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The USC Application

How do I apply to USC?

Complete instructions and admission requirements can be found here and here. We also recommend checking with your program of interest to verify their specific requirements and deadlines.

Additionally, please review our video titled “Navigating your USC Graduate Application” that provides an overview of how the graduate application is structured, as well as useful guidelines about creating an account, selecting a program, etc.

My program uses a separate application. Do I still need to complete the USC graduate application? 

Students who are applying to USC using a separate application may not need to complete the main online application. Please review the list of programs for which we accept a separate application here.

I am considering more than one program at USC. Can I apply to multiple programs?

You can apply to a maximum of three separate graduate programs for a single term. In the Add Program tab on the application, click the + icon for each program you wish to apply to.

Please note that you will be assigned only one 10-digit USC ID number. You will need to submit only one set of transcripts and test scores to the Office of Graduate Admission, regardless of the number of programs you are applying to. All other materials (personal statement, recommendations, writing samples, etc.) are reviewed by graduate departments only, not the Office of Graduate Admission, and must be submitted according to the requirements listed under the Program Materials section for each program.

How should I apply if I am considering a dual-degree program at USC?

USC offers a number of dual degrees that allow students to enroll in two degree programs simultaneously. Applicants to dual-degree programs must apply separately to each program and be admitted to both programs. Upon completion of the dual degree, two degrees (and two diplomas) are awarded.

The Office of Graduate Admission does offer dual-degree applicants an application fee waiver for the second application. Please review our instructions here to request a waiver.

How should I re-apply if I have previously applied to USC?

If you were denied admission for a previous term or were admitted and chose not to attend (and no longer qualify for an application update), you must create and submit a new online application.

Unless you applied more than five years ago, transcripts and test scores already received by the Office of Admission will be kept on file and do not need to be sent again.

You will need to send us any new test scores and transcripts for coursework you have completed since your last application.

What is a 10-digit USC ID number? How do I get one?

Your USC ID number is assigned to you after we have received, processed and loaded your application into our database. This 10-digit number allows us to process your materials more efficiently, and it will become your student ID number if you are admitted. You should receive a confirmation email with your 10-digit USC ID number within three to four days of submitting your application.

The USC ID number is not the same as the CAS ID assigned when you begin your application and shown in the top right-hand corner of your application.

IMPORTANT: If you have previously enrolled at or applied to USC, or if you are a USC employee, please be sure to include your USC ID number in the appropriate application field. This will help prevent the creation of a duplicate file, which can cause considerable delays in the processing of your application.

I received a 10-digit ID when I started my application. Is this my USC ID?

No. Your 10-digit USC ID is different from the USC CAS ID you receive when you begin your application. The CAS ID is required only for technical support during the application process and is not issued by the university. You will receive an email with your 10-digit USC ID only after you submit your application.

What do I need to do if I would like to return to USC to complete my graduate degree after a leave of absence?

Please contact your academic department for more information. Leaves of absence must be approved and processed through your program of study. You do not need to apply through Graduate Admission if you are planning to continue in the same program.

What does it mean if I can’t find the program I would like to apply to on the list?

It’s possible that the program has not yet posted its application for the term for which you are seeking admission, or that it is already past the deadline.

Alternatively, to see a wider selection of results, you may want to reduce the number of search filters you are using. We recommend leaving out the Online and On-campus filter, for example.

How do I check the status of my application?

Because of the high volume of materials we process, we do not send confirmation emails when specific items have been received. We will contact you only if we need to request additional materials. To ensure that you have submitted a complete application, please refer to our checklists here.

Please review this video tutorial to navigate the application status verification process.

The Notification status page on your application will include the following updates:

* Receipt of transcripts uploaded on the application.

* Receipt of official GRE and TOEFL scores.

* Receipt of recommendation letters.

You may contact us via email to check the following:

* Receipt of official (mailed or electronic) transcripts.

* Receipt of GMAT, IELTS and PTE scores.

* Status of your application.

Graduate admission staff are also available via Skype from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Pacific Time, Monday-Thursday. Please add graduate.admissions.usc to your contact list.

Academic Requirements and Admission Policies

Please review our video tutorial titled, “USC Graduate Application: Entering your Academic History” for more details.

What are the criteria for admission to a graduate program at USC?

At a minimum you must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. If you studied overseas, please review our country-specific requirements for more information about degree equivalency. Please be advised that many USC graduate programs have their own set of admission criteria, in addition to the minimum eligibility requirements noted above. For more information, please refer to the homepage of your intended graduate program or contact them directly.

 I am currently enrolled in the last year of my undergraduate program. Can I still apply to a graduate program even though I have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree?

Yes. As long as your bachelor’s degree is conferred before the start of your intended first term at USC, you are eligible for graduate admission. When you apply, you will simply need to provide the most recent transcript available, showing all coursework you have completed to date.

If you are admitted, you will need to verify the completion of your undergraduate program and conferral of your bachelor’s degree when you come to USC. Detailed verification instructions will be included in your official USC admission letter.

My institution of study is not accredited. Can I still apply to USC?

For U.S. institutions, USC recognizes only degrees earned at one of the six regionally accredited bodies. For degrees earned outside the United States, the institution of study should be recognized by the country’s Ministry of Education or its equivalent. Please visit our country-specific guidelines for academic requirements by individual country.

However, it is important to note that graduate-level admission decisions at USC are made by individual academic programs, not the central Office of Admission. Some departments may be willing to admit a student without the necessary credentials if they feel the student demonstrates compensating strengths in other areas. For more information, please contact your intended graduate program(s).

 Do you accept transfer credits from students currently pursuing other graduate programs?

The application procedure for prospective graduate transfer students is the same as that for all other graduate applicants. No special forms or procedures are involved.

Transfer credit from other graduate programs is possible but not guaranteed. After you are admitted and enroll at USC, you may request a transfer credit evaluation from the Office of Degree Progress. Coursework is subject to the approval of both your USC academic department and Degree Progress (or the Office of Graduate Admission if the courses were taken outside the United States). USC does not conduct pre-admission transfer credit evaluations for prospective graduate applicants.

Who makes the admission decision for my intended program?

Admission decisions are made by a committee of departmental admission officers and faculty members specializing in your field of study. The Office of Graduate Admission administers the overall process but our office does not make final admission decisions. Any questions or concerns regarding your admission decision should be addressed to your intended graduate department.

Graduate applicants are evaluated on a number of criteria: academic performance, test scores, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, other supporting materials, and whether or not their academic and research interests are an appropriate fit with the degree program.

What is the minimum GPA USC required for admission?

USC does not have a university-wide minimum GPA requirement for graduate admission eligibility. Graduate applicants are evaluated on a number of criteria such as academic performance, test scores, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and whether or not their academic and research interests are an appropriate fit with the degree program. However, individual academic programs are free to set their own admission criteria above and beyond general university requirements. In some instances, this may include a minimum GPA. To verify their policy, we recommend that you contact your intended graduate department.

Transcripts

Please review our video tutorial titled, “USC Graduate Application: Entering your Academic History” for more details.

What do you mean by “official” transcripts?

Hard-copy transcripts and other academic records are considered “official” when they arrive in a sealed, stamped, official envelope with the seal and any other security feature intact. Electronic transcripts are considered “official” when we receive them from a secure site formally linked to the sending institution or testing service.

Academic records received in any other condition, such as transcripts that arrive in an unsealed envelope, or that are printed from the university portal, are not considered “official.”

Is it okay if I only upload my transcripts to the online application?

We highly recommend that you do upload your university-issued transcripts as part of your online application. However, transcripts uploaded by students to the online application are considered unofficial. You must also send us official transcripts as instructed here.

 I already mailed my official transcripts to USC. Do I still need to upload it with my application?

Uploading copies of official transcripts to the application is recommended but not required. You must, however, mail in your transcripts even if you have uploaded them as part of your application.

Can I send my transcripts to USC before I apply?

We discourage students from sending any program materials to us before applying. Without the application, we do not have any means to identify you, which makes it difficult for us to match your transcript to your application when you do apply. This can lead to potential delays in processing your application.

My program also requires a Slideroom application. Where should I be uploading my transcript?

Please follow your program’s instructions to determine where you should submit your program materials. If your program uses a Slideroom application, we recommend uploading your transcripts on the main application as well as in Slideroom.

What should I do if my school is unable to provide me a transcript?

Please provide an official letter from the Office of the Registrar explaining that they will be unable to issue you a transcript.

Where do I mail my official transcripts?

To send transcripts by regular mail:
University of Southern California:
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

To send transcripts by courier service, such as DHL or FedEx:
University of Southern California
USC Office of Admission and Financial Aid
3601 South Flower Street, TYL 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915
(213) 740-1111

IMPORTANT: Some USC graduate departments (including most of our online programs) prefer that transcripts be sent directly to them, rather than to the Office of Graduate Admission. To verify your department’s policy, please refer to your intended program’s website. If this is your department’s policy, you are responsible for confirming receipt by the department and ensuring that they have routed copies to the Office of Graduate Admission.

Do you accept electronic transcripts (e-transcripts)?

USC now accepts electronic transcripts, provided they meet the following guidelines:

  • The transcript originates from a secure site formally linked to the sending institution.
  • The school is located in the United States.

We do not accept electronic transcripts from any overseas institutions or vendors, except from India. Electronic transcripts from India should be sent via TrueCopy Credentials.

Please instruct the vendor to email the transcript to etrans@usc.edu. Do not send any other materials or correspondence to this email address. Electronic transcripts emailed to any other address will not be downloaded, which will delay the review of your application and create an extra expense for you if the transcript needs to be re-sent.

Test Scores: GRE and GMAT

Please review our video tutorial titled, “The USC Graduate Application: Entering Your Standardized Test Scores” for more details.

Does my program require GRE, GMAT or any other test scores?

While most USC graduate programs require either GRE or GMAT scores, test requirements may vary by program. For more information about test requirements, please refer to the website of your intended graduate department.

What is USC’s code for sending GRE or GMAT scores?

USC’s ETS school code is 4852. Applicants sending any tests administered by ETS, such as the GRE, should use this code to ensure that USC receives your official test results. No department code is required.

If you are sending GMAT scores, please select “University of Southern California” from the list of available schools. Check with your intended program to determine the program code for the GMAT.

If you are applying to multiple programs, please note that scores need to be sent only once. Test scores are posted to our central information system and can be viewed by all departments.

Can I mail a paper copy of my official test scores to USC?

Only electronic scores received directly from the testing service are considered official. USC does not accept paper reports or self-reported test scores.

I have taken the GRE or GMAT multiple times. Will you consider my best scores for each section?

If you have ETS send the official GRE scores from each sitting, USC will consider the highest section scores from all sittings. For example, if you took the GRE twice and scored highest in the Verbal section at the first sitting and highest in the Quantitative section in the second sitting, we will take the Verbal score from the first sitting and the Quantitative score from the second to create a new overall “composite” score — the highest possible.

How long will my GRE or GMAT scores be considered valid?

Your scores are considered valid only if earned within five years to the month of your intended first term at USC (for example, no earlier than August 1 five years prior if applying for the fall term).

Can I submit different standardized test scores instead of the GRE or GMAT?

While most USC graduate programs require either GRE or GMAT scores, test requirements may vary by program. Please contact your intended program directly to determine if they will accept any other standardized tests.

Letters of Recommendation

Do I need to submit recommendation letters for my program?

Requirements vary by program. You can find out if your program requires them by checking the online application. Navigate to the Recommendations tab of the Program Materials section. If your program requires recommendation letters you will be asked to enter the names and contact information for your recommenders in this segment. 

Do my recommenders have to submit their letters on or before my program deadline?

The specific requirements for letters of recommendation, including format and deadlines, are set by your intended graduate department. You can find instructions on your online application by navigating to the Recommendations tab of the Program Materials section. Please contact your intended graduate department if you have further questions.

What if my recommender wants to submit a hard copy of my letter?

The specific requirements for letters of recommendation, including format and deadlines, are set by your intended graduate department. Most departments do not accept hard copies. You can find instructions on your online application by navigating to the Recommendations tab of the Program Materials section. Please contact your intended graduate department if you have further questions.

Can my recommender email my recommendation letter to you?

USC does not accept recommendation letters via email. The specific requirements for letters of recommendation, including format and deadlines, are set by your intended graduate department. You can find instructions on your online application by navigating to the Recommendations tab of the Program Materials section. Contact your intended graduate department if you have further questions.

My recommender has not yet submitted my recommendation. How do I send him or her a reminder/re-notification?

You can email a recommendation request by navigating back to the Recommendations tab in the Program Materials section of your application. Locate the recommender and click on the pencil icon in the top right corner. Then click on the Resend This Recommendation Request button at the bottom of the page.

What should I do if my recommender never received the notification I sent via the online application or if they are experiencing technical issues?

If your recommender still does not receive a recommendation request, you should contact our tech support team at:
Email: uscsupport@liaisonedu.com
Phone Number: (857) 304-2092
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time)

You should provide the following information to the tech support team:

  • Your name.
  • Your CAS ID.
  • Name of the school and program to which you are applying.
  • A detailed description of the problem.

Not all my recommenders have submitted their recommendations. Do I have to wait to submit my application?

No. You can submit your application even though all your recommendation letters have not been submitted.

What does it mean to waive my FERPA rights for recommendation letters?

FERPA stands for the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, a law that governs access to educational information and records. Because letters of recommendation are considered part of the student’s educational record, the law permits graduate applicants to view letters of recommendation submitted by others.

 If you do not waive your FERPA rights, you will be permitted to view your recommendations only if you are accepted into and then subsequently enroll in a graduate program at USC. If you waive your FERPA rights, it indicates to your recommenders that you will not view their letters.

Program-Specific Materials: Resumés, Statements of Purpose, Portfolios and Auditions

I have submitted my application but would like to revise my statement of purpose or resumé. How can I submit the revised version?

Documents successfully uploaded into your application cannot be deleted or edited.

To add a new document to your application file, please follow the steps below:

1) Log back in to your online application.

2) Navigate back to the Program Materials section of your application.

3) Navigate to the Documents tab.

4) Upload your new document to any available (Other) Add Document slot.

5) Navigate back to the My Application tab.

6) Click on the Update my Application button located near the top of the page.

NOTE: If you do not have a free upload slot, please email your revised document as an attachment directly to the admission office of your intended graduate program.

My program also uses a Slideroom application. What should I submit on the USC graduate application in terms of program materials?

You can find this information in the Program Materials section of the application. You can also check the website of your intended graduate program for these requirements.

Does my program require an interview?

This depends on the program. Please contact your intended graduate department for more information.

Who do I contact regarding a performance audition?

Please contact your intended graduate department regarding any audition-related questions.

What should I do if I experience technical difficulties when trying to update my program materials?

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with the application, you should contact our tech support team at:
Email: uscsupport@liaisonedu.com
Phone Number: (857) 304-2092
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time)

You should provide the following information to the tech support team:

  • Your name.
  • Your CAS ID.
  • Name of the school and program to which you are applying.
  • A detailed description of the issue you are experiencing.
Communicating with USC

How do I contact USC if I have further questions?

You are welcome to email our office with any questions regarding general admission policies and procedures. If you have specific questions about your intended program of study, we recommend you contact the program directly. Please keep in mind that during our peak admission season (November-April) our office receives hundreds of messages every week, so it may take us five to seven business days to respond to emails.

I am unable to attend any of the scheduled campus tours. How can I familiarize myself with USC? 

We encourage prospective students to visit USC, even if they are unable to attend one of our on-campus information sessions. A campus visit will give you the opportunity to tour the campus and schedule meetings with departmental representatives (if available). We have created a downloadable guide (in PDF format) that will introduce you to our campus, its landmarks, traditions and academic programs. To access it, click here.

How do I meet with an admission or program representative from USC?

In addition to our Spotlight: USC events, a graduate admission officer is on call at the campus Admission Center, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Pacific Time, Monday through Thursday. All in-person counseling is walk-in only and subject to staff availability. Additionally, USC graduate departments may be available to meet with prospective graduate applicants (though availability may vary). Please contact your intended graduate department or school for details.

Do you offer information sessions or recruitment events for prospective graduate applicants?

Yes. We strongly encourage applicants in the Los Angeles area to attend one of our Spotlight: USC sessions, which are held on-campus during the fall semester. In addition, the Office of Graduate Admission also participates in a number of off-campus events for prospective graduate applicants. For more information, please visit our Learn About USC page.

How do I get help with technical issues?

  • USC CAS Application: On the bottom left corner of your application you will find the Instructions and FAQs and Contact Us Please review the instructions and FAQs before requesting help via email. If you are unable to find what you need, please send your CAS ID, the school to which you are applying, and a brief description of your issue to uscsupport@liaisoncas.com or call (857) 304-2092 between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.
  • youSC: For technical issues related to youSC, please refer to our youSC FAQ

How do I let you know if my personal information (such as mailing address, telephone number, email address) has changed?

If your application is in progress, please use the directions in the Biographical Information section to make the necessary changes.

If you have already submitted your application, be sure to update it AND contact us directly.

How do I check the status of my application?

Because of the high volume of materials we process, we do not send confirmation emails when specific items have been received. We will contact you only if we need to request additional materials. To ensure that you have submitted a complete application, please refer to our checklists.

Please review this video tutorial to navigate the application status verification process.

The Notification status page on your application will include the following updates:

  • Receipt of transcripts uploaded to the application.
  • Receipt of official GRE and TOEFL scores.
  • Receipt of recommendation letters.

You may contact us via email to check the following:

  • Receipt of official (mailed or electronic) transcripts.
  • Receipt of GMAT, IELTS and PTE scores.
  • Status of your application.

Graduate admission staff are also available via Skype from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Pacific Time, Monday-Thursday. Please add graduate.admissions.usc to your contact list.

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