Graduate Admission

Requirements for admission include:

  1. A written statement by the applicant of aims and interests in pursuing interdisciplinary graduate work; letters of recommendation from at least three college instructors;
  2. Grades satisfactory to the department;
  3. Evidence of strong writing and analytical abilities; and
  4. For international graduate students, test scores from TOEFL or IELTS are required.
  5. Please be advised that the USC American Studies and Ethnicity Department does not require GRE scores for applications to the graduate program.
  6. Must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree(or equivalent)

All applicants are required to do the following:

  1. Submit a complete undergraduate record;
  2. Submit at least three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose to the online application;
  3. Submit written materials as supportive evidence (transcripts and other related material).


APPLICATION DEADLINE: December 1, 2023 at 9pm(PST) for Fall 2024 Graduate Admission

Deadline is December 1 for the following fall semester.

ASE receives a large number of applications every year. Our review process is complex as we are an interdisciplinary department and we involve many different faculty members in the reviewing of applications. We are also subject to tight University fellowship deadlines and so we encourage all applicants to submit their materials as early as possible so that we can alert you if your application is in any way incomplete. Our hard deadline is December 1 and no applications submitted past this deadline will be considered.



Fellowships, teaching and research assistantships, and other forms of financial aid are available to qualified candidates.



A completed application consists of the following materials: USC’s online application, an official set of transcripts from all higher education institutions attended, a 1,000-word essay on your professional and research interests(aka personal statement), a curriculum vitae, a scholarly writing sample, and three letters of recommendation. Additional test scores from TOEFL or IELTS are required for international graduate students.

We will initially accept copies of official transcripts in order to help you meet our application deadlines, but please be aware that no offer of admission or financial aid is valid without an official set of transcripts. It’s a good idea to request them early!

The personal essay (maximum length 4 pages, double spaced) should describe your professional and scholarly goals, and your proposed research interest. This is a very important part of the application process. Generally speaking, the more specific you can be about your research interest, the better the statement will be, as this will help faculty in assessing your readiness and suitability for Ph.D. work. Applicants should also use the essay as an opportunity to address any possible issues with the application, for example a relatively low undergraduate GPA, or extensive professional/creative work experiences which led you to decide to pursue a Ph.D.

Finally, we also require three letters of reference. We strongly recommend that the applicant seek letters from people who can speak to their scholarly potential — this usually means professors. If you have been working for a number of years, you might include one letter from an employer, but you still should have some from past instructors or other scholars/artists with whom you interact. Generally, it is not a good idea to have your friends and loved ones write letters for you.

If any one of these materials is not included, your application will be considered incomplete. In some cases it may still be reviewed, but it will clearly be at a disadvantage. In other cases, it will not be reviewed at all — it is at the discretion of the director of graduate studies.

For more information, contact the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity directly:

Department of American Studies and Ethnicity
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2534
(213) 740-2426

Contact Us

Department of American Studies & Ethnicity

Located in Kaprielian Hall on the University Park campus, ASE faculty, graduate students, and staff are available to assist you with information and resources about our academic programs and research specialties.


University of Southern California

3620 South Vermont Avenue

Kaprielian Hall 462

Los Angeles, California 90089-2534