With a storied 100-year history of scholarship and design excellence, the USC School of Architecture encourages undergraduate applicants to apply for one of our two bachelor degree programs. Whether you are a first-year applicant, transfer student or current USC student looking to switch majors, the checklists below will guide your application process.

Browse the 2021 Viewbook

FIRST-YEAR

APPLICANTS

Checklist

Apply online

Using the Common Application and the USC Writing Supplement.


Submit a portfolio + Architecture Writing Supplement

Via the SlideRoom link provided in the Common Application


OFFICIAL TEST SCORES

Due to disruptions in testing schedules caused by COVID-19, prospective first-year students may apply to USC for the 2021-2022 Academic Year without submitting SAT or ACT scores, although students may still choose to submit SAT or ACT scores if they wish.


For students who submit test scores, USC records the highest scores for those who have taken tests more than once. For the SAT, the highest scores for both the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and the Mathematics section will be recorded, even if achieved in different sittings. For the ACT, USC will just consider the highest composite score. USC does not require the writing section for either the ACT or the SAT general test.


More information about this test optional policy can be found on the USC Frequently Asked Questions page.


School Report 

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


Letter(s) of Recommendation 

One letter is required from either your school counselor or a teacher from your school.


Transcripts

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


Submit your fall grades (When available)

Use the Mid-Year Report Form included in the Common Application.


InternationaL APPLICANTS

Please refer to the International Students page and the section below for Additional Requirements.


Questions?  

Please review our FAQ for questions you may have about the first-year application process or contact us.

Portfolio Requirements

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.


PORTFOLIO FORMAT 

The portfolio submission should consist of a minimum of 6 and up to 12 digital image files uploaded online by December 1, 2020 if applying for first-year merit scholarship consideration or January 15, 2021 for regular first-year 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 via the SlideRoom link provided in the Common Application.


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


RELATED LINK: How to Curate a Strong Portfolio as a Freshman Candidate


ARCHITECTURE WRITING SUPPLEMENT

Describe one example of how you might use design as a future architect.


The admission committee will review this statement as a measure of your awareness, determination and vision. Your response should no more than 250 words in length.


Submit your Portfolio and the Architecture Writing Supplement online via the SlideRoom link provided in the Common Application. 


PORTFOLIO REQUIREMENTS

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 digitally and/or by hand, 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 including 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

Checklist

Apply Online

Using the Common Application


Submit a portfolio + Architecture Writing Supplement 

Via the SlideRoom link provided in the Common Application


Official final high school transcriptwith date of graduation 

— Students who completed secondary school/high school outside the U.S. may substitute a copy of the 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 (with the optional Writing test) 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 letters 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, 2021. 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 Applicants page and the section below for Additional Requirements.


Questions?

Please review our FAQ for questions you may have about the first-year application process or contact us.

Portfolio Requirements

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.


Portfolio Format 

The portfolio submission should consist of a minimum of 10 and up to 25 digital image files uploaded online by February 1, 2021 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 via the SlideRoom link provided in the Common Application


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


Architecture Writing Supplement

Describe one example of how you might use design as a future architect. The admission committee will review this statement as a measure of your awareness, determination and vision. Your response should no more than 250 words in length.


Submit your Portfolio and the Architecture Writing Supplement online via the SlideRoom link provided in the Common Application. 


Portfolio requirements

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 demonstrated a 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.

International

Applicants

USC is host to one of the largest groups of international students in the United States, making up an important part of our talented and diverse student population. At the School of Architecture, student cohorts have the chance to interact with and learn from their peers who come from around the world, broadening their academic and cultural experience and providing on-campus opportunities for global knowledge exchange. Our international student population is also able to take advantage of university-wide cultural organizations, such as APASS, CSA, CSSA, CBCSA and La CASA, that help create communities outside of the School of Architecture. Visit USC Student Affairs for a complete list of cultural organizations and resources.

 

At USC, an international student is an individual of foreign nationality who will be entering, or has already entered, the United States with a student visa. Students already residing in the United States and holding other non-immigrant visas (for instance, an E2, H2, or L2) are also considered international students.


International students follow the same application procedure as other applicants but will be required to submit some additional information. Please carefully review the International Students page.

Current USC Students

It may be possible to change your major to Architecture; however, keep in mind that the Bachelor of Architecture consists of five years/10 semesters of major requirements. As a change of major, the time to degree completion will be five 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 admissions for the School of Architecture.

FAQ
FIRST YEAR
  •  
    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?

    SAT OR ACT

    Due to disruptions in testing schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, prospective students may apply to USC for the 2021-2022 Academic Year without submitting SAT or ACT scores, although students may still choose to submit SAT or ACT scores if they wish.


    For students who take the SAT more than once, USC records the highest scores for each section -- Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics -- even if achieved in different sittings. USC does not superscore the ACT; we will consider the highest composite score for admission.


    Neither the SAT Essay nor the ACT Writing is required.


    SAT SUBJECT TESTS

    We typically require SAT Subject tests only from first-year applicants who do not attend a regionally accredited high school (e.g., students who are home-schooled, or who attended some non-accredited parochial or community-based programs). These applicants typically must submit three SAT Subject exams, including one in mathematics. For all other applicants, SAT Subject tests are optional.

    However, due to disruptions in testing schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all prospective students may apply to USC for the 2021-2022 Academic Year without submitting SAT Subject exam scores.


    Please note that for home-schooled students, we still find it helpful to have work that is externally graded or examined. Therefore, we recommend submitting either SAT/ACT results, SAT subject exam results, AP exam results, or transcripts from college courses or other accredited online schooling programs if possible.

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

    We suggest that first-year applicants who opt to submit test scores 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.

     
  •  
    What kind of credit will I receive for my AP exams?

    USC awards 4 semester units of elective credit for AP examinations with a score of 4 or 5. Exams must be taken before you enroll at any two-year or four-year college. USC does not award credit for projected scores, partial scores or subscores. Students may not earn credit for both an AP exam and any other exam or college course covering the same subject matter.


    For students who have completed the AP capstone program, USC awards 4 semester units of elective credit for the AP Seminar. No credit is awarded for the AP Research component of the capstone.


    USC does not award course equivalence for exams, but in some cases departments may waive course prerequisites based on successful completion of select exams. If taken in spring 2007 or later, most foreign language exams will satisfy USC's third-level foreign language requirement. Select AP exams will also satisfy certain GE requirements. Please visit the Exam Credit page for available GE, foreign language and recommended prerequisite credit for your AP exam.


    USC must receive an official score report directly from the College Board. We cannot award credit for scores reported from a third party, such as your high school transcript or a student upload of your personal copy of your AP scores. Please contact the College Board at (888) CALL-4-AP or visit www.collegeboard.com to have your scores sent to the University of Southern California. 


    USC's College Board code is #4852.

     
  •  
    What kind of credit can I receive for college courses I took while in high school?

    USC's policy allows a limited number of units for students who complete regular classes at an accredited institution prior to their high school graduation, provided these classes do not apply to your high school graduation requirements. We do not award degree credit for specialized programs targeted exclusively to high school populations and/or offered on the high school campus. Please see the following excerpt from the USC Catalogue for the complete policy:


    College Courses Taken During High School Enrollment

    All undergraduate students entering USC may receive a combined maximum of 32 elective units for college courses taken before high school graduation and/or examinations (e.g., AP or IB) 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. These courses (as well as AP and IB exams) will not receive course equivalence or credit toward writing or foreign language requirements, although they may fulfill general education categories where appropriate. However, departments may use them as a basis to waive prerequisites or specific course requirements on a case-by-case basis.


    Students may not receive credit for both an AP exam (or IB or other international exam) and a college course taken before high school graduation covering the same subject matter, nor for an AP and IB exam covering the same subject matter.


    Besides earning elective units, some AP tests and international exams fulfill general education requirements. Finally, scores of 4 or 5 on AP tests in modern languages if taken in spring 2007 or later will satisfy the third semester foreign language requirement. Details will be reported on the student's transfer credit report.


    Students who began full-time college study at four-year institutions before completing their high school diplomas can submit transcripts for special evaluation. These programs, which typically are conducted on a college campus and are taught by regular faculty, will be evaluated on an individual basis. More than 16 units may be granted. Students entering full-time college programs at two-year colleges before graduating from high school are subject to the 16 unit maximum stated above.

     
  •  
    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 no longer conducts on- or off-campus admission interviews. However, prospective students are welcome to contact us with any questions about the admission process.


     
  •  
    What level of high school math is required?

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


     
  •  
    What kind of credit can I receive for my IB exams?

    USC awards 6 semester units of elective credit for International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level examinations with a score of 5, 6 or 7, up to a maximum of four exams. Alternatively, USC awards 20 units of elective credit to students who complete the IB Diploma with a score of 30 or higher. If a student completes the IB Diploma with four or more Higher Level exams, they will earn the full 24 units of credit (6 units per HL exam). Exams must be taken before matriculation at any two-year or four-year college. USC does not award credit for Standard Level exams. Students may not earn credit for both an IB exam and any other exam or college course covering the same subject matter.


    USC does not award course equivalence for exams, but in some cases departments may waive course prerequisites based on successful completion of select exams. Select IB exams will also satisfy certain GE requirements. Available GE credit can be found on the Exam Credit section of our website.


    USC must receive an official score report directly from the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). We cannot award credit for scores reported from a third party, such as your high school transcript or a student upload of your personal copy of your IB scores. Before July 5 in the year you complete the IB program, order your score report through your school's IB coordinator. To order reports later than July 5, please visit the IBO website and follow the instructions provided. If possible, please include your USC ID number with your order to avoid possible delays.

     
TRANSFER
  •  
    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 no later than the Spring term preceding the fall term you are applying for.

     
  •  
    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.

     

     
  •  
    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.