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 its comprehensive 2021 ranking, The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranked USC 19th 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. 5 in engagement, which measures student sentiment on how their education prepares them for the real world.

This year, USC received more than 59,000 applicants for its fall freshman class, an acceptance rate of 16 percent. The number of students who are the first in their families to attend USC has been growing steadily for five years — 22 percent of the incoming class are first-generation college students, and 30 percent of the Class of 2024 are students of color. With one of the most abundant financial aid pools in the country, USC provides more than $450 million in scholarships and aid. This incoming class is the first under a new USC initiative to make college more affordable for lower and middle-income families. Students from families earning $80,000 or less each year attend tuition-free.

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 2020-2021 academic year (rounded):

Undergraduates 19,500
Graduate and professional students 26,500
Total 46,000
16.1% of 59,712 freshman applicants were admitted
310 National Merit Scholars, 2020 freshman class
pie chart
Female 53%
Male 47%
22% of freshmen were first-generation college students
3.70-4.00 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.