usc acceptance rateusc acceptance rate

The University of Southern California (USC) is one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the United States. With a rich history dating back to 1880, USC has developed into a world-class research university located in the heart of Los Angeles. Getting accepted into usc acceptance rate is highly competitive, with the university receiving nearly 81,000 applications and admitting only around 8,000 students for an acceptance rate of roughly 10% in recent years.

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USC Acceptance Rate Overview

The acceptance rate is defined as the percentage of applicants offered admission divided by the total number of applicants. This measure of selectivity gives prospective students an idea of their chances of getting into a particular school. The lower the acceptance rate, the more competitive admissions are at that college or university.

For fall 2023 admission at USC, the university received 80,808 applications and made offers of admission to 8,094 applicants for an acceptance rate of 10%. This makes USC’s admissions process highly selective and competitive. By comparison, the average U.S. four-year college acceptance rate is around 65%.

Table 1. USC Acceptance Rate for Fall 2023 Admission

The 10% acceptance rate for 2023 is on par with recent years. USC accepted only 9.9% of 80,790 applicants for fall 2022 admission. Going back further, the acceptance rate was 11.4% for fall 2021, 16% for fall 2020, and 13% for fall 2019.

So while the acceptance rate fluctuates slightly year to year, the overall trend shows USC admitting closer to 10% of applicants in recent admission cycles. Compared to many other top-50 national universities, this puts USC among the most highly selective for undergraduate admissions.

Factors in USC’s Admissions Decisions

With so few spaces available relative to applicants, the USC admissions office must make difficult decisions on the strongest candidates to admit.

Applicants are evaluated holistically across a variety of factors, including:

  • Academic Record: Rigorous high school curriculum, grades, class rank. Strong performance in challenging college prep courses.
  • Standardized Test Scores: SAT or ACT results compared to national averages.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Leadership in school clubs, sports teams, community service.
  • Personal Essays: Written statements conveying the student’s perspectives, background, goals.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Support from teachers, counselors, mentors.
  • Special Talents: Outstanding achievements in athletics, arts, research, etc.

Meeting the academic and testing thresholds is not enough on its own to get into USC. Successful applicants stand out through their achievements outside the classroom as well. Compelling personal stories and glowing recommendations also boost prospective students’ chances.

But with so much competition for a strictly limited number of spots, even very strong candidates get rejected from USC each admissions cycle.

What Test Scores and GPAs Do Admitted Students Have?

To better understand your chances of getting into USC, it helps to take a closer look at the academic credentials of admitted students over the past few years:

Standardized Test Scores

The middle 50% of students admitted to USC score between 1350 and 1530 on the SAT. That means 25% scored below 1350, 25% scored above 1530, and half of admits scored between those two figures. The average SAT score is around 1440.

For the ACT, the middle half of admitted students score between 32 and 35 composite. USC likely considers an ACT score of 34 or higher quite strong.

So while outstanding scores don’t guarantee admission on their own, they can give applicants a significant boost, especially when paired with other impressive credentials.

High School GPA

The average unweighted GPA of fall 2023 admitted freshmen was 3.87 on a 4.0 scale. That’s higher than recent years and indicates an increasingly competitive applicant pool.

Looking more broadly, successful USC applicants generally have at least:

  • 3.7 unweighted GPA
  • Mostly A/A- grades in all core subject areas

Applicants should remember that USC receives many applications with perfect 4.0 GPAs every year, so simply having high grades is no guarantee. Standing out from the competition in other areas is key.

International Student Admission at USC

USC welcomes international applicants, who made up nearly 11% of the fall 2022 entering class. However, international students face an even steeper uphill climb for admission with an estimated acceptance rate around 10%.

Meeting eligibility requirements is the first major hurdle for prospective international undergraduates, who must:

  • Complete equivalent of U.S. university prep high school curriculum
  • Submit transcripts translated to English and credential evaluations
  • Prove English language proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)
  • Confirm ability to finance cost of attendance, including scholarships

In addition to these requirements, the international application process mirrors domestic students in terms of submitting test scores, essays, recommendations, demonstrated extracurricular engagement and leadership, and so on.

While financial need isn’t considered for U.S. applicants, for international students, being able to pay is effectively an admissions factor unto itself at USC. Simple economics dictates that colleges must prioritize applicants able to foot the tuition bill.

So gaining admission from overseas takes excelling by global standards both inside and outside the classroom plus securing funding to actually attend. Those unique hurdles likely contribute to the especially low ~10% international acceptance rate.

Takeaways: How Difficult Is Getting Into USC Overall?

In summary, getting into USC is highly challenging:

  • Tiny 10% acceptance rate makes admission extremely selective
  • Applicants compete against elite peer group across academics, testing, ECs, essays
  • Even 4.0 GPAs may not suffice without supplemental standout achievements
  • Finances often factor for international applicants needing to confirm full cost support

Succeeding in the USC admissions game requires advance planning and effort well beyond acing tests and classes. Truly exceptional talents, perspectives, and recommendations give candidates the best shot.

But ultimately, owing to capped enrollments, the university rejects thousands of brilliant, talented students annually. So while driving for perfection helps, maintaining reasonable expectations and mentally preparing for either outcome is wise.


  1. USC Undergraduate Admission. “First-Year Student Profile.” Accessed December 2022.
  2. USC Undergraduate Admission. “First-Year Application Requirements.” Accessed December 2022.
  3. USC International Academy. “Undergraduate Admissions Information.” Accessed December 2022.
  4. PrepScholar. “University of Southern California: Acceptance Rate, SAT/ACT Scores, GPA.” Accessed December 2022.
  5. Los Angeles Times. “Amid 70,000 applicants, USC slashes acceptance rate to 9% for fall 2022 freshman class.” Accessed December 2022.

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