Information for International Students

Who Is Considered an International Student?
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).

Immigration/DACA Status

USC admission, enrollment and tuition policies are not based on your immigration or DACA status. Your admission and enrollment will not be affected if you do not have, or if you lose your, immigration or DACA status. Financial aid may still be granted to those who qualify. Some undocumented students may qualify for Cal Grants via the California Dream Act. The California Dream Act FAQ can be found here.

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

First-year (freshman) international applicants are required to submit:

  • SAT or ACT (with the optional Writing test) scores; AND
  • TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic scores, if the native language is not English. (Applicants with minimum scores of 650 on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing exam or 27 on the ACT English exam are exempt. See English Proficiency Criteria below.)

Transfer international applicants are required to submit:

  • TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic scores, if the native language is not English.

TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic scores must be recent, earned within two years of the USC application date.

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 demonstrate English proficiency in the following manner:

First-year (freshman) 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.

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.

Applicants may still be admitted without these 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.

Documentation of Financial Support

The US 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. Please be sure to include a scanned copy of the passport you intend to use while studying in the U.S.

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 2017-2018 academic year will be available sometime in March 2017.

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

Once you have arrived on campus, the Office of International Service (OIS) assists international students attending USC, providing workshops and events to help you acclimate to campus life and American culture. For more information, please visit the OIS website. Questions about I-20s, visas, moving to the U.S. and other immigration-related inquiries should be sent here.