Specialized Journalism (MA) summer 2024

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline has been extended to February 1, 2024 for admission.

What content should be in my résumé?

List all employment (paid and unpaid) including nature of work and dates of employment. Also, include academic and professional awards, honors, teaching experience, subject matter expertise. In a separate “skills” section, list language(s) proficiency other than English, and your familiarity with research or communications technologies and softwares, e.g. Web design, television or radio production, video editing, podcasting, etc.

What should I address in my personal statement?

In a single personal essay no longer than 1500 words, please consider and address the following:

For the Specialized Journalism master’s, we invite working journalists, or recent journalism students with basic knowledge of story structure, or experienced professionals from other fields who are called to journalism, or others with exceptional promise. So, please tell us why you’d pursue the Specialized Journalism degree as opposed to the more generalized MS in Journalism. Describe the specific subject area you intend to pursue, and explain how you expect to apply your new skills and knowledge to your future work. 

Some questions to consider: What motivates you to be a journalist? What do you want to do, and learn, and contribute to the craft, and to the public interest? What stories inspire you, and what kind of journalism do you want to make? Who do you want to reach, and how do you want to make a difference?

Over recent years, the coronavirus has changed everything, including journalism. Where do you see the profession going? Where do you see yourself in helping to remake journalism going forward?  

This statement should be representative of your best writing.

The statement must be your original words and work. Avoid using ChatGPT or other generative AI tools.

What pieces comprise the writing sample?

Submit the following:

  1. Samples of work in journalism that are the equivalent of either six news stories or three longer feature magazine stories from one or multiple platforms. Provide live links to current work within the bibliography. If live links are unavailable, upload the samples as attachments.
  2. If you have neither of the above, please submit at least four samples of what you consider to be your best writing or production. Please also write a brief (approximately 200-word) statement stating how your own life experience and potential outweighs your lack of journalistic track record.

The writing samples must be your original work. Avoid using ChatGPT or other generative AI tools or another person to write on your behalf.

How many letters of recommendation are needed and from whom?

Two professional recommendations are expected (direct supervisor or manager, not peers, colleagues or family). If you are a recent college or university graduate with no work experience, submit one academic recommendation and one recommendation from an internship supervisor.

What admissions test scores are required?

The USC Annenberg School has suspended the GRE requirement for all graduate applicants for admission to the 2024 admission cycle. All international student applicants are expected to demonstrate adequate English-language proficiency. To learn more about how to satisfy this requirement, click here. Also, review the USC Graduate Admission video tutorial titled, “English Proficiency Requirements for International Students” for more details.

What financial support is available?

Departmental merit scholarships and fellowships are competitively awarded. All completed applications are considered for admission and departmental awards.

All US citizens and permanent residents are urged to submit a FAFSA after the admission application deadline.

International applicants will find critical information at http://gradadm.usc.edu/international-students-financial-documentation.

Application Guidelines

The online USC Graduate Admission Application opens October 1, 2023. Go to https://usc.liaisoncas.com to access the application.

Assemble the following documents and program materials which must be uploaded to your application:

  • CV or Résumé
  • Personal Statement
  • Writing Sample
  • Copy of Official Transcript(s)

All program materials must be in English and uploaded to the online application. Note: Once your application has been submitted, you may not add, edit or change any document or program material. Also, all submitted documents and program materials become the property of USC and will not be returned.

Official Transcripts

Copies of a registrar-issued official transcript (with registrar’s signature, stamp or seal) from all colleges and universities attended (including USC) must be uploaded to your application in the Academic History section. If you do not possess copies of your registrar-issued official transcripts, request to have official transcripts with legend or grading scale emailed to you from your previous colleges/universities.

After submitting your online application, request to have e-transcripts sent from your degree conferring institutions to USC Graduate Admission at etrans@usc.edu.


  • International transcripts must include the original language and the English translation as one document.
  • Transcripts from your institution’s student portal are unacceptable.


Create online profiles in the Program Materials section of the application by providing names and email addresses of your recommenders. Instructions and forms will be emailed to your recommenders. Only recommendations submitted through the online process are accepted.

Graduate Admission Testing

GRE scores are not required for admission to summer 2024.

Valid TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores (taken June 2022 or later) are required from international student applicants unless waived; see below for the exception. To be considered official, USC must receive scores electronically from the testing service. Photocopies or paper copies of scores are unacceptable.

  • For TOEFL, request to have your scores sent to the USC institution code 4852.
  • For IELTS or PTE, select "University of Southern California" from the list of available institutions when you register for the test. Alternatively, provide this information to your testing center after you have taken the test.

Exception: If you completed your entire bachelor’s degree in the United States or another Anglophone country (i.e. where English is both the language of instruction and the only official language of the country), TOEFL and IELTS are waived.

Note: Completing a master’s degree In the United States or another Anglophone country will not waive TOEFL or IELTS.

Video Interview

All applicants are required to complete a recorded video interview via Kira Assessments. The recorded video response is an opportunity for the faculty admissions committee to get a sense of your potential and how you think on your feet. No advance preparation is required.

A desktop or laptop computer with a functioning webcam, microphone and internet connection are required. You may complete unlimited practice sessions prior to starting the interview. Once started, applicants will have one opportunity to respond (no exceptions).

Application Fee

Pay the $90 non-refundable application fee with a credit card or request an application fee waiver prior to submitting an application.

Fee Waiver

Review the fee waiver requirements at USC Graduate Admission website: https://gradadm.usc.edu/lightboxes/us-students-fee-waivers/. Applicants seeking a fee waiver must start the online application and then wait for the fee waiver approval before submitting the application.