University of Southern California GPA Requirements

University of Southern California GPA Requirements

Last Updated on November 2, 2023 by Akwaowo Akpan

This article is on University of Southern California GPA Requirements. Located in the sun-drenched metropolis of Los Angeles, California, the University of Southern California has established a distinguished standing since its establishment in 1880.

Its name is frequently brought up when talking about prestigious research universities, and—fun fact—it is the US university that has produced the most Olympians.
It should go without saying that potential candidates have long been curious in how to effectively negotiate the University of Southern California’s admission requirements. We’ll walk you through the process of applying to USC in this tutorial.

Just a little comment on college rankings: in our opinion, they’re usually a poor method of determining college admissions. We go into more depth about why rankings are problematic here, but in short, many college rankings don’t genuinely indicate whether you’d succeed there or if you and the school would be a good fit. Having said that, we recognize that a lot of kids and families are unsure about and have concerns about some areas of the application process, so we’ve created the article below in an attempt to provide clarification so that students and families may make an educated choice.


Getting admitted to USC is a highly challenging process. Those that are accepted to USC have GPAs that are in the top 10% of their class. Successful applicants to USC also frequently have outstanding extracurricular resumes and college application essays.


Because USC is a highly sought-after academic institution with a media and entertainment bent in the center of Los Angeles, its admittance rate is 13%. A school’s acceptance or admissions rate often indicates how appealing it is to prospective students, and USC is no exception—it ranked as the top #14 most applied to university in 2021. In addition to being well-known for its athletics, the University of Southern California (USC) is also home to a renowned department in film and cinematography, media and entertainment-focused faculty, a top research university, and academic programs. You will need to do well in practically every area of your college application, including USC’s, in order to be admitted to a school like that.


USC has said that school admits “about 20–25 percent” of its incoming class through its early action program; yet, it does not publicly share acceptance rate data on this program in its Common Data Set. Get in touch with the University of Southern California’s admissions office to find out more if this data piques your interest. Acceptance rates for early action or choices are often slightly higher than those for ordinary decisions.

One of the most selective admissions processes in the nation is the ordinary one at USC. With over 71,031 applications and 8,884 admissions, USC’s ordinary decision admissions acceptance percentage for the class applying during the 2020 cycle was roughly 12.5%. Since at least the 2018–19 application season, USC has received significantly more applications each year. Although the University of Southern California’s acceptance rate varies somewhat every year, the school has had unusually high applicant volumes in recent years.

With 2,208 accepted students out of 9,988 applicants, USC’s transfer acceptance percentage is 22.1%. USC admits very competitive transfer students, accepting both sophomore and junior applicants.


It is advised that applicants to USC have a GPA of between 3.75 and 4.0. To get into USC, you’ll probably need to graduate in the top quarter of your class and have an extremely high GPA. You might need to score higher than average on your standardized examinations if, at the time of application, your GPA was lower than recommended. Should you feel compelled to write about life events or hardships in your extra information area, your grades may not be as good as they may have been.


USC Unweighted Average GPA: 3.83

USC Unweighted GPA Distribution Percent Admitted
4.0 26.25%
3.75-3.99 49.67%
3.50-3.74 16.57%
3.25-3.49 4.73%
3.00-3.24 1.59%
2.5-2.99 1.06%
2.0-2.49 0.13%
1.0-1.99 0%
Below 1.0 0%


To be considered as good contenders, applicants to USC should preferably have a GPA between 3.75 and 4.0. If you fall short of this, you’ll need to make up for it with exceptional extracurricular activities or a strong personal statement.


A 1330 to 1520 composite SAT score, integrating the reading, writing, and math portions together, is suggested for admission to USC. To be admitted to USC, you will require an extremely high SAT score. In order to make up for a lower-than-expected SAT score at the time of application, you might need to do exceptionally well on other standardized examinations or engage in outstanding extracurricular activities. You should think about including a note in your extra information area if your life experiences or hardships are the reason your grades aren’t as good as they may be.

Recently, USC became a “Test Optional” school, which means that while completed standardized test results are not necessary, they are still taken into consideration. As a result, candidates have been free to choose whether or not to submit their test results. You can learn more about the many aspects you should take into account while making this decision here. However, it’s crucial to remember that USC has not yet decided on their testing strategy for the 2023–2024 application cycle as of the time of writing.


SAT Score Distribution Reading % Math %
700-800 56.00% 68.17%
600-699 32.65% 20.02%
500-599 9.71% 9.77%
400-499 1.64% 1.99%
300-399 0.00% 0.06%
200-299 0.00% 0.00%


Applicants who are serious about being admitted to this institution should aim for a SAT score in the range of 1330 to 1520. If your score is lower than this, you will need to make up for it with an above-average GPA or an alternative ACT score. It has not yet been decided if taking the SAT or ACT is required for admission to this institution for the 2023–2024 admissions cycle, as it has been in previous years.


A composite score of 32, which combines the results of the reading, science, math, and English parts, is the suggested ACT requirement for USC. To be admitted to USC, you must have an extremely high ACT score. You might need to make up for a subpar ACT score by applying to schools that need it by achieving above-average SAT scores and a higher-than-average grade point average. Write about it in your extra information area if your ACT wasn’t as high as you would have liked it to be due to challenges or difficulty.


USC ACT Distribution Composite Score %
30-36 78.90%
24-29 16.22%
18-23 4.26%
12-17 0.62%
6-11 0%
Below 6 0%


Applicants should score between 32 and 35 on their ACT to be strong candidates for admission to this school. Having less than this will require compensating by using a substitute SAT score or having an above-average GPA.


How a student and the school work together is the main emphasis of USC. You may be a brilliant computer scientist or a literary critic, for instance. However, USC is searching for far more than just intellectual brilliance. USC will thus be more interested in learning how you apply your intellectual potential to act on its principles, even whether you are capable of writing excellent code or discovering new insights in the Classics.

You might be wondering, “How do I find out about USC’s values?” Your interest is reasonable considering that demonstrating one’s “values” is less quantitative than other admissions criteria, but we’d argue that it’s still an important component of a strong USC application. A school’s mission statement and strategic plan are two reliable resources to consult when seeking to understand more about its principles.

USC is concentrating on leading through values, leading through people, and leading through effect, according to a cursory look at their most current strategic plan. A closer look at any one of those three areas quickly conveys the idea that USC is a research-intensive university that prioritizes ethical inquiry; they are just as interested in studying how cutting-edge research affects people as they are in doing the research.

Thus, giving careful thought to the effects your research will have on people might serve as one of your guiding principles for some of your application materials.

You can learn much more about USC’s values by reading through similar content it publishes on the web for free. We’d encourage you to reflect deeply on how values you hold overlap with values you find USC holds, too.

How else can you demonstrate that you and USC fit together? Think about your answers to these questions:

  • In what ways have you examined the human impact of any of your work in school? Have you done this when it perhaps hasn’t been obvious to do so?

  • USC touts that its professors are not only quality researchers, but necessarily accomplished educators—in what ways has the passing of knowledge you hold, not simply the possession of it, informed your studies, extracurriculars, etc…?

  • In what ways have you led through values in your extracurricular, academic, or athletic pursuits?
    Public service that is both local and global is a key aspect of USC’s mission statement—in what ways have you sought out public service in your high school career? Have you ever considered the global impact of local actions?


The deadline for normal determination on USC applications is January 15. In addition to conventional decision-making, USC offers early action as an additional application format. November 1st is the deadline for applications to USC’s early action program. The dates for each phase of the USC admissions process are shown in the table below.

Notification Plan Application Material Application Deadline
Early Action Submit Application and Test Scores November 1
Submit Financial Aid Application January 9
Admissions Decisions Released mid- to late January
Regular Decision For majors requiring a portfolio or   audition: Submit Application and Test Scores December 1
For all other majors:Submit Application and Test Scores January 15
Submit Financial Aid Application February 10
Admissions Decisions Released by April 1


If you apply by the Early Action (EA) deadline, you can start making college plans sooner, assuming that you are admitted during this round of reviews. It also guarantees that your application for a USC Merit Scholarship will be accepted. Early Action (EA) is neither restrictive or binding, however it is not accessible for majors that call for an audition or portfolio.


Candidates are required to submit two additional essays in order to fulfill USC’s supplemental essay requirements. These are their prompts, and this is the USC extra essay guide from which they were taken.

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 words)


Optional: Starting with the beginning of high school/secondary school, if you have had a gap where you were not enrolled in school during a fall or spring term, please address this gap in your educational history. You do not need to address a summer break. (250 words)


  • Describe yourself in three words. (25 characters per word)

  • What is your favorite snack?

  • Best movie of all time

  • Dream job

  • If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

  • Dream trip

  • What TV show will you binge watch next?

  • Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?

  • Favorite Book

  • If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

    (Questions #2-10 limited to 100 characters each)


You have three prompts here that are all pretty different in terms of what they ask of you. Below, we’ll give you some big-picture guidance on how to tackle these prompts, but you should consider checking out College Essay Guy’s USC Supplemental Essay guide for more in-depth guidance. Let’s go over the broad strokes here with the essay-component of USC’s admissions requirements.

Prompt one is a fairly familiar prompt in the realm of college applications; it’s essentially a “Why Major” with a significant “Why Us” component. What they want to get a sense of here is not simply why you’re interested in Computer Science, in general (for example), but why you’re interested in studying Computer Science at USC, specifically. This means that you’re likely going to need to spend some time clicking deeply through the program descriptions on the USC web page. Try and find specific names of classes you find interesting or professors you’d love to talk to. Those details will ensure that you’re successfully “proving” your interest is specific to USC, and not simply a general longing for studying X.

Often, we tell people to tackle prompts even if they’re “optional.” This is not one of those cases: You should not respond to prompt two unless you have experienced a significant, term-length gap. Take them at their word here, too. You do not need to address Summer Vacations, or two-day trips you have taken to some place in the middle of the school year.
If this prompt does apply to you, the reason for your gap in studies will significantly influence how you go about approaching this prompt. For example, the essay one might write about taking a few months away from school to go do a service trip will be significantly different from the essay one might write about needing to take a few months off to address health issues.

And lastly, prompt three is really a series of eight very-short prompts disguised as one prompt. To give you a sense of how concise you’ll need to be here, note that the first sentence of this paragraph is 96 characters. The goal here is precision and specificity. Though you don’t have a lot of room, you do have some room to show a bit of personality through your responses. Let’s consider two ways to approach the “favorite snack” prompt:

  1. Takis (5 characters)

  2. Takis—Billie Eilish inspires me both musically and in all matters snack-related. (81 characters)



The USC Viterbi School of Engineering is home to a diverse student population of talented engineers and computer scientists who collaborate to build a better future for all people. Explain what makes your contributions to the student body at USC Viterbi unique. To help us better understand you, feel free to discuss any aspect of your past, characteristics, abilities, experiences, difficulties, and/or personality.

There are other approaches you may take to this essay, but the “Community” essay topic is where we first saw the need to encourage you to approach it in that manner. Think about first how you engage with and contribute to each of the communities you are a part of.


Our mission is to create a better future for all people, and it is in harmony with the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 14 Grand Challenges. To enhance life on Earth, engineers and computer scientists are faced with the challenge of finding solutions to these issues. Find out more about the NAE Grand Challenges and let us know which one, and why, is most significant to you.
Looking carefully at those NAE Grand Challenges is the first step in this process. Choose challenges that both of you sincerely care about, and be prepared with personal anecdotes to demonstrate your passion in taking on that task.

The effectiveness of this article will depend heavily on those instances. Saying that someone is offended by climate change is one thing, but explaining to readers how, because of a malfunctioning air conditioner during the summer, you and your family were forced to take refuge in a cooling center is quite another. Regardless of the Grand Challenge you choose for this challenge, try to illustrate how you’ve been personally impacted by it using actual, lived events. This essay might easily turn into one that highlights your volunteer work in the community. Writing on community service is acceptable for this kind of essay, but you should exercise caution in how you approach it. For tips on writing this sort of essay successfully, see our tutorial here.


This essay might be approached similarly to a “Why Major” essay. However, because you answered USC’s first supplementary essay challenge with material that is comparable to this, now is your chance to present the information in a new way. In contrast to prompt 1, where you would discuss why you want to study political science at USC in particular, you have the chance to go a little bit more into the reasons behind your interest in and convictions about the significance of studying political science in this prompt.

Instead of emphasizing how much you love studying Political Science at USC with Professor X, you may highlight your extensive understanding of a particular area of the subject. Perhaps you are particularly interested in the fact that, for example, the global supply chain for semiconductors is essentially totally dependent on one Dutch business and that you perceive major geopolitical implications from this dependency. This essay might be used to explain the issue and what you believe to be its effects.


  • Akwaowo Akpan

    Hi there, welcome to Online Studying Services. As a fan of authentic information and a student, I devise this means to offer reliable information to international students wishing to either study abroad or online. Thanks for stopping by!

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