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University of Southern California


When a group of spirited citizens, including Judge Robert Maclay Widney, decided to establish a university in the area, Los Angeles was a rough frontier town. Judge Widney began his push for the university in 1870, but it was not until 1879 when a board of trustees was established. A donation of 308 lots of land were donated by Ozro W. Childs, a horticulturist; John G. Downey, the former governor who was a pharmacist and businessman; as well as Isaias W. Hellman, a banker. The land not only provided a location for the campus but the start of an endowment at the new school.

USC formally opened in 1880 with 53 students and the first graduation was held in 1884 with three students receiving diplomas. Minnie Moore was named the valedictorian of the class, demonstrating that USC was coeducational from the beginning. In 1915, the school announced they would offer a course in automotive science, the first in the world.

By 1930, more than 10 percent of the student body was made up of foreign students ranking USC third in international enrollment in the country. In 1943, more than 2,000 military trainees were added to the campus while training for combat in World War II. University Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic in 1953. Today known as Trousdale Parkway, it was the first step in creating a self-contained pedestrian-friendly campus.

In 1968, USC established “The Urban Semester,” a program that sent students into city streets and government buildings to learn rather than teaching them in classrooms and laboratories.

Today, there are more than 44,000 students attending USC.

University of Southern California Accreditation Details

USC is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Regional accreditation indicates that the school meets or exceeds criteria identified by the accrediting agency. In addition, programs throughout the school are credited by industry-specific organizations and associations.

University of Southern California Admission Requirements

Students who have not earned college credit after high school graduation are considered first-year students. Students must complete the Common Application along with the USC Writing Supplement. The student’s personal circumstances, academic performance, writing ability along with the curriculum taken, test scores and extracurricular activities are all taken into account to determine admission. Students must submit an official transcript as well.

Transfer students must submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. Grades and academic rigor are weighed against personal qualities to determine whether a transfer student will be admitted.

Graduate admissions vary depending on which program the student chooses to enter. All graduate applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or higher before enrolling. Students must provide transcripts from all colleges or universities attended and should discuss any further requirements with an admissions counselor.

University of Southern California Tuition and Financial Aid

Full-time undergraduate tuition is $53,448 per year at the University of Southern California. Graduate tuition for Master’s programs is as follows:

  • Flat Rate – 15 to 18 units per semester – $53,448 per year
  • Full-time – 8 to 14 units per semester – $36,000 per year
  • Half-time – 4 to 7 units per semester – $21,600 per year
  • Dissertation – 2 units per semester – $7,200 per year

Tuition for Doctoral programs are as follows:

  • Flat Rate – 15 to 18 units per semester – $53,448 per year
  • Full-time – 10 to 14 units per semester – $43,220 per year
  • Full-time – 6 to 9 units per semester – $28,800 per year
  • Half-time – 3 to 5 units per semester – $14,400 per year
  • Dissertation – 2 units per semester – $7.200 per year

Undergraduate financial aid includes grants, merit scholarships, loans and work-study programs. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify. Graduate students may receive scholarships, fellowships and other sources of aid. Graduate students must also complete the Free Application for FAFSA.

University of Southern California Student Experience

The close proximity of the campus to Los Angeles provides students with ample opportunities at USC. The college has actually grown with the city and this allows the school to draw on the vibrancy of the surrounding communities. Students work with local communities through volunteer opportunities as well as internships and employment.

The Urban Studies program at USC is especially focused on assisting the surrounding community. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies and Planning that introduces students to the theoretical foundations of urban life. Students can focus their studies on environmental policy and planning, international development or urban planning. Students are required to complete an internship of 140 hours giving them hands-on experience in the field.

USC also offers a Master’s in Urban Planning designed to prepare students for leadership roles in the industry. Students are provided links to theory and practice with an emphasis on critical thinking and creative design. The program has been ranked fourth among public affairs schools by U.S. News & World Report. Planetizen considers the program as one of the Top 10 Graduate Urban Planning Programs. There is an emphasis on practice, providing students with the opportunity for internships and community-based research projects.

The programs are offered at the USC Price School of Public Policy, which has earned the public trust over the past 85 years with groundbreaking research and scholarship. The school focuses on sustainability, healthcare, immigration, infrastructure, urban development, social policy, affordable housing and governance. The programs are accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board.

USC offers more than 800 student organizations. Students can join any organization that they feel will benefit their studies. Student organizations provide students with leadership opportunities as well as the chance to improve the lives of people living in the surrounding communities. There are also organizations designed for social events, such as biking, hiking or kayaking. Students may also benefit from the many athletic organizations available at USC. Student organizations that have been beneficial to students enrolled in Urban Planning programs include:

  • American Planning Association – USC Chapter
  • Asian Pacific Islander Caucus
  • Associated Students of Planning and Development
  • Executive Master of Leadership Student Organization
  • Graduate Policy and Administration Community
  • Graduate Real Estate Association
  • International City/County Management Association
  • International Public Policy and Management Graduate Students Association
  • Partnership for an Equitable Los Angeles
  • Pi Alpha Alpha
  • Price Latino Student Association
  • Price Society of Black Students
  • Price PhD Student Association
  • Price Social Innovation
  • Price Women and Allies
  • Queer Policy Caucus
  • Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Community
  • Southern California Policy Review
  • Student Health Council
  • Trojan Real Estate Association
  • Undergraduates of Policy, Planning and Development

USC provides students with an outstanding education that is based in research as well as a hands-on approach to learning. The University of Southern California provides students with the skills necessary to become leaders in their field.