Application Procedures

Thank you for your interest in The Peter Stark Producing Program, a Master of Fine Arts program in the USC School of Cinematic Arts. This section includes everything needed to apply to the USC Graduate School and The Peter Stark Program, as you must be accepted by both. Please read all the following information carefully.

Admission to any program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts is competitive. The Peter Stark Program is highly selective, accepting 24 students out of an average of about 250 applicants each year.

Application Deadline - Fall 2018

Fall Semester Deadline: November 15th

There is no spring admission for this program.

These application deadlines are for all materials including the USC General Application for Graduate Admission, your SlideRoom application for Peter Stark Program admission, and submission of official transcripts, test scores, recommendation forms and supplemental materials.

Notification & Deposit - Accepted Applicants

Decisions will be made by late February. Accepted applicants are notified by telephone. They will have about a month to confirm their intent to enroll and send the Peter Stark Program a $1,000 commitment deposit payable to USC. This deposit is non-refundable but will be credited toward the student's fall tuition. Applicants are advised to make decisions carefully since admission cannot be deferred. Official acceptance to the University will come from USC Admissions and is subject to verification of degrees, grades, and test scores by the university. Admission to the program is contingent upon acceptance to the University's Graduate School.
Notification letters will be posted in the youSC online portal.  An email will alert you when a decision letter is waiting.

Waiting List

A short waiting list will be selected and kept until the end of August in case any of the originally selected applicants are unable to attend. Unsuccessful applicants, including waiting list candidates who did not get a place, may apply again.

Reapplicants

All reapplicants must create and submit a new Graduate Application with a new PIN and password. They also must submit a new SlideRoom application for the Stark program's review.

Transcripts and test scores already received by the Office of Admission will be kept on file for a year and do not need to be sent again. However, applicants will need to send them any new test scores and transcripts for coursework completed since the last application.

The Peter Stark Program will re-review your old application with your new application.  Transcripts and Test Scores previously uploaded into SlideRoom do not need to be uploaded again.  Applicants are welcome to write new answers to the Personal Statement questions, submit an updated resume, and up to three new recommenders are allowed.

International Students

The Peter Stark Program has a long history of cultural diversity. From the beginning, international students have been a part of the Stark student body and often average more than one-third of the students; however, quotas or limits are not part of the selection process and all Starkies are selected only because their application is one of the strongest. In the past we have had students from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Liberia, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Graduate Admissions lists Admission Requirements by Country, so be sure to check for information about transcripts and test scores for English language proficiency.

Visiting Campus

Prospective students can sign up for an SCA information session.
There are no tours specific to the School of Cinematic Arts.  General Campus Tours are offered through Admission.

Application Instructions

There are no longer applicant interviews prior to the admission deadline.  After the deadline, interviews will be conducted via Skype by Peter Stark Program invitation only.

The application is a two-part process:  You must submit the general USC Graduate Online Application for Admission and the corresponding SlideRoom application as well. The online system has provisions for materials required by other programs, but we only require submission of materials specified herein.

Step 1: Submit the General USC Graduate Application for Admission

To begin the application process, you will create a new USC Graduate Application
  • In the "Application Information" section, be sure to indicate that you are applying to the USC School of Cinematic Arts and to select the "Peter Stark Producing M.F.A." program.
  • Please only complete the general form. Supporting Documents, Transcripts, TOEFL scores and Recommendations should not be included here. They will be in the next step of the application process.

Step 2: Submit Supplemental Materials via the SlideRoom Application

In the "Supplemental Forms" section of USC's Graduate Application, you will find a link to the SlideRoom Application for our program.  Once you have begun your SlideRoom Application, be sure to go back and submit your General USC Graduate Application as well.

The following supplemental materials must be submitted via the SlideRoom application to be considered for admission to the Peter Stark Producing Program:

SlideRoom General Form

Some questions overlap with the USC Graduate Application, but must be answered again for the Peter Stark Program. The end of the General Form will have text boxes for your Personal Statement.

Personal Statement

Answer the following questions in the supplied text boxes (do not upload them separately). When answering the questions below be very specific.

Why do you want to attend the Stark Program? (3,000 characters maximum)

If you already have a prior degree in media or already work in media, why do you want to pursue this particular graduate degree? (1,000 characters maximum)

What is your plan for the next year if you are not accepted into the Peter Stark Producing Program? (1,000 characters maximum)

Do you have an ultimate career goal? If so, what is it? (1,000 characters maximum)

Do you perceive any weaknesses/shortcomings in yourself? Detail/amplify. (1,000 characters maximum)

Describe an emotionally significant experience in your life and how it affected you. (2,000 characters maximum)

Do you have a favorite idea for a film, TV show, digital media project or play? If so, please give a brief synopsis and explain why you want to make it. (2,000 characters maximum)

Do you have a favorite existing film, TV show, web series, book, or play? Explain why it's a favorite. (1,000 characters maximum)

Additionally, do you have interest in other art forms (literature, opera, sculpture, theatre, painting, dance, etc.)? (1,000 characters maximum)

Recommendations

Submit email addresses for Three (3) Recommenders (instruct them no letters, only the “Recommender Form”).  They will receive an email from SlideRoom with a link to the form to complete and submit.
It’s wise to input recommender emails with plenty of time for your recommenders to complete the process before the admission deadline.

Rather than letters, recommenders are to complete each section of the “SlideRoom Recommendaiton Form” including the information about the recommender and the confidential questions about the applicant. The recommender should not upload a letter. Uploaded letters will not be read. Extra recommendations (beyond three) will not be read.

Recommendations should come from diverse sources. Two from the same job or internship count as only one. You should ask no more than one academic recommender. These are least helpful to us, and therefore to you. Recommenders should know you well and be familiar with your work, commitment, and achievements. Do not ask for recommendations from relatives.

In the unlikely event that a recommender has difficulty submitting the SlideRoom recommendation form, the recommender can download this "Stark Recommendation Form" PDF, complete the form, and email it to our office at pstark@cinema.usc.edu.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

Upload your resume in the "Attachments" section of the SlideRoom Application. PDF format is preferred for all attachments.

To give us a full idea of you as a person, in addition to your education and work experience, please include activities that show your interests, skills and passions. Your resume can be up to three (3) pages. Also, include sections for travel, artistic experience and creative projects. Do not send essays on your travels. Do not send films, videos, portfolios, scripts, or work samples. They will neither be reviewed nor returned. You are welcome to include links to work on your resume. These links may or may not be reviewed, so be sure to include the salient information on your resume in writing as well.

Academic Transcripts

Official transcripts from all schools attended since high school graduation must also be submitted to USC to two offices:

Transcript to Graduate Admissions:

Graduated Admission accepts sealed official hard-copy transcripts mailed directly from your institution to Graduate Admission:

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

By courier service, such as DHL or FedEx:
University of Southern California
USC Office of Admission and Financial Aid
3601 South Flower Street, Tyler 1
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915
(213) 740-1111

USC Graduate Admissions also now accepts official electronic transcripts, provided they meet the following guidelines:

  • The transcript originates from a secure site formally linked to the sending institution.
  • The school is located in the United States. They do not accept electronic transcripts from any institution abroad.

Please instruct the vendor to email the transcript to admscan@usc.edu. Do not send any materials or correspondence to this email address yourself.

Transcript to The Peter Stark Producing Program in the SlideRoom Application:
Additionally, upload scanned copies of your official transcripts in the SlideRoom application under the “Attachments” section. Alternatively, the Peter Stark office will also accept an official electronic copy sent from your university to the Peter Stark Program at pstark@cinema.usc.edu.

When scanning transcripts to upload into the online system, be aware there is a 10 MB limit on the size of file you can upload. In the rare case that you cannot upload your transcript because it is illegible when scanned into a smaller file, you may email the scanned file to us at pstark@cinema.usc.edu.

High School transcripts are not needed. Aside from the submission processes outlined above, we strongly recommend that you keep an extra official sealed copy of your transcripts, in case they are requested down the line. For that reason, when ordering transcripts, we recommend you order three (3) copies total.

If you are accepted into the program, you will be asked to provide proof that your degree has been awarded. 

Grade Point Average (GPA)
All candidates must have earned a U.S. bachelor's degree (or equivalent for international applicants) from a regionally accredited college or university, to be completed no later than the time of enrollment. Applicants are expected to have a minimum grade point average of B (3.0), including all undergraduate grades (major and non-major). Applicants must submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (even if no degree was awarded). If an applicant has completed a Master's or other advanced degree, the University will consider GPA from that degree. If advanced degree is still in progress, undergraduate GPA will be evaluated. (All students are admitted into the Peter Stark Program on a "conditional" status. During the first semester students must complete 12 units with a minimum B (3.0) GPA in order to continue. After the first semester, students meeting these conditions will have regular graduate status; those who do not will be dropped.)

TOEFL or IELTS Test Scores (International Applicants Only)

International students are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) unless you fulfill the 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.
  1. 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 TOEFL or IELTS, please check with the Graduate Admission office at gradadm@usc.edu or 213.740.1111.

The minimum required TOEFL score is: 100 on the IBT (Internet Based Test), 250 on the CBT (Computer Based Test), or 600-603 on the PBT (Paper Based Test). The minimum required IELTS score is 7. 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.

If you are sending TOEFL scores, the institution code for USC is 4852 (no department code is required).

If you are sending IELTS scores, please choose "University of Southern California, Graduate Programs" from the list of available institutions of where to send your scores on the day that you sit for your test. Please do not enter the name and contact information for the Peter Stark Producing Program. USC will only accept electronic IELTS scores. Paper scores are not considered official.

Additionally, if you already received your official score report, upload a scan under the Attachment section of the SlideRoom Application.

Language
Most information is provided to students by lecture. There are few textbooks on the subjects studied and fewer that are adequately current. Therefore, a strong command of idiomatic, conversational English is essential, and is thus an important factor in acceptance.

Apply For SCA Scholarships (Optional)

The SCA Scholarship Application 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.

Applicants' Responsibilities

All matters relating to admission are the applicant's responsibility. When submitting an application, applicants must make sure they have completed both USC's Graduate Application for Admission and the SlideRoom Application. Applicants must make sure they are applying to the correct division of the School of Cinematic Arts and that they have completed all screens of each online process.

The SlideRoom Application is designed so that after applicants have submitted their applications, they can log in again to see what the review committee will see.  Applicants can also see if recommendations have been received, but the contents of the recommendations remains confidential.

It is the applicant's responsibility to make sure their application is complete with all transcripts, scores and recommendations received by the deadline.

Paying the application fee does not ensure an application is submitted. Applicants should check that their USC Graduate Application is submitted by clicking on the "Check Status" section in the upper right. It will confirm your application has been submitted and has a separate status to show you have paid to submit your application. Applicants will receive a confirmation email from SlideRoom to show that an application was submitted.

If you do not receive a confirmation email, contact SlideRoom Support immediately at support@slideroom.com; For technical issues with the USC Graduate Application, email uscapply@usc.edu; for general problems, contact Graduate Admissions at 213.740.1111 or gradadm@usc.edu. Keep the Peter Stark Program informed of any problems or issues.

Incomplete applications, or applications not submitted on time, will not be considered.

Application Checklist

Applicants must submit all of the following:

  1. USC General Graduate Application for Admission
    Program Code Number is: 1468
    Program is: Peter Stark
    Degree is: Master
  2. Financial Guarantee (International only)
  3. Application Fee
    See the Graduate Admissions website for the amount and details.
  4. The SlideRoom Application
    1. The SlideRoom General Form questionnaire
    2. Personal Statement in the textboxes at the end of the General Form questionnaire
    3. Recommendations
      Three (3) Recommendation Forms. The applicant submits emails for the recommenders in SlideRoom. The recommenders will get an email with a link to the SlideRoom Recommender Form, which they should complete and submit before the application deadline.
    4. SlideRoom Attachments to upload the following Supplemental Materials
      1. Resume
      2. Transcripts
        Official transcripts from all Colleges or Universities attended must be submitted to two offices:
        1. Graduate Admissions (see above for postal mailing address, delivery service (DHL, Fed Ex) mailing address, and electronic transcript instructions).
        2. The Peter Stark Producing Program. (Scan and upload your copy into SlideRoom. Additionally, request a copy of your transcripts for yourself. If you are accepted into the program, you will be asked to provide proof that your degree has been awarded.)
    5. TOEFL or IELTS (International only)
      Input scores onto online application form and request that an official copy is sent directly to Graduate Admissions. USC’s TOEFL code is 4852. There is no Department Code. For IELTS reporting, select “University of Southern California” from the list of schools. If you’ve already received your score report, also upload a scan.
  5. SCA Scholarship Application (Optional)