How to Apply as a First-Year Applicant
Apply to USC as an engineering or computer science student by completing the Common Application and Writing Supplement.
Early Action (Merit-Scholarship Consideration)
Application Deadline: November 1
Applicants selecting Early Action will be notified of their admission or deferral to Regular Decision in mid- to late January.
Application Deadline: January 15
Applicants selecting or deferring to Regular Decision will be notified of a decision by April 1.
For more information on application deadlines, including an explanation of USC’s Early Action Application, please see the link below.
We Don’t Want Anything Extra
There are no additional applications, test scores, or extra materials you need to submit in order to apply to engineering or computer science. Simply follow the instructions for applying to USC, and list an engineering or computer science major as your first choice major. Any major with the prefix ‘VSE’ (Viterbi School of Engineering) is an engineering or computer science major.
You Aren’t Locked In To A Major
We ask you to list an engineering or computer science major on your application, but that doesn’t affect your chances of admission. If you are admitted to one of the engineering or computer science majors, you are admitted to all of the engineering or computer science majors. After you are admitted, you have the flexibility to switch majors if you want.
Your GPA is Only a Small Part of Your Story
There are no absolute “cutoffs” for individual grades, overall GPA, or rank in class. We are interested in each of these elements as well as your personal accomplishments to better understand you and how you may contribute to our incoming class.
- Common Application
- USC Writing Supplement
- Official transcripts from all institutions attended (including college transcripts, if you have taken college courses prior to your high school graduation). Official transcripts can be sent electronically or mailed. If sending electronically, please instruct the transcript service to email the transcript to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are mailing your transcripts, please send them to the following address:
USC Office of Admission
University Park Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0911
- Official Test Scores (Optional): We are test-optional for applicants for Fall 2023; prospective first-year students may apply to USC without submitting SAT or ACT scores, although students may still choose to submit SAT or ACT scores if they wish. More information on this policy can be found on the USC Admission website. For students who submit test scores, USC records the highest scores for those who have taken tests more than once. For both the SAT and ACT, the highest scores for each section of the exam will be recorded, even if achieved in different sittings. USC does not require or ask for any SAT Subject Tests.
- One letter of recommendation, also known as the counselor report, is required from either your school counselor or a teacher from your school. Additional LORs from teachers, coaches, and supervisors are optional. We request you submit no more than three in total.
- At least one calculus course (the course can be in-progress when you apply).
- You must list one of the engineering or computer science programs as your first choice major. If you are not sure which one fits you best, please choose “Undeclared Engineering.”
*Note: If you are an international, home-schooled, DACA, or transfer applicant, please review our Notes and Requirements for Certain Populations section.
What We Look For
Strong candidates for admission are prepared with the highest level of rigor available to them at their high school. It is expected that each first-year student entering USC will have completed a combination of higher level courses in English, social studies, foreign language, and the arts, with demonstrated success in challenging math and science courses. At least one year of Calculus is important preparation for all engineering or computer science majors.
We are particularly interested in learning about our applicants’ activities outside the classroom. The Activities Summary gives you the opportunity to highlight special skills or talents, interesting experiences, and personal accomplishments. When reviewing activities, the admission committee is looking for those experiences that might suggest your potential for leadership and involvement at USC. We are interested in learning more about your passions, potential, and what you spend your time pursuing. Your application will paint a picture of you and how you might contribute to the community, tradition and spirit of USC.
The written elements of the application (Essay, Short Answers and Quick Takes) give you the opportunity to speak directly to the admission committee in your own voice. USC carefully reads and considers everything submitted, so make sure to use a style and vocabulary with which you are comfortable. This is your chance to tell us more about yourself. Take your time answering the questions appropriately and letting us know more about you and your interests and passions.
Notes and Requirements for Certain Populations
Every year, USC Viterbi admits students from all over the world to study engineering or computer science at USC. To review the requirements of international applicants, please follow the instructions on the USC Admission page.
Home-Schooled applicants must also submit answers to the home-school questions on the Common Application Secondary School Report. Please see the Office of Admission’s FAQ regarding the Test Optional policy as it relates to Home-Schooled applicants.
USC admission, enrollment, and tuition policies are not based on your immigration or DACA status. Your admission and enrollment will not be affected if you do not have, or if you lose your immigration or DACA status. Financial assistance is available for undocumented students who meet certain criteria. California residents may qualify for additional assistance under AB540 (the “California Dream Act”). For more information, please visit dream.csac.ca.gov.
For more information about resources available to undocumented Trojans, please visit the following pages:
- Undocumented Trojans Online Resource Center
- This contains links to resources available to undocumented Trojans. Please see the Financial Support section to find links specifically for financial resources.
- First Generation Plus Success Center
- The First Generation Plus Success Center provides community, connection, and support for USC students who are first-generation, undocumented, or former foster youth.
All of the above information is relevant to first-year applicants only. If you are a transfer applicant, you must follow the transfer application process. If you are not sure which type of applicant you are, please follow the guide below:
- You are a transfer applicant if you have completed any college level courses since you graduated high school or achieved the equivalent of a high school diploma.
- You are a first-year applicant if you are currently enrolled in high school, even if you have completed college credits OR you have graduated from high school and have never attended college.