The John C. Hench Animation & Digital Arts Admission Committee reviews applications for originality, clarity, personal insight and artistic excellence. Considerable importance is placed on the Cinematic Arts personal statement, portfolio, résumé and letters of recommendation. There are no admission interviews. By limiting the evaluation to the items listed, the committee ensures that all applicants are judged by the same criteria.

This section includes information needed to apply to the Animation & Digital Arts M.F.A. program. Please read all the following information carefully.

Application Overview

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All candidates must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants whose prior study was outside the United States must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree. To verify that your bachelor's degree is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor degree, as well as learn about specific academic and language requirements you may need for admission, click here.

The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Animation & Digital Arts M.F.A. program.

  • USC Graduate Application for Admission
  • SlideRoom Application
    • Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
      • Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
      • Portfolio
      • Résumé
      • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Official Transcripts (From all Academic Institutions Attended)
  • Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Students Only)

All matters relating to admission are the applicant's responsibility. When submitting an application, make sure you have completed both USC's Graduate Application for Admission and the SlideRoom application. Both applications allow you to check your application to verify your application materials have been uploaded and submitted. Incomplete applications, or applications not submitted, will not be considered.

Each year, we strive to develop a well-balanced cohort of students for each of our programs. As such, we do not grant admission deferrals and we recommend that applicants apply for a future term when certain they can accept admission.

Application Deadlines

Graduate Animation & Digital Arts

  • Fall Admission Deadline: November 15th

Note: Spring admission is not available for the Animation & Digital Arts M.F.A. graduate program.

View all Application Deadlines.

Application Instructions

All applicants wishing to be considered for the Animation & Digital Arts M.F.A. program must follow the instructions below. All steps, where applicable, must be completed in order to be considered. Please note that the application submission to the Animation & Digital Arts M.F.A. program is a two--part process--you must submit the general USC Graduate Online Application for Admission and the corresponding supplemental materials for the Animation & Digital Arts M.F.A. program via the SlideRoom application. Materials sent by mail will not be accepted.

Clearly title all documents with the appropriate supplemental document title (e.g. Personal Statement, Portfolio, etc.).

Step 1: Submit the General USC Graduate Application for Admission

  • To begin the application process, you will be required to submit the USC Graduate Application for Admission.
  • Be sure to indicate that you are applying to the USC School of Cinematic Arts and select the "Animation & Digital Arts M.F.A." program.

If you experience any technical issues, please contact Graduate Admissions here.

Step 2: Submit Supplemental Materials via the SlideRoom Application

By indicating that you are interested in submitting an application for the Animation & Digital Arts M.F.A. on the USC Graduate Application for Admission, you will be provided with information on how to access the SlideRoom application. This information can be found under the "Supplemental Forms" section of USC's Graduate Application.

The following supplemental materials must be submitted via the SlideRoom application for admission:

  1. Cinematic Arts Personal Statement (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    The Cinematic Arts personal statement should reflect the applicant's individuality and explain why he or she would like to study Animation and Digital Arts at USC. The Animation Admission Committee will review this statement as a measure of the applicant's creativity, intelligence, self-awareness, determination and vision. The statement should be a page and a half, and it should give the committee a sense of the applicant's long-term goals and artistic ambitions.
  2. Portfolio (please upload under the "Media" section):
    The portfolio may consist of life drawing or painting examples, 2D organic and digital art work as well as traditional and/or 2D/3D digital animation, integrated live action or motion graphics work or any other samples that represent the applicant's aesthetic sense and capabilities. Please ensure that the portfolio is no longer than 15 minutes in length (12-15 still pieces). If submitting a joint project, please clarify your role in the production. Any materials that are sent by mail will not be considered.
  3. Résumé (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    A record of the applicant's background and experience, listing creative projects in which he or she has participated. Formal recognition - such as awards, publications, jobs and exhibitions - should be noted.
  4. Letters of Recommendation (One letter from an academic reference.)
    Three letters of recommendation are required. All letters of recommendation must be submitted via the SlideRoom reference system. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been received.

Step 3: Send Official Academic Transcripts

Official transcripts from all schools attended since high school graduation must be submitted to USC. For guidelines on how to send your official transcripts to USC, please click here. It is recommended that you send all official transcripts to USC's Office of Graduate Admissions at least 3 weeks prior to the application deadline. All transcripts must be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions, not the School of Cinematic Arts.

If your institution sends e-transcripts, please instruct the vendor to email the transcript to etrans@usc.edu . Do not send any other materials or correspondence to this email address yourself. Electronic transcripts e-mailed to any other address will not be downloaded, resulting in a delay of your file review and an extra expense to you because the transcript will need to be re-sent. Official transcripts can be mailed to the address below.

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

Step 4: Submit Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Applicants Only)

International students are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or Pearson Test of English (PTE) unless you fulfill one of these two conditions:

  1. You hold a bachelor's degree completed in residency in the United States or other English speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (except Quebec). The bachelor's degree should come from a regionally accredited university located in the United States or an officially recognized university in another country where English is both the language of instruction and the only officially recognized language of the country. Please note that the entire program must have been completed in the qualifying country. USC will not waive the English-proficiency requirement based on either a graduate degree from a university in the U.S. or other qualifying country, or an undergraduate program taught in English in a non-English speaking country.
  2. Your native language is English. This applies to native English speakers from countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (except Quebec) where English is both the only official language of the country and the language of instruction.

If you are unsure if you need to take the language exam, please check with the USC Office of Graduate Admissions. Applicants must meet one of the minimum required scores below:

  • TOEFL
    • Minimum required score: 100 on the iBT test
    • Submit scores via ETS. When sending the scores, please indicate the institution code for USC, which is 4852 (no department code is required).
  • IELTS:
    • Minimum required score: 7.0 overall band score
    • To submit your IELTS results to USC, please select the "University of Southern California"
      • USC will only accept electronic IELTS scores. Paper scores are not considered official.
  • PTE
    • Minimum required score: 68 on the PTE test
    • Please request to have official scores sent electronically through the PTE website.

Applicants must receive the minimum required score to be considered. Official scores must be received directly from the testing service and date no earlier than 2 years (24 months) prior to the start of your intended first term at USC.

Step 5: Apply for SCA Scholarships (Optional)

The SCA Scholarship Application is optional and is not required for admission consideration. However, all students who wish to be considered for scholarships must complete the SCA Scholarship Application, which will be available only to applicants who submit a complete application for admission. The scholarship application will open on Monday, January 4th and the deadline to apply is Friday, February 5th. For more information about SCA Scholarships, please visit the SCA Scholarships page.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

The School of Cinematic Arts offers scholarships to incoming students; to learn more, please visit the SCA Scholarships page. Many financial aid and scholarship processes run concurrently with the admissions process. Therefore, please be sure to research and apply for financial aid and scholarships as you are applying for admission. For more information about applying for financial aid at USC, please contact the USC Financial Aid Office. Prospective students are also encouraged to consider USC Scholarships as the university maintains a number of prestigious scholarship programs.

Proof of Financial Support (International Applicants Only)

International applicants (those who are, or will be, in the United States on a non-immigrant visa) must submit documented evidence of financial support. The U.S. government requires that all international student applicants provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses for themselves and their dependents (if applicable) before a formal letter of admission and an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility can be issued. The financial support must be sufficient to cover the student's estimated expenses for one academic year (9-12 months) as determined by USC. To learn about the guidelines for submitting documents, including a list of expenses for the upcoming academic year, please visit USC's Graduate Admissions web page for submitting financial documents.