USC: A campus that offers fascinating opportunities to specialize

University of Southern California
Everything at USC looks shiny and new as you walk the campus. This feeling extends to some of the university’s most interesting academic offerings. For students who know what they want to study enough to commit in senior year of high school to a specialized program or major, USC offers some fascinating opportunities.

Every year, I encourage students with an entrepreneurial bent to explore USC’s Iovine Young Academy (IYA). This innovative program that just graduated its first class in 2018 integrates “arts and design; engineering and computer science; business and venture management; and communication.” Students take a structured curriculum that includes courses in each of these areas. Their college experience includes developing their own entrepreneurial ideas, so much so that the four years can feel like a business incubator experience. In 2017, IYA received about 400 applications, although the numbers have risen every year as word of the program has spread. Of those 400, 70 (18%) learned in late January that they had advanced to the finalist interview round, for which they had to fly out to USC in February. Of the 70 interviewees, 25-30 (39%) gained admission to the program.

One of my own students loves the Music Industry program that she is attending at USC’s Thornton School of Music. A musician herself, she particularly likes that she program teaches her about the business of music, while still requiring her to take music writing and musicianship courses. She was especially looking forward to upcoming internships when we saw her on our visit.

Finally, I noticed that many of the students on our tour expressed an interest in business, specifically the Marshall School of Business World Bachelor in Business (WBB) program. WBB students spend their first year at USC, their second year at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, their third year at Universita Bocconi in Milan, and their fourth year on any of these three campuses. All three universities must review and accept applicants to the program, resulting in a highly competitive admissions process.

USC expects you to have a defined academic interest when you apply, whether you Exterior view of Freeberg Bridge of USC Villagechoose to focus on one of these specialized programs or on a traditional major in the arts and sciences. You may not choose “undecided” as a major for USC when you fill out your application. This choice of a major will follow you through at least the first half of your first year of college: Students must make a one-semester commitment to the major that they indicated on their application; however, after that, they may make a change. Should committing yourself to a specialized program or even to one semester of a major sound like a good fit for you, you will get to enjoy USC’s spectacular campus, complete with its brand new USC Village.

As usual, I asked my youngest daughter for one word to describe USC and got back “flexin”” as her immediate response. USC certainly does have reason to flex. With its innovative programs and its beautiful campus, it presents a compelling option for students who feel confident about what they want to study and don’t mind committing themselves to at least one semester in that major.