FAQs: Admission Standards


What GPA and test scores are required for admission?

There is no minimum requirement or absolute "cutoff" for grades, class rank or test scores. USC evaluates prospective students through an individualized, comprehensive review process that takes these, and many other factors, into account. Regardless, most first-year students are selected from the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Successful transfer students typically present at least one year of rigorous, full-time academic coursework, with strong grades.

Can college units taken before high school graduation satisfy General Education requirements? What kind of credit may be earned by college courses taken during high school?

All undergraduate students entering USC may receive a combined maximum of 32 elective units for college courses and/or examinations (such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate) taken before graduation from high school. A maximum of 16 of these 32 units will be allowed for college courses taken before high school graduation. These courses must appear on a college transcript as part of a regular college curriculum and are expected to be taught on the college campus by college faculty.

For more information, please visit the Office of Articulation website.

What were the average GPA and test scores of the most recent admitted class?

Admissions statistics are available online in the First-Year Profile and the Transfer Profile.

How do the grades I earn during my senior year of high school factor into USC's admission decision?

Generally, for the purposes of admission into USC, we review an applicant's coursework from grade 9 through the first term of his or her senior year. Students need to use the Mid-Year Report Form included in the Common Application or visit www.usc.edu/midyeargrades to submit their fall grades as soon as they become available.

Once admitted, all students are required to submit an official copy of their high school transcripts to verify their graduation dates. Students' transcripts will also be reviewed to ensure that they have maintained a continued level of academic achievement. A serious downturn in a student's senior year could result in the rescinding of an admission offer.

What do you look for in an applicant?

Please visit our Admission Process page for detailed information.

What classes should a student take during high school to prepare for USC?

Students should successfully complete at least sixteen yearlong college preparatory courses while in high school:

  • Four (4) years of English (composition and literature)
  • Two (2) years of foreign language
  • Three (3) years of mathematics (algebra, geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, or calculus)
  • Two (2) years of natural science (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics)
  • Two (2) years of social sciences (e.g., U.S. history, government, economics, geography)
  • Three (3) years of additional courses in subjects above or academic electives (such as computer science, art, music, speech)
  • Students should pursue Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes whenever possible and if offered by high school.
Are SAT Subject exams required?

We require SAT Subject tests only from first-year applicants who do not attend a regionally accredited high school (such as home school, some non-accredited parochial or community based programs, even some newer schools). These students must submit three SAT Subject exams, including one in mathematics, in addition to the SAT or ACT. For all other applicants, these exams are optional, but recommended.

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

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 requires results from the GCSE/IGCSE/O level exams as well as predicted A level results. If available, results of AS level exams should also be submitted. In addition, USC will award advanced credits for each successfully completed A level for which USC offers comparable coursework. Information on A level exam credits can be found at www.usc.edu/articulation.

What standardized tests does USC require for admission?

USC requires scores from the SAT or the ACT (with optional writing component) from:

  • All first-year applicants.
  • Transfer students who have accumulated fewer than 30 USC-transferable semester units since graduating high school.

For students who take the SAT more than once, USC records the highest scores for each section – Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing -- even if achieved at different sittings. For students taking the ACT, USC will record the highest composite score.

What do I need to do to return to USC if I was a previously enrolled student but left?

The answer to this question depends on when you enrolled at the university.

Policies for students who enrolled at USC in the fall semester of 1997 or later:

  • If you left USC voluntarily (i.e., you were not academically disqualified), you should contact the academic advisor in your department. The advisor will be able to provide guidance about re-enrolling.
  • If you were academically disqualified, you must contact the USC Office of Academic Review at (213) 740-7741 for further guidance.

Policies for students who enrolled at USC before the fall semester of 1997:

  • If you left USC voluntarily (i.e., you were not academically disqualified) and you have completed 16 or fewer semester units elsewhere, then you are still considered a "continuing student." Simply contact your previous department's academic advisor. The advisor will be able to assist you in clearing any holds on your record and will be able to provide you with registration information.
  • If you left USC voluntarily (i.e., you were not academically disqualified) and you have completed 17 or more semester units elsewhere, then you must fill out a USC Re-entry Application. This brief form allows you to list the schools you attended after leaving USC. There is no fee for this application.
  • If you were academically disqualified, you must contact the USC Office of Academic Review at (213) 740-7741 for further guidance.
Does USC accept applications from unaccredited high schools?

USC accepts applications from students enrolled in nontraditional programs and high schools not recognized by one of the regional accrediting associations. However, in addition to the standard application materials, these students are required to submit results from three SAT Subject tests (including one in mathematics).

Does USC accept applications from home-schooled students?

USC considers applications from home-schooled students. To better understand a student’s preparation, we require two extra items in addition to the general requirements found on the Prospective First-Year Admission Components page. Home-schooled students must submit: 1) Results from three SAT Subject tests, including one in mathematics; and 2) answers to the home-school questions on the Common Application Secondary School Report. Be sure to include information about your home-schooling philosophy, curricular choices and textbooks used.

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.

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.