How to Apply

Step 1: Review Program and Application Requirements

Application Instructions: Before you begin your application to USC, please carefully read all instructions. Once your application has been submitted, you will not be able to revise it. You will, however, be able to amend certain sections (such as test scores). Submitting incorrect information on your application or failing to include important details can delay the admission process.

Deadlines: Since application deadlines vary by program, be sure to confirm your intended program’s deadline and apply on time.

You should also use the months leading up to the deadline to complete the following steps:

GRE/GMAT and Other Tests: If required by your program of interest, schedule the GRE or GMAT exam. 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 before applying to the fall term).

Résumé/Curriculum Vitae: There is no “right” approach to structuring your résumé/CV for graduate school. However, it is a good idea to take some time to identify the skills and achievements you would like to highlight for your graduate program and structure the document accordingly. Please note: You will be required to upload a copy of your résumé/CV as part of your application.

Recommendation Letters: The number of letters you will need varies by program. Be sure to check with your program of interest for specific requirements. Identify potential recommenders and let them know that you would like them to write a recommendation for you. Recommendations may be optional for some programs at USC.

Step 2: Complete the Online Application

Please complete our graduate application for your intended program online.

You may apply to up to three programs per term. Applications to additional programs in a single term will not be considered. Please note that withdrawing an application does not reset the three-program application limit for that term.

For additional tips, tricks and advice, please view our video tutorial, “Navigating your USC Graduate Application.”

Video Tutorial: Navigating your USC Graduate Application

Step 3: Pay your Application Fees

The application fee is $90 for all graduate programs, except those offered by the Marshall School of Business ($155) and the International Academy’s Pre-Master’s program ($175). We accept payments via Visa, MasterCard and Discover card.

Fee Waivers: You will be able to request a fee waiver only after you have started (but not submitted) your online application and indicated your program of interest. You will be asked for documentation to verify your eligibility for a waiver. If your request is approved, you will then be able to submit your application and skip payment of the application fee. Please refer to our Fee Waivers page to see if you are eligible.

Step 4: Provide Program Materials

In addition to transcripts and test scores, most USC graduate programs require supplemental materials for admission review. These materials may include (but are not limited to) a statement of intent, recommendations, writing samples, creative portfolio, etc. Supplemental materials are reviewed by the department only, not the Office of Graduate Admission.

To verify what supplemental materials are required by your program of interest and how to submit them, refer to their homepage or to the instructions on the “Program Materials” quadrant on the application. In most cases, they can be submitted via the application.

Some programs may require that you submit your supplemental materials via Slideroom. You will receive instructions on our application or directly from your department if this is the case.

If any materials need to be mailed, the postal address will be provided on the department website. (This is usually not the same address to which you send your transcripts.)

Please contact your intended graduate program with any questions regarding supplemental materials.

After You Apply

Your USC ID Number: You will receive your 10-digit USC ID via email within two to three business days after submitting your online application. Please keep this ID on record and make sure to include it in all your communication with USC. You will also need to include it when mailing any documents to the university.

It is important to note that your 10-digit USC ID is different from the USC CAS ID you will receive when you begin your application. The CAS ID is required for only technical support during the application process and is not issued by the university.

USC student looking through a microscope

Step 5: Submit your Official Transcripts

You will need to have your official transcripts sent to USC, with any university seals or security features intact.

Please note: Unofficial transcripts from university student portals are not acceptable. Please refer to our detailed guidelines.

Make sure to also upload copies of your university-issued transcripts (issued on official letterhead) to your online application. These copies are considered unofficial but can help speed application review.

Step 6: Submit Official English Language Test Scores

International students applying to graduate programs at USC are expected to demonstrate adequate English-language proficiency. To learn more about how to satisfy this requirement, please visit the English Proficiency page. We also recommend you review our video tutorial titled, “Entering Your Standardized Test Scores” on our How-To Videos page for more details.

Step 7: Submit your Official Test Scores

Most USC graduate programs require either GRE or GMAT scores. Please review your program’s website for their test score requirements. Make sure to include your test scores as part of your application. Once you submit your application, you will be able to return to it to add additional test scores if necessary.

Only scores received electronically from the testing service are considered official. USC does not accept self-reported test scores or paper scores sent via postal mail.

If you are sending GRE scores: USC’s ETS school code is 4852. Use this code to ensure that USC receives your official test results. No department code is required.

If you are sending GMAT scores: Select “University of Southern California” from the list of available schools and refer to your intended program for their program code.

Video Tutorial: Entering Your Standardized Test Scores

For additional tips, tricks and advice, please view our video tutorial, “Entering Your Standardized Test Scores.”

Step 8: Track your Application Status

Our admission processing center receives a high volume of materials during the peak admission period (November through May). During these months, please allow approximately 15 business days from the date of receipt of your official academic records to process these documents and match them to your application in our database.

Graduate applicants are responsible for properly submitting all items required for review and responding promptly to requests for additional materials or information. Once you submit your application, all notifications regarding any missing transcripts or other required materials will be emailed to you. Therefore, it is important that you regularly check the email address you provided on the application.

Please note: You will not receive confirmation emails when specific materials have been received.

Step 9: View Your Decision

While the Office of Graduate Admission processes all graduate applications, admission decisions are ultimately made by the program to which you applied. Once the admission committee for your intended program of study has completed the review process, you will receive an email notification from the Office of Graduate Admission informing you that a decision has been made.

The length of time required to make a decision varies by the program, type of degree, and the size of the applicant pool. Most applicants to the fall term receive decision notifications by June. Most applicants to the spring term receive decision notifications by December.

When you receive your decision notification, follow the instructions on the email to register for and view your decision at youSC.

Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents must have an appropriate visa in order to study at USC. Please review the requirements for F-1 or J-1 visas so that you can prepare for the admission and enrollment process. 

Not all international students will need an F-1 or J-1 visa to attend USC. Please refer to our Visa Exceptions page to determine if you are exempt from these visa categories.