The only program of its kind tied to a cinematic arts school, the Interactive Media & Games Division 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. By limiting the evaluation to the items listed, the committee ensures that all applicants are judged by the same criteria.
The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Interactive Entertainment B.A. program.
- The Common Application
- USC Writing Supplement
- SlideRoom Application
- Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
- Writing Sample
- Creative Portfolio List
- Creative Work Sample
- Project Question 1
- Project Question 2
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- Official High School Transcripts
- Official SAT or ACT Test Scores
- Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Students Only)
In order to be considered for admission, all required applications and materials must be submitted by the deadline. Late applications will not be considered. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all materials are submitted.
The School of Cinematic Arts cannot verify receipt of any application materials. Applicants may check their USC Applicant portal and SlideRoom Application portal for the status of materials.
No specific high school curriculum is prescribed or required, though students offered admission typically pursue the most rigorous program available to them in English, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign language and the arts.
View additional detailed information regarding first-year admission on the Office of Admission’s website.
- Fall Admission: December 1st (Application will open on August 1st)
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 the Common Application for General Admission and the USC Writing Supplement
The Common Application and USC Writing Supplement can be accessed at The Common Application website. Please note that the Common Application and USC Writing Supplement are two separate submissions. Both must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered for admission.
Please carefully review and follow the application instructions for first-year applicants on USC's Undergraduate Admission website.
Step 2: Submit Supplemental Materials via the SlideRoom Application
In addition to the Common Application and USC Writing Supplement, all applicants are required to submit supplemental materials via the SlideRoom Application. Please be sure to submit the SlideRoom Application titled: "Interactive Entertainment B.A. Program - First-Year/Freshmen Applicants." All materials must be submitted via the SlideRoom application and any materials sent by mail or email will not be considered.
Cinematic Arts Personal Statement (Must be uploaded in PDF format only):
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 admissions 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?"
Writing Sample (Must be uploaded in PDF format only):
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.
- Creative Portfolio List (Must be uploaded in PDF format only)
The Creative 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.
Creative Work Sample (Upload in Portfolio section)
The creative work sample represents your best or most relevant work. Choose a major piece of work that you are extremely proud of for your creative sample. If you have completed a game or animation project, you should strongly consider including this. Otherwise this work might be digital or analog, it or may be a film, photo essay, script or story. For visual art, you may submit a small selection of pieces. 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.
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.
- Project Question 1 (Must be uploaded in PDF format only)
Provide an example of a project that you have contributed to or led. Choose a project that left you feeling proud. Please describe the context of the project (e.g. the people involved the goals, etc.) and also describe your role in the project. Finally, state what about your role in the project gave you a feeling of pride. (No more than one page)
- Project Question 2 (Must be uploaded in PDF format only)
Describe a project that you have worked on that was a failure. Describe the situation in which the project took place, the objectives of the project and others (if any) who were part of the project team. Be clear about your role in the project. Describe how and why the project failed. Finally, summarize what you learned from the project and what you would do differently next time. (No more than one page)
Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation in particular format are required. At least one letter of recommendation must be an academic reference. Any letters submitted via the Common Application will be used towards the requirement and do not need to be resubmitted via SlideRoom. Any additional letters may be submitted via the SlideRoom references system. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been submitted by the deadline.
Step 3: Send Official Academic Transcripts
First-year applicants should submit official transcripts of all high school and college coursework completed to USC's Office of Admission, not the School of Cinematic Arts.
Transcripts can be sent electronically via the Common Application or sent by mail to:University of Southern California
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
University Park Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0911
Step 4: Send Official Test Scores
Arrange for the testing agency to send your SAT or ACT scores directly to USC.
The essay portion of the ACT is optional. The essay portion of the SAT will be optional for students taking the redesigned test in March 2016 or after.
Step 5: Submit Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Applicants Only)
Academic success at USC depends on your ability to communicate effectively in English. All international applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency in the following manner:
First-year international applicants should earn:
- Minimum score of 600 on the SAT Critical Reading exam (previous SAT) or 650 on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing exam (redesigned SAT) or 27 on the ACT English exam; OR
- 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 date no earlier than 2 years (24 months) prior to the start of your intended first term at USC.
Please carefully review and follow the application instructions for first-year international applicants on USC's Undergraduate Admission website.
The School of Cinematic Arts offers scholarships to incoming students. To learn more, please visit the SCA Scholarships page. The Office of Student Affairs will notify all students who submit a completed application for admission information about the SCA scholarship application process. Please note that in order to be considered for SCA scholarships, domestic students are required to apply for Financial Aid at USC. Therefore, please make sure to complete your application for financial aid on time.