Apply: International Students

Who is an international student?

With students representing 135 countries around the world, the USC campus 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 an individual of foreign nationality who will be entering, or has already entered, the United States with a student visa. Students already residing in the United States and holding other non-immigrant visas (for instance, an E2, H2, or L2) are also considered international students.

With the few exceptions noted below, international students 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.

On the application, please write your name as it appears on your passport. 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. All international applicants must provide a permanent, physical mailing address (that is not a post office box).

“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.

Additional Requirements

Please click on each option below to learn about additional requirements for international students.

Academic Records
International applicants must provide official copies of academic records from all secondary or senior secondary schools, pre-university programs, and colleges and universities attended.
Applicants should:

  • Have all academics records sent directly from the schools (whenever possible).
  • Submit all academic records in the native language, accompanied by an English translation, if the native language is not English.
  • Send external examination results or predicted results. Examples: predicted IB results, Indian board exam results, GCSE/IGCSE results, predicted A-levels, Australian ATAR, etc.
  • Submit any additional documents as requested by the USC Office of Admission.

Note: USC expects students to prepare work that is their own, factually true and honestly presented. USC does not contract with, nor is represented by, non-USC entities in the recruitment and admission process.

Standardized Test Scores
After reflection and consideration, we have extended USC’s test-optional policy for two more years. First-year students may apply for admission and scholarships to USC for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 Academic Years without submitting SAT or ACT scores—though they may still submit them if they wish.

International applicants whose native language is not English will still be required to demonstrate their English proficiency through submission of TOEFL (or TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition), IELTS (or IELTS Indicator), Duolingo or PTE Academic scores.

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

Please note that TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic and Duolingo scores must be recent, earned within two years of the USC application date.

We are unable to accept TOEFL ITP Plus for China at this time.

English Proficiency Criteria
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 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,  the English Language Proficiency declaration, or scores lower than the minimums listed above 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 with scores equal to or higher than those listed above 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
Although USC does not offer admission interviews, we understand that international students, particularly those in China, want to provide additional evidence of English language ability. To accomplish this, applicants use DuoLingo, InitialView, and Vericant, who provide additional ways to showcase your English proficiency. Your interview will be sent to USC and included with the application for review. Third-party interviews are used only as an additional tool to help assess English language ability, and are not evaluative in nature. To be included in the review of your application, we encourage you to complete the supplement by January 31.

The DuoLingo, InitialView, or Vericant supplement is optional. 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.

Documentation of Financial Support
The U.S. government requires all international students to provide proof of the ability to pay tuition and living expenses for the first academic year. Along with your application for admission, you must submit the Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support, accompanied by documentation of available funds (such as savings deposits, checking accounts, investment portfolios, or a signed bank letter verifying the ability to pay educational expenses). Documentation may also include proof of any scholarships or fellowships you have received or expect to receive.
Estimated Undergraduate Cost of Attendance
The estimated cost of attendance is based on the average expenses for a full-time undergraduate student (taking 12-18 units per semester) living in university housing. Estimated costs for the current academic year can be found on the Financial Aid website.
Financial Aid & Merit Scholarships 
Although you will not qualify for need-based financial aid if you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you may be eligible for merit scholarships.

Please note: You will not be able to pay for the full amount of your educational expenses by working while you are in the United States.

Office of International Services 
The Office of International Services (OIS) assists international students attending USC, providing workshops and events to help them acclimate to campus life and American culture. For more information, please visit the OIS website.