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 success at USC depends on your ability to communicate effectively in English. All international applicants whose native language is not English must submit test scores from the SAT/ACT, TOEFL (or TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition), IELTS (or IELTS Indicator), PTE or Duolingo English Test* in order to demonstrate English proficiency.

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

Applicants may still be admitted without the following minimum scores. For those who do not demonstrate English proficiency, however, USC requires the International Student Exam (ISE) prior to registration for classes. The results of the ISE determine whether or not a student must enroll in English language courses at the American Language Institute (ALI) at USC.

First-year international applicants should earn:

  • Minimum score of 600 on the SAT Critical Reading exam (previous SAT) or 650 on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing exam (redesigned SAT) or 27 on the ACT English exam; OR
  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum score of 20 in each section); OR
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7; OR
  • A minimum PTE score of 68; OR
  • A minimum Duolingo English Test score of 120*

Transfer international applicants should earn:

  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum score of 20 in each section); OR
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7; OR
  • A minimum PTE score of 68.
  • A minimum Duolingo English Test score of 120*

For all students, TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic and Duolingo scores must be recent, earned within two years of the USC application date.

*Please note that although the Duolingo English Test may be submitted to demonstrate English proficiency, it will not waive the ISE requirement.

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.