Apply: What We Look For

USC students represent a vast array of interests and passions. Bold, driven, curious and creative, they want to make an impact, both in and out of the classroom.


We look for those students we believe will thrive at USC. Our application process is designed to discover your individual story, so that we might see how you would take advantage of the many opportunities available at USC. Like many highly selective universities, we conduct a comprehensive, holistic review of your application to consider academic and personal characteristics. We will review your performance in school, the rigor of your program, writing skills and test scores. We also consider personal qualities, as revealed in community involvement, leadership and achievements.

Successful USC Students

USC students pursue ambitious intellectual and professional goals by studying across disciplines and taking advantage of the diversity of programs available. They are willing to venture outside their comfort zones. They are interested in the world, in other peoples and cultures, and enjoy examining important issues from a global perspective. USC students are unafraid to speak up in class to make others think or fight for a cause. They get involved by participating in student organizations and connecting with others. They seek to grow to their fullest potential, and they seek to serve others in the community along the way.

Accessibility and Financial Aid

USC is need-blind in its admission process—a student’s financial need will never influence an admission decision. In fact, nearly two-thirds of undergraduate students at USC receive financial aid.

“Let your passions shine through in the application! Numbers do not tell the whole story; rather we really want to get to know the person behind the application, and writing about what is important to you will really allow us to do just that.”

—Sam Williams, Assistant Director of Admission

“Remember, there’s a person on the other end of your application; we’re just trying to get to know you.”

—Becky Chassin, Assistant Dean of Admission

First-Year Student Profile

Fall 2017  
New students 3,358


Application Process
Applicants 56,675
Admits 9,042 (16% admitted)
Enrolls 3,358 (37.1% yield)


Male 45%
Female 55%


Race, Ethnicity & Background
White 38%
Asian / Asian American 21%
Latino / Hispanic 15%
International 14%
Multiple Ethnicities 7%
African American 5%
Native American / Pacific Islander <1%
First generation college goers 13%
Scions (legacy students)  19%
Most Represented Geographic Areas in U.S.
New York


Most Represented Geographic Areas Outside U.S.
South Korea
United Kingdom

Financial Aid
About 22% of the 2017 entering first-year class received a merit-based scholarship from USC. Over 60% received some form of financial assistance.

Transfer Student Profile

Fall 2017
Applications 8,800
Admits 2,150
Admit Rate 24%
Transfer Class Size 1,300
Average College GPA 3.7


Our Transfer Students Come From
California Community Colleges 50%
California Private Colleges and Universities 7%
California State University/University of California 10%
U.S. Colleges Outside California 27%
International Colleges and Universities 6%

“College is all about learning, most importantly about yourself as a person. Look for schools that can help you grow in all aspects of your life – inside and outside the classroom.”

—Alexander Alvendia, International Admission Officer

Undocumented-DACA-AB540 Students

Undocumented or DACA students should apply for admission following the general policies and guidelines outlined on this website. Financial assistance is available for undocumented students who meet certain criteria.  California residents may qualify for additional assistance under AB540 (the “California Dream Act”). For more information, please visit

For help navigating the admission and financial aid process, please refer to the Undergraduate Student Government’s Undocumented Student Guide, which includes a link to contact the USC Office of Financial Aid.