Thank you for your interest in the Interactive Media & Games Division. The only program of its kind tied to a cinematic arts school, it offers unprecedented opportunities for students to explore media convergence in an environment that leverages the natural advantages of its Los Angeles setting. Presenting a broad and deep curriculum, the division explores the methods and technologies that are shaping art and entertainment today, and provides leading edge research and a hotbed of ideas for future professional storytellers.
The faculty admissions committee evaluates applications for originality, clarity, personal insight and artistic excellence. Considerable importance is placed on the Cinematic Arts personal statement, writing samples, portfolio list, creative work sample and letters of recommendation.
There are no admission interviews but applicants may be contacted for more information or clarification of submitted materials. The committee ensures that all applicants are judged equitably by limiting evaluation to the items listed. Incomplete applications, or applications not submitted as requested, cannot be considered. Please check this page for information before contacting the program. Although we like talking with you, our office is small. To help us, please direct all Housing and Financial Aid questions to their respective departments.
The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Interactive Entertainment B.A. program.
- The Common Application
- USC Writing Supplement
- SlideRoom Application
- Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
- Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
- Writing Samples (2)
- Category I or II (choose one)
- Category III (required)
- Creative Portfolio List
- Creative Work Sample
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- Optional: Scholarship Application Questions
- Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
- Official High School Transcripts
- Official SAT or ACT Test Scores
- 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 all screens of the online process. The application system allows 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.
- Fall Admission: December 1
View all Application Deadlines.
All applicants wishing to be considered for admission must complete the following steps in the application process (where applicable):
Step 1: Submit Both the Common Application for General Admission and the USC Writing Supplement
Students wishing to apply for admission should submit the Common Application and the USC Writing Supplement, both of which can be accessed at The Common Application website.
Under “Academics” in the "Questions" section of the USC Writing Supplement, you will be asked to select the majors you wish to apply for. Upon selecting the Interactive Entertainment, a box will appear indicating that you that you will be submitting a portfolio for consideration to the Interactive Media and Games program — a “Portfolio” link with instructions on where to submit your supplemental materials will appear on the left menu bar.
For additional information please visit USC's Undergraduate Admission website.
Step 2: Submit Supplemental Materials via the SlideRoom Application
As part of the application process, all students looking to be considered for admission to the Animation & Digital Arts program are required to submit supplemental materials to support their application. These supplemental materials must be submitted via the SlideRoom Application. Please submit the SlideRoom Application titled: "Interactive Entertainment B.A. Program - First-Year/Freshmen Applicants".
The following supplemental materials are required for admission consideration to the Interactive Entertainment B.A. program. Please submit all written materials in PDF format.
Cinematic Arts Personal Statement (please upload in PDF format via the "Forms" section):
The Cinematic Arts personal statement is an opportunity to express your ideas about and interest in Interactive Entertainment, help us to understand your background and creative potential, and explain why you would like to study interactive media production at the School of Cinematic Arts. This statement will be read by the Interactive Admission Committee as a measure of creativity, self-awareness and vision. Your statement should give the committee a sense of your long-term goals and artistic ambitions. It should answer the questions: "Who are you as a person? What are you trying to say, using interactive media? Why do you want to attend the Interactive Entertainment Program? What are your career/professional/artistic goals?"
Writing Sample I or II (Character Profile OR Emotional Moment Essay)
Please submit one of the two writing samples: either the character profile or emotional moment essay. Only ONE is required. (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section)
- Category I (Character Profile): Write a one-page story about a character or person you find interesting or unique. For example, tell us a story about a person who was not what they first seemed to be, a person who had to make a difficult decision, or a person who made a difference in the world at great cost to themselves. This can be a character you devise or a real world person; it can be someone you know, or someone you don't. Communicate through your story why this person is so interesting to you.
- Category II (Emotional Moment Essay): Describe an emotionally charged experience you have had. For example, a moment in which you came to understand the value of something differently than you had in the past, or a moment that changed your way of thinking or seeing your family, community or the world. This experience should be told as a story, with a beginning, middle and end, but please limit your description to two double-spaced, typed pages.
Writing Sample III (Interactive Media Experience): (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section)
Describe an experience that has inspired you to enter the field of interactive media. This might be the experience of playing a particular game, visiting a museum installation, seeing an interactive artwork, etc. Or, it might be a story about how you created an interactive experience for others to participate in or play with. Tell us the story of how and why this experience affected you, how it changed your way of thinking about interactive media, and what it means for your plans for the future.
Creative Portfolio List (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section)
The portfolio list is a written record of the applicant's creative material. Please list all of your creative work, when and in what capacity it was created. For example, was the work made in a class or for a show? What was your role? List your most recent work first and list related work as a single entry, such as a group of drawings completed for a single showing. If you have created interactive software, animation or games, please be sure to list these on your portfolio and describe the development environment for the piece. For example, the program or language used. If you have created paper-based games, please list these as well. The name of the institution or publication should be included when listing creative materials prepared for a class or publication. An example is below:
- June 2008, Honors, 16mm black-and-white film, one hour. Position: writer/director. Honors is a story about two competitive college roommates. Produced for an advanced film production workshop: "Film Production II," University of San Diego, San Diego, California.
- February 2008, "Cellomorphosis," short story. Position: writer. A variation on the novella by Franz Kafka; published in Writing, vol. IV, 2007, at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts.
- Jan 2008, No-Tag Team, Flash game. Position: game designer, programmer. A short, experimental game about two game avatars who wander an unknown land without ever finding each other. Made in a Flash Workshop at Boston Community College. Available to play at "http://www.mysite.com/thisisnotagteam.html"
Creative Work Sample (Please submit under the "Media" section)
The creative work sample represents your best or most relevant work. Choose a major piece of work that you are extremely proud of for your creative sample. If you have completed a game or animation project, you should strongly consider including this. Otherwise this work might be digital or analog, it or may be a film, photo essay, script or story. For visual art, you may submit a small selection of pieces. Make sure your piece is easily viewable by the admissions committee. If you are uncertain that your software will run, include screenshots and a video play-through just in case.
You should keep in mind that the committee has limited time to look at each applicant's file, so send a creative sample that can be viewed, played or read in less than 10 minutes. Please limit the length of a written creative sample, e.g. movie scripts and prose should be no more than 20 pages.
We are looking for individuals who show both proven talent and personal initiative. Use the creative sample to show us your best work and the portfolio to show us the breadth of your creative endeavors.
We require you to submit your Creative Work Sample via SlideRoom. For physical games and creative pieces, you can submit a PDF of the rules or text, along with video, photographs and other documentation. An online link will allow you to showcase several of your works, giving the committee a better sense of your skills and talent.
Letters of Recommendation (One letter must be an academic reference)
Three letters of recommendation (no particular format) are required. Letters can be submitted via the SlideRoom references system. Any letters submitted via the Common Application may be used towards the three letters of recommendation required and do not need to be resubmitted via SlideRoom. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been received.
Optional Scholarship Application Questions:
The scholarship application questions within SlideRoom are optional and are not required for admission consideration. However, all students who wish to be considered for scholarships must complete the scholarship application questions. Selections are based on the scholarship application questions, the application for admission to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and financial need. Recipients may renew this award as long as they satisfy the scholarship eligibility criteria each year.
Step 3: Send Official Academic Transcripts
Official transcripts from all high schools attended must be submitted to USC. Please request official transcripts to be sent directly from your high school to USC's Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Transcripts can be sent electronically via the Common Application or sent by mail to:University of Southern California
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
University Park Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0911
Step 4: Submit Official SAT or ACT Test Scores
USC requires scores from the SAT or the ACT (with the optional writing component) from all freshmen applicants, including international students. For students who take the SAT more than once, USC records the highest scores for each section - Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing -- even if achieved in different sittings. For students taking the ACT, USC will record the highest composite score.
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 or PTE exam, unless you fulfill the one of these two conditions:
- 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.
- You receive a 650 on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing exam or 27 on the ACT English exam.
If you are unsure if you need to take the language exam, please check with the USC Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Applicants must meet one of the minimum required scores below:
- 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).
- Minimum required score: 7.0 overall band score
- To submit your IELTS results to USC, please select the "University of Southern California"
- 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.
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.