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The Division of Cinema & Media Studies is committed to the understanding of film, television and new media in relation to the world. By studying and analyzing these forms and the processes behind their creation, Cinema & Media Studies scholars gain insight into the power and aesthetics of moving image media. Cinema & Media Studies students also have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and experience of film and television by taking hands-on production courses.

The committee favors applicants with academic records and personal statements that indicate a diversified liberal arts and humanities background. The committee is also interested in experiences and activities that show a continuing or recent involvement in film and television studies, the arts, criticism and/or aesthetics. There are no admission interviews. The committee ensures that all applicants are judged equitably by limiting evaluation to the items listed.

Application Overview

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

The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Cinema & Media Studies M.A. program.

  • USC Graduate Application for Admission
  • SlideRoom Application
    • Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
      • Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
      • Writing Sample
      • Letters of Recommendation (3)
      • Curriculum Vitae/Resume
  • 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

Graduate Cinema & Media Studies M.A.

  • Fall Admission Deadline:
    • December 1st

Note: Spring admission is not available for The Division of Cinema & Media Studies graduate programs.

View all Application Deadlines.

Application Instructions

All applicants wishing to be considered for the Cinema & Media Studies M.A. 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 Cinema & Media Studies M.A. program is a two-part process. You must submit the general USC Graduate Online Application for Admission and the corresponding supplemental materials for the Cinema & Media Studies M.A. 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 "Cinema & Media Studies M.A." program.

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 consideration:

  1. Cinematic Arts Personal Statement (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    The Cinematic Arts personal statement should be a carefully prepared explanation of the applicant's goals, describing any film, television, scholarly, critical or other creative background, as well as career objectives. It should present a clear and accurate picture of the applicant, outline objectives in the field of cinema and media studies and explain how attending the School of Cinematic Arts will help reach these goals.
  2. Writing Sample (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    The writing sample should be a review or analysis of some aspect of film, television, or new media; a discussion or application of critical theory; or a published article.
  3. Letters of Recommendation (At least one letter from an academic reference.)
    Three letters of recommendation are required. All letters of recommendation must be submitted via the SlideRoom reference system. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been received. Please make sure that your recommendation letters arrive on time as the admissions committee meets immediately after the deadline.
  4. Curriculum Vitae/Resume (please upload in PDF format 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.

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. All transcripts must be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions, not the School of Cinematic Arts.

If your institution sends e-transcripts, please instruct the vendor to email the transcript to etrans@usc.edu . Do not send any other materials or correspondence to this email address yourself. Electronic transcripts e-mailed to any other address will not be downloaded, resulting in a delay of your file review and an extra expense to you because the transcript will need to be re-sent. Official transcripts can be mailed to the address below.

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.


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.

Graduate Funding

The Cinema & Media Studies Department works to fund their first and second year M.A. students with teaching assistant positions and readerships. Some of these positions provide units, healthcare and a stipend, which can help defray the cost of attendance - these positions are competitive. The Cinema and Media Studies department will contact admitted students regarding funding information and offers once admission decisions are announced.

Proof of Financial Support & Passport Copy (International Applicants Only)

International applicants (those who are, or will be, in the United States on a non-immigrant visa) must submit proof of financial support that prove you have sufficient resources to stay in the United States during the course of your academic program at USC. The U.S. government requires that all international student applicants provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses for themselves and their dependents (if applicable) before a formal letter of admission and an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility can be issued.

The financial support must be sufficient to cover the student's estimated expenses for one academic year as determined by USC. All documents should be issued and dated no more than a year from the start of your intended first term at USC.

To learn about the guidelines for submitting documents, including a list of expenses for the upcoming academic year, please visit the Financial Documentation page on the Office of Graduate Admission's website.