USC Yield Rate

September 26, 2022
By AdmissionSight

USC Yield Rate

One of the things to watch out for when applying to USC is its acceptance rate. The acceptance rate will tell you how many students are admitted each year as well as how difficult it is to get into a certain college. A college with a very low acceptance rate likely is quite selective, but one with a very high acceptance rate might not be. It’s also important to know more about USC yield rate.

The percentage of accepted students to all applicants is known as the acceptance rate. A university would have a 15% acceptance rate, for instance, if 100 persons applied and 15 were accepted.

USC Requirements for Admission

Being a very selective institution, applicants must typically rank in the top 10% of their graduating class and have standardized test scores in the top 5%.

A grade C or above in at least three years of high school mathematics, including Advanced Algebra, is required of incoming first-year students (Algebra II).

View of USC building surrounded by trees.

There is no set curriculum that must be followed outside of mathematics, although admitted students usually enroll in the most challenging English, Science, Social Studies, Foreign Language, and Arts courses they can find.

The unweighted average GPA for the incoming freshmen class of 2021 ranges from 3.75 to 4.00. The SAT range for USC is between 1340 and 1530, and the ACT range is between 30 and 34.

Qualifications for Undergraduate Applicants

1. First-year college students

First-year students at USC must meet the following requirements:

  • Use writing supplements and the Common Application
  • SAT or ACT official test results. For either the ACT or SAT general test, USC does not require the writing portion.
  • Certified copies of all completed college and high school coursework
  • Recommendation letters: You need one letter from your instructor or school counselor. Two letters of recommendation may be required for some departments, such as the School of Cinematic Arts.
  • If your major so requires, a portfolio, résumé, and/or more writing examples. Majors in performance could also demand auditions.
  • Submit your fall grades using the applicant site or the common application.
  • Short-answer and essay responses

2. Transfer students

  • Transfer students at USC must meet the following requirements:
  • Official final high school transcripts
  • Official college transcripts from every college attended
  • Letters of recommendation (optional, although may be required for some majors)
  • Common Application
  • If your major so requires, a portfolio, résumé, and/or more writing examples. Majors in performance could also demand auditions.
  • Essays and answers to questions with brief answers.

3. For international students

Candidates from abroad must possess the following:

  • Certified copies of all transcripts from secondary schools, colleges, universities, and pre-university programs. If the native language is not English, they must be presented in that language with a translation into English.
  • Results from external exams, such as GCSE/IGCSE, IB or A-level, Indian-based examination, Australian ATAR, etc.
  • ACT or SAT test results that are standardized
  • Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support, which must be completed and signed, together with a copy of a current passport and documentation of sufficient cash.
  • Results of English language proficiency tests.

The USC yield rate for the Class of 2025 was 41%, which is calculated as the proportion of admitted students who choose to enroll over the total number of applicants. For instance, many other prestigious private universities, including Northwestern (55%), Duke (54%), and Georgetown University (45%), have higher yield percentages.

Why should USC’s yield rate matter to you?

A college should strive to maintain a high yield rate because this shows that the institution is a coveted one. Consider it this way: if you learned that 95% of admitted students chose to attend a specific university, that would imply that it is a popular choice for many people, correct? On the other hand, you can assume that everyone would prefer to go somewhere else and would only choose that college as a last choice if just 10% of admitted students registered.

Statue of USC placed near a building.

A college is more inclined to grant admission to applicants it believes it will be able to accept because it wants to maintain a high yield rate. In an effort to maintain a high yield rate, a school may be less likely to accept you if it believes that you are more likely to attend somewhere else.

In order to prevent being turned down for this reason, show the college that you are interested in attending. The admissions officers will recognize that you’re likely to increase (rather than decrease) that college’s yield rate if you go above and beyond to demonstrate your genuine interest in attending. The “why this college?” essay is a particularly effective approach to demonstrate that you are well-informed about the institution and have strong motivations for attending.

Changes in USC Yield Rate (Enrollment Rate)

The current academic year’s USC yield rate is 41.00%, compared to the average USC yield rate of 36.00 %during the previous 11 years. The percentage of admitted students that actually enrolled is known as the yield, often referred to as the enrolment rate. The changes in USC yield rate from 2012 to 2022, as shown in the table below.

Year Total Men Women
2012-13 32.88% 33.08% 32.70%
2013-14 31.10% 32.16% 30.17%
2014-15 33.11% 33.94% 32.40%
2015-16 32.12% 33.70% 30.85%
2016-17 34.01% 34.89% 33.31%
2017-18 37.14% 37.10% 37.17%
2018-19 40.78% 41.65% 39.98%
2019-20 41.92% 40.65% 43.03%
2020-21 35.97% 35.38% 36.53%
2021-22 41.00% 39.99% 41.99%
Average 36.00% 36.25% 35.81%


Students walking near USC building.

Application Requirements for USC

In order, to apply, candidates must provide the following information: high school GPA, high school rank, high school record (or transcript), completion of a college preparatory program, recommendations, and a formal demonstration of competencies. The following table lists the prerequisites for applying to the University of Southern California.

USC Admission Requirements

High School GPA Required
High School Rank Neither required nor recommended
High School Record (or Transcript) Required
Completion of College Preparatory Program Required
Recommendations Required
Formal Demonstration of Competencies Required
Admission Test Scores Considered but not Required
TOEFL Required
Other Test (Wonderlic, WISC-III, etc.) Neither required nor recommended

Class Rank, SAT, and ACT Scores for USC Admissions

The middle 50th percentile standardized test scores for members of the Class of 2025 were 31-34 on the ACT and 1370-1520 on the SAT. One-fourth of this group received a flawless 4.0 GPA, and the middle-50th percentile GPA ranged from 3.75 to 4.00.

Three students talking while walking.

Headcount Changes for Applicants, Admitted and Enrolled

Over the past ten years, the average number of applicants has been 56,956, the average number of admissions has been 8,993, and the average number of students enrolled has been 3,223. At the University of Southern California, there were 11,319 more applicants than the year before, an increase of 18.96%. The following table shows the headcount changes for applicants, admitted and enrolled at the University of Southern California between 2012 and 2022.

Year Applicants Admitted Enrolled
2012-13 46,104 9,187 3,021
2013-14 47,358 9,395 2,922
2014-15 51,920 9,358 3,098
2015-16 51,924 9,181 2,949
2016-17 54,280 9,022 3,068
2017-18 56,676 9,042 3,358
2018-19 64,352 8,339 3,401
2019-20 66,198 7,558 3,168
2020-21 59,712 9,618 3,460
2021-22 71,031 9,234 3,786
Average 56,956 8,993 3,223

Who gets admitted to USC?

Now let’s examine the composition of the USC Class of 2025.

The states that produced the most freshman for 2021–2022 were:

  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
  • Florida
  • Washington

The nations that produced the most foreign freshmen for 2021–2022 were:

  • China
  • India
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Hong Kong
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

The battle is fiercest among residents of states with thousands of competent applicants, as it is at any highly selective university (the entire Northeast & the West Coast). Your geographic origins are more likely to improve your chances of admittance if you are from a sparsely populated state like Alaska, North Dakota, or Montana. It is preferred by USC to have a sizable proportion of students from its home state of California (typically close to 40%). The Class of 2025’s rate was 42%.

There are several high schools in California that annually send a sizable number of students to USC. The following high schools graduated the most number of students to USC in 2021:

  • Foshay Learning Center (Los Angeles): 40
  • Mira Costa High School (Manhattan Beach): 16
  • Wilson High School (Los Angeles): 15
  • Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego): 14
  • Palos Verdes HS (Palos Verdes Estates): 14
  • Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood): 11
  • Bellarmine College Prep (San Jose): 11

The composition of the Class of 2025, when broken down by ethnicity, was as follows:

  • Asian American: 24%
  • Hispanic: 20%
  • African American: 9%
  • International: 13%
  • White: 26%
  • Multiple Ethnicities: 6%

The Class of 2025’s gender distribution clearly favored women:

  • Male: 47%
  • Female: 53%

The following is a breakdown of the academic institutions where members of the Class of 2025 were enrolled:

  • Dornslife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences: 46%
  • Marshall School of Business: 15%
  • USC’s Schools of Visual and Performing Arts: 16%
  • Viterbi School of Engineering: 12%
  • Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism: 5%

How USC evaluates its candidates?

Each application is given a genuinely thorough and all-encompassing evaluation by this school. In addition to carefully examining an applicant’s academic record, program rigor, writing prowess, and test results, they also assess “personal traits, as expressed in community involvement, leadership, and achievements.” They are seeking individuals who ” are willing to venture outside of their comfort zones,” as well as being intellectually and professionally ambitious, have a global perspective, and have a history of being active in their community.

Group of people taking a tests in a desk.

USC declares that the following five criteria are “very important” to their admissions procedure: the difficulty of the applicant’s secondary school record, GPA, standardized test results, the essays, and recommendations. Extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and character/personal traits are the three factors that rate as “important.” First-generation status, legacy status, race/ethnicity, volunteer activity, and paid job are all “considered” considerations.

Athlete recruitment to one of USC’s 23 NCAA Division I sports teams is unquestionably beneficial. Since USC has one of, if not the best, sports programs in the nation, USC recruits are given preference (especially those that aren’t photoshopped).

Some of USC’s programs are regarded as the greatest in the nation, and the university is frequently included among the top 30 national universities. For instance, USC and NYU frequently compete to be the best university for students studying creative degrees, particularly cinema, where USC’s Los Angeles location provides it an advantage over even more esteemed top-tier institutions of higher learning.

Although the highly regarded film department at USC—we, at AdmissionSight, consider this as a top school for studying film—it does not have stricter admissions criteria than other divisions of the university, it does place a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities and portfolio quality.

AdmissionSight believes that even if you aren’t seeking for a scholarship, sending in your application by the December 1 scholarship deadline is a fantastic strategy to increase your chances of getting into USC, regardless of the program you’re applying to. A rise in admissions of between 6 and 8 percent has been observed when applications are submitted by the scholarship deadline of December 1.

Advice for USC Applications

You should be aware of the following if you intend to join the 70,000+ Trojan applicants for the upcoming admissions cycle:

  • USC hopes to see evidence of rigorous high school courses. Multiple advanced courses, especially ones in your academic specialty, are essential. Aiming for at least 7-8 AP courses is a smart idea.
  • You have the choice of choosing a second-choice major or pre-professional emphasis, but you must state your “first-choice major” on the Common App.
  • Since USC does not conduct any form of admissions interviews, your Common App and additional essays/short answers are your best bet for establishing a personal connection with an admissions officer.
  • “Demonstrated interest” is not taken into account by USC when considering applicants. As a result, you won’t be evaluated based on whether you visited the school (during non-pandemic times), spoke with an admissions officer, etc. However, if this institution is your top preference, you should let them know, especially since there isn’t an Early Decision option.
  • Make sure to invest enough time and energy into the additional essays that USC requests. For the cycle 2021–2022, they are as follows:

Each applicant must provide a 250-word response to one of the questions below.

  • USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view. Please discuss the significance of the experience and its effect on you.
  • USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.
  • What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?
  • The rest of the prompts are mandatory. They are as follows:

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests and why you want to explore them at USC specifically. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (Approximately 250 words)*

Short Answers

Describe yourself in three words (25 characters).

  • First Word:*
  • Second Word:*
  • Third Word:*

The following have a 100-word limit:

  • What is your favorite snack?*
  • Best movie of all time:*
  • Dream job:*
  • If your life had a theme song, what would it be?*
  • Dream trip:*
  • What TV show will you binge watch next? *
  • Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?*
  • Favorite book:*
  • If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

How challenging is it to enter USC?

Admission to USC is challenging. Only 8,804 out of a record-breaking 70,971 candidates were accepted by the university, representing a 12 percent acceptance rate.

Although USC has a very low acceptance rate, your individual prospects of admission rely on the strength of your profile.

Should you continue to apply to USC?

USC is a school that seeks out applicants who rank at the top of their high school class and have SAT/ACT scores that are at least in the 90th percentile, with acceptance rates of 11% to 16% in recent years.

With such a tough admissions process, all students must ensure that they create an acceptable college list with a balance of “target” and “safety” institutions in collaboration with a counselor. Hopefully, your ambition of becoming a Trojan comes true, but even if it doesn’t, you’ll still wind up at a school with possibilities and qualities that are similar.

At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process to get accepted to the top universities in the world. It’s not the yield rate or acceptance rate that will get in your way to be admitted to your desired college, but your will to be there. Grab every opportunity you have. Feel free to set up an appointment today to book your initial consultation.

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