Ph.D. Admissions


Admission to the Ph.D. programs is highly selective and recommended by the USC Price Doctoral Admissions Committee to the Graduate School of the university. Criteria considered for admission includes:

  • an evaluation of grades from both undergraduate and graduate work
  • scores earned on the Graduate Record Examination
  • letters of recommendation from academic sources
  • resume
  • statement of purpose

The Admissions Committee seeks to construct a picture of an applicant’s profile and recommends for admission those who show the greatest intellectual promise for doctoral level work in the school’s programs.

USC admits qualified men and women, considering them for financial assistance regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, Vietnam veteran status or sexual orientation. Upon admission, students are accorded equal rights to participate in all university-sponsored programs and activities.

» Application Materials
» Application Deadline
» Application Submission

Application Materials

The following items are required in order to complete the application process:

  • a USC Graduate ApplicationFor step-by-step admission guidelines, visit:
  • $90 application fee
  • official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (To expedite the processing of your application, please send all transcripts directly to our office. Print and complete the Transcript Cover Page for each college/university you have attended. Complete the entire form, sign it, and ask the registrar of each institution to attach it to your official transcript.)**
        USC has begun to accept some forms of e-transcripts. Please check with the institution you attended to see if they provide e-transcripts.

    Please note that we accept only e-transcripts provided that they are submitted via the following methods:

        1. eSCRIP SAFE (Grad)
        2. eTranscriptCA (CCC)
        3. Texas Server (Grad)
        4. University to University

    If your school does not provide e-transcripts through one of these methods, you must submit a hard copy of your transcripts. **

  • Official copy of test scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). (Note: when registering for the GRE, applicants should use institution code 4852)
  • A current resume
  • A current writing sample that is approximately 10 pages in length. This writing sample can be published or unpublished work. Please do not submit unsolicited materials such as design portfolios
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should be from academic sources. In general, the references should provide specific and substantial evaluations of:
    • academic performance and potential as a doctoral student
    • motivation and interest in teaching
    • research abilities

    Please note: Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online application system. We will not accept letters of recommendation through postal mail.

  • A 1,000-word statement of purpose (approximately four typed pages) addressing the following questions:
    • Ph.D. programs
      • What attracted you to the Ph.D. program?
      • Why are you applying to the Ph.D. program?
      • What are your goals and areas of specialization?
      • How will our faculty and resources allow you to meet your goals?
  • International students must also submit the following documents:
    • official TOEFL/IELTS scores – Official scores must be received directly from the testing service and date no earlier than 2 years (24 months) prior to the start of your intended first term at USC. (Institution code: 4852)
    • official transcripts indicating the award of all degrees with the title and date conferred in the applicant’s native language and an exact translation into English of each document

While a master’s degree is not required for the program, USC Price strongly encourages a master’s degree in public administration or public policy or a related field for admission into the Ph.D. program in Public Policy and Management. For the Ph.D. program in Urban Planning and Development, a master’s degree is not required but USC Price strongly encourages a master’s degree in urban planning or a related field for admission into the doctoral program. For both programs, students entering without a master’s degree or other relevant graduate degree work will be required to complete additional coursework.

Application Deadline

December 1

Application Submission

How to Apply

Online: Candidates may apply online through USC’s graduate online application system at The online system allows you to electronically submit the entire application including USC Price supporting documents — except for official transcripts and official test scores, which should be sent directly to USC Price at the mailing address below.

Application materials should be sent to:

USC Price Recruitment and Admissions
650 Childs Way, RGL 111
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
Tel: (213) 740-0550
Fax: (213) 740-7573
E-mail: [email protected]