additional tool to assess English language ability and are not evaluative in nature. To ensure timely review of your application, we encourage you submit any additional English interview supplements by January 31. Please note that your USC application fee does not include the cost of the supplement. To learn more about these opportunities, please visit the websites for DuolingoInitialView, and Vericant.