Please review our FAQ below for questions you may have about the graduate application process. If you don't find an answer to your question, please contact us.
- I won’t graduate from my undergraduate program until May, June or July. Can I still apply for the next Fall Admissions term?
Yes. If you are admitted and decide to enroll you will need to send us a final official transcript from your undergraduate school showing your undergraduate degree received.
VERIFICATION OF DEGREE FROM A DOMESTIC INSTITUTION:
All graduate students must verify that they have been awarded a bachelor’s-level degree from an accredited institution in the United States or an equivalent degree from an institution outside the United States.
Students must submit official transcripts to the Registrar One Stop Center located in lobby of the JHH building. Students may also request official transcripts to be mailed to the Registrar One Stop Center directly. The mailing address for the Registrar One Stop Center is:
Registrar One Stop
University of Southern California
University Park Campus
700 Childs Way, John Hubbard Hall 106
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0912
All transcripts must be enclosed in the original envelope and must be sealed with security marks intact from the issuing institution.
Electronic transcripts sent through email attachments from issuing institutions may be received by USC if sent to the firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
Students may contact the Registrar One Stop Center or call at (213) 740-8500 for assistance.
PRIOR DEGREE FROM AN INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTION:
All graduate students must verify that they have been awarded a bachelor’s-level degree from an accredited institution in the United States or an equivalent degree from an institution outside the United States.
If you received a degree from an institution outside the United States and are required to complete degree verification, please follow these instructions:
Students whose admission is conditional on having their previous degrees verified will have an "Activity Restriction Warning," identified as an ADM40 or RNR40, placed on their records. Failure to complete the verification process in the allotted time may result in delayed or cancelled registration, and late fees.
This requirement is separate from, and in addition to, the credential review conducted for admission. Therefore, you may be required to submit another set of credentials in addition to the materials submitted with your application for admission.
Most students will have to satisfy this requirement before the end of their first term at USC.
Verification of prior international degrees requires a "Certification of Studies for USC" from the International Education Research Foundation. This service is not offered on campus. Please visit the IERF website for more information about required documents and fees.
- Can applicants without a design background apply to the graduate programs?
Yes. Our three-year First Professional Degree programs, M.ARCH and MLA, do not require a previous background in design, although a four-year Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in any field, or its equivalent, is required in order to apply. Both programs require a portfolio submission.
Additionally, our MBS and MHC programs do not require a design background but require a four-year Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree, or its equivalent to apply.
- Do I need to take specific courses during my undergraduate studies to prepare to apply?
For the first professional degrees in Architecture and Landscape Architecture, specific courses are required.
M.Arch: A minimum one-semester college-level course in physics or calculus is required.
MLA: Applicants must document successful completion of a college-level course in the natural sciences.
Preparation in the visual arts is strongly encouraged. A minimum of a one-semester, college-level course in the visual arts, such as drawing, sculpture, graphics and/or basic design, is required before beginning the first semester of study. Courses in the humanities, ecology, history of art, landscape architecture and architecture are strongly encouraged, although not required.
- Do I need to have the M.Arch or MLA+3 course pre-requisites completed by the listed application deadlines?
You do not have to complete the pre-requisites by the deadline. You will need to have them completed before you start the program in the fall.
- Do I need to have the MLA+2 course pre-requisites completed by the listed application deadlines?
Pre-requisites for MLA+2 (Advanced Placement) are to be completed prior to matriculation, or on specific notice, completed in the first year of the program.
- I'm currently enrolled in another graduate school. Can I transfer credits?
If you have completed graduate course work at another regionally accredited institution, or international institution, you may be able to apply some of this course work to your USC degree program. If admitted into your intended program of study, you must first obtain a course syllabus from the year/semester you completed the course. You must have your Program Director review the material and determine if the course work is acceptable and if it will count toward electives or other required courses. You must pick up the Transfer Graduate-Level Course Work form from the Registrar One Stop Center (John Hubbard Hall 106), and have your Program Director sign off. Give a copy of the form to Student Services, and then submit the package to Degree Progress. If the course work is international, an additional step may be required. If Degree Progress approves the request, please contact your advisor to apply the units to your degree program.
*Each program has a limit on how on how many units can be transferred.
*Transfer credits may not be determined during admissions review. Discussions regarding transfer credit will take place after an admission offer or during the department Graduate Orientation in August prior to beginning the program.
- Can I apply for the spring term?
We do not have spring admissions for our Master’s programs. All our Master’s programs begin in the fall term. Graduate certificate applicants may apply for admission in any term.
- When does the program begin?
With the exception of the Master of Advanced Architectural Studies degree, all programs begin in the fall term (August). Academic calendars listing important university dates can be found at the following link: http://academics.usc.edu/calendar/
Registration Calendars listing important registration dates can be found in the schedule of classes for each semester: http://classes.usc.edu/
All incoming students admitted to the M.Arch program will be required to participate in a computation course (ARCH 409 and/or ARCH 410) during the three weeks prior to the first day of classes. More information on the course requirements and registration process will be sent during the summer.
All incoming students admitted to the MLA program will be required to participate in a media workshop (ARCH 439) during the week prior to the first day of classes. More information will be sent by your Program Director and/or Degree Advisor.
- Is there a different application for international students?
There is only one application, which can be used by U.S. citizens, permanent residents and international applicants.
- Who Is Considered an International Student?
If you are not a United States national, and you will be entering, or have already entered, the United States with an F-1 or J-1 student visa, you should apply as an international student. Students who already reside in the United States and hold other non-immigrant visas (E2, H2, or L2, for example) are also considered international students.
Permanent residents of the United States, naturalized U.S. citizens, and U.S. citizens residing abroad and attending school outside the United States are not considered international students. For more information please visit the central Office of Graduate Admission’s website for international applicants.
- Can I apply to more than one program?
In general, USC allows students to apply to a maximum of three separate graduate programs that begin in the same term.
Once a USC CAS account is created, you will need to use the same account to submit all your applications. Unless the other departments to which you are applying have other requirements, you will need to submit only one set of transcripts and test scores to the Office of Graduate Admissions, regardless of the number of programs you are applying.
For the Dual-Degree programs with the Master of Planning, please review and fulfill the MPL Admissions requirements.
- Do all materials need to arrive at the USC School of Architecture by the deadline?
Yes, for priority admissions and scholarship review all application materials and supporting documents must be submitted online and received by the appropriate admissions departments on or before the appropriate application deadline. Although we have a rolling admissions policy, the later you submit the less spots in the program and scholarship funds may be available.
- Does the USC School of Architecture have any sample portfolios?
No, we do not have any sample portfolios. A wide variety of design work and portfolio styles are submitted; there is no one type of correct or successful portfolio. In the case of applicants to Architecture and Landscape Architecture whose first degrees are equivalent to a B.Arch or BLA degree, the portfolio should include examples of design studies. The portfolio submission is optional for MBS applicants. MHC and Certificate HC applicants must submit a writing sample.
- Are interviews required?
No. Interviews are not required but attendance at our Graduate Open house is encouraged. There is also information for scheduling a department visit.
- When should I take the GRE?
GRE scores must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions on or before the deadline for the program to which you are applying. Please allow sufficient time for scores to reach us. Results of the computer-based examinations are mailed to USC approximately 10-15 days after testing. USC Institution Code: 4852 (no department code needed).
- Can I waive the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)? Can I substitute another exam? How important is the GRE?
It is not possible to waive the GRE. All applicants both domestic and international must submit GRE scores. Test scores are just one aspect of an application file. The admissions committees will be conducting comprehensive admissions reviews based on all of your application materials: transcripts, recommendation letters, essays, resumes, and portfolios and/or writing samples.
- Is there a cut-off point for the GPA or GRE scores?
The university requires a minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a scale in which A=4.0) and GRE combined scores of no less than 297(Quantitative: 144 and Verbal: 153). In addition, each department sets its own standards, which tend to be more competitive. We encourage you to apply whether or not you meet these guidelines. Keep in mind that all components of the application are taken into consideration.
If you are conditionally admitted (ADM 20) with a GPA below a 3.0, you will be required to achieve at least a 3.0 GPA during your first semester.
- As an international applicant, can I submit an IELTS score for the English Proficiency requirement?
Yes. Both the TOEFL iBT and the IELTS scores may be submitted for the English Proficiency Requirement. Please see the Application Instructions for the minimum requirements for each test.
- One of my recommenders is very unfamiliar with technology. Can he or she send a paper recommendation?
If at all possible, all recommendations should be completed using the electronic method via the online USC CAS Graduate application (MBS & MHC) or the SlideRoom application (MAAS PP, MARCH, & MLA). However, to accommodate a recommender who is not adept at using technology, a paper option is possible. Please contact email@example.com for instructions.
- Can I submit more than three recommendations?
Yes. Up to five recommendations can be submitted through the online USC CAS Graduate Admissions application (MBS & MHC) or the SlideRoom (MAAS PP, MARCH, & MLA) application.
- When will I receive my admissions notification?
We operate on a rolling admissions basis, so there is not a formal date as to when admissions notifications are sent out. If you submit your application by the Priority Review Deadlines, then you may receive a notification in March or April.
- Is it possible to defer?
Although USC does not defer offers of admission, students may "update" their applications to be considered for a future term that begins within one year (two semesters) of the original application. Updated applications do not require a new fee or letters of recommendation; however, any additional academic work completed must be reported, and transcripts of this work are required.
Applicants who were denied admission may not update; they must reapply. Individuals who are granted admission and then update are not guaranteed admission or a merit-based scholarship offer to a future term. Your application will be reviewed with the new pool of applicants.
- I've been put on the Wait List; what does this mean?
We are often not able to admit all of our qualified applicants into each degree program. We admit a certain number of applicants straight into the degree program, and then put some on a wait list. If we have any admission withdraws from the first group, we will start to admit people from the wait list if necessary to attain full enrollment.
- I've been admitted to the Architecture graduate program, and would like to work on my digital skills. Does the USC School of Architecture offer any courses over the summer?
Yes, the School of Architecture requires all incoming first semester M.ARCH students to register for Computer Transformations (Essential Digital Design Techniques): ARCH 410 which is scheduled the two weeks prior to the start of the fall semester. The course is taught by our Architecture faculty. MLA students will register for a Landscape Architecture Media workshop: ARCH 439 the week prior to the start of the fall semester. This course is taught by a Landscape Architecture faculty member and provides an introduction to basic drawing media. Information about these workshops are sent to incoming students during the summer prior to their first semester.
- How can I start gathering information on financial aid and scholarships?
Please refer to the USC Office of Financial Aid section of our website for information on financial assistance for domestic and internationals applicant.
- How much will it cost to complete one of the programs at the USC School of Architecture?
The University sets tuition and fees on a yearly basis and also establishes a budget that provides estimations of other items, such as room & board, books & supplies, personal & miscellaneous, and transportation costs for the academic year. The current year’s figures can be found here.
The M.Arch, MAAS, and MLA programs follow the flat rate of tuition which covers 15 to 18 units per semester.
The MBS and MHC programs follow the full time tuition costs. The average number of units MBS and MHC students take are 12 units per semester.
To get an approximate idea of what the full cost of a program will be, just multiply the total amount of the budget by the length of the program in years (i.e. M.Arch +2 is 2 years, so estimated costs = budget total x 2).
- Does the USC School of Architecture offer scholarships?
Yes, the School of Architecture offers merit based scholarship awards for both US and international students. These scholarships are performance based and do not require additional application forms. Your scholarship eligibility will be based on the application materials submitted. If you do not receive a scholarship offer at the same time as an admissions offer, you will automatically be reviewed based on performance for your second or third year after the Spring Semester grades are submitted. All students are reviewed annually for scholarship consideration. Scholarships may be increased or reduced, based on performance.
- Can I have a tour of the school?
Prospective students are invited to attend our Graduate Program open house usually during fall term in October during midterm reviews. Please check our visit page for upcoming dates and other opportunities to visit the department.
- I would like to take a few courses at the USC School of Architecture. Is this possible?
Limited status enrollment allows persons who have not been admitted to the university to take a limited number of courses at USC. Depending on the course, you can register for a class as a limited status student. You will have to pay the full price of tuition for the class. The open enrollment for limited status students is usually right before the beginning of the semester. You will need to obtain the Limited Status form from the Office of Records and Registrar at the time of registration at the following link.
To check if the course you are interested in is available for limited status enrollment please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What are the student demographics of the USC School of Architecture?
The School of Architecture enrolls 420 undergraduate students and 300 graduate students. 56% are female and 44% are male. At USC there are students representing all 50 states, 5 territories, and 135 different countries.
- How can I earn money while I'm a student?
There are a number of work opportunities for students: "work-study" for eligible students within the School of Architecture and other USC offices; working with practitioners in local firms; working as a class assistant to faculty in both studio and lecture courses, or as a research assistant to faculty working on sponsored projects through the GRS program. International students can apply for part time work opportunities on campus. Please see the Office of International Services (OIS) for more information.
- Is there any career advising or help finding a job once I graduate?
The USC School of Architecture demonstrates its commitment in bridging academic excellence and professional development through individualized mentoring programs, career guidance, and active engagement from the USC Architectural Guild which holds an annual job fair at the School of Architecture.
The Career Center also provides a variety of resources and services to students. The SOA Development Office works with the Career Center and coordinates a firm fair as well as other career services: portfolio review, resume building, interview preparation during Career Week.
Many of our faculty are practitioners in the field who have an extensive professional network both domestically and globally and often hire and/or recommend USC students. Through the Architectural Guild we have an extensive network of alumni and friends who can also connect you to various opportunities.
- What type of facilities does the USC School of Architecture offer?
The School of Architecture comprises over 50,000 square feet of design studios, classrooms, galleries, workshops and laboratories specifically designed to offer an immersive and stimulating learning environment. Each semester, all architecture students are assigned their own design work stations, with storage. The University provides continuous wireless support and students have 24-hour, seven-days-a-week access to their studios and workstations.
The School expects, promotes and supports the use and advancement of technology for the study of architecture. Our facilities provide access to the latest in computer modeling and building design analysis software as well as advanced output technologies including large-format printers, laser cutting and 3D printing. Students can also take advantage of the numerous computer labs spread across the USC Campus: ITS Services.
The Verle Annis Gallery, Helen Lindhurst Gallery, Rosendin Family Atrium, Gin Wong Conference Center and Pierre Koenig lecture hall provide exhibition, review and lecture space for the school. The Robert H. Timme Architectural Research Center occupies the 22,000 square feet third floor of Watt Hall providing studio space for the graduate programs as well as faculty offices, research suites, "sky gardens" and review spaces.
In addition, our facilities include a wood shop for model making, a welding facility and a work yard, where students have the space to construct full-size and scale representations in metal, plastic and wood.
- How can I be a class assistant or research assistant?
Master's students are eligible to work as class assistants (CA), helping faculty in both studio and lecture courses. Prior to every semester an email with open spots and information on the application process are sent to all graduate students. It may be difficult to obtain a CA position during your first semester as it takes some familiarity with the faculty to be considered for one. Through the Graduate Research Scholars (GRS) program you can apply for a research assistant (RA) position and work with faculty on sponsored projects. Students apply in the fall semester for GRS assignments. GRS assignments are for one project per year (Spring to Fall) and are paid positions. The types of research projects change every year depending on what our faculty are working on. View the past year’s research projects.
- Where do most students live?
- Where can I find more information and help at USC?
— For a general Graduate Admissions FAQ, please refer to the central Office of Graduate Admissions’ website.
— For specific international students related FAQ, please refer to the central Office of Graduate Admissions’ website.
- Other Helpful Websites