Application Overview

All candidates must have a bachelor’s and master’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 and master’s degree. To verify that your degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree, as well as learn about specific academic and language requirements you may need for admission, click here.

The following items must be submitted for admission consideration to the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. program.

  • USC Graduate Application for Admission
  • SlideRoom Application
    • Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
      • Cinematic Arts Media Arts + Practice Personal Statement
      • Writing Sample
      • Media Portfolio
      • Curriculum Vitae/Resume
      • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Official Transcripts (From all Academic Institutions Attended)
  • Official GRE Test Scores (required from all applicants)
  • 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

Media Arts + Practice Ph.D.

  • Fall Admission Deadline: December 1st

View all Application Deadlines.

Note: Spring admission is not available for the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. program.

Application Instructions

All applicants wishing to be considered for the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. 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 Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. program is a two-part process—you must submit the general USC Graduate Online Application for Admission and the corresponding supplemental materials for the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. 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, Writing Sample, 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 “Media Arts and Practice Ph.D.” program.
  • Please complete all sections of the application.

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 Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. 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 personal statement should describe the applicant's motivations and career objectives and relate them to past experiences with media, design, programming or scholarly practice. In addition, applicants should describe a hybrid scholarly_creative project that exemplifies the type of work they want to pursue while in the program. Applicants are under no obligation to undertake this project if accepted to the program, but may consider this as an opportunity to present their research/design interests in concrete terms.

  2. Writing Sample (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    The writing sample should demonstrate an applicant's ability to write with sophistication and clarity about matters of relevance to the theory and practice of media arts.

  3. Media Portfolio (please upload under the "Media" section):
    The Media Portfolio provides an opportunity for applicants to present creative work for which they were the primary creator, designer or programmer. In general, applicants are encouraged to emphasize quality over quantity in selecting materials for the portfolio. Time-based works should not total more than 15 minutes. Excerpts of longer works are welcome.

  4. Curriculum Vitae/Resume (please upload under the "Forms" section):
    The CV/resume should provide a record of the applicant's background and experience, including both professional and academic settings. Formal recognition - such as awards, publications, presentations and jobs - should be noted.

  5. 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 references system. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been received.

The Media Arts + Practice admission committee favors materials that indicate a diverse background in media production or Cinema & Media Studies, design and/or programming. The committee is also interested in experiences and activities that show a continuing or recent involvement with hybrid forms of new media-based scholarship.

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. Official hard-copy transcripts should be mailed to:

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

Step 4: Submit Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE General) Test Scores

The GRE General test is required for admission consideration to the Cinema & Media Studies program. The application committee will consider your Verbal and Quantitative scores on the exam. Beginning August 2011, the exam has a new format. We will accept scores from both the new and old formats. GRE General Test scores may not be more than five years old at the time of application for admission consideration. Make arrangements directly with Educational Testing Service (or www.gre.org) to take the exam. The GRE is offered worldwide. Students with a documented learning disability can arrange to take an untimed GRE. There is a fee for taking the GRE. Register early, as they may run out of spaces.

USC's institution code for GRE Registration is 4852. There is no Department Code. Additionally, if you have a copy of your score report, please scan and upload it to the online application. It is recommended that applicants take the GRE test at least one month prior to the application deadline. Make arrangements early.

Step 5: 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 6: 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.

Graduate Funding

Graduate funding packages (fellowships, scholarships, teaching assistantships, readerships) are tailored to the needs of the individual. The Media Arts + Practice department will contact admitted students regarding funding information and offers once admission decisions are announced in March.

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.