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.
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.
All candidates must have a bachelors' 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.
The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Interactive Media MFA program:
- USC Graduate Application for Admission
- Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
- Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
- Writing Samples
- Category I or II (choose one)
- Category III (must be submitted)
- Creative Work Sample
- Creative Portfolio List
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- Official Transcripts (From all Academic Institutions Attended)
- 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 online 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.
Graduate Interactive Media
- Fall Admission: December 1
Note: Spring admission is not available for the Interactive Media MFA program.
View all Application Deadlines.
Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
All of the following materials must be submitted through the University's Graduate Online Application.Materials sent by mail will not be accepted. The online system may have provision for materials required by other programs, but we only require submission of materials specified herein.
These materials must include the applicant's name at the top of each page. Clearly title all documents with the appropriate supplemental document title. (e.g. Writing Sample Category III, Portfolio List, etc.).
- Graduate University Application
The application to the USC Graduate School is through the online application system (USC Graduate Application). On this system, the applicant must upload the following materials required by the Interactive Media program.
If you experience any technical issues, please contact the Apply Yourself Help Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
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?"
- Writing Samples (clearly title which writing sample you choose)
Two writing samples are required to demonstrate imagination. You may choose either Category I or Category II for your first writing submission. You must complete Category III as your second submission.
- 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.
- Category III (Interactive Media Experience): 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 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 or 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. 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. You may send in a physical creative work sample to support your digital submission, but it is not required.
The 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 film- or television-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
Three letters of recommendation are required. If you submit more than three, only the first three will be considered, so choose carefully. Recommendations should come from diverse sources. Recommenders should know you well and be familiar with your work, commitment, and achievements. Do not submit letters from relatives. Letters of recommendation may be any length. Applicants must submit their letters electronically through the "Recommendation" system on the online application. Recommenders who are unwilling to use the online recommendation process may send their letters to USC Graduate Admissions. Applicants are responsible for verifying that the letters have been received.
English Proficiency Criteria (International Students 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:
- You hold a bachelor's degree completed in residency in the United States or other English speaking country, 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 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.
- 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.
The minimum required TOEFL score is: 250 on the CBT (Computer Based Test), or 100 on the IBT (Internet 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 USC School of Cinematic Arts. USC will only accept electronic IELTS scores. Paper scores are not considered official.
Official transcripts from all Colleges or Universities attended must be submitted for review. Request original copies of official transcripts to be sent directly from your institution to USC Graduate Admissions at:USC Office of Graduate Admissions
3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915
It is recommended that you send your official transcripts to USC's Office of Graduate Admissions at least 3 weeks before the application deadline.
Additionally, please upload a copy of your transcripts into the online application system. This will assist us in processing your application. When scanning transcripts into the online system, be aware there is a limit on the size of file you can upload.
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 email@example.com for specific information or if you have any questions.