USC School of Cinematic Arts

8 minute read

The University of Southern California is a world-class private research university. USC, an anchor institution in Los Angeles and a global centre for arts, technology, and international business, offers extensive opportunities for interdisciplinary study and collaboration with leading researchers in cutting-edge learning environments. It has different branches for different majors. One such branch is the USC School of Cinematic Arts for people who want to pursue a degree in cinematic arts.

USC School of Cinematic Arts provides a unique interdisciplinary learning experience as the world’s only media school that teaches all of the major disciplines of the Cinematic Arts. Their students take classes in seven divisions that span film, television, and interactive media. They are exposed to the industry’s most recent technological advances and storytelling techniques, as well as opportunities to meet and network with some of its most successful practitioners. We’ll take a closer look at the USC School of Cinematic Arts below, including how to apply, what subjects students can study, and much more.

About USC School of Cinematic Arts

Students at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts can train for careers in nearly every aspect of filmmaking and the entertainment industry as a whole.

The school, which is located in Los Angeles, has been in operation since 1929, just two years after the first “talking” film was released.

Its first faculty members included Hollywood legends such as Douglas Fairbanks, Irving Thalberg, and Darryl Zanuck, and its current professors are no less illustrious, having won Oscars, Emmys, and other major entertainment industry awards.

They have contributed to the school’s high rankings from national and international organisations.

As it approaches its centennial, USC’s cinema programme offers seven disciplines, including animation, production, and screenwriting, but students also take an interdisciplinary course of study to ensure a well-rounded education.

They can pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees, using cutting-edge technology and learning from industry leaders along the way.

Film and television legends are among the program’s alumni, and today, USC graduates can be found working in various aspects of the industry as well as the emerging field of interactive media.

Why Choose USC SCA?

Choosing which college or university to attend is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Students find a combination of factors that make the USC Cinematic Arts experience truly unique at the School of Cinematic Arts. Here are the top reasons why students choose the USC School of Cinematic Arts:

Professional Faculty

Each of their faculty members has worked professionally or is currently working. They are the driving force behind everything from box-office blockbusters to independent films, broadcast and cable television hits, interactive games, and other new media as directors, editors, writers, game designers, and many other roles. Similarly, The Division of Cinema & Media Studies’ professors and researchers advance society’s understanding of the creation and cultural impact of film, television, and interactive media.

Great Teaching Philosophy

Their teaching philosophy is based on the belief that people learn best through doing. Furthermore, they believe that great ideas emerge when theory and practice interact constantly, propelling one another forward. Their goal is to expose students to all aspects of film, television, and interactive media production. Their programmes are designed to allow students to take a diverse range of courses from various disciplines, regardless of their chosen area of specialisation.

Top-notch Facilities

The School of Cinematic Arts’ facilities, equipment, and resources provide students with industry-standard education and experience. The School’s brand-new main complex includes soundstages, animation facilities, post-production suites, mixing theatres, and all digital classrooms, as well as cutting-edge research labs and fabrication space, as well as screening rooms seating 40 to 200 people.

Picturesque Location

The School of Cinematic Arts is located in the heart of Los Angeles, the world’s entertainment capital. Leading motion picture, television, and interactive companies have corporate offices and production facilities within a few miles of the university. In addition, the city is home to talent agencies and management firms, as well as independent producers and new media creators.

USC SCA Acceptance Rate

USC has over 19,600 undergraduate students and an overall acceptance rate of 16%, but the film school has a much lower acceptance rate of only 3%.

The undergraduate programme in the film school’s John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television, for example, accepts only 30 students each fall, while the two-year graduate programme accepts only 32 students per year.

In comparison, the film school at nearby UCLA admits only about 30 students per year. Students admitted to USC who provided their standardised test scores typically performed well on them.

The middle 50% of SAT scores ranged from 1270 to 1490 out of 1600, and the middle 50% of ACT scores ranged from 28 to 34 out of 36. While a candidate’s high school class rank is unimportant, his or her GPA is.

According to the film school admissions committee, it seeks well-rounded students who are not only creative but also have a “strong academic background.”

Personal characteristics such as originality, determination, and cooperation are taken into account. However, the committee places a high value on the materials applicants submit, such as writing samples, because they provide more information about the applicant’s abilities and goals.

Cost of Studying at USC SCA 

The estimated cost of studying at USC is an average figure that is used to determine your financial aid eligibility. It includes standard expenses such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board, and other living expenses for two semesters of study. Remember that your actual costs may differ. Here is the breakdown of the cost of studying at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for different programmes:

Cost of UG Courses

The estimated Cost of Attendance for UG courses at the USC School of Cinematic Arts is given below:

Cost of Studying On/Off-Campus
Tuition (12-18 units for two semesters) $63,468(INR 51.81 Lakhs)
Fees $1,258(INR 1.02 Lakhs)

Cost of PG Courses

The estimated Cost of Attendance for PG courses at the USC School of Cinematic Arts is given below:

Program First-Year Tuition Fees
Animation & Digital Arts, MFA: $52,699(INR 43.01 Lakhs)
Cinema & Media Studies, MA: $43,611(INR 35.60 Lakhs)
Film & Television Production, MFA: $39,067(INR 31.89 Lakhs)
Interactive Media, MFA $52,699(INR 43.01 Lakhs)
Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health), MFA: $43,611(INR 35.60 Lakhs)
Game Design and Development, MS: $48,155(INR 39.31 Lakhs)
Peter Stark Producing Program, MFA: $57,243(INR 46.72 Lakhs)
Writing for Film & Television, MFA: $52,699(INR 43.01 Lakhs)
Expanded Animation Research + Practice, MFA: $43,611(INR 35.60 Lakhs)

Cost of Living

The cost of living will vary depending on various factors such as accommodation, transport, food and more. The table below shows the average cost of living as a student at USC SCA:

Expenses Average Cost per annum
Housing $10,056(INR 8.20 Lakhs)
Dining/meals $6,930(INR 5.65 Lakhs)
Books and supplies $1,200(INR 97,959)
Personal and miscellaneous $1,702(INR 1.38 Lakhs)
Transportation $584(INR 47,673)

How to Apply?

The application process and requirements differ depending on the incoming status and programme. Please review the procedures for first-year/freshmen, external (non-current USC) transfers, current USC transfers, and graduate applicants listed below.

Application Deadlines

Dates for Application Submission for UG and PG programmes are given below:

Fall Semester

  • Undergraduate (first-year/freshmen and transfer) applications for the fall semester are due on August 1st.
  • The deadline for graduate applications is August 26th.

Spring semester

  • The deadline for current USC transfer applications for the spring semester is June 20th.
  • Only Graduate Film & Television Production MFA applications will be accepted on June 24th.


The School of Cinematic Arts provides scholarships and financial aid to undergraduate and graduate students to help them pay for their education. These funds, provided by private individuals, corporations, and foundations, are for direct student support and are not repaid.

As part of the Slide Room admissions application, all applicants are encouraged to apply for SCA scholarships. Domestic students must apply for Financial Aid at USC in order to be considered for SCA scholarships.

SCA scholarships are reserved for students who qualify on the basis of merit, financial need, or a combination of the two. Students can also receive awards based on their field of study, career interests, membership in an under-represented group, or country of origin. SCA awards are typically modest in size, ranging from $1,000 (INR 81,632) to $25,000 (INR 20.40 Lakh). Domestic and international students are both welcome to apply.

TAships, SAships, and Fellowships are excellent ways to expand your knowledge in your field of study while gaining practical experience. Fellowships are available to help current faculty and organisations outside of academia, research, or a specific area of interest.

A scholarship application will have no bearing on your admissions chances. USC’s admissions process is need-blind, which means that a student’s financial need will never influence an admission decision.

Financial Aid Deadlines

  • Prospective first-year undergraduate students should arrive on February 10th.
  • March 2nd is the deadline for continuing undergraduate students and prospective transfer students.
  • May 5th is the deadline for new and continuing graduate students.

Notable Alumni

USC School of Cinematic Arts has produced some of the most well-known and successful filmmakers in recent decades, including George Lucas, John Carpenter, and Ron Howard.

More than 10,000 living alumni work in all aspects of the film, from cinematography to acting to editing, as well as television and animation.

Other notable graduates who went on to careers in the film include “Back to the Future” director Robert Zemeckis, “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, and comedy director, writer, and producer Judd Apatow.

Comedians Will Ferrell and America Ferrera are among them, as are television stars LeVar Burton, Anthony Edwards, and Tom Selleck. Daryl Hannah of “Steel Magnolias,” Timothy Olyphant, and Forest Whitaker are all alumni.


How hard is it to get into USC cinematic arts?

USC has just over 19,600 undergraduate students and an acceptance rate of 16% overall, but the film school’s acceptance rate is much lower, at only 3%.

Is USC School of Cinematic Arts good?

The USC School of Cinematic Arts has more industry connections than all of the other schools combined (and a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in front of the school to prove it). USC’s Los Angeles location contributes to its ranking as a top film school.

Is a cinematic arts degree worth it?

Film school can help you not only in the field but also in your post-graduate job search. A film degree on your resume can help you get hired by a production company, editing house, or writer’s room. This is due to employers recognising the skills required to complete a film programme.

This was everything you need to know about the USC School of Cinematic Arts. If you’re planning to study abroad, connect with our Leverage Edu experts and book your 30-minute free counselling session at 1800 57 2000.

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