An Ultimate guide: How To Get Into USC

The University of Southern California, often called USC, is known as one of the World's best private research universities. USC's diverse curriculum provides an excellent opportunity for interdisciplinary studies. The students learning here also can collaborate with top researchers in a very advanced learning environment.

USC has over 4000 faculties who are teachers, scholars, mentors, and researchers. Five of the faculties are also Nobel Laureates. Also, dozens of other prestigious awards like the MacArthur "Genius" Award, the National Medal of Science, the Pulitzer Prize, etc.

It's hard to get selected in University like this, filled with opportunities and good teaching. But if you want to get admitted to USC, we have created this guide for you.

In this guide, we'll explain to you how to get into USC. The guide covers score requirements, admission requirements, and everything related to admission. Before we move to the admission requirements, let's see an overview of USC.

University of Southern California Overview

The University of Southern California, which Established in 1880, is in Los Angeles, California, the USA. Robert M. Widney established the University.

As per the "2021 US news ranking", USC is the 24th best University in the United States. And as per the "2021 QS World University Ranking," USC is the World's 121st best University.

The tuition fee for admitted students at USC is $59,072(2020-21). The total enrollment in the school is 20,351. The student to faculty ratio in USC is 7:1. For every 8 students, there's 1 teacher, which provides all students very personalized attention. 61.1% of classes in USC consist of fewer than 20 students.

The USC has significant names in the World as its alumni. Some notable alumni are Neil Armstrong (American Astronaut), John Wayne (American Actor), George Lucas (American film director), Kevin Porter Jr. (American basketball player).

University of Southern California

What USC Looks For In An Applicant?

Academic Performance

There is no surprise that USC looks for your academic performance. In fact, how you performed academically is the most crucial part. You may have thought that it's the GPA and test score USC looks for, but that's not enough.

USC will see how rigorous was your school curriculum. They will see what opportunities you had in your high school and what benefit you took of it. With all this, they will see your writing skills.

Personal Characteristics

USC looks to enroll a diverse set of students in the class. The student who lived in a different circumstance and can bring a different perspective to the USC.

While seeing your personal character, USC will focus on three things which are your achievements, leadership, and community involvement. Having an achievement in any activity can give you an extra edge. 

They will see your leadership of the activity to see your leadership ability create change within you and the organization. Community involvement can be anything like a job, helping elders, etc.

The "Activities" section and the essay are the best places to show your personal character. To know better about the "Activities" section, see our blog "Fill The Common App Activities Section Best Way Possible." To know how to write an essay in a better way, go here.

USC SAT Score Requirements:

USC's SAT score requirement is very high. The SAT 25th percentile score of USC is 1360. It means only less than 25% of admitted students hold a score below 1360. 

The SAT 75th percentile score of USC is 1530. It means about 75% of admitted students hold scores less than 1530. The Average (50th Percentile) SAT score of USC we could find is 1445.

You can also aim for percentile scores of both sections separately. For Math, the 25th percentile score is 690, and the 75th percentile score is 790. 

For EBRW, the 25th percentile score and the 75th percentile score are 670 and 740, respectively. Here, we can see you need more marks in the Math section to reach the same percentile score as EBRW.

If you believe you are weak in one section, try to score higher than needed in the other section. So, even if you get more points than required in one section but got less in another, you can still reach the required composite score.

If you want to increase your score, we will recommend you "AP Guru's Flagship SAT Prep Program." It will help you to reach your target SAT score.

USC Required SAT Scores

SAT Score Policy:

The College estimates student's test scores through the score policy. This method is different for every school. In the case of USC, the method they have is the "highest section."

Another term for this method is superscoring. In this policy, the College will count your highest section score even from different sittings.

For example, you took the SAT exam two times. In the first attempt, your composite score was 1450. In the score of 1450, 750 is of Maths, and 700 is of EBRW. In another attempt, you again received 1450 as a composite SAT score. But this time, he received 700 in Maths and 750 in EBRW.

As USC has a policy of superscoring, they will count each subject's highest score. And as we can see, your highest Math score is on the first attempt, and your highest EBRW score is on the second attempt.

Hence, USC will take his Maths score as 750 and EBRW as 750. It benefits you as your score gained by 40 points, which now became 1500.

Hence as the superscoring system benefits students, it's necessary to take the SAT exam multiple times. It raises your feasibility to boost your composite score.

USC ACT Score Requirements

The composite ACT 25th percentile score of USC is 31, and the 75th percentile score is 34. USC doesn't have any minimum score conditions. But, a lower score than the 25th percentile will make circumstances tough for you to get admitted.

The ACT composite score is the Mean of the 4 ACT section scores. To obtain the desired composite score, you need to score around what you demanded in each section.

If you want to improve your ACT score, we will recommend "AP Guru's Flagship ACT Prep Program." It will help you to reach your target ACT score.

ACT Score Policy:

USC uses the superscoring method for ACT also. Here, they will consider your highest individual score of each section across all sitting.

For example, you have given the ACT exam two times. In the first attempt, you got the following numbers:

Science: 33

Math: 33

Reading: 31

Writing: 31

So, the Composite ACT in the first attempt is 32.

In the second attempt, you got the following numbers:

Science: 31

Math: 31

Reading: 35

Writing: 35

So, the Composite ACT in the second attempt is 33.

But, as USC uses superscoring, it will take the highest section scores considering both attempts. So your highest section scores will be:

Science: 33

Math: 33

Reading: 35

Writing: 35

So, the composite ACT score after superscoring will be 34.

Hence, we recommend you give multiple attempts of the ACT before applying to USC.

USC GPA Requirements

The average GPA for USC is 3.73 on a scale of 4. Only students with a high school grade of "A" receive this much GPA. If you know that you will not receive that much GPA score, try to gain more points in SAT / ACT.

USC application requirements:

Application Through The Common App

For application, USC accepts Common App. To do that, add USC to the "My College" section.

Application Fee

While applying, you need to submit $80 as application fees. 

USC Writing Supplement:

While applying in the common app, you also need to complete the USC writing supplement with the basic information. The writing supplement consists of essays and questions.

Official Test Scores

USC has a test-optional policy, which means it's up to you to send the test scores or not. If you send the test scores, then they will be considered while evaluating the admission decision. You will not be at any disadvantage even if you don't send the test score. We've informed the score requirements above the blog.

Official Transcript

You require to submit the official transcript, which is a summary of your high school performance.

Letters Of Recommendation

You need to submit one letter of recommendation to the College. This letter of recommendation should either be from your school counselor or teacher who taught you a major subject. If you are applying for the school of cinematic arts, you need to submit recommendations.

Fall Grades:

You need to submit the fall grade in the Common Application's Mid-year report form, or you can do it by visiting your application portal.  

Addition Requirements

There may be some additional applications for a specific major. To know about the particular majors, go here

What If You Are An International applicant?

For an international student, the application requirement is similar to that of a regional student. But, USC specified some additional requirements for international students here.

USC Acceptance Rate

You need to know the acceptance rate of USC to know how selective they are. The acceptance rate describes how many percentages of applicants get confirmed. The best colleges in the World are very selective while admitting applicants. And as USC is one the best institutes in the World, the acceptance rate is low.

The current general acceptance rate of USC is 11%. It means, in every 100 candidates, only 11 get accepted. Each year, the acceptance rates are shrinking. In the following years, the same may happen.

In short: fewer applicants get picked. You can be amongst the few applicants who get admitted to USC if you work hard.

What If USC Rejects Your Application?

Suppose USC has decided you're not the right fit. Does that mean you have no option? No, because there are still other options to pursue. They are not the usual option, and it's no guarantee you'll get in, but you've already tried applying, so giving it a go won't have you lose much. Here it is: 

Alternative Option: Attend A Different College And Transfer To Usc Later

You can apply for a different college and transfer to USC later. The requirements for transferring are here. You can also find some tidbits about how transferring has worked out for USC. 

Surprisingly enough, USC has a high transfer acceptance rate of 24%, which is higher than the regular acceptance rate you read about above. 

What does it all mean? It means that transferring won't be too much of a risk but take note that because USC already rejected you, they may reconsider their decision when they review your application, so be mindful about it. 

Alternative Option B: Apply Again After A Gap Year

Another option is to reapply after finishing a gap year. What's a gap year? It's the year between your high school and applying for College, where you will not be doing any course. 

It's a riskier alternative to go for because when you reapply, USC may see you didn't do enough with your time and might reject you again. 

But doing a gap year may be helpful. The pros of doing a gap year include increasing your perspective, gaining professional knowledge, and creating a difference. It's a way of building up yourself in ways that can help your overall growth as a person. 

It's also another way of maintaining excellence in other areas of interest. If you're ready to take the risk while building up to be the student USC wants, you can go for this choice. 


USC is an exciting college. Besides having a statue of a Trojan that'll make you think of Odysseus, USC gives a chance for students to be in a challenging and breathing environment where energy is all around you. 

The University offers excellent attention to the arts and will let any aspiring businessman or filmmaker start their goals with gusto. It'll be a challenge to be part of this place, but with the guide, we got for you, we know you can join this University and start your journey with a smile!