Who Is an International Student?
With students representing 135 countries around the world, USC’s vibrant student body 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 defined as an individual who will enter or has already entered the United States with a student visa to live and study in the U.S.–including those on non-immigrant visas such as the E2, H2 or L2 visa.
“I chose USC because I was very impressed by the university’s commitment to pluralism. I met so many people here who share my national, cultural, and religious backgrounds, and this gave me a deep sense of belonging and community.”
International Applicant Academic Considerations
- With the few exceptions noted below, international applicants to USC follow the same application steps as other first-year or transfer applicants. We are familiar with the many educational systems from which students apply and will consider your application within the context of your educational environment. When preparing your application, you must: Provide official copies of academic records from all secondary or senior secondary schools, pre-university programs, and colleges and universities attended.* These records must be sent directly from the schools or testing agencies. They must also be submitted in the native language, accompanied by an English translation, if the native language is not English;
- Send external examination results and/or predicted results, e.g., GCSE/IGCSE results as well as predicted IB or A-Level results, Indian board examination results, Australian ATAR, etc.; AND
- Affirm that your application and all presented work is your own, factually true, and honestly presented.
When completing the Common Application, please write your name as it appears on your passport and/or your I–20 or DS–2019. 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. As an international student, you must provide a valid address outside the United States that is not a P.O. box, even if your current mailing address is in the United States. Please submit a copy of your current passport together with the required forms.
USC does not contract with, nor is represented by, non-USC entities such as educational agents in the recruitment and selection process.
*High school and/or secondary school academic records should include what is considered the equivalent of U.S. grade 9 through U.S. grade 12, with students on track to completing or having already completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school diploma prior to the start of their USC enrollment.
We expect international applicants to have qualifications equivalent to the standards of our U.S. applicants. We accept a range of international qualifications. Students should send external examination results or predicted results. Examples: predicted IB, Indian board exam, GCSE/IGCSE, predicted A-Levels, Australian ATAR results, etc. Below are the admission requirements for a few common educational systems. Please contact the Office of Admission for more information.
We typically require the full Diploma with strong academic performance (scores of 5-7 on all HL and SL exams) across all subjects. Please include predicted grades with your application.
Please send external results for GCSE/ IGCSE examinations in addition to predicted results for A-Level/Pre-U subjects. Students are not eligible for admission with only IGCSE/GCSE results. Students are admitted with predicted A-Level results and will be asked to verify their final results once they are released. Competitive applicants will have predicted results of a B or above for at least three A-Level/Pre-U exams. There are no subject requirements for entry into USC.
Complete Year X and Year XII state board or CBSE/ICSE exams. Competitive applicants typically achieve high marks, primarily A1 and A2 grades or scores above 80.
Successful students enrolled in the Chinese National Curriculum achieve high marks, primarily 90+ out of 100 and 135+ out of 150. For students in an international curriculum, refer to academic expectations for IB or A-Level results.
Students enrolled in French Baccalaureate schools are expected to earn scores of 10 or higher, and most competitive applicants typically score 14+ points in each subject.
Standardized Test Scores
USC will continue our test-optional policy for the upcoming year, meaning that first-year applicants to the 2024-25 academic year are not required to send SAT or ACT scores to apply. If sent, SAT or ACT scores will be considered in admission review alongside other relevant academic information. However, please note that international applicants who wish to use either the SAT or ACT to demonstrate their English language proficiency will have their scores assessed for both English language proficiency and general admission review.
More information about this test optional policy can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
International Applicant Financial Considerations
Need-Based Financial Aid for International Applicants
USC does not offer need-based financial aid for international applicants. Therefore, all international applicants must provide, at the time of application, financial documentation affirming their ability and intent to finance USC’s full cost of attendance (tuition and expenses) for at least the first academic year. Financial documentation must be verified by a bank and dated within the past year. Applicants relying on support from their home government or another official agency must send USC a similarly appropriate financial support document from their sponsor at the time of application.
Merit Scholarships Eligibility for International Applicants
All international applicants who submit an application by the appropriate deadline are eligible for USC Merit Scholarships. Merit scholarships are not based on financial need and are awarded on the basis of a comprehensive academic and scholastic review of an applicant’s candidacy. There are no minimum eligibility requirements for USC Merit Scholarships. Scholarship selection is a highly competitive process, and therefore international applicants should not rely on these awards to demonstrate their ability to pay. No USC Merit Scholarship covers the full cost of USC attendance.
Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support
The United States government requires all international applicants to provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses before USC can issue a formal letter of admission and the forms required to obtain a visa. Please be aware that international students will not be able to pay for the full amount of their educational expenses by working while they are in the United States. U.S. government regulations strictly limit employment authorization and require holders of student visas to be full-time students. Therefore, job opportunities are extremely limited.
The Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support includes:
- A signed form.
- Proof of sufficient funds (see list of acceptable documents below).
- Copy of current passport.
For timely and accurate admission review, the Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support should be uploaded via your USC applicant portal at the time of application. To see the current estimated cost of attendance for USC students, please visit the Financial Aid website.
- Bank statement.
- Bank letter.
- Organizational sponsor (government, corporation, etc.).
- Approved/sanctioned education loans. “In-principle” sanctioned loans will not be accepted.
- Investment portfolio.
*Documents must be dated August 2023 or later.
Documents NOT typically accepted:
- Tax returns.
- Tax documents in general.
- Employment or salary statements.
- Pending or Provisional Education Loans.
- Property (real estate, jewelry, automobiles, etc.) valuations.
- Life insurance.
- Retirement accounts.
English Proficiency Expectations
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. We do not grant waivers or exceptions to this policy under any circumstances.
All international applicants whose native language is not English 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 TOEFL iBT score for admitted students is 111, scoring a 25 or higher in each section. Applicants are admissible with scores below the recommended minimums, however, at reduced admission rates.
Considering the continued challenges with testing accessibility abroad, 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 can instead sit for the Duolingo English Test. You must achieve a minimum score of 130.
All international applicants admitted to USC with only the Duolingo English Test 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 do not need to sit for the ISE exam upon matriculation.
English Language Proficiency Supplements
USC does not offer evaluative admission interviews. USC applicants may choose to submit DuoLingo, InitialView, and/or Vericant interviews as additional and optional means of showcasing their English proficiency. Third-party interviews are used only as an additional tool to assess English language ability and are not evaluative in nature. To ensure timely review of your application, we encourage you to submit any additional English interview supplements by December 1 if applying Early Decision or by January 31 if applying Regular Decision. 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 Duolingo, InitialView, and Vericant.