Los Angeles is the most vibrant and diverse city in America, bringing together more
people from more places than any city in the world. The city is a pulsating nerve center of
entertainment, commerce, culture, and ideas. The University of Southern California reads the
pulse of its vibrant host city and, in many ways, is a microcosm of the urban giant.
Like Los Angeles, USC offers incredible variation, not only bringing together students of
diverse backgrounds, but also nurturing a strong community that encourages innovation and debate. USC offers more majors and minors than any university in the country. Disciplines
intersect across campus, giving birth to many interdisciplinary programs. Each contributes to
the culture of the school, making USC a melting pot of theories and principles. Coupled with
low student-to-faculty ratios, small class sizes, hundreds of student organizations, and cuttingedge
research facilities, USC offers the international presence that is expected of a top-tier, private
Los Angeles is perhaps best known as the entertainment capital of the world, and USC
contributes to that reputation. USC has a long-running commitment to nurturing growth in
culture and the arts. USC offers nationally renowned cinema, theater, and music programs.
These schools have trained Academy Award-winning directors, Broadway performers, and
award-winning writers. USC has the only college band to have ever recorded a platinum selling
While often recognized for its programs in the arts, the arts programs are simply one of
many outstanding offerings of the university. USC has a strong scientific research community,
one of the top in the country in terms of research dollars awarded each year. Moreover, USC
has forged innovative programs, encouraging undergraduate research through faculty-student
collaborations. The business programs are equally well known, and USC has developed a
national reputation for encouraging entrepreneurship. Likewise, USC has developed programs
that combine new technology with new forms of communication, and is a national leader in
multimedia and video gaming.
Despite the great academic opportunities offered by the university, USC is not just about
classroom life. USC was named Time Magazine’s “College of the Year” in 2000, because more
than half of the student body participate in volunteer programs that help the surrounding Los
Angeles community. The city and the school have developed a mutually beneficial give-andtake
And, of course, let’s not forget sports. Like the rest of Los Angeles, known for its many
sports teams with strong fan bases, USC has a strong athletic tradition. USC has produced more
Olympic athletes than any other university in the country, and USC consistently has nationally
ranked sports teams. The cardinal-and-gold-colored blood runs thick in the veins of proud
alumni who frequent the campus to cheer on their Trojan athletes.
USC is a university that is innovative and forward-looking, bringing its students the best
resources to help them become tomorrow’s leaders. Yet, as the university has developed and
expanded since its founding in 1880, its foundation has remained untouched. At the core of
USC stands a united family—the Trojan Family.
The extended family of USC is a global network made up of thousands of alumni,
students, faculty, and staff, as well as the parents of students, children, and grandchildren of
alumni, the Board of Trustees, the boards of councilors, donors, athletic fans, and neighborhood
partners. Indeed, no university is better known for the vastness of support that its alumni
and affiliates provide far beyond the campus gates. The uniqueness of the Trojan Family isn’t
due to its large numbers. Rather, it’s the extraordinary closeness and solidarity that is found in
this genuinely supportive community. To its members, the term “Trojan Family” is more than a
phrase—It represents a promise, a commitment to support that is lifelong and worldwide.
Perhaps it is a cliché, but the four years that constitute an undergraduate education are
often the most transformative in a person’s life. College is time for learning, growing, changing,
When I went to college, I was sure I wanted to be a doctor. Once there, I found USC’s
premedical training programs to be superb, and my science classes taught me much of what I
would need to know in order to pursue my goal. Yet, the classes were just the beginning.
Through a hospital and clinical internship program, I got to experience what it would be like
to be a doctor, spending time in the hospital, working with patients, and observing surgeries.
Then, through another program, I had the opportunity to do original research in a world-class
biomedical research lab. While I very much enjoyed the experiences in these programs, ironically
it was precisely these programs that helped me to realize that I did not want to be a doctor.
Since I was a child I had imagined myself in medicine, however, when I experienced it up
close, I realized it was not for me. Yet, I was only able to learn this about myself, by having such
rich and complete experiences in medicine, the kinds of experiences that few places offer
undergraduates. Most students have to wait until medical school to find out if they really will
enjoy medicine or not.
The change in my perspective largely came from exposure to the abundance of other
opportunities available at USC. Things suddenly became interesting to me that I could never
have imagined as a high school senior, simply because I did not know that such opportunities
were available and viable. Classes in leadership and entrepreneurship opened a whole new
perspective of the world to me. Meeting and actually talking to such leaders as former
Massachesetts governor Michael Dukakis, former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, businessman
Eli Broad, and director Robert Zemeckis helped me gain a perspective on how I
myself thought about leadership. Working with professors in business classes who were not
simply theorists, but practitioners, helped bring the business world alive.
When I think about the transformations I went through at USC, those transformations
were not just intellectual, but personal and social as well. When I think of the close friendships
I developed at USC, I marvel at their diversity. My close friends included a video-game journalist
who was syndicated in many languages, an all-American volleyball player, a keyboard
player in the jazz band, a first-generation Indian immigrant, an aspiring orthodox rabbi, a cinema
student who had traveled the world, and others who, like me, had grown up in several different
countries. Our backgrounds were incredibly diverse, as were our interests. USC fostered
an environment where we could learn from each other and enjoy each other, where we came
to see our very diversity as a gift in itself.
Each student’s journey through USC is different. Some students come to USC and find
that the goals they had in high school are the goals they do pursue, with USC providing a rich
and complex background for them to do it. Others, like me, discover that our goals change in
response to the abundant intellectual and social opportunities USC affords. USC offers many
paths, all of them potentially rewarding.
At USC, I learned that I could make a difference. USC’s emphasis on
community service motivated me to volunteer to organize youth sports leagues
in disadvantaged neighborhoods. It was amazing to watch. First, there were a
few kids who turned up, then more came. Finally, parents and neighbors came
to cheer on the teams. It was wonderful to see people coming together, supporting
the kids in their communities, and working to build something special.
USC gives its students the world. The university offers a broad selection of highly
regarded academic programs taught by world-renowned faculty dedicated to undergraduate
education. The student body is one of the most active in the country, with thriving on-campus
organizations, a strong involvement in community service, and a broad array of social events.
The sports programs are second to none—all in the most vibrant city in the world. Most importantly,
once you enter USC you become part of the USC family, a network of friends and support
that extend across the world, shaping you and supporting you not only in your college years, but
for the rest of your life. The Trojan Family extends its arms to you. Fight On!
At USC, education can be as unique as you are. “What’s your major?” is a question of the
past. With more majors and minors offered than at any other American university, many USC
students do not settle for just one major. In fact, students are encouraged to pursue doublemajor
and -minor opportunities.
Our ideal is to help students develop the kind of intellectual flexibility needed for life
in the twenty-first century that the best thinkers of the European Renaissance displayed.
With these words as a backdrop, President Steven B. Sample launched the USC Renaissance
Scholars program in the year 2000. The Renaissance Scholars program honors students whose
broad interests help them excel academically. Like Leonardo da Vinci, who was equally adept
in the arts and the sciences, Renaissance Scholars are students whose majors and minors are
in widely separated fields of study. Renaissance Scholars are eligible to compete for the $10,000
Renaissance Scholar Prize that has been specially authorized by the Board of Trustees. Up to
ten prizes are awarded every year. (I was awarded a Renaissance Scholar Prize for
my major in Business Administration with an emphasis in Information and Operations
Management and a minor in Natural Sciences.) Renaissance Scholars have completed hundreds
of combinations of majors and minors, ranging from a major in engineering and a minor
in cinema to a double major in physics and classics.
Programs of Study
As the Renaissance Scholars program demonstrates, programs of study at USC are both
abundant and flexible. With thirty academic departments in the College of Letters,
Arts, and Sciences and seventeen professional schools, USC has interdisciplinary programs
galore—and if your dream program is not offered, create it yourself.
At the core of any program of study at USC is the general education program. In addition
to major requirements, students must take a class from each of six general education categories
and take at least two writing classes (one lower-division and one upper-division). The
six general education categories cover broad disciplines such as literature, the arts, science, and social issues. Within each category, students may choose from dozens of classes. The program
offers students flexibility on two fronts. By having numerous choices to fulfill each
requirement, students can tailor their program to their interests and passions. By reducing the
total number of courses in the general education program, students have more elective units
available to complete a second major or minor, or to take a class for fun.
When choosing elective classes, Trojan students get to select from some of the best in
the country. For example, every semester, Leonard Maltin from “Entertainment
Tonight” teaches a weekly cinema class in which he screens a different prerelease motion
picture. Following the screening, the class conducts a question-and-answer session with a
guest involved in the making of the movie—usually the director, producer, or leading actor.
Every spring, President Steven Sample teams up with Professor Warren Bennis, leadership
guru and author of over thirty books, to teach “The Art and Adventure of Leadership.”
Forty students, hand-selected by Sample and Bennis, study leadership styles of key figures of
the modern era, interact with prominent leaders in the classroom, and are challenged to begin
analyzing and developing their own leadership styles.
The Art and Adventure of Leadership” was the highlight of my classroom experience at
USC. Class guests included former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, film director
Robert Zemeckis, former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, businessman Eli Broad, and a
SWAT team commander. The papers I wrote were read personally by Sample and Bennis and
then discussed over small-group luncheons. What other classroom in the country provides students
such hands-on access to today’s most prominent leaders?
Like general education and elective classes, upper-division classes are also taught by
world-renowned faculty. For example, the business school features proven entrepreneurs.
And a chief economist for the Securities and Exchange Commission even teaches a
class. The Viterbi School of Engineering features researchers with many patents on their
office walls. The biology department features key contributors to the human genome project.
And the music, theatre, cinematic arts, and art schools feature award-winning faculty
in their respective fields. Working directly with these distinct leaders provides students
access to cutting-edge research in their field of study and connects the classroom community
with the outside world.
Collectively, USC’s academic programs provide students with the skills, contacts, and
knowledge to get their careers off to a running start and help them make significant contributions
to their academic, professional, and business communities as they move beyond USC and
into the world.
In addition to the broadest selection of academic programs offered by any university, USC
also offers several highly selective programs tailored to students with specialized interests.
Three of the flagship programs are the Thematic Option program, the Resident Honors
Program, and the Baccalaureate/M.D. program.
Thematic Option (TO) has been cited by several college guides as one of the best general
education honors programs in the country. Each year, about 200 freshmen participate in
the interdisciplinary core curriculum. TO offers small classes with some of the university’s best
undergraduate teachers and a hand-picked group of writing instructors. The curriculum is
organized according to themes rather than by discipline and fulfills all general education
Resident Honors Program (RHP) allows high-achieving high school seniors to get a head
start on their college education. RHP students matriculate into USC a year early and complete
their senior year requirements for high school and freshman year simultaneously. Although
RHP students attend classes and participate in campus activities like all other students, they
are required to stay in the honors dormitory and participate in special group programs to
ensure their transition into college is smooth.
The Baccalaureate/M.D. program (BMD) is an eight-year joint undergraduate/medical
program designed for students demonstrating a strong interest in pursuing a career as a clinical
physician. BMD students are encouraged to pursue “nontraditional premedical” majors and
are guaranteed a seat in the Keck School of Medicine of USC upon completion of core classes
and passing base GPA and MCAT requirements. While in the program, BMD students participate
in medical research projects and attend programs sponsored by the medical school. By
reducing the stress attached to applying to medical school and encouraging students to pursue
a broad undergraduate education, BMD students have completed many majors in addition to
their premed classes.
In addition to these flagship programs, other special programs such as undergraduate
research grants and study abroad have a wider reach to students. Undergraduate research is
encouraged across campus and is a major requirement in some departments. Most students
engaging in research join ongoing projects in large laboratories. However, students may design their own research project and apply for a campus grant. Several dozen grants of $2,500 are dedicated
for such projects. For students wishing to leave the beautiful weather of Southern
California for a semester or two, USC has partnerships with universities around the world. In
fact, USC ranks as the top U.S. university in international enrollment with more than 5,000 students.
While most programs satisfy only elective units, some will transfer upper-division credits.
As a member of the Baccalaureate/M.D. program, I majored in Business
Administration. My classmates’ majors included Theater, Classics, History, and
Mechanical Engineering. As part of the program, I participated in plastic
surgery and stem cell research projects. The program encouraged me to pursue
my passions and build a broad foundation for medical school. The Keck School
of Medicine believes such students have the best potential to be great physicians
and develop strong relationships with their patients.
Faculty and Class Size
USC has the smallest average class size and the low faculty-to-student ratio (ten-to-one)
expected of any top-tier private research university. In fact, while the USC faculty have
great academic and intellectual horsepower and field recognition, those are not what distinguish
it from other universities. What distinguishes USC from other top research universities
is the faculty’s commitment to undergraduate education and the access granted to
students. Most of the faculty who are in the spotlight for their groundbreaking research and
best-selling books also teach undergraduate courses. In addition to the normal office hours
that professors hold, several programs subsidize lunches with professors to help students
build personal relationships. Meeting professors during “nontraditional” hours such as latenight
coffee or weekend activities is not uncommon. In short, USC provides its best academic
resources directly to its undergraduate students.
Most Popular Fields of Study
As the Trojan Family has continued to grow and the buzz about USC has spread both
nationally and globally, the number of applicants has increased significantly in recent years,
making USC one of the “hottest schools in the country” according to Newsweek Magazine. In
the fall of 2008, the school received 35,901 applications, and was able to admit only 7,876 students,
or just about twenty-two percent.
Grades, Test Scores, and Requirements
The median composite SAT score for the 2008 freshman class was 1910–2190. The average
GPA was 3.7 (unweighted). Admission to USC is highly competitive. Successful candidates
for admission to USC will have completed a rigorous college preparatory curriculum in
high school and will have availed themselves of every academic opportunity open to them.
USC does not use any system of Early Decision, Early Action, or Early Notification in its
admissions process. There are three deadlines for filing applications:
- December 1: Deadline for freshmen or transfer students applying for merit scholarship
competition of the Baccalaureate/MD program.
- January 1: Final deadline for freshman applications.
- February 2: Final deadline for transfer student applications.
Application forms are available from the USC Admission Office, or prospective students
may apply on-line at www.usc.edu. The application cost is $65. All freshman applicants are
notified by March 31.
Another way to get into USC is by transferring from a community college. Many partnership
programs are in place between USC and community colleges that help facilitate
the transfer process.
With the cost of tuition, room, and board rising, it is not a surprise that more than sixty
percent of USC students receive some form of financial aid. According to the Office of
Admission and Financial Aid, all students applying for aid at USC are required to fill out both
the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Profile to establish
eligibility for need-based federal, state, and USC grants as well as federal loans and work-study.
USC operates one of the largest financial aid programs in the country.
USC has a long tradition of meeting one hundred percent of the USC-determined financial
need for those undergraduate students who satisfy all eligibility requirements and deadlines.
Entering students are admitted to the University based on academic achievement, test
scores, leadership, and community involvement. Financial need is not a factor in the admission
decision for freshmen.
I held three part-time jobs during my four years at USC: sports clinician
with “Kids In Sports,” laboratory instructor for Statistics, and grader for
Information Technology classes. These jobs helped me earn several thousand dollars
a year for my school costs, enabled me to apply skills learned in the classroom,
and provided a great break from studying. While working these jobs, I
averaged eighteen units a semester, played a club sport, and maintained a
healthy social life.
For those students who apply for financial aid, need is determined by families’ income
and assets information, collected through the federal FAFSA, the CSS profile, and other
required forms. In 2005–2006, the average freshman need-based financial aid award was
$29,256. Such awards are made up of grants, work, and student loans.
Students are encouraged to apply for merit-based
awards. The most notable are the Trustee (full-tuition),
Presidential (half-tuition), and Dean’s (quarter-tuition)
scholarships. More than five hundred of these scholarships
are awarded annually, providing one of the largest meritbased
scholarship programs in the country. In addition to
these programs, USC alumni groups and other organizations
provide scholarships for our students.
Part-time jobs are also a good way to manage school
costs. Working too many hours is discouraged as it distracts
from academic focus, but most students can fulfill their
work-study requirements with ten to fifteen hours of work
Student Financial Aid Details
USC’s rigorous academic programs are accompanied by equally vigorous social activities.
On campus, over six hundred organized clubs support interests ranging from archeology to
waterskiing. These clubs compete for students’ time with conferences, concerts, and special
speakers. An extensive Greek system draws participation from approximately seventeen percent of students. Across campus, hundreds of volunteer opportunities await Trojan students in
the heart of Los Angeles. Slightly further away, students can choose from basking on Southern
California’s sunny beaches, partying in the Hollywood nightlife, or snowboarding on local
slopes. In addition to all of these activities, school spirit runs high as the Trojan faithful swarm
in masses to cheer on USC’s championship sports programs.
USC has on-campus dormitories and off-campus apartments that house nearly 7,300 students.
In addition to these, thousands of students live in apartments and houses in the
streets surrounding the campus. During the day, hundreds of students ride their bicycles
around campus, and at night the occasional house party can be found.
Several blocks from campus are dozens of large Victorian-style houses that have been
converted into student housing. My sophomore and junior years, nine of my friends and I
teamed up to rent a ten-bedroom house.
Campus is always buzzing with activities. Two attract the most attention—the
President’s Distinguished Lecture series and the student-sponsored Program Board concerts.
These bring today’s most prominent leaders and most popular bands directly to campus. Hence
the saying, the world comes to USC.
During my four years, campus speakers included George H.W. Bush, Colin Powell, Henry
Kissinger, Madeline Albright, Margaret Thatcher, and Rosa Parks. Campus concerts
included Blink 182, Nelly, Naughty By Nature, Wyclef Jean, and Smash Mouth.
More than half of USC students volunteer in community service projects each year. This
dedication to the betterment of its surrounding communities earned USC College of
the Year honors from Time Magazine in 2000. One of the most popular volunteer programs
is the Joint Educational Program (JEP). Students participating in JEP teach in local
schools once a week, often teaching simplified versions of the material learned in their col
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
Athletic excellence makes the Trojan mascot one of the most recognized in collegiate
sports. Trojans have won team national champion ships, 352 individual NCAA titles,
and more Olympic medals than students at any other American university.
Football is perhaps USC’s most decorated program: eleven national championships;
fifteen unbeaten seasons; seven Heisman Trophy winners (most recently Reggie Bush in 2005);
and representation in all but two Super Bowls. One football star even won an Oscar for Best
Actor! In 1925–26, Marion Morrison played tackle for USC. After graduating, he changed his
name and went on to win the award for his performance in True Grit. This was none other than
screen legend John Wayne.
In baseball, USC has won twelve national championships (no other school has more
than five), and produced more than ninety major-leaguers, including home-run specialist Mark
McGwire and strikeout ace Randy Johnson.
The women’s basketball team has produced many stars including Cheryl Miller, Cynthia
Cooper, Tina Thompson, and Lisa Leslie, the first woman to slam-dunk in a professional
These championship teams are supported by perhaps the most recognized collegiate
band in the country. The Trojan Marching Band has performed nationally and is the only collegiate
marching band to have corecorded a platinum album: Tusk with Fleetwood Mac.
My dream of playing varsity volleyball faded when I developed a
chronic knee injury in high school. Unwilling to completely abandon the idea of
playing competitive volleyball at the collegiate level, I teamed up with seven
other freshmen to form the USC men’s club volleyball team. That year, we scheduled
only a few games and had a mediocre record, but we made progress with
every season. By my senior year, we had over twenty games scheduled, were
sponsored by Nike, traveled Cross-country to nationals, and were ranked in the
Top 25 by the governing body of club volleyball.
These achievements help explain why the cardinal-and-gold-colored blood runs thick in
the veins of proud students and alumni who fill up stadiums and gymnasiums to cheer their
Trojan athletes. On Saturday afternoons in the fall, five generations of Trojans can be found tailgaiting
on campus before a football game.
For those wishing to compete on the field, varsity athletics is not always an achievable
goal. Two alternatives, intramural and club intercollegiate sports, provide opportunities to play
competitive sports. Club sports offer great opportunities to play intercollegiate sports without
the demand of varsity schedules. USC has forty-eight official club teams including crew, rugby,
softball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, equestrian, and polo. But if your favorite sport is not available,
form a new team just like we did!
Many extraordinarily bright people have attended
USC. The school has had more than its fair share of successful
entrepreneurs, award-winning artists and performers,
politicians, and athletes. Simply providing a long list of
USC’s all-time stars would be interesting, but probably
would not tell much about how the average graduate fares.
USC students pursuing postgraduate education
have high acceptance rates into medical, law, and other
graduate programs. Those entering directly into the business world are highly sought out by
both local and global businesses. USC’s career advisement centers orchestrate career and job
fairs for the more than 600 companies that recruit on campus. In fact, many Trojan students
receive job offers before they graduate from USC. By the end of the fall semester my senior year,
I had more formal job offers than I could count on one hand.
In fact, USC graduates are often better candidates than their counterparts at other top
schools because of their internship experience. A benefit of attending school in a large urban
setting is that many internship opportunities are available with local companies. These internships
are either paid or taken for class credit and often lead to full-time job offers.
Regardless of the paths USC graduates choose to take, the Trojan Family is always there
to support them. From mentorship and coaching to interviews and job offers, the Trojan Family
is an extraordinarily strong network that is genuinely supportive.
- Herb Alpert, Musician, Cofounder
of A&M Records
- Neil Armstrong, Astronaut (First
Man on the Moon)
- Art Buchwald, Pulitzer Prizewinning
- LeVar Burton, Actor
- Sam Donaldson, Television News
- Frank Gehry, Architect
- Pat Haden, NFL Quarterback,
Rhodes Scholar, TV commentator
- Ron Howard, Film Director
- Robinson Jeffers, Poet
- Swoozie Kurtz, Actress
- Marilyn Horne, Opera Singer
- George Lucas, Filmmaker
- Mark McGwire, Baseball Legend
- John Ritter, Actor
- Norman Schwarzkopf, General
- Michael Tilson Thomas, Worldclass
Conductor, Music Director of
San Francisco Symphony
- John Wayne, Actor
- David L. Wolper, Film, Television