how to get into usc school of cinematic arts

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

Are you an international student? Are you interested in learning more about usc school of cinematic arts? Do you get overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting information you see online? If so, you need not search further because you will find the answer to that question in the article below.

The University Park Campus, located in downtown Los Angeles, houses David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science and USC Dana and many professional schools. The health campus in the northeast of downtown houses the School of Pharmacy and various programs in Occupational Science and in Physical Therapy and Bio kinesiology. Besides, the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which is staff by the university’s faculty from Keck School of Medicine, is often regarded as the third campus of USC.

As per the 2019-20 academic statistics, the university has a total population of 48,500 students out of which 20,500 are undergraduate students and 28,000 are graduate and professional students. Approximately, 12,265 International students are enrolled regularly in the university. The admissions at the university are highly selective with 95 undergraduate programs and 147 minor academic programs are offered. Moreover, the undergraduate program is categorized as balanced arts & sciences while the graduate program is categorized as comprehensive with 134 programs in masters and professional degrees.

USC has 4,604 faculty members and 16,313 staff members working on the campus or in 22 schools and units. University receives $891 million for research activity. University also has 79 Research centres and institute spanning the arts and humanities, social and natural sciences, and engineering and technology. Faculty includes MacArthur Fellows, National Academies Members, National Medal Winners and Nobel Laureates.

Over 375,000 alumni are among the top leading positions across the world with half of them are the residents of California. The Trojan network keeps the alumni connected over 5 continents through 100 alumni groups. Some of the notable alumni include O.J. Simpson, who is the football star of the 1960s, Star Wars creator George Lucas and the first person to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

Read more on How To Get Into Usc School Of Cinematic Arts, Usc school of cinematic arts notable alumni , Usc school of cinematic arts scholarships .

University at a glance

% International Students25.4 %
Total International Students12,265
Size of Campus in acres229
Male/Female Ratio1 : 1.04
UG/PG Course Ratio1 : 3.11
Faculty/Student Ratio1 : 9.0
Endowments ValueUSD 5 billion
No.of Campuses2
Yearly Hostel & Meals ExpenseINR 9.7 Lakh
International Students Websitehttps://admission.usc.edu/firstyear/prospecti…
Indian Students Population1970 in 2019-20
Alumni across World3,75,000
Total Scholarships Awarded$750 Million in 2017-2018 FY
Research Expenditure/Funds Awarded$764 Million in 2017-2018 FY

RankingUniversity Rankings#61Universities Rankings

– ARWU (Shanghai Ranking) 2020#121World University Ranking

– QS 2021#53University Ranking

– THE (Times Higher Education) 2021#43Regional Universities West

– US News & World Report 2020#70Global Universities

– US News & World Report 2021#24National University Ranking

– US News & World Report 2021Course RankingsBusiness Courses#22Best Business School USA

– Bloomberg 2019#36GMBA Ranking

– FT (Financial Times) 2020#51-100Accounting & Finance

– QS 2020#30Global MBA

– QS 2021#42PG Business and Economics

– THE (Times Higher Education) 2021#21Supply Chain Management MBA

– US News & World Report 2021#25MBA Business Analytics

– US News & World Report 2021#17Graduate Business School

– US News & World Report 2021#18Entrepreneurship MBA

– US News & World Report 2021#12UG Business

– US News & World Report 2021Engineering Courses#112Engineering and Technology

– QS 2020#57PG Engineering and Technology

– THE (Times Higher Education) 2021#33Civil Engineering PG

– US News & World Report 2021#28UG Electrical, Electronic & Communications Engg.

– US News & World Report 2021#14Electrical Engineering PG

– US News & World Report 2021#45Chemical Engineering PG

– US News & World Report 2021#22Aerospace Engineering PG

– US News & World Report 2021#34Biomedical Engineering PG

– US News & World Report 2021#37Mechanical Engineering PG

– US News & World Report 2021Computers Courses#38PG Computers

– THE (Times Higher Education) 2021#18Computer Engineering PG

– US News & World Report 2021


CoursesDuration1st Year Tuition Fees
MIM(27 Courses)1 – 18 YearsINR 27.8L – 56.6L
BBA(7 Courses)4 YearsINR 43.4L – 44.3L
BSc(27 Courses)4 YearsINR 44.3L
MEM(1 Course)1.5 – 2 YearsINR 27.8L
MA(9 Courses)0.9 – 2 YearsINR 29.8L – 52.9L
MS(89 Courses)12 – 60 MonthsINR 21.3L – 59.3L
MFA(8 Courses)1.5 – 3 YearsINR 26.7L – 39.1L
BE/Btech(21 Courses)4 – 5 YearsINR 43.4L – 44.3L
MBA(5 Courses)12 – 48 MonthsINR 47.3L – 84.5L
MArch(6 Courses)1 – 4 YearsINR 26.3L – 64.6L
Other Courses(158 Courses)0.4 – 5 YearsINR 15.6L – 74.1L


University CityLos Angeles, California, USA
Size of cityLarge
Population of City39,99,759

Usc school of cinematic arts notable alumni

When Douglas Fairbanks first pitched his idea for a film school, everybody thought he was crazy — movies back then weren’t considered an art form, let alone a proper subject for academic study. But he did pique the interest of his fencing partner, Rufus B. von KleinSmid, who also happened to be president of the then-49-year-old University of Southern California. And that’s how, in 1929, USC came to offer its first film course, Introduction to Photoplay, taught by Fairbanks’ pals Irving Thalberg, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith. Ninety years later, THR reunites some of the School of Cinematic Arts’ most influential alumni (and interviews three-decade dean Elizabeth Daley) for a photo shoot and some school-days memories, with reminiscences going all the way back to a time when classes were held inside a stable.


Class of 1979

Scott A. Stone, producer, Legends of the Hidden Temple

When I was at the School of Cinematic Arts, we were in a horse barn — literally — left over from World War I. We were still using Super 8 film, and you had to take it to the lab and have it processed, pick it up, edit it and then bring it to class. There was a very small group of people. But everyone I went to school with was the son or daughter of somebody famous. One of my buddies was Kevin Jewison, Norman Jewison’s son, another was Ray Bradbury’s daughter. I could make a list. It was an interesting mix of people. And I was this kid from Indiana who had no idea what I was doing. I came here because I was watching The Tonight Show one night with my dad, and Jerry Lewis, the comedian, came on and was talking about how he teaches directing in the film school at USC. I looked at my dad and said, “A school taught by Jerry Lewis? Are you kidding me? I’m going there!” And I got there, and he wasn’t teaching anymore.


Class of 1985

Stacey Sher, 56, producer, Erin Brockovich and Django

I went to the Peter Stark Producing Program. We started in the barracks [the old building that housed the film school since the ’40s, also known as “the stables,” taken down in ’82] and moved into the old new building in our second year. Our classes were at night because all our teachers were working professionals. In my class were Liz Glotzer [a producer at Castle Rock] and Neal Moritz [a producer of the Fast & Furious franchise]. I had this internship for a music video director, and I worked on all these crazy ’80s videos, including Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” A [fellow USC student] was doing an internship with a writer named David Simkins. He said, “David wrote this script and maybe you could get him to meet Twisted Sister.” The screenplay was called Twisted Summer. Nothing came of it. But when I had finished the Stark program, David gave me this script of another movie. It was called Adventures in Babysitting. I brought it to [producer] Debra Hill, whom I was working for on a trial basis, and she hired me [at Hill/Obst Productions]. The program teaches you about the value of connections.


Class of 1986

Jay Roach, 61, and Suzanne Todd, 53, director and producer, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

SUZANNE TODD I came when they were tearing down the old film school, which I guess now we have to call the “old old film school” because there have been two since then. But the “old old” one was a tiny kind of ramshackle building that [had a sign that] said “Sleep is for sissies” when you opened the door. Most people in film production come to USC wanting to be directors. They knew that George Lucas did it. I was one of the rare ones who really wanted to be a producer, so when it came time to do the 480 [an advanced-level production course where students make their senior thesis film], I got to meet with all the directors, and I basically got to pick who I thought was the most talented person. I wanted to pick this guy.

JAY ROACH It was called Asleep at the Wheel, and it was about a person who was headed to law school and gets kidnapped by a sort of hippie free-spirit woman who takes him on a ride before his LSATs and changes his whole life. While you’re shooting, you’re constantly under crazy scrutiny and being checked all the time. It was supposed to be “learn how to shoot on a budget.”

TODD We did spend a little bit more money on food than some of the other crews because I had gone on a game show — $100,000 Pyramid — and won a bunch of money. When you’re shooting and the crew is tired, you have to serve them a hot meal.


Class of 1991

Lee Unkrich, 51, writer-director, Coco and Toy Story 3

I didn’t get into the film school until my fifth application. I just kept applying even though I was never getting in. I wanted them to know that I wasn’t going away. We were still working on film back then, but it was right at the transition. I was editing, directing and shooting 16-millimeter and Super 8 at the beginning, but by the end of my time, the Avid Media Composer came out. It was the very first generation of it, and Avid was really interested in getting people in the industry to switch over. But nobody was. They made a deal with USC to set up a lab that they could fill with Avids where they could bring editors in to train, and they allowed students to have access to it. I was a big computer nerd at the time, in addition to loving film, so it was like a perfect fusion for me. I ended up just living in that lab, learning the Avid inside and out. And it ended up paying off. [It’s] what brought me to Pixar in the first place. They were making Toy Story, and they didn’t want to edit it on film, they wanted it to be all digital because it was going to be the first digital movie. So, they reached out to Avid, and I ended up being on a list of people who were recommended. I got brought on for what was supposed to be a four- to six-week job at Pixar. And here we are, 25 years later.


Class of 2014

Steven Caple Jr., 31, director, Creed II

I was class of 2014, master’s program. MFA in directing. I worked at the sound window [at the entrance to the room where students check out sound equipment for their projects]. I liked it because it was an easy gig. It’s an area a lot of students neglect, and it’s the last thing they think of. The equipment’s easy. “Here’s your boom,” and they’re out of there. You could write your script or do whatever you had to do for class. But I also threw all the networking parties and shindigs. My first semester, first week, I had a huge party at my house. I lived close to campus on West Adams, but there was no furniture. So everyone came from our class and sat on the floor and everyone was in the backyard. At one point we got a bigger house, so we had a jumping gym in the backyard and an inflatable slide. I was sort of the hub, I guess, where we all came together and got a chance to know each other. You’ve got to find times where you can just cut loose because the curriculum is so intense and you don’t really get breaks. So my parties were that.

Nyu film school tuition

Note: For students in the Departments of Cinema Studies (not including the MIAP program) and Performance Studies, tuition and fees for full-time course work are calculated on a per-point basis and can be found under the Graduate School of Arts and Science.

Additional expenses that may be applicable to all graduate students include University health insurance fees.  For the most up-to-date information regarding student health insurance, visit the Student Health Insurance website, where you will find details about premiums, enrollment, and waivers.

Design students should anticipate the purchase of a drafting table and basic art supplies. Second- and third-year estimates assume ongoing art supplies.

Film Production students must pay laboratory and equipment insurance fees of approximately $879 per semester. Those who are directors of student projects may incur production costs above and beyond what is reasonably supplied by the school (in the way of cameras, equipment, stock, soundstage facilities, postproduction rooms for editing and sound mixing, processing, and other resources). On average, additional costs have been estimated as follows: $2,000 to $5,000 for the first year; $5,000 to $15,000 for the second year; $15,000 and up for the third-year (thesis). It is possible to keep these costs down, but the great majority of student directors spend the indicated amounts.

All ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) students must pay a laboratory and equipment fee per semester. This fee covers the full use of ITP computer facilities and equipment. Additional costs may be incurred for materials as students develop their own projects.

Undergraduate Student Tuition

Estimated Cost of Attendance: 2020-2021

The USC estimated Cost of Attendance is an average figure used to determine your financial aid eligibility. It includes average amounts for standard expenses—including tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board and other living expenses for two semesters of study.

Keep in mind that your actual costs may differ. Additionally, estimated budgets for students in some majors may be higher because of special laboratory or studio supply fees, or other additional costs incurred by all students in the program. Tuition is charged at the same rate for both in-state and out-of-state residents.

2020-2021 Estimate of Cost of Attendance

On/Off CampusWith Parents or Relatives
Tuition (12-18 units for two semesters)$59,260$59,260
Books and supplies$1,200$1,200
Personal and miscellaneous$1,598$1,598

**Add $450 New Student Fee for your first semester.

You may find additional information about the Estimated Cost of Attendance and the financial aid process and opportunities on the Office of Financial Aid’s website.

Graduate Student Tuition

Tuition and Fees: 2020-2021 Academic Year
New Graduate Students

The numbers below represent an approximate cost of tuition and fees for the first year of each graduate program. Each program requires a specific unit count. Therefore, the costs between programs vary.

The 2020-2021 tuition cost for the School of Cinematic Arts is $2,122 per unit. USC’s estimated cost for mandatory fees for 2020-2021 is $2,463 for full or half-time students.

The numbers below provide a guideline for prospective students to develop their budget to cover the cost of attendance at SCA. Although we have done our best to provide the most accurate numbers possible, it is an estimated cost and may vary depending on class or university fees.

Tuition and Fees

First-Year Graduate Students*
2020 – 2021 Academic Year (Fall & Spring Semesters)

ProgramFirst-Year UnitsFirst-Year Tuition and Fees
Animation & Digital Arts, MFA:22$49,147
Cinema & Media Studies, MA:18$40,659
Film & Television Production, MFA:16$36,415
Interactive Media, MFA20$44,903
Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health), MFA:18$40,659
Peter Stark Producing Program, MFA:24$53,391
Writing for Film & Television, MFA:22$49,147

In addition to tuition and fees, students should plan for additional monies to cover their living expenses, i.e. room and board, books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous costs.

These numbers vary widely depending on each student’s living situation and lifestyle. The university has calculated that graduate students can spend as much as $24,460 on living expenses per year. Many SCA students spend much less than what the university budgets.

International students will be required to provide proof of the ability to pay tuition and living expenses for the first academic year prior to admission.

*Tuition costs for the first-year may vary based on elective courses taken. Tuition costs for the second and third years may vary based on the number of units the program requires and the student elects to take. 

Usc school of cinematic arts scholarships

The University of Southern California has announced a $5 million gift from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation to provide need-based scholarships to students in its School of Cinematic Arts.

The gift will establish the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Fund for Student Support, which will provide tuition assistance to as many as twenty-five undergraduates with significant financial need each year. The scholarship program is designed to encourage high school students who may have thought they couldn’t afford to attend the school to apply.

“We are excited to help the School of Cinematic Arts provide greater opportunities to students in need,” said Alexandra Cohen. “We hope that the Cohen Scholars will bring a diversity of voices to the next generation of storytellers and creative influencers in their chosen area of interest within the School of Cinematic Arts.”

On July 1, as COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles began to surge to their highest numbers since the city issued stay-at-home orders in March, the University of Southern California (USC) alerted its students that all fall undergraduate classes would move online. Days later, on July 6, the administration at the university’s prestigious School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) echoed the order, informing its physical production students that fall production classes, save for one graduate level course, would move online.

While the moves weren’t unexpected given the pandemic, production students at SCA now face a dilemma: take a leave of absence for the semester and hope for a future semester’s return to the school’s “hands-on” approach, or dive into the what students describe as an unclear and limited virtual curriculum that could put less wealthy students at a disadvantage. All the while paying full freight in tuition — $59,260 for an undergraduate academic year. Classes begin Aug. 17.

“We are essentially being asked to pay full tuition to make a home movie,” says a junior at SCA, when describing a class overview for the fall that asks students to use their own equipment to make a project remotely. (If students don’t own a camera, faculty suggestions include using smartphone cameras.) 

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to over two dozen currently enrolled SCA students, both undergraduate and graduate, that are now grappling with how to resume their education. Some upper-level graduate students have the flexibility to only take electives in the fall, avoiding production all together. Other undergrad and graduate students are contemplating taking a leave of absence, despite the administration’s advice to continue and the difficult reentry in to the school’s production track. As one graduate student surmises, “students feel held hostage by the prestige of the school.”

SCA, ranked No. 1 on THR’s list of Top American Film Schools in 2019, sits at the cross-section of two of the industries upended by the novel coronavirus pandemic: higher education and entertainment. Students normally would have access to a resources that include 10 working soundstages, industry-standard postproduction editing lab, sound mixing stages, a color correction suite, as well as a small armada of cameras, lighting and sound equipment that is used to outfit each student production. “Part of the film school and the SCA experience is that you’re promised that when you enter the school you’re going to graduate with tangible films that you can send to potential employers,” says senior Cameron Kostopoulos.

Upper-level undergraduate and graduate production courses, the ones that yield finished short films, come after curriculum in film theory and individual crafts, like cinematography and editing. While the majority of these student films end up being only an educational exercise — the first time many of the students have been running something resembling a working set — there is often a hope that the short films could act as a springboard for playing in film festivals, acting as a proof of concept for a feature or, in some cases, earning the talent behind them representation. (2020 graduate of the film program, Felipe Vargas, directed a horror-tinged thesis film, Milk Teeth, which caught the attention of CAA, where he is now a client.)

When the pandemic hit the U.S., students recognized early on that their education could be impacted beyond the spring semester. On April 21, a Change.org petition was being circulated asking to put a pause on the school’s production track. The petition argued that the best way to preserve students’ educational experience at SCA would be to place production classes entirely on hold. “It is a disservice to our family of student filmmakers to charge them tuition and other added fees when so much of the education [at] SCA is hands-on,” reads the petition, started by soon-to-be senior Gerardo Garcia, who then met with the then SCA Film and TV production chair Mike Fink to discuss why a pause was not possible.

On June 22, an email was sent to all disciplines in SCA from Dean Elizabeth M. Daley and the chairs of each department outlining what the largely online upcoming semester would look like. For production students, the email explained, the “preproduction phase will be largely online, then students will move to in-person instruction for working with actors and crew, and principal photography.”

Then came the July 6 email, signed by Daley and Barnet Kellman, the interim chair, SCA Film & Television Production. “Given the current increasing trajectory of the virus, we have come to realize that we cannot guarantee in-person experiences, however much we wish to do so,” wrote administrators. As for pausing production classes, the email argued, that “is not possible.” It also warned students who choose take a leave of absence that they “cannot be guaranteed placement in these courses in future semesters,” despite these courses being necessary to graduate from SCA.

Students felt they were now left with a choice between graduating on time or graduating with the professional portfolio pieces that are the program’s main draw. On July 9, all production students received an email from Kellman saying that two graduate-level film production courses and two senior thesis production courses, would be “hybrid offerings.” Kellman wrote, “These courses will offer in-person production experiences, in accordance with the state of California’s regulations covering academic institutions.”

Students were able to voice their concerns directly to the administration in an open forum on July 14, during a video conference call with Dean Daley, Kellman and assistant chair of the production division Cedric Berry. According to students in attendance, the majority of the two-hour meeting was focused on contextualizing and explaining why several decisions had been made, so students could understand the limits of SCA administration’s power, both within the larger school and in terms of state and federal laws and regulations. “We’re working as fast as we can during a crisis,” Kellman told the students at the start of the meeting, later addressing the rigidity of the program by saying “COVID-19 is not us being inflexible.”

Yet, in the students’ view, some of the explanations the administration provided seemed to contradict what they had been told before the pandemic hit. “They’ve always told us how important these films are and how we need these reels to enter the industry,” says Lana Nguyen, a senior who was set to direct a 480 thesis film in the fall. When a question about graduating with a lack of materials for their professional reels was posed to the administration, Dean Daley is said to have offered: “Why you get hired is because of who taught you.”

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