Why study at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy?

USC Price Students in Hong Kong

USC Price Students in Hong Kong

The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy is one of the most distinctive and highly regarded schools of its kind in the United States. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people and their communities worldwide and embraces six independent areas: public administration, public policy, nonprofit leadership and management, health policy and management, urban planning, and real estate development. The Price School recognizes the importance of training the next generation of professionals to be competitive in this globalized context.

Through its interdisciplinary approach, the Price School educates students to serve as innovators – and leaders – in their field. The school’s degree programs draw on the expertise of faculty and practicing professionals to create a learning environment whose breadth and depth sets the Price School apart from all schools of its kind. In 2018, the school ranked second nationwide among “America’s Best Graduate Schools” for public affairs, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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Fall Semester Exchange Spring Semester Exchange
USC application available March 1 September 1
Decisions sent Mid to Late April Mid to Late October

English Language Proficiency
All international applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency in the following manner:

  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum score of 20 in each section); OR
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7

TOEFL or IELTS scores must have been earned within two years of the USC application date.

Application Requirements
To study at USC Price as an Exchange Student, you must be formally nominated by the international exchange coordinator at your home institution and complete their internal application process. Once you have been nominated, the following documents are required as part of the application process:

  • Price School Exchange Program Application
  • Confidential Financial Statement of Personal or Family Support providing proof of their ability to pay $9,000/semester for expenses
  • A copy of the front page of the student’s passport, showing the student’s full name, photo, passport number, and expiration date
  • Current CV/resume, including work/professional experience, extracurricular undergraduate activities, academic or professional honors or awards, languages of fluency, and computer knowledge.
  • Personal statement: approximately two pages, outlining your reason for pursuing the exchange program at Price and how a semester abroad would enhance your academic and career goals
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores: Must be taken within the past two years with a score of 100 on the TOEFL (with no less than 20 in each section) or a score of 7 on the IELTS (with no less than 6.5 on each band score)
  • Transcript(s) of all previous and in-progress coursework (can be unofficial)

Application Submission
The application and supporting documents should be submitted:

Via email to krystlez@price.usc.edu


Via mail:
Krystle Zhang
Sol Price School of Public Policy
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall 108
University of Southern California

Download the application »


Academic Calendar
USC’s academic calendar, including university holidays, can be found at: https://academics.usc.edu/calendar/

Course Registration and Restrictions
All exchange students must take 3/4 of the units within the Price School.

    • Undergraduate students can enroll in a maximum of 16 units per semester. Undergraduates typically enroll in 4 academic courses per semester and are able to enroll in undergraduate courses (any course numbered 4XX or below, with 100 level courses typically taken by first year students) that they are qualified for within other departments, although some departments limit enrollment to students in certain majors. Some courses require prerequisite courses or the equivalent coursework. You may not enroll in graduate courses numbered 500 or higher. Learn more about the Price School’s undergraduate program


  • Graduate students are considered full time when enrolled in 8 units and may pursue up to 12 units of elective courses during their stay at the Price School. Graduate students are free to choose their electives, but should check with their home institution to find out if they need to comply with any regulations regarding their study plan. In addition, they must meet any prerequisites for the Price School courses. Learn more about the Price School’s graduate programs

Course Selection Resources
Schedule of Classes (see course offerings per semester): https://classes.usc.edu/
University Catalogue (see course descriptions): http://catalogue.usc.edu/

Finances, Tuition, and Fees

Living Expenses
The university estimates that $9,000 for one semester is sufficient to cover expenses.

Tuition and Student Fees
The Price School will cover student fees for up to 16 units for undergraduate students or 12 units for graduate students, the $250 charge for the DS-2019 Request Form, and the following mandatory student services fees:

Undergraduate Student Fees Graduate Student Fees
Undergraduate Student Programming Fee Graduate Student Programming Fee
Undergraduate Student Services Fee Graduate Student Services Fee
Norman H. Topping Student Aid Fund Norman H. Topping Student Aid Fee

Exchange students will be responsible for any additional class fees (such as lab fees or participation fees).

Health Fees
Exchange students are responsible for payment of USC Student Health Insurance and the Student Health Center Fee. Dental Insurance is not required but may be requested. Please visit the Engemann Student Health Center for more information on health fees at https://engemannshc.usc.edu/


The university offers a wide variety of housing options, on and off the university campus. Exchange students are eligible to apply for USC Housing; however, there is limited on-campus housing available and space is not guaranteed.

On Campus
While most of the on-campus housing is reserved for the incoming freshman class, there are housing facilities available for upperclassmen and graduate students in the adjacent North University Park area. Accommodations include apartments, residence halls and suites in a variety of styles, locations, and sizes. Amenities include laundry facilities, furnished rooms, faculty involvement, free basic cable and local phone service, free individual Ethernet and phone lines, and a computerized entry monitoring system.

Please visit the USC Housing website for information on housing options, fees, application process, contact information, and more: http://housing.usc.edu/

Off- Campus
USC has partnered with Off-Campus Housing (OCH) to help students find safe and convenient housing near the USC campus. OCH provides tools, resources, information, and events designed to make searching for a home easier. Students can create a free account to search for rentals using filtered criteria, such as amenities and geographic location: http://usc.offcampuslisting.com/

The USC Office of International Services (OIS) also offers resources for students who wish to arrange temporary accommodations upon arrival to Los Angeles: https://ois.usc.edu/living-in-la/housing-safety-and-transportation/

Living in LA


Los Angeles is one of the most dynamic and diverse cities in the world, offering a vast range of entertainment, cultural and recreational options. You can bike along a sunny beach path in the morning, visit a world-class museum in the afternoon and take in a movie or concert at night. We have the perfect mix of local and global, with vibrant ethnic neighborhoods to explore and a constant influx of top performers from around the world.

The region’s diverse terrain bathes residents in an ideal climate and makes possible a wide array of outdoor activities. No urban area in the country is as densely populated yet has so much open space, from the miles of sun-drenched beaches to the horse-riding trails and famous Observatory of Griffith Park.

Just three miles from campus is the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, an area enlivened by a sophisticated arts scene, numerous entertainment venues and world cuisine.

Students can also explore the cultural and historical offerings just across the street from the USC campus in Exposition Park, including the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center —which now houses the space shuttle Endeavour — and an IMAX movie theatre.

To learn more about what Los Angeles has to offer, check out Price’s Pinterest page and Discover Los Angeles.

Pre-Arrival Information

Please review the following information carefully regarding the J-1 visa process and health requirements, as some items require attention before your arrival to the U.S. and others after entering the U.S.

As a non-immigrant student, your stay in the United States will require compliance with U.S. government rules and regulations. Non-U.S. citizens are required to apply for a J-1 visa through the local U.S. consulate or embassy. Once accepted into the exchange program, the student will be asked to complete the DS-2019 Request Form.

Once the DS-2019 has been processed, the student will receive documents in order to make an appointment for an interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your city of residence. Students are strongly encouraged to sign up for an interview as early as possible. The following documents will be required for a visa:

  • Valid passport
  • DS-2019 form
  • Photograph
  • Financial statement of personal or family support
  • Letter confirming your status as an International Exchange Student to USC

Please bring the above items to the US Consulate/Embassy nearest your home to obtain a visa. Prior to your interview, you will be required to pay the SEVIS fee, which can be paid online. Please visit the following website for more information on SEVIS: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/

A J-1 visa will be good for the length of the program of study. Students are able to enter the U.S. 30 days prior to the start date of the visa and stay in the U.S. up to 30 days after the end date of the visa.

As you prepare for your arrival, we encourage you to review the Office of International Services (OIS) website for information about USC and J-1 visa requirements. Please be sure to pay particularly close attention to the Arrival and J-1 Check-in information on the OIS website: https://ois.usc.edu/

Additional information on the J-1 visa application process may be found here: http://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/

Health Insurance
USC requires that all international students either have proof of U.S.-based health insurance or enroll in the USC Student Health Insurance Plan. Enrollment in the USC plan is automatic (you do not need to do anything). In addition, all USC students, even those with non-USC health insurance, are required to pay a Health Center Fee for the semester.

If you do not want the USC health insurance plan and are going to find U.S.-based health insurance on your own, please be sure that it is with a company that has offices in the United States. Foreign carriers/insurers are NOT sufficient as most insurance companies will not pay for services outside of the home county or will only reimburse you upon your return. Non-USC health insurance plans MUST meet the requirements outlined on the USC Health Center website.

USC’s student health insurance plan does not cover dental work and eye care. Make sure that you have a thorough dental check-up and complete treatment of emerging problems prior to arrival at USC. Dental insurance is optional and you may purchase it when you arrive. If you wear glasses, it’s advisable to pack a spare pair.

The USC Student Health Center has two mandatory requirements for new, international students.

  1. Measles and Mumps Immunity Requirements: TWO doses of MMR or proof of Measles and Mumps Immunity prior to your first semester of enrollment at USC
  2. Tuberculosis Skin Test Requirement: All international students are required to be screened for tuberculosis in the U.S. or Canada within 6 months prior to their first semester of enrollment at USC.

Visit the USC Student Health Center website for detailed information on what tests or documents suffice as adequate proof. Failure to provide proof will result in a financial penalty being assessed against your account.