The primary goals of the Film & Television Production program are to develop the student's ability to express original ideas and to instill a thorough understanding of the technical and aesthetic aspects of motion pictures and television. Students learn all aspects of the art of storytelling and develop the ability to take audiences on emotional journeys using a wide array of cinematic skills. Students learn to access this unique power by working in many forms - from traditional large-screen films to those designed for the smallest cell phone screens, to episodic content across multiple formats. Courses in production provide individual and group filmmaking experiences and the opportunity to learn all aspects of filmmaking in a collaborative environment.
The faculty admissions committee evaluates applications for originality, clarity, personal insight and artistic excellence. 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.
All applicants must hold a bachelor's degree (or have a bachelor's degree conferred before the start of the intended first time at USC) from a regionally accredited institution in order to be considered for admission. Applicants who studied overseas should review USC's country-specific requirements for more information about degree equivalency.
The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Film & Television Production M.F.A. program.
- USC Graduate Application for Admission
- SlideRoom Application
- Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
- Writing Sample (Prompt A or B or C)
- Creative Portfolio List
- Collaboration Question
- Video Introduction
- Media Sample (Video or Photo Option)
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- Official Transcripts (From all Academic Institutions Attended)
- 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.
View additional detailed information regarding graduate admission on the Office of Graduate Admission's website.
- Fall Admission: November 15th (Application will open on August 20th)
- Spring Admission: August 15th (Application will open on June 20th)
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 Graduate Application for Admission
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. Please be sure to submit the SlideRoom Application titled: "Graduate Film & Television Production M.F.A. Program." 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.
- Cinematic Arts Personal Statement
The Cinematic Arts Personal Statement will be read by the admissions committee as a measure of creativity, self-awareness and vision. We are looking for a sense of you as a unique individual and how your distinctive experiences, characteristics, background, values and/or views of the world have shaped who you are and what you want to say as a creative filmmaker. We want to know about the kind of stories you want to tell. Bear in mind that enthusiasm for watching films, descriptions of your favorite films and the involvement in the filmmaking process is common in most candidates. As a result, we encourage that you focus on your individuality. Note that there is no standard format or correct answer. (1,000 words or less)
Writing Sample (choose one) (Must be uploaded in PDF format only)
- A description for a four-minute film that contains no dialogue. It can be fiction or non-fiction. The story has to be communicated visually. (No more than two pages).
- A dialogue scene between two people. Provide a one-paragraph introduction describing the two characters in screenplay format. (No more than three pages).
- Describe a concept for a feature-length movie, fiction or documentary, which you would like to develop. (No more than two pages).
Creative Portfolio List (Must be uploaded in PDF format only).
The creative portfolio list is a written record of the applicant's creative materials. 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 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.
- March 2008, Doorways, a series of 5 black-and-white photographs. Position: photographer. "Second Prize Winner" in the Des Moines Sunday Journal photo contest.
- 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.
Collaboration Question (Must be uploaded in PDF format only)
Describe a project that you worked on with multiple collaborators that left you feeling proud and fulfilled. Discuss your role in the project and explain why this collaboration was successful. Then, describe another collaborative project that left you unsatisfied. Discuss your role in the project and explain why this collaboration frustrated you. Finally, summarize what you learned from each of these experiences and describe the lessons you learned that inspire your future collaborations. (No more than two pages.)
- Video Introduction
Submit a 30-60 second video of yourself speaking directly to the camera, in a single take with no edits, introducing yourself and explaining what will make attending SCA a successful experience for you and others.
Media Sample (Choose one) (Upload in Portfolio Section).
- Video Option: Create a narrative video that is no longer than five minutes in which you had a major creative role. The video can be live-action or animation, fiction or documentary, but it should reflect your aesthetic tastes and intellectual and emotional interests. You must specify what role(s) you played. Submit only one video. Multiple submissions will cause your application to be rejected.
- Photo Option: Prepare a series of eight photographs you have taken which, when viewed in a specific sequence, portray a unique and original character or which tell a simple narrative story. Also include a one-page narrative about the character being portrayed in the photos. The images may either be black-and-white or in color. Please upload the photos in order of sequence. The one-page narrative must be uploaded in PDF format only.
Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation in no particular format are required. At least one letter of recommendation must be an academic reference. Any letters of recommendation must be submitted via the SlideRoom Application. 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
Please review and follow transcript requirement and submission instructions detailed on the Transcript Requirements page on the Office of Graduate Admission's website.
Official transcripts from all colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions attended must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions, not the School of Cinematic Arts. In addition, scanned copies of all official transcripts must be uploaded to the Graduate Application for Admission.
Electronic transcripts may be sent directly from the sending institution to email@example.com. Do not send any other materials or correspondence to this email address yourself.
If sending your transcripts via regular mail, use the following address:
University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915
If sending your transcripts via courier service, such as DHL or FedEx, use the following address:
University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission and Financial Aid
3601 South Flower Street, Tyler 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915
Step 4: 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.