Test Score Guidelines

Undergraduate Applicants:

Please refer to the USC Admission website for more information.

AP exam results

Freshman applicants who have taken Advanced Placement (AP) examinations are encouraged to provide those results with their USC Undergraduate application.

English Language Proficiency for Undergraduate Applicants

Please refer to the USC Admission English proficiency criteria here.

Graduate Applicants:

Graduate Academic Admission Examination

All DMA and PhD applicants, as well as Master’s applicants in Music Teaching and Learning, Community Music, and Early Music must take Thornton’s Academic Admission Examination. Details about the exam can be found here.

English Language Test Requirement – TOEFL / IELTS

In addition to all other application and audition requirements, international applicants to MA, MM, MS, DMA, PhD programs, as well as those to both the MS and Graduate Certificate programs in Arts Leadership must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Note that Duolingo and PTE scores are not accepted for graduate admission purposes.

Permanent residents and citizens of the US are not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Scores from the regular IELTS and TOEFL tests are preferred, however, we continue to accept scores from the IELTS Indicator Home Test and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition from spring and fall 2022 applicants. Details are available on the ETS website and on the IELTS website.

Official scores must be sent to USC directly from the testing service and must be received by the applicable deadline. Scores are considered valid only if earned within two years of your intended first term at USC. (For example, no earlier than August 1st two years prior if applying for the fall term.)

NOTE: USC does not recognize “MyBest Scores” or “superscores.” Applicants must achieve the minimum requirement in one sitting of the test.

Minimum Test Score requirements

TOEFL

  • MM, MS, MA, ARTL, Screen Scoring – iBT total score of 90, with no less than 20 on any one section of the test
  • DMA, PHD – iBT total score of 100, with no less than 20 on any one section of the test

IELTS

  • MM, MS, MA, Screen Scoring, ARTL – IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6 on each band score
  • DMA, PHD – IELTS score of 7 with no less than 6 on each band score

Sending official scores to USC:

TOEFL:
USC must receive scores electronically from the testing service for them to be considered official. If you did not designate USC as a score recipient when you took the TOEFL, please log back into the TOEFL website and request to have official scores sent to USC. USC’s institution code is 4852. (No department code is required.) Photocopies or paper copies of scores are not acceptable.
Your scores are considered valid only if earned within two years of your intended first term at USC. (For example, no earlier than August 1 two years prior if applying for the fall term.)
IELTS:
USC must receive scores electronically from the testing service for them to be considered official. Photocopies or paper copies of scores from the testing service will not be accepted.
Select “University of Southern California” from the list of available institutions when you register to take the IELTS test. Alternatively, provide this information to your testing center after you have taken the test. Contact information for the USC department to which you are applying is not required.
Your scores are considered valid only if earned within two years of your intended first term at USC. (For example, no earlier than August 1 two years prior if applying for the fall term.)

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Applicants to the MS program in Music Industry are strongly encouraged to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). While no specific minimum score is required for admission, a strong score on the exam can strengthen a student’s application and improve their chance of being admitted to the program.

Scores from the regular GRE General Test and from the GRE General Test At Home will be accepted for fall 2022 admission. Details and registration information is available on the ETS website.

Sending official scores to USC:

USC must receive scores electronically from the testing service for them to be considered official. If you did not designate USC as a score recipient when you took the GRE, please log back into the GRE website and request to have official scores sent to USC. USC’s institution code is 4852. (No department code is required.) Photocopies or paper copies of scores are not acceptable.

Scores are considered valid only if earned within five years of your intended first term at USC. (For example, no earlier than August 1 five years prior if applying for the fall term.)

  • Scores must be received by the appropriate deadline in order to be given full consideration for admission.
  • USC’s ETS school code is 4852.

Admission to the USC Thornton School of Music is determined as a result of a comprehensive file review process involving a number of review criteria. Submission of test scores that meet the minimum requirement shall not be construed as a guarantee of admission to any Thornton School program. However, applicants who submit scores below minimum may still be considered with an otherwise stellar application.

English Language Test Waiver

International Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university located in the United States or other Anglophone country in which English is both the only language of instruction and the only official language of the country MIGHT be exempt from the language proficiency requirement. The entire undergraduate degree must have been completed in the qualifying country. If there are transferred courses from an international college or university listed on an applicant’s bachelor’s transcript, the applicant is required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.
Please note: Applicants who earned a graduate degree (MM, DMA, Graduate Certificate, Performance Diploma) from an Anglophone college or university, but earned their bachelor’s degree in a country where English is not the official language, are not exempt from the language test requirement. Applicants who feel they may be exempt from submitting language test scores are encouraged to contact the Thornton Admission office to inquire, rather than assume they are exempt.

English Language Proficiency

Even in cases where TOEFL or IELTS scores are not required as part of the admission process, non-native English speakers, regardless of educational or immigration background, may be required to demonstrate English language proficiency by taking the International Student English (ISE) exam, administered by the USC American Language Institute.

Further details about USC’s English language proficiency requirement can be found here.