The University of Southern California (USC) was established in 1880 just three miles south of what is today downtown Los Angeles. It was the first private, nonsectarian research university in the western U.S. to integrate liberal arts and professional education. What started out as a single-building institution more than 130 years ago has evolved into one of the country’s most prestigious research and liberal arts universities. USC is home to three major teaching hospitals, one of the top-ranked business schools in the country, and the first academic filmmaking program in the United States.
USC offers more than 150 undergraduate and 300 graduate and professional degrees to the roughly 40,000 students who attend each year. Of those students, more than half (22,000 as of 2012-13) are in a professional or graduate program. For the 2012 academic year, USC received 46,104 applications and accepted 9,187 (20%) new freshman. Students who are accepted earn an average GPA of 3.7 and SAT scores ranging between 1950 and 2190. Tuition for a full-time undergraduate student at USC is $45,602 a year. However, tuition may vary between professional programs. For example, law school tuition costs a flat fee of $25,319 per semester, while the Graduate of Cinematic Arts program costs $1,567 per unit.
To apply for any USC graduate program, students must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Most USC graduate programs require a general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test and transcripts from all colleges attended. Different departments may require different supplemental materials such as writing samples, portfolios, and department recommendations and references.
Graduate students who can’t relocate to L.A may still earn one of the degrees available through USCNow, which hosts the school’s web-based programs, shares the same accreditation as the ‘brick and mortar’ courses; the tuition price is roughly $20,000 per semester, though this varies by department and program. Students enrolled in USC’s online courses are able to interact with their professor and classmates in real time. The structured curriculum includes regularly scheduled assignments and exams, and many also feature a video lecture component. The USC institutions that participate in USCNow are the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (with nearly 50 degree options available); Marshall School of Business; Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism; Ostrow School of Dentistry; Rossier School of Education; Viterbi School of Engineering; Davis School of Gerontology; Keck School of Medicine; School of Pharmacy; School of Social Work; and Sol Price School of Public Policy.
In addition, the school’s outreach program is intended to encourage partnerships, recruitment, and opportunities for among students worldwide. The university sponsors international offices in Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Mexico, and Taiwan. Thanks to these worldwide connections, USC has a thriving international education program; hundreds of USC students choose to study abroad, and the school also enrolls more foreign students than any other U.S. university (7,889 as of Fall 2012).
Beyond academics, USC is also known for its successful sports teams — particularly the Trojans football team, which has won more Rose Bowl tournaments than any other college squad in history. USC competes in the NCAA Pacific-12 Conference; overall, the school’s athletes have won 96 NCAA team competitions and 361 individual championships. Trojan athletes have also gone on to win more Olympic medals than alumni from any other U.S. university, with 287 total (135 gold, 87 silver and 65 bronze).
In addition to a storied academic and athletic reputation, USC’s online and offline courses are paving the way for students in the 21st century. The university is already among the most popular in the United States — and thanks to its adoption of numerous web-based programs and applications, its broad appeal should only increase in the years to come.