First-Year Students


Each year more than 50,000 of the most talented high school seniors in the country and from all over the world apply to USC. We are proud of the quality, diversity and uniqueness of these applicants. We welcome you to apply.


“I chose USC because there is no better place to study the impact of digital media on entertainment... The support here is unbelievable.”

—Joy Ofodu. San Ramon, California

Dates and Deadlines

Early Action (EA) vs Regular Decision (RD)

Applying by the Early Action (EA) deadline enables you to plan for college earlier, should you be accepted during this round of application reviews. It also ensures that you will be considered for USC Merit Scholarships. Early Action (EA) is non-binding, non-restrictive, and is not available for majors requiring a portfolio or audition. Students choosing to apply under USC’s Early Action (EA) plan will need to submit their application materials earlier in the process but will receive an admission decision (or deferral to Regular Decision) sooner than Regular Decision applicants.

We recommend this option for those who have thoroughly researched their college options and have settled on USC as their top choice. We estimate that 20-25 percent of our admission spaces will be granted during the EA round.

Please note that applicants to the World Bachelor in Business program must apply Early Action.

USC’s Regular Decision (RD) plan follows a more traditional timeline: If you submit your application by December 1 or January 15, depending upon major, you will receive a decision by April 1.

Students who wish to have more time to fill out their application, or those who wish to have their records for the fall semester of their senior year included as part of their application, may wish to wait until the Regular Decision (RD) deadline.

The following programs do not participate in Early Action:

Iovine and Young Academy
Kaufman School of Dance
Roski School of Art and Design
School of Architecture
School of Cinematic Arts
School of Dramatic Arts
Thornton School of Music


Students applying to these schools must submit their application materials by December 1 to be considered for admission and USC Merit Scholarships. Please refer to the Regular Decision deadlines for more information.


Early Action

Applicants selecting Early Action will be notified of their admission or deferral to Regular Decision in mid- to late January 2024.

Application Deadline: November 1, 2023

Early Action (EA) is non-binding, non-restrictive, and is not available for majors requiring a portfolio or audition. Students must apply EA in order to be considered for USC Merit Scholarships, unless their intended major does not participate in Early Action.

Students applying to majors requiring a portfolio or audition (see below) will be considered for USC Merit Scholarships as part of their Regular Decision process.


Regular Decision

Applicants selecting or deferring to Regular Decision will be notified of a decision by April 1, 2024.

For majors requiring a portfolio or audition:
Application Deadline: December 1, 2023


This is the final deadline for students applying to majors in the following schools:

Iovine and Young Academy
Kaufman School of Dance
Roski School of Art and Design
School of Architecture
School of Cinematic Arts
School of Dramatic Arts
Thornton School of Music

See Additional Major Requirements for information about your intended program.

Regular Decision candidates applying to these programs by December 1 will be considered for USC Merit Scholarships.

All other majors:
Application Deadline: January 15, 2024

Extensions of application deadlines are considered on a case-by-case basis. Students who are unable to meet the published deadlines may contact an admission counselor to be considered for an extension.


Financial Aid

Early Application Deadline: January 12, 2024
Regular Decision Deadline: February 7, 2024

Applicants who want to be considered for need-based financial aid must submit the FAFSA* and CSS Profile applications by the appropriate deadline.
*Undocumented or DACA students should submit their 2021 tax return and third-party letter confirming undocumented status instead of the FAFSA.

Cal Grant Application Deadline: March 4, 2024
California residents should apply for Cal Grants by this date.

Visit our Financial Aid page for more information. To check on the status of your financial aid application, visit the FAST page in your applicant portal.

Early Action FAQ's

  • Early Action applicants apply earlier and may be informed of their admission to USC in January. Early Action is required for most students wishing to be considered for merit scholarships. It might also be an attractive option for those with particularly strong records who consider USC one of their top choices. Regular Decision applicants follow a more traditional timeline, with later deadlines and a decision notification date of April 1. Neither plan requires admitted students to enroll at USC.

  • Yes, unless your intended major does not participate in Early Action. Early Action is not available if you are applying to the Iovine and Young Academy or majors in Architecture, Art and Design, Cinematic Arts, Dance, Dramatic Arts or Music. Applicants to these majors should apply by December 1 to be considered for both admission and scholarships.

    Other scholarships offered through USC-affiliated organizations are available but require a separate application. Visit our Scholarships page for more information. USC also offers a robust need-based financial aid program. More information is available at the USC Financial Aid website.

  • No, we cannot guarantee that fall grades will be considered if you apply Early Action.

  • We anticipate that about 20-25 percent of the class will be admitted early. Early Action applicants who are not admitted in January will be able to defer their application to the Regular Decision round.

  • Not all early admits will be selected to continue in USC’s merit scholarship process. Students who are selected as scholarship finalists will be notified of their next steps in February after receiving their admission decision.

  • No, Early Action admission is non-binding and does not require enrollment at USC.

  • No, no one will receive a denial letter in January. Students who are not admitted early will be given the chance to defer their application for consideration in the Regular Decision round. We expect that 75-80 percent of the class will be admitted Regular Decision.

  • Most admitted students will receive their financial aid summaries around the same time. EA applicants should apply for need-based financial aid by January 12, 2024 and RD applicants should apply by February 7, 2024 to be considered for all types of financial aid for which you may be eligible.

  • No, but transfer applicants interested in Dance, Music, and BFA majors in Cinematic Arts and Dramatic Arts must apply by December 1. The admission and scholarship application deadline for all other transfer applicants is February 15.

Application Checklist

  • 1

    Complete the Common Application.

  • 2

    For students who submit test scores, USC records the highest scores for those who have taken tests more than once. For the SAT and ACT, the highest scores for each section of the exam will be recorded, even if achieved in different sittings. USC does not require the writing section for either the ACT or the SAT. Find answers to questions you have about how our test optional policy will affect your application.

  • 3

    First-year applicants should submit official transcripts of all high school and college coursework completed.

  • 4

    One letter is required from either your school counselor or a teacher from your school. Applicants to the School of Cinematic Arts must submit two letters of recommendation.

  • 5

    Performance majors may also require auditions. Refer to the Additional Application Requirements section below for more information.

  • 6

    Use the Mid-Year Report Form included in the Common Application or visit your applicant portal to submit your fall grades.

  • 7

    Affirmations will be available in the portal after we receive your application. Your digital signature may be submitted after the application deadline.

  • 8

    If the application fee poses a financial burden, you may request a fee waiver through the Profile section of the Common Application.

International applicants: Please refer to the International Students page for Additional Requirements.

The USC Office of Admission reserves the right to make admission decisions with unofficial documents and may collect official documents post-admission or enrollment.

Additional Application Requirements

If you are applying to a major in any of the schools listed below, it is your responsibility to complete your application by the appropriate deadline. Unless otherwise noted, all deadlines are the same as those listed on the Dates and Deadlines section. Be sure to obtain any required supplementary forms and to fulfill all departmental requirements.

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

USC School of Architecture

Roski School of Art and Design

Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation

Marshall School of Business (World Bachelor in Business)

USC School of Cinematic Arts

Kaufman School of Dance

USC School of Dramatic Arts

Viterbi School of Engineering

Thornton School of Music

Alfred E. Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Home-Schooled Students

Home-Schooled applicants must also submit answers to the home-school questions on the Common Application Secondary School Report. Be sure to include information about your home-schooling philosophy, curricular choices and textbooks used. Although the application process for the 2023-2024 Academic Year is test-optional, we still find it helpful to have work from home-schooled students that is externally graded or examined. Therefore, we recommend submitting either SAT/ACT results, SAT subject exam results, AP exam results, or transcripts from college courses or other accredited online schooling programs if possible.


USC does not conduct admission interviews. However, prospective students are welcome to contact their USC admission counselor with any questions about the admission process. To learn more, please visit our Find Your Counselor page.

International students interested in providing additional evidence of English language ability should visit our Additional Requirements page for more information.

DACA Students

For information about application for DACA students, please refer to this page.

Cost and Financial Aid