Thank you for your interest in the Interactive Media and 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 BA program.
- The Common Application
- SlideRoom Application
- Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
- Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
- Writing Samples (2)
- Category I or II (choose One)
- Category III (must be submitted)
- Creative Portfolio List
- Creative Work Sample
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- Official High School Transcripts
- Official SAT or ACT Test Scores
- Official TOEFL 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.
- Fall Admission: December 1
View all Application Deadlines.
USC Application Process
In an effort to streamline the application process, USC now uses the Common Application exclusively. Students wishing to apply for admission to the 2014-2015 academic year should submit the Common Application and the SlideRoom Application, both of which can be accessed at The Common Application website.
Under the "Questions" section in the USC Supplemental Application, please be sure to indicate that you will be submitting an art supplement. Once you indicate that you will be submitting an art supplement, a link to SlideRoom will appear on the left menu bar.
For additional information please visit USC's Undergraduate Admission website.
Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials (Clearly title all documents)
As part of the application process, all students looking to be considered for admission to the Interactive Entertainment program are required to submit supplemental materials to support their application. These supplemental materials must be submitted via the SlideRoom Application.
The following supplemental materials are required for admission consideration to the Interactive Entertainment BA program. Please submit all written materials in PDF format.
- Cinematic Arts Personal Statement (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section)
- Writing Sample I or II (Character Profile OR Emotional Moment Essay)
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?"
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.
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.
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
The creative work sample represents your best or most relevant work. Choose a major piece of work (for drawings or photos, choose a small group or themed selection) that you are extremely proud of for your creative sample. This work might be digital or analog, it may be a film, photo essay, script or story. If you have completed a game or animation project, you should strongly consider including this. However, 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 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.
Three letters of recommendation (no particular format) are required. Any letters submitted as part of your University application can be used towards the three letters of recommendation required for the Cinematic Arts application. Please submit any letters of recommendation online via the Common Application. If your recommender is unwilling to submit their letters online, please have them mail your letters to USC's Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Applicants are responsible for verifying that letters of recommendation have been received by USC.
High School Transcripts
Official transcripts from all High Schools attended must be submitted to USC. Request official transcripts to be sent directly from your High School to USC's Office of Undergraduate Admissions at:University of Southern California
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
University Park Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0911
English Proficiency Criteria (International Students Only)
International students are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) 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 600 on SAT Critical Reading, or 27 on ACT English. Applicants that meet either of these scores are presumed to be proficient in English and are exempt from completing the TOEFL exam.
If you are unsure if you need to take the TOEFL, please check with the USC Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
The minimum required TOEFL score is: 250 on the CBT (Computer Based Test), 100 on the IBT (Internet Based Test). 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.
When sending the TOEFL scores, please indicate the institution code for USC, which is 4852 (no department code is required).
SAT or ACT Test Scores (Required of all Freshmen Applicants)
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.
Financial Aid & Scholarships
Many financial aid and scholarship processes run concurrently with the admissions process. Be sure to research and apply for financial aid and scholarships as you are applying for admission. There are many grants and scholarships that are available through the University of Southern California. Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for specific information or if you have any questions.