University of Southern California

About USC

A Leading Private Research University


The University of Southern California is one of the world’s leading private research universities. An anchor institution in Los Angeles, a global center for arts, technology and international business, USC’s diverse curricular offerings provide extensive opportunities for interdisciplinary study and collaboration with leading researchers in highly advanced learning environments.

In a comprehensive 2018 ranking, The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranked USC 17th among more than 1,000 public and private universities. Among all California institutions — public and private — only USC, Caltech and Stanford University ranked within the top 20. Of the 150 universities surveyed in the western U.S., USC ranks No. 3. Among the top 25 schools, USC ranked No. 2 in engagement and No. 4 in environment, a measure of diversity and inclusion.

This year, USC received a record number of applications for its fall freshman class — more than 64,000 applied — making 2018-2019 the institution’s most selective year on record, with a record-breaking acceptance rate of 13 percent. One in seven students (14 percent) of the class of 2022 are first-generation college students. With one of the most abundant financial aid pools in the country, USC provides more than $337 million in scholarships and aid.

USC’s distinguished faculty of 4,000 innovative scholars, researchers, teachers and mentors includes five Nobel laureates, and dozens of recipients of prestigious national honors including the MacArthur “Genius” Award, Guggenheim Award, the National Medal of the Arts, the National Humanities Medal, the National Medal of Science, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and Pulitzer Prize.  

Student enrollment statistics from the 2018-2019 academic year (rounded):

Undergraduates 20,000
Graduate and professional students 27,500
Total 47,500
12.9% of 64,352 freshman applicants were admitted
265 National Merit Scholars, 2018 freshman class
pie chart
Female 51%
Male 49%
17% of freshmen were first-generation college students
3.79 average unweighted GPA for entering freshman class

Find more statistics in USC Facts and Figures.

USC has a large economic impact

USC first opened its doors to 53 students and 10 teachers in 1880, when the newly founded “city” still lacked paved streets, electric lights, telephones and a reliable fire alarm system. Today, USC is home to 44,000 students and 4,000 full-time faculty, and is located in the heart of one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world.

Timeline Click the photos to learn more.

For more, see the full timeline of key events in USC's history.

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, USC’s University Park campus is part of the city’s Downtown Arts and Education Corridor and is home to the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and many professional schools. The Health Sciences campus, northeast of downtown Los Angeles, is home to the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the School of Pharmacy, three major teaching hospitals, and programs in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and in Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. USC also has programs and centers in Marina Del Rey, Orange County, Sacramento, Washington, D.C., Catalina Island, Alhambra and around Southern California. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, staffed by USC faculty from the Keck School of Medicine, is often referred to as USC’s third campus.

USC photo stream

For more photos, visit USC on Flickr.