Application Process FAQs

How long does it take to complete the online application?

The online application requires you to provide personal information, academic and work history/ resume, recommendation letters and responses to program-specific questions and essays. While entering the information into the application may take only in a few hours, gathering all the required materials to complete an application can take several weeks. It is recommended that you review the application checklist and plan ahead to ensure all materials are received by USC Rossier by the application deadline.

You do not need to complete your application in one sitting. Application progress can be saved and completed at your own pace.

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What materials do I need to complete the online application?

The materials needed to complete an application vary by program. For specific requirements for your program of interest, visit the Admission Deadlines and Requirements page to view and download an application checklist.

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What are the application requirements for each program?

Application requirements vary by program. Refer to the application checklist for your program of interest by visiting the Admission Deadlines and Requirements page and select your program for a complete list of application requirements.

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How do I submit test scores?

Please have your official test scores sent from the testing agency directly to USC. Only scores received directly from the testing service are considered official. USC does not accept self-reported test scores.
USC’s ETS school code is 4852. Applicants taking the GRE or TOEFL should use this code to ensure USC receives your official test results. No department code is required.
If you are sending IELTS scores, please select “University of Southern California” from the list of schools available for official score submission.

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Is the GRE required?

The general GRE is required for the following programs:

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Education
  • Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs
  • Master of Education in Educational Counseling
  • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

The GRE is not required for the following programs:

  • Global Executive Doctor of Education
  • Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Master of Arts in Teaching – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology

The GRE is optional for the EdD in Educational Leadership. Candidates may take the EdD Writing Assessment or submit a current GMAT score in lieu of submitting a valid GRE score.

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Do I need to take the CBEST and CSET?

Students admitted to the Master of Arts in Teaching program are required to verify of basic skills and subject matter competence by May of the program year.

The most common method to verify basic skill and subject matter competence for your desired credential is to take the CBEST and CSET tests. However, the basic skills and subject matter competence requirements can be satisfied with other options. For more information, please visit

Passing the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and the California Subject Examinations for Teachers Test (CSET) are required to be a credentialed teacher in the state of California. USC Rossier provides free test prep online courses to prospective on-campus students who complete an application to the Master of Arts in Teaching program. It is our expectation that these tests are completed prior to the first day of classes. Contact your admissions representative for more information about the test prep courses.

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From whom should I request letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation should come from supervisors or colleagues who can comment on the value you have added to your workplace or former instructors who can describe your ability to perform well in graduate-level courses.

For students applying to the PhD in Urban Education Policy, letters of recommendation should come from individuals who can attest to the applicant’s abilities as a researcher.
Recommenders should preferably have a PhD and are working in research-related fields.

The recommenders listed on your application will receive an email with instructions to create a password and directions to upload a letter. Recommendations must be on official letterhead and contain a signature. It is your responsibility to ensure that recommenders follow the criteria and submit a letter by the deadline.

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How do I submit transcripts?

Transcript submission is a two-step process:

Step One:
Request that official transcripts from each college or university you attended be mailed to your residence (print-outs from portals are not acceptable). Scan and upload these official transcripts into the application system online. College or university-issued transcripts must be received from all institutions attended (regardless of whether credit or a degree was earned).

Please note: Applicants for the PhD in Urban Education Policy program are only required to follow step one. Students admitted to the PhD program will receive instructions from the PhD program office on how to follow step two (submit official transcripts).

Step Two:
After you submit your application and receive your 10-digit USC ID number, request that a second copy of all official transcripts be sent from all institutions directly to USC.

You can use one of the following two methods to send USC your official transcripts:

Electronic transcripts
Official electronic transcripts are preferred as long as they are from a U.S. institution. Transcripts must be emailed directly from the college or university to the USC Office of Graduate Admission at Hard copy transcripts
Hard copies of official transcripts from all post-secondary schools you have attended should be sent to the addresses provided below:

University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

Transcripts must arrive at USC in a sealed envelope from the institution (you may not mail in the previously-opened transcripts).

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How can I verify that USC has received my transcripts?

The USC Rossier Office of Admissions and Scholarships will notify you if transcripts have not been received. If you have questions regarding transcripts, please contact the processing team at or (213) 740-0224.

PhD applicants can contact the PhD Program Office at or call (213) 740-6303

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Where can I find the essay questions for the application?

Each program requires specific essay and short answer responses. To find the questions specific to your program of interest, start an online application and view the program materials section. You will enter your essay responses directly into the online application. Please remain within the assigned character limits for each question as indicated in the application.

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How much does it cost to apply and can I receive a fee waiver?

The application fee is $90. An application fee waiver is available for applicants who meet certain eligibility criteria. Requests are reviewed by the Office of Graduate Admission. If your request for a fee waiver is denied, you must pay the application fee before submitting your application.
To be eligible for a fee waiver, you must be:

  • A permanent, full-time USC employee, or dependent child of a full-time USC employee
  • A U.S. citizen/permanent resident with demonstrated financial hardships
  • A USC alumni or student currently enrolled in a USC degree program
  • A McNair Scholar
  • A Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) Fellow
  • A current participant in the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) program
  • A Pickering/PPIA/DIA Jumpstart program fellowship recipient
  • A current or recent (within the last two years) Americorps/Peace Corps/Teach for America participant
  • A U.S. military veteran or current service member
  • A Hebrew Union College student or alumni
  • A dual degree program applicant
  • A USC sponsored applicant (must be approved by sponsoring department prior to fee waiver request)

Qualification details and instructions for obtaining a fee waiver can be found at the USC Graduate Admission website. You must follow the steps listed to have the fee waiver applied to your account prior to submitting your online application. No refunds will be issued post-submission.

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When can I expect to receive a decision on my application?

Application review and admissions notifications are completed in rounds, with the exception of the PhD in Urban Education Policy and the Global EdD programs. Your complete application must be submitted by the specified admissions round deadline to receive a decision by the corresponding notification date. Incomplete applications will be moved to the next round and, once complete, will receive a decision by the notification date specified for that round. You will receive an email when an admission decision has been made.

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Can I expedite the processing of my application?

To eliminate delays in your application processing time, submit your online application before submitting any supplemental materials such as official transcripts and test scores. Please include your USC ID number on all documents you send to the USC Office of Graduate Admission and USC Rossier. Review the application checklist for your program of interest to ensure all required materials are present and sent to the correct department.

Please make sure all required materials are submitted by the round deadline so that you can receive a decision by the corresponding notification date. Incomplete applications may be pushed to the next round and your decision may be delayed.

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I’m applying for a Master’s degree, but still finishing up my bachelor’s degree. Where do I send my final transcripts?

Send your final transcripts to the Office of Degree Progress. Instructions for submitting your final transcripts will be provided on your admission letter from the Office of Graduate Admission. To view this letter, log in to your youSC account.

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When will I receive information about orientation and registration?

Admitted students will receive information about orientation and registration within a few weeks of submitting their intent to enroll. You can attend an orientation for all USC graduate students as well as a separate orientation for students within your specific program. The USC Office of Orientation manages the general graduate orientation, while the USC Rossier program offices manage specific program orientations. Contact the appropriate office for assistance:

EdD Program Office Global EdD Program Office Master’s Programs Office PhD Program Office
213 740-6019

For more information about registration and enrolling in classes, review Admitted Students: Next Steps.

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