Undergraduate Admission

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Getting Started

With close to 100 faculty members and 420 undergraduate students, the School is committed to shaping student experiences so that not only will you perform well in the profession, but will also lead the discipline in new directions, sensing, responding to and helping to cause positive change in society. Your experience in the program will be a continuous act of discovery: of observing, recording, interpreting, and finally, inventing proposals for the built environment which are in response to ideas and critical intentions.

USC takes a holistic, qualitative approach to reviewing applications. Grades and academic rigor are weighed against personal qualities such as leadership, service and unique talents. We look for those students we believe would be an ideal fit for, and thrive in, the challenging academic environment USC provides.


Download a copy of our 2018 Program brochure.


2019 Deadlines

December 1, 2018
First-Year (freshman) Application and Portfolio Deadline for Scholarship Consideration

January 15, 2019
First-Year (freshman) Application Deadline and Portfolio Deadline for Regular Consideration

February 1, 2019
Transfer Application and Portfolio Deadline for Scholarship and Regular Consideration

* USC defines a transfer student as anyone who has attended college since graduating high school.

* USC does not accept first-year or transfer applications for spring admission.

* USC does not use an Early Action or Early Decision Program.

First-Year Application Checklist


Apply online using the Common Application and the USC Writing Supplement (the 2019 application will be available August 1).     

Submit a portfolio + Architecture Writing Supplement via the link provided in the Common Application or directly to https://uscarch.slideroom.com

School Report.  All first-year applicants are required to submit the Common Application School Report by providing the name and e-mail address of a recommender.

Letter of Recommendation from a Teacher or a Counselor from your school.

Transcripts.  First-year applicants should submit official transcripts of all high school and college coursework completed.

Official Test Scores.  USC requires either SAT or ACT scores from all first-year applicants. For students who take the SAT more than once, USC records the highest scores for each section (superscore) — Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics — even if achieved in different sittings. USC does not superscore the ACT, and will consider the highest composite score for admission.

Submit your fall grades (when available).  Use the Mid-Year Report Form included in the Common Application or visit www.usc.edu/midyeargrades to submit your fall grades.

International applicants: please refer to the International Students page for Additional Requirements.  


For more Prospective First-Year Student information, please visit the USC Undergraduate Admission website:  https://admission.usc.edu/apply/

Questions?  Please review our FAQ section for questions you may have about the First-Year application process or contact us.  More FAQs may be found on the USC Admission website:  http://uscesd.custhelp.com/

Transfer Application Checklist  


Apply online using the Common Application and the USC Writing Supplement (the 2019 application will be available August 1).   

Submit a portfolio + Architecture Writing Supplement via the link provided in the Common Application or directly to https://uscarch.slideroom.com             

Official final high school transcript with date of graduation.

  • Students who completed secondary school outside the US may substitute a copy of a diploma or leaving certificate.
  • Students who did not finish high school should also submit a copy of their completion certificate (such as a GED) and may also submit a letter of explanation.          

All official college transcripts.  Official transcripts of any and all college coursework completed through the fall term.  

SAT or ACT Scores.  Required from applicants who have completed fewer than 30 semester units of college coursework.        

Letter(s) of recommendation.  Transfer applicants must submit up to 2 letter(s) of recommendation via SlideRoom.  Please ask your college course instructor, academic advisor, employer, or internship supervisor to submit a letter of recommendation on your behalf.  Please note that the deadline for recommendations is February 1, 2019.  It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that ample time is given to the person to write and submit their letter online.  No separate recommendation form is required.    

International applicants: please refer to the International Students page for Additional Requirements.


For more Prospective Transfer Student information, please visit the USC Undergraduate Admission website:  https://admission.usc.edu/apply/

Questions?  Please review our FAQ section for questions you may have about the Transfer application process or contact us.  More FAQs may be found on the USC Admission website: http://uscesd.custhelp.com/


Current USC Students 

It may be possible to change your major to Architecture, however, keep in mind that the Bachelor of Architecture consists of 5 years/10 semesters of major requirements. As a change of major, the time to degree completion will be 5 years (starting in fall semesters only) plus the time spent in the previous major. An internal transfer application will be required (short answer responses, portfolio, USC Completed Course Summary). For more information, please contact Undergraduate Admissions for the School of Architecture.


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ALL applicants to the Bachelor of Architecture program are required to submit a portfolio described as follows.  Please submit the portfolio by the University’s application deadline.


First-Year (Freshman) Applicants

We are interested in seeing evidence of your creativity and curiosity. Work selected for inclusion should demonstrate the breadth and diversity of your creative interests and need not be limited to architectural work (if included at all). Drawing, sketching, painting, graphic design, photography, video, web-design, sculpture, ceramics, fashion design and furniture design are just some examples of the types of work that may be included.  Work may be produced for school courses, extracurricular activities or independently.  Do not include technical drafting unless you designed the content of the drawing.  Your portfolio should be limited to your strongest work.  Avoid too many pictures of the same piece.  If the work was part of a group effort, please indicate your specific contribution.  As you upload an image of work, you will be prompted to add descriptions to each piece.


Transfer Applicants

Transfer students have the opportunity to be considered for the USC School of Architecture at one of three levels; First Year, Summer Transfer Studio or Second Year of the Bachelor of Architecture program. On an individual basis, students are carefully evaluated by members of the School’s admissions committee for academic and creative accomplishments at their previous institutions, how the experience of their previous course of study has prepared them for our program as well as future promise at USC and the School of Architecture.

Students considered for transfer admission to the first year program have a high level of academic accomplishment and demonstrate a level of general exposure to issues of design and architecture but have not yet achieved the comprehensive breadth of foundational skills presented in the School of Architecture first year program. These basic skills range from design fundamentals of 2D and 3D composition, conceptual problem solving, research and analysis of historical precedent, principles of spatial order, free hand drawing, computer drafting and 3D modeling. Though a student’s portfolio may communicate a high level of skill on certain issues, the full range of the year-long experience our first year offers may be missing.

Students considered for transfer admission to the Summer Transfer Studio have a generally high level of previous academic and creative accomplishment and experience. However, these students require an accelerated review of the fundamental principles described above to fill any gaps in their knowledge presented by their portfolio and transcript review. The Summer Transfer Studio is an accelerated and comprehensive course and requires students have the ability to excel rapidly and at a high level through all of the design issues presented by the projects.  This Summer Transfer Studio must be completed with grades of B’s or better in order to accelerate to the second year in the fall.

Students considered for admission directly to second year have a demonstrated high level of academic accomplishment and creative experience from their previous program(s) of study. The projects presented in the portfolio represent an advanced level of design analysis, creative problem solving and a range of visualization skills, all required as part of comprehensive awareness and understanding of the fundamental principles presented in first year.



The portfolio submission should consist of a minimum of 6 and up to 12 digital image files uploaded online by December 1, 2018 if applying for First-Year Scholarship Consideration, January 15, 2019 for Regular First-Year Consideration or February 1, 2019 for Transfer Consideration.  Up to one video file may be included in your submission. Other electronic formats, or CD/DVD submissions will not be accepted. Please do not send original or bound materials.  Please do not send more than one online submission.

Submit your portfolio online at https://uscarch.slideroom.com

The School of Architecture is committed to sustainable design practices and discourages the use of excessive printing, binding and shipping processes.


Architecture Writing Supplement

As a future architect, who do you want to design or build for and why?  What are some things about USC Architecture that strike you as compelling and different from other architecture schools? The Admission Committee will review this supplement as a measure of your awareness, determination and vision. Your response should no more than 500 words in length and should give the committee a sense of how USC Architecture will help fulfill your long-term goals and ambitions.


Submit your Portfolio and the Architecture Writing Supplement online at: https://uscarch.slideroom.com/




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General Information​


Does USC accept first-year (freshman) or transfer applications for the spring semester?

USC does not accept freshman or transfer applications for spring admission.


Does USC accept late applications?

Applications postmarked after USC's deadlines will be considered late and may not be considered for the term in question. If this is the case, USC will automatically consider the application for the next available semester (the applicant will be informed if this is the case).

In no case will USC return a student's application or refund an application fee.


Are USC application deadlines postmark deadlines?

USC application deadlines are postmark deadlines. Therefore, as long as an application or other materials are mailed and postmarked by the deadline date, they will be considered on-time.  For students submitting online applications, anything submitted by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) of the deadline day will be considered "on time."


I am not a California resident. Will it be harder for me to gain admission? Will my tuition and fees be higher than those for California residents?

USC is a private university and thus has no state residency requirements. We recruit nationally and internationally and almost half of our student body comes from outside of California.  Tuition and fees are the same for all students, regardless of state of residence or national citizenship.


English is not my native language.  Which exam is required of me?

All international applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency in the following manner:

First-year (freshman) international applicants should earn:

  • Minimum scores of 600 on the SAT Critical Reading exam or 27 on the ACT English exam; OR
  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum score of 20 in each section); OR
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7; OR
  • A minimum PTE score of 68.

Transfer international applicants should earn:

  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum score of 20 in each section); OR
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7; OR
  • A minimum PTE score of 68.


Does USC offer early decision or early action admission?

No, USC does not employ an Early Action or Early Decision program in its admission process. We also do not maintain admission waitlists. Instead, students who apply for fall admission may be invited to enroll in the spring semester.  All students who apply to the university by the appropriate deadline (December 1st for first-year scholarship applicants, January 15th for all other first-year applicants and February 1st or all transfer applicants) are given equal consideration in the application review process.


Does a student's financial need affect an admission decision?

No. USC is need-blind in its admission process—a student’s financial need will never influence an admission decision. In fact, nearly two-thirds of undergraduate students at USC receive financial aid.


What are USC's tuition and fees?  Do you have a net price calculator?

See a full listing of tuition and fees on USC's Financial Aid Office website.  The USC Net Price Calculator will help you and your family plan for the cost of a USC Education.




First-Year Applicants


What are we looking for in an applicant?

We carefully review each application to select those students we believe will be an ideal fit for USC. We consider your personal circumstances and special achievements, including: academic performance, the rigor of your curriculum, writing ability, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities, leadership and community service.

We realize individual talents, circumstances and opportunities vary greatly, so no specific curriculum is prescribed or required. However, we expect that you will complete the most rigorous curriculum available to you in English, math, science, social studies, foreign language and the arts.


What GPA and test score is required for admission?

There is no minimum requirement or absolute "cutoff" for grades, class rank or test scores. USC evaluates prospective students through an individualized, comprehensive review process that takes these, and many other factors, into account. Regardless, we have found that GPA and standardized test scores are powerful predictors of success at USC, so they do play a significant role during our review process.


What were the average GPA and test scores of the most recent admitted class?

Click here to view the current Freshman Profile.


Are SAT II exams required?

We only require SAT Subject tests from first-year (freshman) applicants who do not attend a regionally accredited high school (e.g., home school, some non-accredited parochial or community-based programs, even some newer schools). These students must submit three SAT Subject exams, including one in mathematics, in addition to the SAT or ACT. For all other applicants, these exams are optional, but recommended.


What standardized tests does USC require for admission?


USC requires either SAT or ACT scores (with the optional Writing test) from:

- All first-year applicants.

- Transfer applicants who have accumulated fewer than 30 transferable semester units since graduating high school.

We expect most first-year applicants will have taken the redesigned SAT (on the 1600 scale), but we will also accept test results from the old SAT (prior to March 2016). While we will record the highest scores for each section of the SAT taken in different sittings, we will not combine section scores from the old and the redesigned SAT for applicants who submit results from both versions.

SAT Subject tests

We only require SAT Subject tests from first-year applicants who do not attend a regionally accredited high school (e.g., home school, some non-accredited parochial or community-based programs, even some newer schools).  These students must submit three SAT Subject exams, including one in mathematics.  For all other applicants, these exams are optional, but recommended.  We find them helpful in evaluating applications for merit scholarships.

AP Exams

First-year applicants who have taken Advanced Placement (AP) examinations are encouraged to provide those results.


What is the last SAT or ACT sitting that USC will accept for fall applicants?

We suggest that freshman applicants take all SAT and/or ACT exams by December of their senior year. Although we will accept scores from later sittings, we cannot guarantee that your results will reach us in time to be considered by our admission committee.


How does USC treat Advanced Placement (AP) exams? Are AP scores factored into admission decisions? What kind of advanced credit does USC offer for these exams?

USC awards 4 semester units of elective credit for AP examinations taken Spring 2009 or later with a score of 4 or 5.  Exams must be taken before matriculations at any two-year or four-year college. (Most AP tests taken before Spring 2009 with a score of  3 or higher will also earn elective credit). Although these exams can only yield elective credit, some departments may also use their results for course placement or to waive degree requirements.   Please note that a score of 4 of 5 on the AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 exams or the AP Physics C Mechanics exam will waive Architecture majors of the USC Physics for Architects (Physics 125) requirement.  A summary of all available subject credit from the AP, IB and A-Levels may be found at Office of Academic Records and Registrar.

In order to receive USC credit, AP exam results must be officially sent from the College Board to USC. We will not grant credit for AP scores reported on high school transcripts or on student test reports.


Can college units taken before high school graduation satisfy general education requirements? What kind of credit may be earned by college courses taken during high school?

Students may receive a combined maximum of 32 elective units for college courses taken before high school graduation and/or examinations (e.g., AP, IB or other international exams) taken before matriculation at a two-year or four-year college.  A maximum of 16 of these 32 units will be allowed for college courses taken before high school graduation. These courses must appear on the college transcript as part of the regular college curriculum and are expected to be taught on the college campus by college faculty and not used toward high school graduation. Students whose courses are taken at a college and were not used toward high school graduation may file an articulation petition to request more than 16 units.  A summary of available subject credit from the AP, IB and A-Levels may be found at the Office of Academic Records and Registrar.


If I am applying for scholarships, do the recommendation letters from my teachers and/or counselors need to be submitted by December 1 as well?

We prefer that scholarship applicants submit all required materials by the December 1st deadline.


Is a personal interview required?

USC Admission no longer conducts on- or off-campus interviews for U.S. students.  The School of Architecture does not conduct interviews.


What level of high school math is required?

Pre-Calculus or higher is recommended at the high school level.



Transfer Applicants


How many units do I need in order to apply as a Transfer Applicant?

USC does not require a minimum number of transfer units. If you have earned fewer than 30 transferable semester units, we will base our decision primarily on your high school record and SAT I or ACT scores.  Seventy-five percent of your transferable courses should satisfy General Education or other Core courses, including Pre-Calculus and English Composition.  We do not, however, expect you to complete all General Education courses at your current institution, as we encourage transfer students to take advantage of our General Education program.  You do not have to complete an A.A. or A.S. degree prior to transferring to USC.


What is the English Composition requirement?

Successful candidates MUST complete a course equivalent to USC’s WRIT-150, which is usually the second course in an English-language college composition sequence. This course may not be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis. Professional, technical, creative and remedial writing courses will not satisfy this requirement.


What is the Mathematics requirement?

You must demonstrate a minimum mathematics proficiency. For the Architecture major, the equivalent of USC’s Math 108 (Pre-Calculus) course MUST be completed by the end of Spring 2017 if you are applying for Fall 2017 consideration.


What standardized tests are required for admission? Do I need to submit my high school transcript?

Students with fewer than 30 USC-transferable semester units must submit scores from the SAT I or the ACT. You must submit high school grades and proof of graduation. We expect to see a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.


English is not my native language.  Which exam is required of me?

All international transfer applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency in the following manner:

  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum score of 20 in each section); OR
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7; OR
  • A minimum PTE score of 68.

When should I plan to apply to transfer?

Unlike many colleges or universities, there is no minimum number of units required to transfer to USC. The exact timing of your transfer to USC is an individual decision, but we offer the following recommendations:

If you are a student with a strong college record, you should consider transferring as soon as possible. Transfer applicants should note that placement level and the amount of time to complete the studio sequence are dependent on skill level, not unit count. Students who transfer here earlier have the advantage of being part of the USC community for a longer time. They make friends and contacts, and have more opportunities to get involved with our campus life.

If your academic record in high school fell short of USC standards you may be able to position yourself as a stronger candidate if you complete two years of solid course work at another institution.


Can I transfer directly into second or third year studio?

The architecture program is a five-year first professional degree program designed to be completed in sequence. Occasionally, students who have taken architectural design courses and show an advanced skill level as a result of these courses, may be placed into the Summer Transfer Studio. Successful completion of the studio will reduce the program to eight semesters. The majority of transfer students, however, must complete the ten consecutive studios beginning in first year. It is not necessary to complete all the requirements toward the architecture A.A., as it does not guarantee advanced placement.


How can I apply for the Summer Transfer Studio?

All applicants must apply to the University and the School of Architecture during the normal fall admission cycle. All transfer applicants will be considered for Summer Transfer Studio placement.


What classes should I take at my university or community college?

It is recommended that students take General Education courses, along with two semesters of English Composition and Pre-Calculus. While the University requires intermediate algebra, architecture applicants must complete the equivalent of USC’s Math 108: Pre-Calculus. Design or architecture classes are recommended to develop work for your portfolio, but please keep in mind that the majority of architecture classes are not eligible for transferable credit. It is not to your advantage to take an excessive number of architecture courses. If you have questions about what courses are transferable, please visit the USC Office of Academic Records and Registrar and review the Agreements or Transfer Planning Guide.

IGETC courses do not automatically fulfill USC GE requirements, however the courses are generally transferrable.


Are architecture classes from another university or community college transferable? Is there an architecture articulation agreement between my school and USC?

Although we do review all transcripts to determine placement, most architecture courses are not transferable for one-for-one major/subject credit. In conjunction to the transcript, the portfolio will be evaluated to determine if advanced placement is possible. It is advised not to follow another university's articulation agreement or list of suggested courses.


Can I receive major/subject credit for previously completed Architecture courses?

Applicants who are admitted and enroll in our degree program will have the opportunity to petition for major credit for Architecture courses completed at an accredited institution.  At the time of enrollment, students will be asked to submit the syllabus from the term/year the course was completed along with all homework, quiz, test, paper, etc. completed in the course.  Architectural Design Studio placement is based on the quality and content of work submitted in the portfolio at the time of application.  Other Architecture courses that may be petitioned for major credit include:

  • ARCH 105L Fundamentals of Design Communication
  • ARCH 114 Architecture: Culture and Community
  • ARCH 211 Materials and Methods of Building Construction
  • ARCH 213a Building Structures and Seismic Design
  • ARCH 213b Building Structures and Seismic Design
  • ARCH 214a World History of Architecture
  • ARCH 214b World History of Architecture
  • ARCH 215 Design for the Thermal and Atmospheric Environment


What is the minimum GPA?

There is no minimum requirement or absolute "cutoff" for grades, class rank or test scores. Admitted transfer students average a 3.5 cumulative college GPA. The portfolio is a significant factor in determining admission to the School of Architecture. USC evaluates prospective students through an individualized, comprehensive review process that takes many factors into account.


Can I get a credit evaluation before I apply to USC?

We receive so many inquiries that it is not possible to perform individual credit evaluations. To better assist you in determining which courses you will need, the USC Registrar's Office has created the interactive Transfer Planning Guide.  You can also obtain an unofficial checklist of General Education courses and pre-major requirements by attending a USC Transfer Day. Additionally, your college transfer counselors can help you review our articulation agreements and admission policies.


When will I receive a credit evaluation of my work?

Admitted students will receive a transfer credit report before registering for their first USC semester. It will indicate your transferable courses, the number of transferable units, your transfer GPA, which general education categories have been met, and what will transfer as a USC equivalent course. Credit evaluations can only be completed using official transcripts.


Can I transfer classes taken pass/no pass or credit/no credit?

In general, we discourage students from taking required courses on a Pass/No Pass basis when letter grading is available, as this may negatively impact an admission decision. Transfer students can, however, take as many as 24 semester units on a Pass/No Pass basis, including up to 4 units of General Education requirements.  Writing/Composition courses cannot be taken as Pass/No Pass.  If a course is offered only as Pass/No Pass, these limits do not apply.


Is it possible to obtain a second bachelor's degree at USC?

USC offers students the opportunity of obtaining a second bachelor's degree. Second bachelor's degree applicants are considered transfer students and, if accepted, must fulfill all of the core requirements of their new major (112 units in Architecture), along with any mandatory general education requirements not fulfilled during their first degree.

Students who are pursuing their second bachelor's degree are eligible for a limited number of financial aid programs only - Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan and the Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan. Students who meet all financial aid application deadlines may also be considered for the Federal Work-Study and Federal Perkins Loan programs.


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For Prospective Undergraduate Applicants

The University offers events designed for prospective first-year and transfer students to introduce you to our campus.  The Meet USC and Discover USC programs include visits with the School of Architecture.


Meet USC

  • Admission Presentation (1 hour)
  • Campus Tour (1.5 hour)
  • Meeting with Academic Department/School of Architecture (1 hour)

This is the most comprehensive visit program for high school juniors, seniors in their fall semester, and their families. The program includes an information session led by an admission counselor, a walking tour led by a current USC student, and an information session with the School of Architecture.  Reservations are required.


Campus Tour

  • Optional Admission Presentation (30 minutes)
  • Walking Tour of Campus (1.5 hour)

Campus walking tours give guests a look into the life of USC students, including academics, campus resources, residential life, athletics and much more. Tours are led by current undergraduate students who share their stories while presenting an overview of the university.  Each campus tour is preceded by an optional, half-hour presentation from one of the University counselors on undergraduate admission and financial aid at USC.  Reservations are required.


Transfer Day

  • Admission Presentation
  • Financial Aid Presentation 
  • Campus Tour (optional)

Transfer Day is a half-day comprehensive program designed to educate you on the transfer process and academic life at USC. Specifically, the program includes presentations on the admission process, transfer credit policy, academics, financial aid and gives you the option to visit an academic department or take a campus tour. Reservations are recommended.


Transfer Information Session

  • Academic Presentation (1 hour)

Led by a USC admission counselor, this one-hour session is designed to help students prepare to transfer to USC. You should attend this session as soon as you know you are interested in the university. The presentation includes information about the application process, transfer course selection, transfer credit policy, academics and financial aid. Reservations are recommended.


Discover USC- Fall Open House

Sunday, November 18, 2018

  • Financial Aid Info Sessions (hourly)
  • Admission Info Sessions (hourly)
  • Campus Walking Tours
  • Student Panels
  • Academic & Student Life Interest Fair
  • School of Architecture Presentation (10 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.)

This full-day, on campus program will provide you and your family an opportunity to meet with the Offices of Admission, Financial Aid, and the School of Architecture.  We will be offering two identical Architecture information sessions and tours of the facilities at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  Reservations are recommended.

Introduction, Deadlines & Checklist
Portfolio Requirements
FAQ (Freshman & Transfer)
Plan a Visit