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University of Southern California 2020-2021 Admissions: Acceptance Rate, Requirements, Deadlines, Application Process

Vidushi Vidushi
Study Abroad Expert

University of Southern California’s acceptance rate for the recent 2019 admissions was down to 11.4%. This is even lower than the previous year, making the university even harder to get into. University of Southern California (USC) ranks #22 among national universities in the US. USC has an international student body of 12,265 students.

Out of over 66,000 applicants, only 7,558 candidates were admitted to the Freshman class of 2019. It’s low rate of acceptance shows that USC has been highly selective in offering admissions to students.

University of Southern California has around 19 graduate schools, offering a number of options to international students seeking higher education options in the US. USC provides a variety of options to choose from- including online graduate programs, part-time programs, and limited-status study options.

  • Applications for both international UG students begin around the last week of November.
  • The decision notification is released within 3 – 4 weeks, post-application submission.
  • UG students can apply through the Common Application Portal. While PG students can apply through the respective schools.
  • Deadlines, application procedure, fees, academic requirements vary for Graduate programs at USC.
  • The admission session usually begins during the Fall season for most of the courses.


Application PortalUG: Common Application
PG: Varies with every school
Application FeeUG: 85 USD
PG: 90 USD – 155 USD
Acceptance Rate12.9%
Mode of PaymentVisa/MasterCard Credit Card
SAT Score (middle 50%)1360 – 1510
ACT Score (middle 50%)30 – 34
International Application DeadlinesUG: January 15, 2018
PG: Varies with every course
Academic CalendarSemester
Intake SeasonsFall
Interview RequirementsRequired for MBA/Transfer students
Work ExperienceRecommended- 5 years of experience
Financial AidMerit-based scholarships, grants available for International students
International AdmissionsAsk USC

USC Admission Deadlines

The admission process at USC begins during the Fall season. The following table shows the deadlines for international students to adhere for application submission:

UndergraduateJanuary 15
LLM ApplicationsMarch 1; May 1
MS Electrical Engineering ApplicationsFall: January 15; Spring: September 15
MBA ApplicationsRound 1: October 15
Round 2: January 5
Round 3: March 1
Round 4: May 15
Transfer StudentsDecember 1
February 1

Application deadlines vary for many graduate programs. International applicants are suggested to check their respective departmental deadlines.

University of Southern California International Admissions

While a major chunk of the international application process is similar to that of the domestic candidates, there are some needs to be kept in mind before applying at USC.

Admission checklist for international students:

  • Academic records
    • Official copies from all secondary schools/colleges/ universities attended
    • To be sent directly from the institute
  • Different standardized test scores
    • ACT/SAT for UG
    • GMAT/GRE/LSAT etc for graduate courses
    • TOEFL/IELTS/PTE for either
  • English Proficiency criteria
  • Documentation of Financial support

USC English Language Requirements

International students must demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting scores of any one of the following tests given below, to be eligible for admissions at USC:

English TestMinimum Scores Required
TOEFL (IBT)100 (20 minimum in each section)
IELTS Academic7.0

USC Visa Requirements

Non-US citizens must obtain an appropriate visa if they wish to study in the US. Students who have been offered admission at the University of Southern California will need their respective visa documents( I-20/ DS-2019) to obtain their respective F-1 or J-1 student visas

  • Evidence of adequate financial support is required
  • SEVIS fee receipt
  • Copy of your passport

Upon receiving the visa document and payment of the SEVIS fee, candidates must schedule their visa interview.

Country-specific requirements

University of Southern California has some requirements depending upon the candidate’s country of education. For Indian applicants- 

  • 4 years bachelor degree or Master's degree for a 3-years Bachelor degree earned at a University Grants Commission (UGC) institution.
  • Semester-by-semester mark sheets/ consolidated mark sheets from all post-secondary institutions attended
  • Official diplomas/ degree certificates
  • ELP

USC Transfer Students Admission

At USC, only those all-around students are selected for admissions who show overall excellence in academics. USC reviews the application holistically, the students are hence judged upon every attribute rather than just one.

How to apply: Common Application

Application Fee: 85 USD

Academic Requirements for International Students: International students must submit SAT/ACT and TOEFL/IELTS/PTE scores.

Supporting Documents: College transcripts (translated if not in English), official high school transcripts, resume/CV, professional experience, essays, SOP, additional writing samples and, LORs.

USC International Undergraduate Admission

More than 20,000 students are enrolled in a number of undergraduate programs offered by the University of Southern California. There are around 150 majors at the undergraduate level. The students must submit the required test scores, documents, and application fee within the given time limit to be considered for admissions. 

Application Portal: Apply through the Common Application

Academic Requirements for International Students: Applicants must submit either ACT or SAT scores along with the application. These scores are valid for a period of 5 years. The average scores required are:

  • Average ACT Reading/Writing Score: 35
  • Average SAT Reasoning Score: 750

Supporting Documents: Transcripts, academic records sent directly from school and translated if, in a language other than English, external exam results/predicted results, essays, SOP and LORs.

Additional Documents: personal/family support financial statement, proof of scholarship/fellowship received/expected to be received.

USC International Graduate Admissions

At USC, there are 19 graduate schools that offer more than 400 graduate courses. Each course has different requirements and application processes.

How to apply: There are different portals to apply for the desired course. The applications are filed through the respective school’s website.

When to apply: Deadlines vary with each course and school. Students are admitted during the Fall season only.

Application Fee:

Most USC graduate programs90 USD
Marshall School of Business155 USD
Programs through USC International Academy175 USD

Academic Requirements for International Students:GRE/GMAT (valid for 3 to 5 years) and English language test scores likeTOEFL/IELTS are required.

Supporting Documents: Degrees, transcripts, translated transcripts if not in English, grading system, LORs, SOP, or objectives, etc. are basic requirements for each course.

Interviews: May be conducted, depending upon the course requirements.

University of Southern California Popular courses

USC MBA Admissions 

Application Portal: USC Graduate Application Portal

Application Fee: 155 USD

Academic Requirements for International Students:GMAT/GRE

Supporting Documents: Completed online application, 4 year UG degree or equivalent, transcripts, 2 essays, professional resume. Other requirements include: 

  • It is also recommended to have 5 years of professional experience.
  • There is also an interview on an invitation basis for applicants.

USC MS Electrical Engineering Admission

Application Portal: USC Graduate Application Portal

Application Fee: 90 USD

Academic Requirements for International Students: GRE, TOEFL/IELTS are required.

Supporting Documents: UG degree in Math/Engineering/Hard Sciences, LORs, resume/CV, SOP, and transcripts.

USC LLM Admissions

Application Portal: LSAC

Application Fee: 75 USD

Academic Requirements for International Students: GRE, TOEFL/IELTS are required.

Supporting Documents: UG Law degree (outside the US), 2 LORs, transcripts and degree verification. A 2-3 page professional statement/academic/professional background, reasons for applying, CV/resume, etc.

USC Application Status and Admission Decisions

Applicants will be notified via email when their decision has been posted.

For First-Year applicants, admission decisions are available on the USC Applicant Portal in late March

Transfer Applicants usually get updates by May 31.

USC sees its peak admission period from November to May. Graduate program applicants must allow at least 15 business days for their application review after their application package has been received by USC. 

Time required to make these decisions vary with programs as well as the size of the applicant pool. Usually, Fall term applicants get a decision by June while those who have applied for the Spring term receive it by December.

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