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Application Overview

All candidates must have a bachelor’s and master’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 and master’s degree. To verify that your degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree, as well as learn about specific academic and language requirements you may need for admission, click here.

The following items must be submitted for admission consideration to the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. program.

  • USC Graduate Application for Admission
  • SlideRoom Application
    • Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
      • Cinematic Arts Media Arts + Practice Personal Statement
      • Writing Sample
      • Media Portfolio
      • Curriculum Vitae/Resume
      • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Official Transcripts (From all Academic Institutions Attended)
  • Official GRE Test Scores
    The School of Cinematic Arts is waiving the GRE requirement for applicants to the 2021 admission cycle. Applications will be reviewed holistically.
  • 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 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.

Application Deadlines

Media Arts + Practice Ph.D.

  • Fall Admission Deadline: December 1st

View all Application Deadlines.

Note: Spring admission is not available for the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. program.

Application Instructions

All applicants wishing to be considered for the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. 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 Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. program is a two-part process—you must submit the general USC Graduate Online Application for Admission and the corresponding supplemental materials for the Media Arts + Practice Ph.D. 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 “Media Arts and Practice Ph.D.” program.
  • Please complete all sections of the application.

If you experience any technical issues, please contact Graduate Admissions here.

Step 2: Submit Supplemental Materials via the SlideRoom Application

In addition to the Graduate Application for Admission, all applicants are required to submit supplemental materials via the SlideRoom Application. You may access the SlideRoom Application via the SlideRoom tab in the Program Materials section of the Graduate Application for Admission. All materials must be submitted via the SlideRoom Application and any materials sent by mail or email will not be considered.

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

  1. Cinematic Arts Personal Statement (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    The personal statement should describe the applicant's motivations and career objectives and relate them to past experiences with media, design, programming or scholarly practice. In addition, applicants should describe a hybrid scholarly/creative project that exemplifies the type of work they want to pursue while in the program. Applicants are under no obligation to undertake this project if accepted to the program, but may consider this as an opportunity to present their research/design interests in concrete terms. The personal statement should be 3-5 pages, double-spaced.

  2. Writing Sample (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    The writing sample should demonstrate an applicant's ability to write with sophistication and clarity about matters of relevance to the theory and practice of media arts. The writing sample should be 8-15 pages, double-spaced. Scripts and screenplays will not be accepted.

  3. Media Portfolio Link (please upload under the "Forms" section):
    Provide the direct URL for your online media portfolio. The portfolio provides an opportunity for applicants to present creative work for which they were the primary creator, designer or programmer. In general, applicants are encouraged to emphasize quality over quantity in selecting materials for the portfolio. Time-based works should not total more than 15 minutes. Excerpts of longer works are welcome. Please ensure that your URL is public and remains available. URLs that require a login, expire or become inaccessible will not be considered.

  4. Curriculum Vitae/Resume (please upload under the "Forms" section):
    The CV/resume should provide a record of the applicant's background and experience, including both professional and academic settings. Formal recognition - such as awards, publications, presentations and jobs - should be noted.

  5. 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 references system. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been received.

The Media Arts + Practice admission committee favors materials that indicate a diverse background in media production or Cinema & Media Studies, design and/or programming. The committee is also interested in experiences and activities that show a continuing or recent involvement with hybrid forms of new media-based scholarship.

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

Step 4: Submit Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE General) Test Scores

The School of Cinematic Arts is waiving the GRE requirement for applicants to the 2021 admission cycle. Applications will be reviewed holistically.

Step 5: Submit Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Applicants Only)

Please carefully review English Proficiency requirements for international applicants on the English Proficiency page on the Office of Graduate Admission's website.

The ability to communicate effectively in English - to read, write and speak the language fluently - is vital to your success as a university student. USC graduate applicants are therefore expected to demonstrate their proficiency in English as part of the application process.

Graduate applicants should earn:

  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum score of 20 in each section); OR
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7; OR
  • A minimum PTE score of 68

Applicants must receive the minimum required score to be considered. Official scores must be received directly from the testing service and dated no earlier than 2 years (24 months) prior to the start of your intended first term at USC.

Duolingo English Test scores are not accepted for graduate applicants. USC is unable to accept TOEFL ITP Plus for China at this time.

International applicants are exempt from submitting English-proficiency scores under the following circumstances:

  1. You hold a bachelor's degree completed in its entirety in the United States or another Anglophone country.

    The bachelor's degree should be earned at a regionally accredited university located in the United States, or at 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 needs to have been completed in the qualifying country.

    Note: Dual-degree holders who completed part of their degree in the U.S. do not qualify for this waiver.

  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.

    USC does not waive the English-proficiency requirement based on any other consideration such as work experience, ESL enrollment, etc. It also cannot be waived for undergraduate programs taught in English in non-Anglophone countries, or for graduate degrees earned in the U.S. or other qualifying countries.

Graduate Funding

Graduate funding packages (fellowships, scholarships, teaching assistantships, readerships) are tailored to the needs of the individual. The Media Arts + Practice department will contact admitted students regarding funding information and offers once admission decisions are announced in March.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

All graduate applicants are invited to apply for scholarships funded by the School of Cinematic Arts. Scholarships are open to both domestic and international students. A scholarship application will never impact admission consideration. USC is need-blind in its admission process—a student’s financial need will never influence an admission decision.

You may learn more about SCA scholarship opportunities on the SCA website.

Please note that in order to be considered for SCA scholarships, domestic students are required to apply for financial aid at USC. Instructions on how to apply may be found here.