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. Please check this page for information before contacting the program. Although we like talking with you, our office is small. To help us out, please direct all Housing and Financial Aid questions to their respective departments.

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 Interactive Media M.F.A. program:

  • USC Graduate Application for Admission
  • SlideRoom Application
    • Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
      • Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
      • Writing Sample
        • Category I or II (choose one)
        • Category III
      • Creative Work Sample
      • Creative Portfolio List
      • 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 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 Interactive Media

  • Fall Admission Deadline: November 15th

Note: Spring admission is not available for the Interactive Media M.F.A. graduate program.

View all Application Deadlines.

Application Instructions

All applicants wishing to be considered for the Interactive Media 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 Interactive Media 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 Interactive Media 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, 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 "Interactive Media M.F.A." program.
  • Please complete all sections of the application including the "Questions" tab of the "Program Materials" section 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 Interactive Media 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 for Admission.

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

  1. Cinematic Arts Personal Statement (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    The Cinematic Arts personal statement is an opportunity to express your ideas about and interest in Interactive Media, 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 Media 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 Media Program? What are your career/professional/artistic goals?"

  2. Writing Sample I or II (Character Profile OR Emotional Moment Essay) (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    Please submit one of the two writing samples: either the character profile or emotional moment essay. Only ONE is required.
    • 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.
  3. 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.

  4. Creative Work Sample (please upload 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. Please note, your creative work sample will not be returned to you.

    We require you to post your creative work sample online. 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.

  5. Creative Portfolio List (Please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section)
    The creative portfolio list is a written record of the applicant's creative material. It should include a concise description of each project, the month and year the project was completed, the applicant's creative role and the purpose of the project. The material, which does not need to be cinematic arts related, should give an idea of the range and depth of the applicant's creative ability. Formal recognition - such as awards, publications, jobs and exhibitions - should be noted. The name of the institution or publication should be included when listing creative materials prepared for a class or publication. An example of the portfolio list is below:
    • July 2008, A Day in the Life, digital video, 12 minutes. Position: writer/director. A documentary on a homeless Iraq vet who has lived on the streets since his return from the military. Created for senior-year multimedia term project, San Raphael High School, Miami, Florida.
    • 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
    • February 2007, Cellomorphosis, short story. Position: writer. A variation on the novella by Franz Kafka; published in Writing, vol. IV, 2007, at Amherst College, Amherst,Massachusetts
  6. 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. 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

USC also accepts uploaded transcripts on USC CAS, transcripts must be issued on University letterhead. You may also have transcripts sent electronically from your institution to admscan@usc.edu. Do not send any materials or correspondence to this email address yourself.

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.