College Intel

University of Southern California Admissions

Bovard Auditorium is featured on the campus of the University of Southern California.
The University of Southern California (photo credit: EEJCC).

The University of Southern California is not only an esteemed private research university, it also acts as the informal academic wing of the Los Angeles entertainment industry. Because of its proximity to Hollywood, USC’s campus has served as a filming location for dozens of films, including standing in for Harvard Law School in the blockbuster Legally Blonde.

USC alumni have gone on to win more Academy and Emmy awards than any other institution. This reputation comes as no surprise to those familiar with the USC School of Cinematic Arts, which is the first, and widely regarded as the best, film school in the United States. The university also holds the record for highest number of Olympic medalist alumni and boasts a star-studded roster of celebrity graduates. 

With a $7.6 billion dollar endowment, USC has drawn prominent faculty such as Nobel Laureates George Olah and Arieh Warshel. Amongst the many famous Trojan alumni, astronaut Neil Armstrong and Star Wars creator George Lucas stand out. Pop star Olivia Rodrigo is currently enrolled as a part-time student at USC’s Thornton School of Music, and has cited a 2022 poetry class she took at USC as integral to the songwriting process of her most recent album, GUTS.

USC has 22 schools and programs offering 80 undergraduate majors. Despite this relatively decentralized approach, all students share a core curriculum consisting of requirements in “The Arts,” “Humanistic Inquiry,” “Social Analysis,” “Life Sciences,” “Physical Sciences,” “Quantitative Reasoning,” “Citizenship in a Diverse World,” “Traditions and Historical Foundations,” as well as a two-semester writing requirement. Roughly 20,800 undergraduates are enrolled alongside 28,500 postgraduates.

Founded in 1880, USC is the oldest private research university in California. Judge Robert M. Widney solicited donations from prominent Angelinos to begin construction on the newly established institution. Initially affiliated with the Methodist Church, the university lost its religious affiliation in 1952. In 1984, the university hosted many events for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and provided residences for the athletes. Around this same time, Paul Mockapetris, a researcher with USC’s Information Sciences Institute, developed the modern Domain Name System that is now ubiquitous across the internet.

In the 21st century, USC has forged a legacy as a hub for research and innovation. It houses the Pacific Council of International Policy, the Integrated Media Systems Center, the Center for Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems, and the Southern California Earthquake Center, amongst other centers and institutes. In addition to the film school, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the Sol Price School of Public Policy, and the graduate programs in occupational and physical therapy are nationally-ranked.

Student life on campus is abuzz with research opportunities, extracurriculars, and parties. USC’s athletics program is defined by two iconic rivalries with Notre Dame and UCLA. The Spirit of Troy, the university’s marching band, has been featured on a Fleetwood Mac album, has performed at two Olympic Games, and has appeared alongside Beyonce at the 2009 Academy Awards. The student-run newspaper, The Daily Trojan, was the first media outlet to interview President Nixon after his resignation. The fraternity and sorority scene on campus is quite popular and is punctuated by some of the first cultural affinity Greek life organizations in California.

Maybe it’s because so many teens are mystified by the Hollywood glamor overlaying campus, maybe it’s the result of several-news cycles worth of publicity showcasing parents and students desperately — and unlawfully — vying for entry, but in any case, for admission to the Class of 2027, USC reported a record-low acceptance rate of 9.9% culled from an astounding 80,790 applications. USC’s Undergraduate Admission office states that their “holistic” evaluation process tries to get to know the “person” behind an application. If you have been captivated by the cultural phenomenon that is the University of Southern California, turn to Ivy Coach to put your best face forward to the admissions committee!


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