USC Transfer Acceptance Rate, GPA, and Requirements

Not only is the University of South Carolina one of the best institutions to attend in California, but it is also an exciting place to immerse oneself in the quintessential college experience.

Students with a passion for culture, outdoor activities, and diversity will never get bored in Los Angeles, where USC is situated. 

The Expo Line is the Los Angeles Metro Rail System and connects the school to various parts of LA, including the Getty Museum (which houses a magnificent collection of art, sculptures, and gardens) and the Santa Monica Pier (a miniature amusement park lined with boutiques, restaurants, and ideal people-watching).

While LA may be known for its star-studded sidewalks, luxurious clothing brands, and upscale restaurants, there are plenty of accessible and affordable options for those living on a student budget. 

Regular offerings include free yoga classes, pop-up art galleries in the city center, and entrance to Griffith Observatory.

Many students choose the University of Southern California because of the many opportunities available to students – from scholarships and study-abroad excursions to honors programs, research facilities, and high-performing athletic teams, there’s something at USC for a diverse range of students.

Is USC the best place to transfer? The answer depends largely on the program a student is interested in and their academic track record. 

Moving forward, we’ll review the transfer acceptance rate at USC, the materials required for transfer applications, key deadlines in the application process, and other programs and opportunities that will pull in the ideal USC Trojan.

USC Transfer Acceptance Rate

University of Southern California
Sitao Xiang, USC VKC building, CC BY-SA 4.0

For the fall semester of the 2021-2022 school year, the University of Southern California admitted 22.1% of transfer applicants – that’s 2,208 out of 9,988 hopefuls. 

From the pool of admitted transfer applicants, 1,353 enrolled at USC, amounting to a yield of 61.3% 

The vast majority (74%) of transfer students come from California community colleges, University of California schools, California State University, or other California independent schools, with Santa Monica College and Pasadena City College topping the list of most represented sending institutions. 

That being said, students transferred from over 330 schools in the 2021-2022 school year, which indicates that it is entirely viable for an out-of-state student to gain admittance to USC.

Students applying to USC as transfers may have increased odds of gaining admittance to the school compared to first-year applicants, being that USC’s first-year student admission rate narrowed to 12% for the incoming class of 2025. 

This figure is lower than their historical acceptance rates and attributed to a 20% increase in applications received over the previous year.

Application Requirements & GPA for USC Transfers

The middle 50% of accepted USC transfer applicants had a transferable college GPA between 3.73 and 4.0, making the admissions process competitive for those seeking to attend USC as transfers.

Application materials for USC transfers are fairly standard, including the Common Application, official high school transcripts, and official transcripts from all colleges attended. International applicants must submit English Proficiency Exam results (if their native language is not English).

USC asks transfer applicants to respond to several questions in short-answer format, and there may be other supplemental materials, resumes, portfolios, writing samples, or auditions required, depending on the transfer applicant’s intended major.

All transfer applicants must indicate their first choice major on their application, knowing that the admissions officers will consider students for open/undecided status or their optional second-choice majors. 

It is optional for applicants to submit letters of recommendation (though some majors may require them) and, like many post-secondary institutions in the U.S., USC has made it optional for students to submit standardized test scores as part of their first-year or transfer applications.

According to USC, the most successful transfer applicants demonstrate at least one year of rigorous, full-time coursework with exemplary grades. 

Competitive applicants enroll in 14-16 credit hours per term, obtain the equivalent of USC’s lower-division writing requirement (Writing 130), and meet the minimum math requirement by showing mastery of high school Algebra II or college Intermediate Algebra (with a grade of C or higher).

USC does have an established set of general education requirements, and transfer applicants should show satisfactory progress toward meeting those requirements and performing well in additional lower-division classes required by their desired major. 

This is especially important for transfer applicants interested in pursuing degrees in science, engineering, architecture, dental hygiene, or business (as these programs are among the most competitive).

Both incoming sophomores and juniors may apply to transfer to USC, and the school does not stipulate a minimum number of transfer units. 

However, if the students have obtained fewer than 30 transferable credit hours by the end of the spring term, the admissions team will base their decision primarily on the student’s high school transcript and SAT/ACT scores (if submitted).

There is a single exception to this policy – the USC School of Cinematic Arts does require that transfer students enter with at least 48 credit hours to participate in the Film and Television Production program.

USC Transfer Deadline

USC has two separate transfer deadlines based on the programs to which the transfer applicants are applying.

For those seeking admittance to the Dance program, all BFA Dramatic Arts programs, all Music programs, the Iovine and Young Academy, and some Cinematic Arts programs, the deadline for submission of application materials is December 1.

The transfer deadline for all remaining programs (or students declaring their majors as open/undecided) is February 15. Students who submit all required application materials by this deadline will automatically be considered for USC Merit Scholarships. 

For those seeking financial aid from USC, the deadline to submit the FAFSA and CSS Profile is March 2.

What is the Decision Date for USC Transfers?

All transfer applicants who have submitted their complete applications by the appropriate deadline and responded promptly to additional requests for information will receive either (a) their decision announcement, or (b) a request for spring term grades, by May 31. Notifications of scholarship awards are also typically sent by this date.

Deciding Whether You Should Transfer to USC

USC Viterbi School of Engineering
USC Viterbi, USC Campaign 1783, CC BY-SA 3.0

U.S. News ranks USC as one of the top 30 universities in the nation, while the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education list it at #19

Compared to other institutions in California, USC is one out of three (and the only public institution) to be included in the top 20.

Students who desire research opportunities will find an abundance of programs at USC, which is recognized among the top ten universities providing federally supported research. 

The Dornsife College Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) grants full-time research in any area of study in various locations across the nation and world, supported by USC faculty members.

The Gateway Scholars Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is another option that assists low-income, first-generation USC students and underrepresented minorities in leading self-directed research pursuits. 

First-generation college students may find USC as a viable option, being that the number of students who are first in their families to attend USC has continued to rise (23% of the most recent incoming class) and the institution disburses over $640 million in scholarships and aid, annually.

Without a doubt, USC is a terrific option for students interested in the arts, technology, and international business – programs for which the school is globally recognized. 

USC houses six distinct art schools ranging from focuses in architecture and design to music, dance, and cinematic arts. 

The USC Thornton School of Music regularly sits at the top of the list of the United States’ best music schools and conservatories.

The Viterbi School of Engineering offers 15 different minors and specializations in technology to choose from – their Information Technology Program just finished developing a curriculum that offers new courses in advanced coding, game programming, and cyber security.

The World Bachelor in Business is an incredibly unique program where 45 students from each cohort will earn three separate degrees: a B.S. in Business Administration from USC, a B.B.A. in World Business from Hong Kong University, and a B.S. in Business from Bocconi in Milan, Italy. 

While there is no foreign language requirement to apply, students will need to pass Mandarin and Italian language classes to graduate.

RECAP: How to Apply As a Transfer Student to USC

Applying to transfer to USC is a straightforward process. Interested and eligible applicants should submit their Common Application, high school and college transcripts, and short-answer essay responses. 

Additionally, applicants should check to see if there are supplemental materials they should send, based on the program to which they’re applying. 

Such materials could include audition tapes, resumes, portfolios, or writing samples. 

If a non-native English speaker is applying for transfer admission, they will also need to submit results from an English Proficiency Exam.

Optional application materials include letters of recommendation and standardized test scores. 

If a transfer student believes that these artifacts will provide a stronger, more complete picture of their ability to thrive at USC’s campus, submitting them is likely a good idea; otherwise, refraining from submitting them will not hurt a transfer applicant’s chances.

As always, transfer applicants should keep in mind to maintain their high grades at their current institution while awaiting an admission decision from USC. 

While USC does not mention a college report or mid-term report as part of the application process, it is always possible that the school may request such materials.