About Colleges

Everything about University Of Southern California

Everything about University Of Southern California

Total Undergraduate Enrollment: 19,907

Institutional Type: Private

Curricular Flexibility: Somewhat Flexible

Academic Rating: 4.5

Top Programs


Cinematic Arts


Computer Science



International Relations

Performing Arts

Who Recruits

1. FTI Consulting

2. Moss Adams

3. Cornerstone Research

4. Nike

5. Universal Creative

Notable Internships

1. Dow Jones

2. Tesla

3. The Blackstone Group

Top Industries

1. Business

2. Education

3. Engineering

4. Operations

5. Media

Top Employers

1. Google

2. Amazon

3. Apple

4. Microsoft

5. Facebook

Where Alumni Work

1. Los Angeles

2. San Francisco

3. Orange County, CA

4. New York City

5. San Diego

Median Earnings

College Scorecard (Early Career): $74,000

EOP (Early Career): $63,700

PayScale (Mid-Career): $120,600

Inside the Classroom

A few years back, if you told someone in-the-know about college admissions that the University of Southern California would eventually be in the same league with UC Berkeley, they would likely have concluded that an asteroid was headed for the San Francisco Bay area. At that time, USC was stereotyped as a lily-white school for wealthy underachievers that accepted the majority of applicants. Today, the home of the Trojans is one of the premier private research universities in the country, enriched by a diverse pool of students from around the globe and sporting a lower acceptance rate than Georgetown, Tufts, Washington University in St. Louis and— to bring things full circle—Berkeley.

There are 130 undergraduate majors and minors within the Dornsife College of Arts & Sciences alone, the University’s oldest and largest school. Graduation requirements are a fairly run-of-the-mill assortment of selections across the major disciplines. By degrees conferred, the most popular areas of study are business (24 percent), social sciences (12 percent), visual and performing arts (12 percent), engineering (10 percent), and communications/journalism (9 percent).

At an institution with close to 20,000 undergraduates and 27,000 graduate students you would not expect to find many tiny seminar courses with single-digit enrollments, but 14 percent of classes at USC do, in fact, meet that standard. The bulk of courses offered are in the ten to nineteen range, but you also will find yourself in a fair share of large lecture halls in your time at USC. Still, there is little anonymity in a Trojan education. Aided by a favorable 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the school does an excellent job facilitating undergraduate research opportunities. Each school/college has a course entitled Directed Research 490 in which students work closely with a faculty supervisor and earn between two and eight credits as well as countless opportunities to get their hands dirty in academic research.

All programs within the Marshall School of Business and Viterbi School of Engineering are highly acclaimed and have far-reaching reputations with employers and elite grad schools. Programs in communication, the cinematic arts, and the performing arts carry sterling reputations as well.

Outside the Classroom

While most Trojans live on campus as freshmen, the majority of upperclassmen reside in the surrounding neighborhoods and commute to school. That is not entirely a matter of choice; USC offers limited university-owned housing options, only enough to accommodate 30 percent of its undergraduate population. Fortunately, the school recently opened eight new residential houses which, collectively, increased its capacity by 24 percent. Greek life is thriving at USC with a 26 percent participation rate in over sixty sororities/fraternities. The Trojans' beloved football team takes center stage each fall, attracting 93,000 fans each Saturday. There are nineteen additional NCAA Division I sports teams fielded by the university as well as a massive club sports operation with 2,500+ participants.

Over 1,000 student organizations are active, including popular choices like student government, cultural groups, and performance troupes. Volunteer opportunities like Alternative Breaks and Friends & Neighbors Day are favorites as well with the latter drawing more than 500 students and faculty into LA for service work. USC’s LA location ensures that there is never a dearth of excitement and adventure. Within a few miles of campus are countless museums, the Staples Center, multiple theaters, and all the nightlife you could desire. Being in LA has other perks—major musical acts and guest speakers from Barack Obama to alum Will Ferrell appear at the university on a regular basis. The Visions & Voices program provides free cultural events multiple times per week that draw rave reviews from the student body.

Career Services

The University of Southern California Career Center only represents a portion of the career counseling received byTrojan undergrads as additional, more specialized experts are embedded within every undergraduate college. For example, seven professionals provide counseling only to engineering students, and six work exclusively with Annenberg students. In total, there are forty-nine full-time staff members working in counseling, employer relations, and recruiting, equating to a 407:1 student-to-counselor ratio, within the average range of institutions profiled in this book. Yet, that ratio may be the only thing that could be labelled ordinary about this highly accomplished career center.

On-campus recruiting at USC is extraordinary with 275 employers granting on-site interviews. Last year, over 3,100 students participated in 5,357 job interviews at the university. The companies recruiting on campus make for an impressive list, even if you only highlighted those that start with “A”—Adobe Systems, Accenture, Amazon, Apple, and AT&T. Outreach efforts are successful as career services engaged with 6,430 students via 1:1 counseling appointments and had just shy of 10,000 attendees at workshops and other events. Large events include the Fall Career Fair that brings 200+ employers to campus, and every school has its own concentrated fairs in areas such as architecture, engineering, and law schools. The onlineSC system also features more than 10,000 job and internship opportunities for Trojan undergrads. A strong alumni network of more than 375,000 is another useful resource for fresh graduates. USC’s recruiting, engagement, and specialized career counseling offerings earn its Career Center top grades.

Professional Outcomes

USC does not release outcomes data for its graduating classes as a whole, but an examination of school-specific destinations for last year's class reveals a rosy picture. Annenberg graduates find employment at a 96-100 percent rate within six months of graduation. Alumni at the Viterbi School of Engineering are well represented at any major technology company you can name from Apple to Yahoo! In fact, USC is one of the best engineering feeder schools, sending an extremely high percentage of graduates to the most desirable employers. Presently, there are between 300 and 1,500 alumni employed at each of Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco, Netflix, and Salesforce. Median salaries at age thirty-four are comparable to graduates from the nearby UC system member schools. Half of all alumni reside in the Los Angeles area while San Francisco, Orange County, and New York City are next in popularity. Information on the graduate schools members of recent classes have attended is not published by the university (they have only recently begun to track that information). However, what can be gleaned from other sources paints a highly positive picture. Our extensive analysis of LinkedIn data revealed that the University of Southern California is one of the most prolific producers of students accepted into the T14 Law Schools. The good news doesn’t stop there; the university also ranks as one of the leading producers of students accepted into top MBA programs like Wharton, Booth, and Tuck.

Students' Voice: Pros and Cons of Location

Pros of Downtown Los Angeles, CA

• “You have so many opportunities for internships and jobs and that kind of thing.”

• “There’s such good food around us.”

• “The weather’s always nice.”

• “I feel like a lot of other colleges are in this unrealistic bubble that is not representative of the real world. Here, there will be somebody under the influence or a homeless person right across the street when you’re walking to class so you’re exposed to a lot more. It builds character. When I first came, I would be scared to walk around but now it’s no big deal.”

Cons of Downtown Los Angeles, CA

• “It’s not really near any of the places you want to go to in Los Angeles. Also, L.A. traffic is crazy so your trip to those places is usually longer than expected. Whenever people talk about awesome restaurants or cool things to do in L.A., it’s not in downtown L.A, they’re usually spread out farther away from it. For example, the closest In-Out Burger is way too far away and that’s a staple of L.A.”

• “The public transportation here isn’t great. You almost need to have a car to get around.”

• “Definitely parking. It’s expensive for my friends to pay for my parking structure when they visit.”

• “It’s not the safest area to be around.” Students' Voice: Reasons to attend and not to attend

To Attend

• “The quality of education. The professors, TA’s, and student instructors know what they’re talking about. USC also offers a lot of resources to help when you’re struggling.”

• “It’s really fun and there is always stuff going on. In every way, it’s been a positive experience. Even if you’re not a huge partier, you can find other things to do at USC. It’s not all about that.”

• “The social environment and culture are something you won’t get anywhere else. USC’s known for social life for a reason. It’s so fun.”

• “The proximity to so many cool things in L.A. and around L.A.”

• “The resources available are so good because we’re a private school and have such a strong alumni network.”

• “USC has a lot of connections with businesses around the world.”

To Not Attend

• “If you don’t want a big school or want small classes or lots of one-on-one time with professors, this isn’t the school. Unless you make an impression consistently, your professor won’t know your name if you’re in a lecture class.”

• “The costs of attending USC and living in L.A.”

• “It’s a very social school and can be a party school, so if you don’t think you can handle that, maybe consider some other place. If you’re somebody who doesn’t partake in it or drink, it can be overwhelming.”

• “If you’re not a fan of big schools. USC does a good job of making a big school seem small, but if you get overwhelmed by the number of people on campus and you prefer working in quieter and more controlled environments, then maybe it’s not for you.”

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