University of Southern California (USC) Acceptance Rate, GPA, and Requirements

Do you have a dream of becoming a student at the University of Southern California? If yes, then, you have made the right choice. In that case, you need to read through this all-important article to get all the necessary information that will help you in your admission process. With this article, your dream of becoming a student in that prestigious university is a fulfilled one.

Public domain photo by University of Southern California via Wikimedia Commons

So, located in Los Angeles, California, the University of Southern California was established in 1880. Hence, as the state’s oldest research institution, the university has a long and proud history of excellence.

As a matter of fact, over the years, it has graduated 11 Rhodes scholars and 12 Marshall Scholars. Interestingly, 29 of its graduates have become billionaires.

In the same vein, the school is counting ten Nobel laureates, six MacArthur Fellows, and a Turing Award winner among its graduates and faculty.

Today, USC was a crucial part in developing the internet. Hence, it serves as the birthplace of the Domain Name System. Other technology advancements stemming from USC include antivirus software and image compression.

Many thanks to the school for these achievements. Also, the university has received praise from several observing outlets. Niche.com ranks USC at number one on its list of Best Colleges for Design in America.

That is colleges with the Best Student Life in America and Best Big Colleges in America. Better still, U.S. News & World Report puts USC at #27 on its list of National Universities.

As a matter of fact, USC is one of the best schools in the United States.

The big question now is, what does it take to get accepted into the school? In that case, students are charged to find out more about USC’s acceptance rate, requirements, grades, rankings, and more.

University of Southern California Acceptance Rate

With respect to this, as one of the best schools in the state of California, the University of Southern California is a popular destination for the best students in the Golden State.

So, for the 2021 academic year alone, 70,000 applicants applied to study at the university. Meanwhile, the school sent offers of admission to 8,400 out of them. This gives an acceptance rate of 12%.

From every logical standard, that’s a very low acceptance rate. However, it is not anything different from what is obtainable at other schools in the same category as USC.

Hence, the school’s closest rival, the University of California at Los Angeles, admitted 15,602 students out of 108,877 applicants. This undoubtedly gave them an acceptance rate of 14%.

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However, even though USC has an acceptance rate as low as other schools of similar quality with it, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to get admission there. In fact, out of every ten students, at most two will be accepted, and usually only one will make it through. In that case, most observers consider USC to be a very competitive institution.

Indeed, that’s a demanding standard to meet. On the other hand, there are benefits to such a high standard.

For instance, the more standard a school is, the higher prestige it carries. Furthermore, when a school has high admission standards, only the best students get in, allowing everyone to bring out the best in one another.

University of Southern California GPA

As regards this, although the school does not have a minimum GPA requirement, the university still expects students who are in the top rank of 10% to be admitted. So, to keep in line with that standard, students should try to have a GPA of at least 3.79, if not better.

Frankly speaking, that kind of grade can only be made by mainly getting A’s in high school classes. So, achieving high grades in AP or IB courses will only improve your chances, especially in courses that relate to your major.

Even though occasional B’s will not greatly affect your chances, such lower grades should only come in courses outside your major.

However, it is important to remember that grades aren’t just an indication of a student’s intelligence, but also of their ability to do well in college.

In that case, if a student earns good grades in high school, then they can clearly handle the demands of higher education. For top schools like USC, these grades assure the University that their new first-year students can keep up with expectations.

On the other hand, it is important to bear in mind that grades are not the only thing that USC looks at when considering admission.

Public domain photo by University of Southern California via Wikimedia Commons

Therefore, the school needs not only dedicated and intelligent learners in their student body but also well-rounded people with much to offer to others. Hence, grades are only part of that equation.

University of Southern California SAT & ACT Requirements

With respect to this, at the University of Southern California, students are not expected to submit their scores on standardized tests. Meanwhile, they certainly can include standardized test scores as part of their applications.

So, that might sound strange to people who think of standardized tests as an unnecessary distraction. Hence, they see it as an extra annoyance that teachers make students run through in high school.

However, tests like the SAT and the ACT can be great indicators of a potential student’s aptitude for higher learning.

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As a matter of fact, about 42% of accepted students submit their ACT scores to USC. In that case, it appeared that they scored between 31 and 34 in all.

That score breaks down between 32 and 35 in the English portion of the ACT and between 28 and 34 in the math portion.

Hence, SAT scores are more common among USC students, with 62% submitting their scores in their applications. Out of that group, the scores tended to range between 1360 and 1530. Students scored between 670 and 740 on the reading portion of the test and between 690 and 790 on the math portion.

In the same vein, USC does not require any applicants to submit their standardized test scores. However, as these numbers have shown, scores can significantly enhance an application. This is especially when compensating for shortcomings in other areas such as GPA.

With excellent standardized test scores, applicants can show the admissions committee that they belong to USC, even with lower high school grades.

Other Requirements and Admission Tips for USC

Though grades and test scores are considered important, they are just part of USC’s application process. Hence, students must complete a few more steps to fully apply.

So, one of such critical parts of the process is completing the common application. The common application records a student’s basic information, including address and high school information.

Hence, by using a common application, students do not need to submit new information for each potential college.

In a related development, USC asks students for most programs to submit at least one letter of application. In that case, those applying to the School of Cinematic Arts must submit two letters.

Letters of recommendation serve as a type of introduction on your behalf. In it, your recommender describes your abilities as a student.

Going by the policies of USC, the main letter should come from either a high school counselor or a teacher at your school. Meanwhile, you may consider a personal reference for your secondary letters, such as a respected social figure or a religious leader.

Whoever you may decide to go with, your recommenders must be those who can best vouch for you. That means the writer of the letter should know you well and should have a level of respect from the university.

In the same vein, USC requires those applying to certain majors, such as art or design, to submit a portfolio. In some cases, applicants will also have to perform an audition. These extra elements are all part of the application process.

However, though some programs, such as the School of Cinematic Arts and most music programs, require all application materials sent in by December 1st,  applications for the large majority of majors are due by January 15th every year.

Essays for USC

Just like other schools, USC allows students to impress admissions counselors with supplemental essays. In that case, students may write two essays of 250 words each. The essays must be written according to paragraph-long prompts provided by the school.

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As for the 2021-2022 school, the prompts provided by USC focused on issues such as diversity, interdisciplinary studies, and the applicant’s personal qualities.

So, these essays help admission counselors better understand the applicant’s personality, which helps them plan for a better student body.

Since these supplemental essays are based on an applicant’s personal characteristics, no one set of right or wrong answers exists. However, there are techniques a student can use to improve their chances.

Again, since students are limited to 250-word answers, they must learn to be both clear and concise.

One of the best ways to make a strong argument is to use concrete details. Instead of using empty and common phrases like “In today’s world,” try to be more specific by saying something like “When I entered high school in 2018…”

Similarly, using more direct phrases and active voice sentences also strengthens a piece of writing. To achieve the latter, use strong and active verbs instead of using “is” or “are.”

However, following these tips alone will not guarantee admission into USC, but they will ensure a more striking essay.

Is the University of Southern California Right for You?

As a matter of fact, the University of Southern California is one of the best schools in the nation. Many of its programs have earned the respect of the world. The program includes the School of Cinematic Arts, which counts among its graduates influential directors like Judd Apatow and Ryan Coogler.

In the same vein, USC can boast of a vibrant social life, full of exciting offerings. In keeping with its strong film and television program, the school has many student-run outlets. Such outlets are the radio station KXSC and the newspaper, the Daily Trojan.

These and other things make USC an excellent choice for many students, especially those who plan on entering the entertainment business or have a love of sports.

Again, since the university is located in Los Angeles, with connections to film and television studios, USC can give students a link to their future careers. And with several heralded athletic programs, the school is a delight to any sports fan.

In spite of those things mentioned above, it’s important to remember that USC is not the cheapest school in the state. Hence, the yearly tuition for undergrads is $60,275 every year. This is nearly twice as much as its Los Angeles neighbor UCLA.

However, with so many positive things about the school, that rate is no cost at all for a student who wants to study at one of California’s top universities.

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