John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television review committee places considerable importance on the autobiographical character sketch, story ideas, writing samples, portfolio list and letters of recommendation during the application review process. There are no admission interviews. The committee ensures that all applicants are judged equitably by limiting evaluation to the items listed.

Application Overview

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The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Writing for Screen & Television B.F.A. program.

  • The Common Application
    • USC Writing Supplement
  • SlideRoom Application
    • Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
      • Autobiographical Character Sketch
      • Creative Challenges (A & B)
      • Most Challenging Moment
      • Commitment Prompt
      • Writing Sample (Maximum of 10 pages)
      • Creative Portfolio List
      • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Official High School & College Transcripts
  • 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 all screens of the online process. The 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.

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

  • Fall Admission: December 1

Note to Transfer Students: the undergraduate Writing program is a four-year sequential program of study. Thus, transfer students will be required to study at USC for four years to complete program. General education and elective units may be accepted toward the degree based on USC credit evaluation.

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 transfer applicants on USC's Undergraduate Admission website.

Step 2: Submit Supplemental Materials via the SlideRoom Application

As part of the application process, all students looking to be considered for admission to the Writing for Screen & Television program are required to submit supplemental materials to support their application. These supplemental materials must be submitted via the the SlideRoom Application. “Writing for Screen & Television B.F.A. Program — First-Year/Freshmen & External Transfer”.

The following supplemental materials are required for admission consideration to the Writing for Screen & Television B.F.A. program. Please submit all materials in PDF format under the "Forms" section.

  1. Autobiographical Character Sketch (please upload in PDF format)
    Write a creative essay or short story that evokes an understanding of how you became who you are. This should reflect your individuality. It's not a resume. (1-2 pages in length)

  2. Creative Challenges - Both A & B are required: (please upload in PDF format)
    Two scenes with assigned parameters:
    1. Write a scene between two very different kinds of people who get stuck in an elevator on New Year's Eve. 2-5 pages. Please use screenplay format.
    2. Write a scene between two people (e.g., a parent and child, roommates, spouses, etc.) who live together. The first character strongly desires to go out; the second desperately wants the first to stay home. Emphasize visual elements as well as dialogue. 2-5 pages. Please use screenplay format.
  3. Most Challenging Moment (please upload in PDF format)
    Convey in writing the greatest challenge you have faced and how you responded to it. The challenge may be of any kind you care to write about -physical, emotional, moral, creative, personal, professional or some other sort. (1-2 pages in length).

  4. Commitment Prompt: (please upload in PDF format)
    As a creative art, writing requires commitment and dedication. In 250 words or less, why do you believe you have the drive and commitment to pursue a career as a writer?

  5. Writing Sample (please upload in PDF format)
    One sample of your creative writing. This may be an excerpt with a note explaining the context. Writing in script form is not required. Please only include original material-do not submit a television spec episode of an existing television show. Maximum of 10 pages. If you send more than 10, only the first 10 will be read.

  6. Creative Portfolio List (please upload in PDF format)
    A list of all significant creative projects in which the applicant has participated, noting the role the applicant has played. Formal recognition such as awards, publications, and exhibitions should also be noted.

  7. Letters of Recommendation - (One letter must be an academic reference)
    Three letters of recommendation (no particular format) are required. It is recommended that letters be submitted via the SlideRoom References system. Any letters submitted via the Common Application may also be used towards the three letters of recommendation required. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been received.

Step 3: Send Official Academic Transcripts

Transfer applicants should submit official high school and college transcripts 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 (If Applicable)

SAT or ACT scores are required from applicants who have completed fewer than 30 semester units of college coursework. 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:

Transfer international 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.

Please carefully review and follow the application instructions for first-year international applicants on USC's Undergraduate Admission website.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

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. 

Prospective students are also encouraged to consider USC Scholarships as the university maintains a number of prestigious scholarship programs. Learn more about costs and financial aid here.