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Spotlight on USC Viterbi Engineering

Prodigy Finance - June 13, 2018

Ready to learn everything you need to know about engineering and STEM masters degrees at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering? You're in the right place!

Prodigy Finance USC Viterbi Engineering spotlight

The University of Southern California is a private research university that willingly welcomes international students to their warm and sunny LA campus. The Viterbi school narrows into research, often with a focus on technology - and they have an incredible array of programmes and degrees that allow students to become the specialists they hope to become.

Given its position in the heart of a mega city, you can expect plenty to see and do as well as learn - and for the university to desire students that are culturally rounded and want to be a part of it all

University of Southern California fast facts

Private university

University enrollment: 45,500

Living alumni: 375,000+

Total graduate students: 26,500

Engineering grad students: 5702

Engineering masters students: 4661

International students: 11,387

Countries represented: 87+

Most represented countries: China, India, South Korea, Taiwan (China), Canada

Where is the University of Southern California?

  • City: Los Angeles, California (CA)
  • City population: 3.976 million, with a metropolitan population of 18.7 million
  • Region: West
  • Climate: Mediterranean type climate: winters are mildly cool to warm (Jan avg: 23°C/55°F) without snow; summers are warm to hot and dry (Jul avg: 22°C/72°F)
  • Nearest airport: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Time zone: PST from November-March (GMT -8); PDT from March to November (GMT-7)

What can you study at USC Viterbi Engineering?

USC Viterbi School of Engineering ranks highly on its own in the U.S. News & World Report rankings: it sits in 10th position. On top of that, the individual departments all tend to fare well with more than respectable ranks within specialisations.

Moreover, there are a number of specialisations within engineering and the opportunity to pursue degrees that aren’t offered universally.

Electrical engineering is the most popular department for international students.




17 aero / 30 mech

MS in Aerospace Engineering (MSAE)

MS in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

MS in Mechanical Engineering (MSME): Energy Conversion

MS in Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering (MSAME): Computational Fluid & Solid Mechanics

MS in Product Development Engineering

Dual degree: MSAE / MS in Engineering Management

Dual degree: MSME / MS in Engineering Management


MS in Astronautical Engineering


MS in Biomedical Engineering (BME)

MS in BME-Medical Imaging and Imaging Informatics

MS in BME-Neuroengineering

MS in Medical Device and Diagnostic Engineering

34 chem/ 42 mat / 8 petro

MS in Chemical Engineering

MS in Materials Engineering

MS in Materials Science

MS in Petroleum Engineering (PTE)

MS in PTE-Geoscience Technologies

MS in PTE-Smart Oilfield Technologies

Dual degree: MS in Petroleum Engineering/ Engineering Management

23 civil / 31 enviro

MS in Civil Engineering (MSCE)

MSCE in Construction Engineering and Management

MSCE in Structural Engineering

MSCE in Transportation Engineering

MSCE in Sustainable Infrastructure System

Master of Construction Management (MCM)

MS in Environmental Engineering (MSENE)


MS in Computer Science

MSCS in Data Science

MSCS in Game Development

MSCS in Computer Security

MSCS in Computer Networks

MSCS in Software Engineering

MSCS in Intelligent Robotics

MSCS in Multimedia and Creative Technologies

MSCS in High Performance Computing and Simulation

13 elec / 13 comp

MS in Electrical Engineering

MS in Computer Engineering

MS in Computer Networks

MS in Electrical Engineering/Engineering Management

MS in Financial Engineering

MS in Green Technologies

MS in Multimedia & Creative Technologies

MS in Power


MS in Wireless Health Technologies

MS in Wireless Networks


MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering

MS in Analytics

MS in Engineering Management

MS in Manufacturing Engineering

MS in Operations Research Engineering

MS in Product Development Engineering

Dual degree: MS in Aerospace Engineering/ Engineering Management

Dual degree: MS in Mechanical Engineering/ Engineering Management

Dual degree: MS in Electrical Engineering/ Engineering Management

Dual degree: MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering/ MBA

USC Viterbi job placement

There’s one major career fair for USC Viterbi engineering students; held in the fall annually, international students will want to make certain they’re prepared for this event.

Recruiters at the this Career and Internship Fair are provided to students so they can plan their options, though it’s best to take advantage of the other career resources before connecting with possible employers as American recruiting and employment is often different from other countries.

A solid strategy is to pursue an internship during the first year of study as 19% of USC Viterbi masters secure their post-grad job through this option. 

And, at least 10% find their job through the career fair (but separate to any internships they may have taken). 

At least 5% of Viterbi masters find employment through On-Campus Resources, separate from job boards, career fairs, and internship.

More than anything, the diversity in job procurement avenues means that USC Viterbi masters should pursue as many options as possible during their time on and off campus.

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average salary for USC Viterbi masters grads
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companies offering internship and co-op experiences
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find their job through USC resources
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avg salary for USC Computer Science grads

What's remarkable about recruiting at Carnegie Mellon is that employers from across the country hire CMU masters grads. International students interested in accepting a US-based position should include additional travel expenses for cross-country recruitment and internships when budgeting for their degree. 

What's it like to live at USC Viterbi?

Anyone attending USC Viterbi as a grad student can apply to live in the university-owned, off-campus apartments which makes it easy for students to settle into their new lives while saving on the notoriously high rents in LA. This is definitely where international students want to start their housing search at USC.

However, international students must apply as early as possible and make a decision on attending USC as quickly as possible; there is a deadline for these apartments and they do go quickly.

International students are also able to secure temporary housing if they arrive on campus early (which is usually advisable to ensure everything is in order before classes start).

Across campus, there are plenty of coffee shops, cafeterias, and quick meal stops which can be purchased as desired or through university dining plans. Though meal plans aren’t required for grad students, you may find these options are useful for adhering to your budget.

There is a university bus service which international students will find useful for getting around, especially for those living in off-campus grad student housing. Campus parking spots are available on a first-come-first serve basis, though this may not always be the best option for USC students living on or near campus; LA traffic is notoriously congested and difficult to navigate.

Prodigy Finance-funded students love living and learning at USC Viterbi and usually find the international organisations to be a big help in their master’s journeys. You can read more about their experiences here, or take a look here to see one Prodigy Finance student’s story:

Prodigy Finance culture video

How to get into USC Viterbi Engineering

USC Viterbi is fairly competitive for a private research institution. The acceptance rate at the masters level is just 23.6%, so you’ll need to ensure your application is a strong as possible.

While it may be easiest to focus on GRE scores (while already having a strong undergraduate GPA), that’s usually not the deciding point for admission.

You will absolutely need to have a strong Statement of Purpose (SoP essay) and recommendations from professors or work supervisors. That said, work experience isn’t critical for most programmes, but there are a few that do require it (and it’s just a matter of double checking with each department). If you have a low GPA, it may be to your benefit to have some additional work or research experience.

As the USC campus is in Los Angeles, you can expect admissions decision makers to factor this into their work. There are so many diverse distractions at the Viterbi doorstep; the university is looking for students who understand and take advantage of these opportunities without being overwhelmed by them. While you may not want to focus on this aspect, you should demonstrate the ability to juggle multiple projects at once while narrowing and pursuing your targets.

In addition, you may want to keep these averages in mind when crafting your essays and preparing your overall application:

  • Average undergrad GPA: 3.5
  • Average GRE scores: 151 verbal, 166 quantitative, 3.4 analytical writing

USC Viterbi Engineering admissions details

Fall admission deadline: 15 January, though there are early-decision cycles available

Application fee: $90

SOP essay: required

Recommendations: minimum numbers vary between departments

GRE test: required, no min score for most departments

GPA: check department for minimums

Language test: required for all non-native English speakers unless their undergrad was completed in English; TOEFL and IELTS scores are accepted; min scores may vary by department

  • Min TOEFL score: 90 iBT
  • Min IELTS score: 6.5

USC Viterbi engineering cost of attendance (for 2018/19 academic year)

Tuition: $40,452

Mandatory fees: $2269

Room and board: $17,800

Books and supplies: $1200

Health insurance: $1816

Personal and misc: $2231

Transportation: $2451

Total CoA for 1 year*: $66,403

*This amount is higher than the reported CoA needed to secure an I-20 form, but do reflect student budgets. 

Does the University of Southern California offer scholarships to international students?

As a private research institution, you may find more scholarships and funding options available than at public universities. Indeed, the school spent $549 million on financial aid during the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

This does not mean you are entitled to financial aid and scholarships, however, and you will absolutely need to apply early to the university to ensure you’re considered for any scholarships granted to international students.

Among the scholarship options for international students include:

  • the Dean’s Scholarship (which awards between $5000 and $20,000 to deserving students annually), and 
  • the Chevron-USC Partnership Fellowships which award $25,000 to selected students.

There are several other merit scholarships and fellowships available, but the common theme is early acceptance of your admittance to the school (which often means applying for loans early enough to provide the school sufficient proof you can meet the I-20 requirements needed in addition to any scholarships they may provide.

And, don’t forget to search financial aid options from your home country or for students of your home country as these are readily available for schools such as USC Viterbi

Prodigy Finance international student loans for University of Southern California

Prodigy Finance offers loans for international masters students at the the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC.

Students from supported countries pursuing masters programmes that can be completed in less than 2 years across US-based campuses are eligible to apply.

  • Maximum loan amount: up to 100% of the school-provided cost of attendance (tuition plus living expenses)
  • Minimum loan amount: $15,000
  • Typical interest rates: 7 - 8.5% (fixed) over the 3-month US Libor base rate (variable)
  • All loans disbursed directly to the university according to due dates

Want to learn more about funding your masters at USC? Check out the video from this webinar; it features an USC MS student and Prodigy Finance borrower and answers to plenty of the questions you probably have:

Funding your USC masters

Prodigy Finance also supports loans for USC students pursuing masters degrees in these schools:

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Ready to pursue your future with a USC Viterbi degree?

Prodigy Finance provides loans to international masters students pursuing their degrees at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California.

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