FAQs: International Students


What is USC's definition of an international student?

USC defines international students as anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. American citizens who reside in other countries and attend foreign schools are NOT considered international students.

What is the English proficiency requirement at USC?

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 applicants must submit TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic scores; or SAT or ACT scores.
  • Transfer applicants must submit TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic scores.

First-year and transfer applicants whose native language is English are presumed to be proficient. This includes applicants from countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (except Quebec) where English is both the first language of the country and the language of instruction. Applicants with minimum scores of 100 on TOEFL iBT (with at least 20 in each section), 600 on SAT Critical Reading, or 27 on ACT English are presumed to be proficient.

For those who do not demonstrate English proficiency, USC requires the International Student Exam (ISE) upon admission and prior to registration. The results on the ISE determine whether or not a student must enroll in English language courses at the American Language Institute (ALI) at USC.

More information about USC's International Student Examination
More information about USC's American Language Institute (ALI)

Which English proficiency exam scores will USC accept if English is not my native language?

All first-year and transfer international applicants whose native language is not English must submit a TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic score. International first-year applicants with minimum scores of 600 on the SAT Critical Reading or 27 on the ACT English are exempt from taking the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academic. Scores should be recent, earned within two years of your application date.

How does USC treat students who have pursued an International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum? Are IB test results factored into admission decisions? What kind of advanced credit does USC offer to IB?

USC believes that students who undertake an IB curriculum are well-prepared for the rigors of university academic life. IB courses are factored into our admission evaluation process because we recognize the extreme rigor of such a curriculum.

  • Six (6) elective units apiece are earned for scores of five (5) or above on HL exams; or
  • Twenty (20) elective units if you earn the IB diploma with a score of 30 or higher.
  • General Education credit is available for some history and science exams.

Please visit www.usc.edu/articulation for more information.

How will USC evaluate my application if I have been educated following the British educational system?

For applicants whose education is based upon the British educational system, USC evaluates application files with results from the GCSE/IGCSE/O level exams and predicted A-level results. If available, results of AS level exams should also be submitted. In addition, USC will award transfer credit for each successfully completed A-level for which USC offers comparable coursework. Please visit www.usc.edu/articulation for more information on A level exam credits.

How do I receive a student visa to study at USC?

For more information about student visa applications click here.

Does USC offer financial aid to international students?

International students are not eligible for federal or university need-based financial aid but are eligible for merit-based scholarships. For more information click here.