The Admission Process:
Ready To Join a Tradition of Excellence?

What Do We Look For?

We carefully review each application to select those students we believe will be an ideal fit for USC. We consider your personal circumstances and special achievements, including: academic performance, the rigor of your curriculum, writing ability, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities, leadership and community service.

We realize individual talents, circumstances and opportunities vary greatly, so no specific curriculum is prescribed or required.

However, we expect that you will complete the most rigorous curriculum available to you in English, math, science, social studies, foreign language and the arts.

Academic Performance

We value and welcome students who are interested in the world, who would enjoy examining key issues through a global perspective. Most successful students demonstrate careful preparation for an intended academic major, along with an openness to new ideas and a willingness to explore subjects outside their comfort zones. Students who are undecided about their intended majors typically pursue a rigorous college preparatory curriculum across disciplines. Ideal students are also intellectually curious and would enjoy pursuing faculty-led or original research.

Personal Qualities

We look for students who possess the potential to contribute to our diverse and vibrant campus life, who represent a vast array of interests and passions, and are leaders unafraid to speak up in class or fight for a cause. We value students who make us think, get involved in student life and campus organizations and connect with other people. We also value students who contribute to the arts on campus — even outside their chosen majors.

We find these elements through your essay and short-answer responses, in your course selection, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation.

We also pay attention to your personal narrative, background and circumstances, realizing that each student is unique. Your application will paint a picture of you and how you might contribute to the community, tradition and spirit that make USC the dynamic place it is.

Does a student’s financial need affect an admission decision?

No. 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.

Does USC have an Early Action or Early Decision program?

No, USC does not employ an Early Action or Early Decision program in its admission process. We also do not maintain admission waitlists. Instead, students who apply for fall admission may be invited to enroll in the spring semester. Experience has shown that students starting in the spring transition easily into the USC community and continue to perform well academically.

Undocumented/DACA/AB540 Students

Students who indicate an undocumented or DACA status should apply for admission following the general policies and guidelines outlined on this website. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify under AB540 (the “California Dream Act”). For more information, please visit