John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television review committee places considerable importance on the autobiographical character sketch, story ideas, writing samples, portfolio list and letters of recommendation during the application review process. There are no admission interviews. The committee ensures that all applicants are judged equitably by limiting evaluation to the items listed.
The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Writing for Screen & Television B.F.A. program.
- The Common Application
- USC Writing Supplement
- Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
- Autobiographical Character Sketch
- Creative Challenges (A & B)
- Most Challenging Moment
- Commitment Prompt
- Writing Sample (Maximum of 10 pages)
- Creative Portfolio List
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- Optional: Scholarship Application Questions
- Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
- Official High School & College Transcripts
- 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
Note to Transfer Students: the undergraduate Writing program is a four-year sequential curriculum of study. Thus, transfer students will be required to study at USC for four years to complete the Writing program requirements. General education and elective units may be accepted toward the degree based on USC credit evaluation. There is no spring admission to this program.
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 Writing for Screen and Television program, a box will appear indicating that you that you will be submitting a portfolio for consideration to the Writing program-a "Portfolio" link with instructions on where to submit your supplemental materials will appear on the left menu bar.
To better prepare for all Cinematic Arts majors, it is recommended that students complete the transferable General Education Categories, including the Writing and Foreign Language requirements. The Cinematic Arts programs are project intensive and completion of transferable general education courses is highly recommend. 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 Writing for Screen & Television program are required to submit supplemental materials to support their application. These supplemental materials must be submitted via the the SlideRoom Application. “Writing for Screen & Television B.F.A. Program — First-Year/Freshmen & External Transfer”.
The following supplemental materials are required for admission consideration to the Writing for Screen & Television B.F.A. program. Please submit all materials in PDF format under the "Forms" section.
Autobiographical Character Sketch (please upload in PDF format)
Write a creative essay or short story that evokes an understanding of how you became who you are. This should reflect your individuality. It's not a resume. (1-2 pages in length)
Creative Challenges - Both A & B are required: (please upload in PDF format)
Two scenes with assigned parameters:
- Write a scene between two very different kinds of people who get stuck in an elevator on New Year's Eve. 2-5 pages. Please use screenplay format.
- Write a scene between two people (e.g., a parent and child, roommates, spouses, etc.) who live together. The first character strongly desires to go out; the second desperately wants the first to stay home. Emphasize visual elements as well as dialogue. 2-5 pages. Please use screenplay format.
- Most Challenging Moment (please upload in PDF format)
Convey in writing the greatest challenge you have faced and how you responded to it. The challenge may be of any kind you care to write about -physical, emotional, moral, creative, personal, professional or some other sort. (1-2 pages in length).
Commitment Prompt: (please upload in PDF format)
As a creative art, writing requires commitment and dedication. In 250 words or less, why do you believe you have the drive and commitment to pursue a career as a writer?
- Writing Sample (please upload in PDF format)
One sample of your creative writing. This may be an excerpt with a note explaining the context. Writing in script form is not required. Please only include original material-do not submit a television spec episode of an existing television show. Maximum of 10 pages. If you send more than 10, only the first 10 will be read.
- Creative Portfolio List (please upload in PDF format)
A list of all significant creative projects in which the applicant has participated, noting the role the applicant has played. Formal recognition such as awards, publications, and exhibitions should also be noted.
- Letters of Recommendation - (One letter must be an academic reference)
Three letters of recommendation (no particular format) are required. It is recommended that letters be submitted via the SlideRoom References system. Any letters submitted via the Common Application may also be used towards the three letters of recommendation required. 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 and Colleges attended must be submitted to USC for review. Please request official transcripts to be sent directly from your schools to USC's Office of Undergraduate Admissions at:University of Southern California
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
University Park Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0911
Step 4: Submit 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.
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.