USC Summer Programs

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students inside the classroom listening to the lecture

USC Summer Programs

Why High Schoolers Should Attend a USC Summer Program

Back in the day, many students and parents alike thought the best way to spend the months of summer vacation working a part-time job. With that being said, over the last couple of decades, students and parents now know that one of the most important ways to get a leg up on the competition to get into the university of their dreams is taking advantage of summer programs. When it comes to a USC Summer Program  you’ve come to the right place!

Before we at AdmissionSight break down the details of every USC Summer Program that is available to you, however, let’s go over some simple information regarding summer programs in general.

Universities all over the country and world offer high school students the opportunity to experience a small slice of life on campus. Summer programs are a fantastic way for high school students to develop and refine their interests, as well as learn more about what path they may want to go down in college and beyond. On top of that, taking part in summer programs will only help to make a student’s college application.

Overall, many summer programs for high schoolers range from a couple weeks to a month. This allows students to try out multiple programs per summer if they want.

About USC Summer Program

The University of Southern California is known throughout the world as one of the most prestigious private research universities. On top of that, it is also home to a prestigious liberal arts college that educated some of the most influential artists of their generation. Moreover, its medical center and business school are ranked amongst the best in the world as well.

When it comes to the USC Summer Program, the school has proven that it is determined to carry on its tradition of academic excellence to high schoolers. Programs are available to students for either two- or four-week spans of time. The USC Summer Program is aimed at offering the students a balanced experience of academic work and campus life as they prepare for their four-year college experience. Of course, a USC Summer Program is taught by full-time USC faculty members who are experienced professionals within the USC academic community.

The main goal of every USC Summer Program is to create an exciting, engaging and informational academic experience by combining aspects of everyday college life such as lectures, hands-on workshops, labs, academic field trips throughout the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles and meeting with guest speakers and lecturers.

Finally, every USC Summer Program has a primary goal is to offer every student a challenging course that will help them expand their knowledge past that of the high school classroom.

Young woman standing in the middle of the school ground with her classmates.


Why USC Summer Program Benefits High Schoolers

At this point, you might be curious about the main benefits that high schoolers get when they enroll in a USC Summer Program. The simple truth is that one of the primary benefits of any summer program is that they allow high schoolers to work within a specialized field or area that they are interested in without having to worry about a broader high school curriculum.

That means that high school students will get what is likely their first experience of focusing on a single subject. Of course, that is something that they will get far more accustomed to when they pick their major and primary focus during their undergraduate years and beyond.

USC Summer Program offers students that opportunity to get an up-close and personal look at a field that they are passionate about and expands those students’ awareness of what it would be like to study and work within that field.

Beyond that, the USC Summer Program that takes place on USC’s central campus in downtown Los Angeles allows students to get a feel for what it might be like to be a full-time student at USC.

Perhaps the most important reason to consider signing up for one of the many USC Summer Programs is that it simply looks great in the eyes of university admissions officers who care deeply about students’ extracurricular activities and often heavily consider what students do in their free time not only when it comes to admissions, but also when it comes to awarding merit scholarships.

Admissions officers want to see that students have spent their high school years pursuing their interests both inside and outside the classroom. Summer programs are far more interesting to admissions officers compared to things that are easily accessible to students such as school sports or even school programs. The reason why is because enrolling in summer programs proves that the student has taken an active role in pursuing their interests and passions.

One final important advantage that students who attend USC Summer Programs get is that it gives those students the opportunity to form personal relationships and bonds with current students and faculty. One of the best ways to ensure that a student gets into the school of their dreams is to connect with students who were admitted to that school and teachers who currently work there. Summer programs make that process much easier for high school students.

Through attending one of the USC Summer Programs, high school students can figure out whether or not USC is the right school for them.

Young female student smiling at the camera.


The Best Available Programs

There are numerous different options in regard to USC Summer Programs.  In all, programs are broken up into two-week non-credit programs or four-week for-credit programs. The four-week programs are more common and by the end the high schoolers will receive a single elective credit that can go towards their final academic history.

Whether they are credit or non-credit all USC Summer Programs offer students incredibly valuable experiences and strengthen their admissions profile when it comes to applying to universities around the country.

Summer Programs have always been great tools to help high school students achieve their goals of higher education and guide them as they prepare for that next big step. The USC Summer Program stands out among the programs from the best colleges in the United States, with 2 and 4-week courses that this year will be completely online due to the current Corona virus climate.

View of two students using a laptop on a table.

The students that are accepted into the program, whose deadline has been extended until May 8th to begin classes on June 15th, will take part in demanding and in-depth online courses, get access to professors at the top of their respective fields, and will get an extensive overview of their academic interests. It’s a unique opportunity to get inside access to what USC is like, while still in high school. You get to meet instructors, students, and get a sense of what college classes are like, while digging deep into your area of choice.

Located in Los Angeles, California, the University of Southern California is one of the leading universities when it comes to private research and houses an exceptional liberal arts college, a medical center, and some of the best arts schools in the United States. Applying for it Summer Program is competitive, but it is definitely worth it in the long run.

At AdmissionSight we believe that the USC Summer Program’s combination of lectures, hands-on workshops, guest lecturers, and field trips, makes this specific program stand out among all of the summer programs being offered by different universities. Students get real life experience in their field of studies, as if they were taking college level classes. There are even courses that offer USC credits.

Furthermore, summer programs provide an insight into the industry that the student is interested in that probably can’t be achieved any other way. They can immerse themselves in the area of their choice, talk to professionals, engage with peers with similar interests, and spend a summer solely focused on their craft, without any other distractions or classes taking their focus away from their course of choice.

The USC Summer Program does not last all summer. So students can also enjoy the summer or take on a part-time job after the completion of their course. But they will have learned and gotten an experience like no other, which will also be reflected in their transcripts.

Universities care not only about grades, but also about extracurriculars. They want to know that students are interested in their respective fields, even beyond the classroom. It’s never too early to start preparing for college, and making sure you have what it takes to get admitted into the school of your choice. Getting into college has never been more competitive, and summer programs are another way to make your application stand out. Spending a summer at the USC Summer Program is definitely a great way to show that you want to pursue a career in your field of choice!

The 2 Types of Programs

  • There’s a 4-week Credit Program running from June 15th to July 10, 2020. This program is an immersive experience in the area of the student’s choice. At the end, students receive 3 units of USC elective credit. Students can apply to three courses but can only register for one course. However, all of them are equally challenging and engaging.
  • There’s a 2-week Non Credit Program running from June 15th to June 26th, 2020, and at the end students receive a certificate of completion.

Course Options

The USC Summer Program offers a vast list of course options so everyone can find a subject they’re interested in exploring. The different areas include:


Students get a chance to immerse themselves in deep thinking about architecture and the design process. Through virtual classes, this program will challenge students to draw, imagine and build while acquiring insights into the profession. This course is oriented towards students seeking a career in Architecture and Design.

The program includes virtual classes, virtual field trips, classes with top professionals in the field, help building a portfolio, and skills training.

So what skills do students actually develop during the program?

  • Three-dimensional and spatial awareness and understanding
  • Design and composition fundamentals
  • Vocabulary in relation to basic ordering principles
  • Sketching, drawing, and photography
  • Model-making
  • Design methods and tools


The Business program has 2 courses:

  1. Exploring Entrepreneurship: If you ever wondered what it would take to start your own business, then this is the course for you. Blending theory and practice, this course explains what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

So what will you get from this course?

  • Insights from guest lecturers and leading entrepreneurs
  • Virtual field trips
  • Real-life practice by creating your own business
  • Team work experience as you learn to pitch in front of an audience

You’ll study accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, how to be creative and innovate, how to develop business plans, ethics, how to brand yourself, and how to build your network.

  1. Introduction to Business: you will learn how to run and manage a business. You’ll learn marketing, operations, finance, leadership, organization, ethics, and accounting.

So what will you get from this course?

  • How different departments work both independently and together
  • You’ll learn how to read and analyze different types of financial statements
  • You’ll learn about for-profit businesses and social missions
  • How to operate efficiently and how to handle customer service
  • How to market and promote a product or a service
  • How to finance the launch of a business or the expansion of one

Engineering & Information Technology

The Engineering and Information Technology program has 2 courses:

  1. 3D Character and Design and Creation: If you’re interested in learning about Designing, Modeling and Texturing 3D Video Games and Cinematic Characters, and want a career in the 3D Design world, then this is the course for you!

So what will you learn from this course?

  • Character design, character story, and world
  • 2D concept designs and 3D modeling techniques
  • You’ll get to design real projects to apply what you’re being taught
  • You’ll create your own character
  • Edge loops and modeling techniques for deformation
  1. Explore Engineering: If you want to learn through a virtual environment mixed with hand-on simulations, then this is the program for you!

So what will you get to learn from this course?

  • You’ll design, test and build your own project
  • You’ll do research
  • You’ll design a course imitating escaping from a building with damage
  • You’ll program a virtual robot
  • You’ll design a truss bridge
  • You’ll create a monitoring building
  • You’ll get to design, build, and launch a three-stage model rocket
  • You’ll design a mechanized water recycling system
  • You’ll study robotics, computer engineering, biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and aerospace engineering.

Global Studies

With everything that is currently happening to the world with the Covid-19 crisis, there’s nothing more pressing than studying public health.

So what will you learn in this course?

  • How the current crisis of Covid-19 happened, what will happen next, and how it might end
  • You’ll study the different factors that played a role in the spread of the virus
  • You’ll study marginalized communities at a clear disadvantage
  • Through investigations, you’ll learn to solve and investigate outbreaks
  • You’ll get an introduction into the studies of global health and social justice
  • You’ll learn about pandemic responses

You’ll like this course if you’re interested in the subjects of medicine, public health, anthropology, international relations, business, economics, law, and others.


If you like to report and produce stories about sports, politics, religions, the arts, and culture, then this is the course for you!

So what will you be doing in this course?

  • You’ll write journal entries
  • You’ll write profiles for different people
  • You’ll learn about text, video and audio platforms
  • You’ll learn about the digital era of journalism
  • You’ll conduct interviews
  • You’ll connect with people and discuss the current pandemic and how it has been documented by the media
  • You’ll work with social media
  • You’ll develop your photography and video skills

Performing Arts

Are you interested in the theater and the dramatic arts? Then this is the program for you! This course will be a complete new challenge, as you’ll work on your craft virtually.

So what will you study in this course?

  • Scene study, movement, voice, camera acting, monologues and auditions
  • You’ll get to take virtual field trips
  • You’ll get to create a final virtual performance, unique in its kind
  • You’ll have classes on text analysis, dramaturgy, improvisation, and acting

Pre-Health & Science

The Pre-Health & Science program has 3 courses:

  1. The Brain: Introduction to Neuroscience: If you’re interested in healthcare, psychology, and behavioral sciences, then this is the course for you!

So what will you learn?

  • The Anatomy and function of the brain
  • Common and unusual aspects of the brain
  • Normal and abnormal brain development
  • How we think, learn, and express ourselves
  • Diseases and disorders that affect the brain
  • You’ll take virtual visits to laboratories
  • You’ll study neuroethics
  1. Psychological Science & Society: Are you interested in understanding people, how they behave, and what it means to be human? Then this is the course for you!

So what will you get from this course?

  • You’ll learn what it’s like to be a psychological scientist
  • You’ll have classes, meditation exercises, games, and psychological tests
  • You’ll study different research methods, personality, mindsets and motivation, values, leadership, the mind-body connection, narcotics, games and therapy, happiness, and relationships.
  1. The Science of Food, Nutrition, and the Biological World: Are you interested in learning about food through the study of molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, and nutrition? Then this is the course for you!

So what will you be studying?

  • The science behind foods and how you can prep them at home
  • The biology of plants, animals, and microorganisms
  • Genetics and GMOs
  • How agriculture impacts the environment
  • Nutrition
  • Taste and smell


Are you interested in understanding how lawyers operate and think? Then this is the course for you!

So what will you do in this course?

  • You’ll watch court proceedings
  • You’ll create a portfolio of documents
  • You’ll analyze cases
  • You’ll learn legal reasoning, legal writing, and oral advocacy
  • You’ll study the court systems
  • You’ll learn about law school admissions 

Writing & Critical Thinking

The Writing & Critical Thinking program has 2 courses:

  1. Creative Writing Workshop: Do you want to get your creative juices flowing while participating in a writing workshop from the comfort of your own home? Then this is the course for you!

So what will you do in this course?

  • You’ll learn about personal essays, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, and short stories
  • You’ll get to practice and work on your writing voice
  • You’ll create a portfolio
  • You’ll get to work with other writers
  • You’ll get great constructive feedback
  1. Ethics and 21st Century: Business, Politics, & Technology: Do you ever wonder how to live in this modern world after the 21st century revolution? Then this is the course for you!

So what topics will you tackle?

  • How to be more reflective
  • Critical thinking
  • Argumentation
  • Writing
  • Debates and so much more!

Exploration of Architecture

In this course, students explore architecture during a four-week course. Enrolled students in the USC summer program learn the fundamentals of architecture, get insight into how one creates a fantastic architectural portfolio and visit foundational architectural sights throughout Los Angeles.

Introduction to Video Game Design

In this course, students get the chance to create their own video game, playtest the game in production, and learn about the fascinating technology that is used to create the world’s most successful and popular video game programs.

Exploring Entrepreneurship

In this course, students get the opportunity to learn from successful entrepreneurs, take field trips to meet with local startups and firms, and apply the skills they learn to develop their very own business.

3D Design and Prototyping

In this course, students study prototype technologies and learn about the fundamentals of 3D design. By the end, they apply the lessons they have learned to create their own 3D prototypes.

Introduction to Business

In this course, students learn about marketing, operations and finance. They will get an overview of major departments in all successful businesses such as marketing, finance, ethics and management.

Psychological Science and Society

In this course, students will get the chance to explore the fascinating and diverse world of psychology. They will take personality tests, go on field trips to local shelters and labs, and learn about mental health practices such as meditation.

International Relations

In this course, students get the opportunity to learn about conflict resolution using international relations and policy as a meaningful backdrop. Perfect for students interested in law and diplomacy.

Discover Engineering

In this course, students design, build and test during this hands-on course. Students explore the different engineering fields through group projects and numerous classroom activities.

Technology Innovation Experience

In this course, students work to develop electronic and digital prototypes in engaging and hands-on programs. This course blends engineering and business to help students brainstorm and create their own novel products.

The Brain: Introduction to Neuroscience

In this course, students will explore the science behind normal brain development and will participate in engaging labs that cover information regarding how humans think and express ourselves.

Global Health: Trends and Challenges

In this course, students discover the approaches that those on the frontlines of preventing infections diseases in global communities use to try to keep people healthy and safe. This program provided by USC is especially engaging for those who are interested in medicine, public health, anthropology, international law and business and social justice.

Future Physicians

In this course, students will get the chance to shadow working physicians to learn more about the day-to-day operations of the medical field. They will also get the chance to hear from various different kinds of medical professionals and can even start to learn some of the most basic medical practices, such as suturing. This program is perfect for students who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine or public health.

a female med student looking at the camera smiling


News Reporting in the Digital Age

In this course, students write stories about real issues and individuals living and making a difference in Los Angeles. Students enrolled in this course get the opportunity to learn about online reporting, blogging and highly popular multimedia technology.

Sports Journalism: Multi-Platform Storytelling

In this course, students will explore the world of multi-platform sports journalism and combine hands-on learning assignments with field trips to some of the most advanced sports studio productions in the world.

Acting Intensive

In this course, students get to take advantage of USC’s famed acting program and build a strong foundation in acting. Students will learn in a conservatory-style environment from acting professionals. They will also attend professional theatre productions as well as rehearse and perform productions in a workshop environment

My Mind & Me: Introduction to Mental Health

In this course, students will explore and learn about the field of mental health. During the class, they will review real case studies, visit the famous Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, and work with their fellow classmates to develop a final project based on what they have learned.

Exploring Criminal Justice

In this course, students will learn about and examine the criminal justice system as it exists within the United States. Students will meet with lawyers and activists, attend real criminal court proceedings, and explore the different career paths available in criminal justice.

Comedy Performance

In this course, students will work with professionals in comedy and work on skills such as improvisational comedy, sketch comedy, stand up comedy and more. They will also engage in industry-focuses master classes.

Legal Reasoning and Argumentation

In this course, students will get the chance to engage in legal analysis and will get an inside look at the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals right in Los Angeles. Students will also learn about how to best prepare for law school and a career as an attorney.

Musical Theater

In this course, students will work to enhance their musical theater abilities by participating in acting, singing and dance classes. They will also take several field trips to see professional theatre performed within the city of Los Angeles.

Creative Writing Workshop

In this course, students will explore the collaborative nature of professional creative writing. They will learn about the different styles of prose and writing styles such as poetry, short story writing, nonfiction and more. Students will even get the chance to workshop ideas on developing an admissions essay for university applications.

Ethics in the 21st Century: Business, Politics & Technology

In this course, students get the chance to learn about and explore moral questions facing humanity in the 21st century. They will learn university-level argumentation skills and develop critical thinking skills. Furthermore, they will participate in lively debates and hear from working leaders within the business and technology worlds.

Kinesiology: Moving Minds and Bodies Through Sports, Medicine and Health

In this course, students will receive an introduction to kinesiology and movement science. Through the course, they will learn about career options within related fields, learn from experts and participate in engaging labs to help them deepen their interests and understanding.

Admitted high schoolers performing what they've learned at a USC summer program.

Online Learning

Even though classes will take place only online, every effort is being made to make sure students enjoy the same level of excellence the USC Summer Programs are known for, and end the summer having had a unique experience that will prepare them for the future.

There will be chances to interact and meet other students online, with virtual activities and meet ups, so that students can connect with some of their peers even if it is just online for now. But they will hopefully become friends and classmates in the future.

Schedules and Activities

Classes take place Monday through Friday, with some live classes as well as independent studies and group workshops. Zoom and Blackboard will be the two platforms used.

Application Requirements

The USC Summer Program is one of the best in the nation. So at AdmissionSight we encourage students to apply as early as possible, as spots fill up fast. There’s a rigorous admissions process. In order to qualify:

  • Students need to have completed at least 9th grade by June 14th, 2020.
  • Students need to be adhering to a strict curriculum.
  • Students must attend all classes.
  • International students are also welcome to apply.


When it comes to USC Summer Programs, you now know just how varied and diverse each option is. No matter what a student’s interests are, there is little doubt that they will find a class that they can learn from and grow in at USC.

If you’re committed to getting serious about your future career, and you want to take that next step, then don’t hesitate to apply to the USC Summer Program. Here at AdmissionSight we believe that it will definitely give you a leg up when it’s time to start applying for colleges down the line, and it will also help you feel more confident, having had an inside look at what your career of choice will be like. What do you have to lose? Start applying now!

Now, all that’s left for you to do is to figure out which course best fits your passions and interests so that you can start working on your application.


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