USC Acceptance Rate | Strategies and Insights for Admission Success 2024

Following the Varsity Blues scandal of 2019, it might be tempting to jest about “How to get into USC” with cynical suggestions like hiring someone to take the SATs or photoshopping your way into a sports team. However, such incidents notwithstanding, the University of Southern California (USC) remains a top-tier private institution with numerous globally recognized academic programs. Despite past controversies, USC’s trajectory has been increasingly selective. In the late ’90s, USC admitted 45% of applicants, but today, with a tripling of application numbers, its acceptance rate has dwindled to single digits.

In light of this heightened competitiveness, prospective Trojans must be well-informed and prepared for the rigorous admissions process in 2023-24.

What is The USC Acceptance Rate?

Among the 80,790 hopeful applicants for the 2023-24 academic year, only 8,032 received the coveted offer of admission, resulting in a USC acceptance rate of 9.9%.

While USC doesn’t provide an Early Decision option, it introduced an Early Action opportunity this cycle for students applying to most majors.

USC Early Decision Acceptance Rate?

The Early decision round at USC saw 55% of admitted students receiving their letters of acceptance. With over 40,600 applicants, the USC Early decision acceptance rate stood at a modest 6%.

What is The USC SAT scores, ACT scores, and Class Rank?

The median SAT score for students enrolled in the USC Class of 2026 was 1490, with a median ACT score of 33. These students boasted an average unweighted GPA of 3.8, with 80% ranking in the top 10% of their high school class and 95% in the top quarter.

Additionally, 48% of those admitted to the Class of 2026 submitted test scores as part of their application.

What is The Admission Insights at The USC?

Here are some notable trends and statistics for the USC admissions process for the Class of 2027:

  1. The average unweighted GPA for students accepted into the Class of 2027 was 3.90.
  2. 19% of the accepted students in the 2023-24 freshman class were international students.
  3. California, often dubbed the “Golden State,” contributed significantly to the admitted Class of 2027, with 38% of students hailing from this region.
  4. The accepted Class of 2027 saw an increase in first-generation students, rising to 23% from 20% in the previous year’s cohort.
  5. The total number of applicants surged by 17% from the previous admissions cycle.

What is The USC Demographics?

Let’s delve into the demographics and geographic distribution of the USC Class of 2026:

Geographic Distribution: The states contributing the most freshmen to the 2022-23 class were California, New York, Washington, Texas, Illinois, Florida, and New Jersey. Among international students, the leading countries were China, India, Canada, South Korea, and Singapore.

Competition and Geographic Advantage: As with any highly-selective institution, competition is fiercest among applicants from densely populated states like those in the Northeast and the West Coast. Conversely, applicants from less populated states such as Alaska, North Dakota, or Montana may enjoy a relative boost in their admissions prospects. USC typically aims to maintain a significant percentage of students from California, which constituted 42% of the Class of 2026.

High Schools: Within California, several high schools consistently send a substantial number of graduates to USC annually. Some of the top high schools in terms of USC enrollment in 2022 included Foshay Learning Center (Los Angeles), Orange County High School for the Arts (Santa Ana), La Canada High School (La Canada), Mater Dei (Private, Santa Ana), West Ranch High School (Valencia), and Arcadia High School (Arcadia).

Ethnic Identity: The breakdown of the Class of 2026 by ethnic identity was as follows: Asian American (22%), Hispanic (17%), African American (8%), International (18%), White (25%), and Multiple Ethnicities (7%).

Gender Distribution: The gender distribution of the Class of 2026 notably favored women, with males comprising 46% and females 54% of the cohort.

Academic Schools: Among the enrolled students, the distribution across academic schools was as follows: Dornslife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (41%), Marshall School of Business (17%), USC’s Schools of Visual and Performing Arts (17%), Viterbi School of Engineering (14%), and Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism (5%).

What is The USC Yield Rate?

The yield rate at USC, which represents the percentage of accepted students who choose to enroll, stood at 41% for the Class of 2026. While this figure reflects a strong commitment from admitted students, it falls below the yield rates of several other top private universities such as Northwestern, Duke, and Georgetown University.

What is The Admission Criteria at The USC?

This school conducts a thorough and holistic review of each application, considering various aspects such as academic performance, writing skills, test scores, personal qualities, community involvement, and leadership achievements. USC seeks intellectually ambitious individuals with a global perspective, a history of community engagement, and a willingness to step out of their comfort zones.

USC emphasizes five key factors in their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, GPA, standardized test scores, essays, and recommendations. Additionally, they consider extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and character/personal characteristics as important factors. Other elements, including first-generation status, legacy status, race/ethnicity, volunteer work, and paid work, are also taken into consideration.

Being recruited as an athlete can enhance an applicant’s chances of admission, especially since USC boasts one of the top NCAA Division I sports programs in the country. Non-Photoshopped recruits receive preference, reflecting the university’s commitment to maintaining a strong athletic presence.

The USC Application Process Key Tips

If you’re gearing up to join the ranks of over 80,000 Trojan hopefuls for the upcoming admissions cycle, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  1. Prioritize Advanced Coursework: USC values evidence of rigorous coursework in high school, particularly in your area of academic interest. Aim to take multiple advanced classes, with a target of 7-8 AP courses if possible.
  2. Select First-Choice Major: When completing the Common Application, be sure to indicate your first-choice major. You also have the option to select a second-choice major or pre-professional emphasis.
  3. Utilize Common App and Essays: Since USC does not conduct admissions interviews, your best opportunity to connect with an admissions officer on a personal level is through your Common App and supplemental essays/short answers.
  4. Demonstrated Interest Not Considered: USC does not factor demonstrated interest into the admissions process. Whether or not you have visited the campus (in non-pandemic times) or contacted an admissions officer will not impact your application.
  5. Focus on Supplemental Essays: Allocate sufficient time and effort to crafting compelling supplemental essays required by USC. These essays provide an opportunity to showcase your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations, so approach them thoughtfully and creatively.


The journey to becoming a part of USC’s vibrant community of scholars and leaders is undoubtedly competitive and rigorous. With over 80,000 applicants vying for admission, it’s crucial to approach the application process with careful consideration and dedication. By prioritizing advanced coursework, selecting your preferred major, making the most of your Common App and essays, and demonstrating your unique qualities and aspirations, you can enhance your chances of securing a coveted spot at USC. Remember, while the road may be challenging, the opportunity to join one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning is well worth the effort.