Ready to apply?

Applicants to the Graduate School of the University of Southern California should submit their applications online through the Graduate Admissions application website. This includes a non-refundable application fee, unless the applicant is a USC student at the time of application.

Yearly Application Cycle:
August to December 31

Applications Must Include The Following Components:

  • The online Graduate Admissions “Apply” page provides step-by-step instructions on how to apply by choosing either the “Checklist for U.S. Students” or “Checklist for International Students.” Please note that you need not complete your application in a single sitting and that your application will not be complete until you complete the “submit” function.

  • You must upload copies of your official transcripts for each of your previous academic institutions (colleges or universities) via the Graduate Application website.  In addition, you must have official copies mailed to USC directly from your institution(s) of study. You can find addresses for mailing or sending e-transcripts here. The Graduate School requires official transcripts in order to process your enrollment.

  • USC no longer requires a GRE in order to process your application.

  • Non-native speakers of English should review USC’s English language proficiency policy to determine whether or not they need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Scores will only be considered if they are received directly from TOEFL or IELTS to USC’s institutional testing code 4852. The School of Religion recognizes that the unique nature of its Ph.D. program will appeal to people of varied backgrounds, including some whose native language is not English. We value diversity and encourage all potential applicants with a serious interest in the study of religion to apply.

  • Your statement of purpose (2-3 single-spaced pages usually suffice) should set out your interests, relevant background (especially language training), proposed areas of study and your ultimate professional ambitions.

    Please be specific and detailed, avoiding overly broad statements such as, “spirituality” or “religion and politics.”

    Lay out the specific parameters of your area of interest, why you are interested in it, what scholarly contributions you hope to make to the field, why these are important and what difficulties you anticipate having to surmount.

    Also, tell us why you think the School of Religion is the place for you to pursue this interest and who among our faculty you anticipate playing a major role in your training.

    Please note that we do not expect you to lay out a full dissertation topic or proposal and will not judge your statement in that light. Your statement of purpose is simply your opportunity to put flesh on the bare bones of your application, giving us a picture of who you are, what motivates you and what you find exciting about the field of religion. Your statement of purpose should be uploaded to the Graduate Application Website (4th quadrant/section) under “Documents,” then choose “Other” in the Program Materials section.

  • All applicants are required to submit a writing sample on a topic related to religion. The School of Religion looks especially for good use of source material and strong, original and critical diagnosis or interpretation. If you have written an honors or M.A. thesis or published an article, send us a copy. You may also submit, however, undergraduate essays or seminar papers more generally. Your writing sample should not greatly exceed 20 double-spaced pages. It should be uploaded to the Graduate Admissions website under “Documents,” then choose “Other” in the Program Materials section.

  • Please arrange to have three letters of recommendation submitted by college or university professors or instructors who are familiar with your work, can speak to your scholarly aptitude and have played a significant role in your education. The Graduate Admissions website contains instructions for requesting letters of recommendation in the Program Materials section of the application.

  • If you have questions about the School of Religion or need additional information or experience difficulty with the online application, please feel free to contact the School of Religion. You may also contact Professor Cavan Concannon, Director of Graduate Studies, or the individual faculty member with whom you might like to study. The USC Office of Graduate Admission also offers useful information for applicants.

    Prospective international students are encouraged to submit a copy of their passport to This will help expedite the issuance of the I-20 if you are admitted. Additional information can be found on the Graduate Admissions website.

Every entering graduate student to the School of Religion is funded for a minimum of five years, through a combination of fellowships and graduate assistantships, contingent upon satisfactory progress toward degree. There is no separate application necessary for either fellowship or assistantship consideration. Your application for admission doubles as an application for fellowship and assistantship aid.

For more information about financial aid, as well as information on research funding, summer funding, and employment opportunities, check our Financial Aid and Funding Resources page.

International Students

Additional information for international students applying to graduate programs at USC can be found on the Graduate School’s website.

For More Information

General Questions
Linda Wootton
825 Bloom Walk
ACB 130
(213) 740-0272


Prof. Lisa Bitel

ACB 226
(213) 740-0272

Director of Graduate Studies

Prof. Cavan Concannon

ACB 426

Administrative Assistant II
Linda Wootton

Project Specialist
Johnna Tyrrell

USC School of Religion

825 Bloom Walk, ACB 130
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Sheila Briggs

Director of Graduate Studies
Cavan Concannon