This past week, the University of Southern California (USC) announced that it will be introducing a brand-new Early Action (EA) program for first-year undergraduate students. This new admissions deadline of 1st November will come into effect for the 2022-2023 application cycle and will be applicable to both EA applications as well as students who want to be considered for USC’s merit scholarships. This replaces the earlier 1st December deadline for merit scholarship consideration, with the exception of applications for majors that require portfolios or auditions, for whom the final application deadline is 1st December. Students applying to these programs will continue to be considered for merit scholarships as part of the Regular Decision (RD) process.

Why now?

Unlike many private and prestigious universities, USC has not historically offered an Early Decision (ED) or EA plan to applicants. This new early admissions deadline comes after a significant rise in application numbers. This past admissions cycle, USC saw 20% growth in applications, resulting in a record-low admittance rate of 12% — 4% lower than the acceptance rate in the previous year. It is therefore likely that the new EA deadline will help the admissions team to start reading applications earlier in the season, and also identify genuine interest among the ever-growing pool of applicants.

What does this mean?

The EA deadline will be available to all first-year applicants, except for those applying to majors that require portfolios and auditions. USC’s EA program will be non-binding and non-restrictive. This means that an offer of acceptance will not bind a student to attend USC and that applying EA to USC will not restrict a student from simultaneously applying EA or ED to other colleges.

Should I avail of the EA deadline?

For students who are well prepared to submit their college applications, with fall term grades that put them in good standing with the schools of their choice, EA programs are a great option. As an EA applicant, you will hear back from your school at least two months before Regular Decision applicants. At USC, EA applicants can expect to hear back from the University by mid- to late January, while RD applicants usually hear back only at the end of March. The fact that EA is non-binding means that even if you are accepted, there is no compulsion to attend and even if your application is deferred, you still have a chance to be considered in the Regular Decision cycle.

For more information on Early Action programs, you can check out our previous post on Understanding Early Admission and to learn more about USC’s EA program visit
USC’s admissions website.