university of southern california ms in cs requirements

Last Updated on December 20, 2022

Established in 1880 in the heart of Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is a private research university that’s currently home to more than 40,000 students—25,000 of whom are graduate students.

Famous for its Trojan football team and School of Cinematic Arts, USC comprises more than a dozen schools spanning a variety of fields, from dance and music to business, law, and medicine. Several of its professional schools, including the Rossier School of Education and Viterbi School of Engineering, are currently ranked in the top 20 by US News.

  • Complete and submit the USC Graduate Admission Application ($90 application fee)
  • Upload registrar-issued transcripts (electronic or scanned) from all colleges and universities attended. A registrar-issued transcript does not need to be mailed or emailed to the USC Graduate Admission Office as part of the application process. IMPORTANT: These instructions apply only for applicants to Viterbi School of Engineering Master’s and PhD programs.
Master of Science in Computer Science from University of Southern California  - Fees, Requirements, Ranking, Eligibility, Scholarship
  • Submit an electronic/scanned copy of registrar-issued transcripts (.pdf recommended) and other degree related documents through the online graduate application (International applicants, visit USC Graduate Admission’s Country Requirements page for details on required documents)
    • Transcripts should be on university letterhead
    • Unofficial transcripts from university student portals are not acceptable
    • Transcripts marked unofficial are not acceptable
    • If the transcript includes a separate grading scale, make sure it is uploaded
    • For upload purposes, all transcript related documents for a single school must be submitted as one document
  • Input Self-Reported Test Scores
    • We ask that all applicants include self-reported test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.) in the online graduate application
    • Application Tip: Initial test scores (and additional test scores) may be added after the application has been submitted. Do not hold off on submitting the application because you are waiting for test scores.
  • CV/Résumé, Personal Statement, Letters of Recommendation
    • Instructions for the submission of these materials can be found in the online graduate application
    • Note: Go to our Program pages to check the application requirements to see which materials are required for admission to the program in which you are interested.
    • Application Tip: Letters of Recommendation may be sent in by recommenders after the application has been submitted. Do not wait for letters to be received before submitting the application.
  • USC ID Number
    • After you submit the USC Graduate Admission application you will receive a USC ID by email typically within 2-3 days of submitting the online application. You will need to include this USC ID with all submitted materials by mail and with all correspondence with USC. It is important to note that your USC ID is different from the CAS ID you will receive when you begin your application. The CAS ID is only required for technical support during the application process and is not issued by the university.
  • Scholarship Consideration
    • If your application and other required materials are received by the scholarship consideration deadline, you will be considered for Viterbi merit-based scholarships. (NOTE: If selected as a finalist, you may be requested to submit additional information.)
  • Applying for Multiple Programs
    • Instructions can be found on our FAQ section


  • Submit Official TOEFL/IELTS Test Scores.  Full information on USC’s English proficiency requirement and test score submission instructions can be found on the USC Graduate Admission English Proficiency page.
    • Official TOEFL/IELTS scores must be sent electronically to USC by the testing service (ETS or IELTS).
    • Valid TOEFL/IELTS scores must be dated within two years of the start of the intended application semester. (This is August for the fall semester and January for the spring semester.)
  • IMPORTANT: Only scores received electronically from the testing service are considered official. USC does not accept self-reported test scores or paper scores sent via postal mail for final admit decision purposes. At-home TOEFL/IELTS exam scores will be accepted.

  • Submit Proof of Financial Support documentation and passport copy
    • For information on what constitutes acceptable Proof of Financial Support and find the appropriate program costs, go to the USC Graduate Admission Financial Documentation page
  • Application Tip: To avoid unnecessary I-20/DS-2019 processing delays, we recommend submitting the financial documentation and copy of the first two pages of the passport either as part of online graduate application or at least before an admission decision is received. However, because these documents are not required for an application review, they can be submitted after an admission decision has been received.


Applicants are required to have completed or be in process of completing an undergraduate degree in computer science or its equivalent from a regionally-accredited university, and must possess substantial computing background. Please review detailed Computer Science eligibility criteria.

The following materials are required to be included with your online application:

  • Transcripts: Upload Electronic Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. A mailed hard copy or official e-transcript is not required for admission to our programs.
    • Submit an electronic copy of official transcripts (.pdf recommended) and other degree related documents through the online graduate application (International applicants, visit USC Graduate Admission’s Country Requirements page for details on required documents)
    • Unofficial transcripts from university student portals are not acceptable
    • If the transcript includes a separate grading scale, make sure it is also uploaded
    • For upload purposes, all transcript related documents for a single school must be submitted as one document
    • If you are admitted, you will be given specific instructions on submitting your hard copy transcripts
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal Statement: The personal statement should describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program at the Viterbi School of Engineering, your preparation for this field of study, study interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background and interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study.
  • Letters of Recommendation (Optional): Letters of recommendation should be from faculty or others (supervisors, professional colleagues, etc.) qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study.


English Language Proficiency: In addition to application requirements above, international students whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS. There is no minimum TOEFL or IELTS score required for admission to the Viterbi School. For possible exemption from additional language requirements, you must achieve an Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 90, with no less than 20 on each section or an IELTS score of 6.5, with no less than 6 on each band score. Please review USC Graduate Admission – Proficiency in English.


The Department of Computer Science and Engineering reviews applications to its graduate programs twice per year. The deadlines are:

  • For Fall semester admission, February 1.
  • For Spring semester admission, October 1.

Application Process

All applications should be submitted online using this site:Online Application to Graduate School

In addition to the basic application form, applicants should submit the following additional documentation.

  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Transcripts of all prior academic work.
  • Two letters of recommendation, preferably from prior professors.
  • resume listing relevant work experience, publications, and projects.
  • For international applicants, scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) or Duolingo English Test.

Admissions decisions can be made based on unofficial copies of test scores and transcripts, but admitted students must submit official copies to complete the admissions process.

Decision Criteria

Each application will be evaluated by a departmental admissions committee, which makes an official recommendation to the Graduate School. The Graduate School makes the final decision and notifies the applicant of the decision. Applications are evaluated based on a variety of factors, including the content and quality of prior work, the content of the reference letters, and standardized test scores. The following guidelines are generally expected, but not necessarily sufficient, for admission.

30 Best Online Masters in Computer Science No GRE [2021 Guide]
  • An undergraduate degree from a college or university of recognized standing, with a B average or better for all work completed (i.e., a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale).
  • A strong background in Computer Science or Computer Engineering, including courses in the following subjects. (The USC undergraduate courses corresponding to these requirements appear in brackets.)
    1. Programming, with emphasis on structured programming and on elementary data structures [CSCE 145CSCE 146]
    2. Discrete Mathematics [MATH 174]
    3. Calculus [MATH 141, MATH 142]
    4. Computer Organization [CSCE 212]
    5. Algorithms and Data Structures [CSCE 350]
    6. Operating Systems [CSCE 311]
  • For the Ph.D. program, GRE Quantitative scores of 165 or higher, and GRE Verbal of 150 or higher.
  • For the M.S. and M.E. programs, GRE Quantitative scores of 160 or higher and GRE Verbal scores of 145 or higher.
  • For the M.S.E. program, GRE scores suitable for admission to the M.S. and M.E. programs, or at least three years of relevant work experience.
  • For international applicants, a TOEFL score of 80 or higher, or an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher, or a Duolingo score of 115 or higher.

Because admission is competitive, not all candidates satisfying these minimal standards can be admitted. The Cyber Security Certificate and Accelerated Masters programs have their own admissions requirements.

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