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FAQ for International Programs

Any student, regardless of their career of choice, must learn to account for the effects of global and international dynamics. As methods of communication allow greater and substantial interactions instantly with people and industries around the world, it is especially important for Annenberg majors to gain interpersonal communication skills and cross-cultural competency. The International Programs staff believes that studying abroad is the key to becoming a well-rounded, global-minded citizen. Personal contact—the kind of contact that breaks barriers of attitude, language, religion, and ideology—comes only through experiencing the change of landscapes, senses, and feel of places that is the essence of travel (Irving, 2015).

Are Annenberg's programs available only to Communication, Journalism, and Public Relations students?

No, programs located in Hong Kong and Sydney are open to any current USC undergraduate student, regardless of major. Admission to the London and Rome programs are restricted to Communication majors, Journalism majors, and Public Relations majors. However, it should be noted that Annenberg majors and minors will be given admission priority over non-Annenberg majors/minors.

Students who are not matriculated at USC are not allowed to participate in any USC-approved study abroad program.

Are there any academic prerequisites to go abroad?
Prerequisites vary by program. For the London and Rome programs, Communication majors must have sophomore standing and completed two Theoretical and Foundational courses at the time of application (or have one completed and one in progress). Journalism majors must have junior standing and have completed JOUR 307 and JOUR 320 before the start of the program and Public Relations majors must have junior standing and have completed PR 351A before the start of the program. Please review our individual program pages for specific admissions requirements as they differ from program to program.

When can I go abroad?  
Most students choose to go abroad during their junior year, however, that is not the only option. Communication majors must be of a minimum of sophomore standing upon the start of a program. Journalism and Public Relations majors are typically restricted to the spring semester of their junior year or during their senior year based on class sequencing. Transfer students must have completed one full semester at USC prior to applying to go overseas.

Do I need to know a foreign language to study abroad? 
There are no language requirements for our programs. However, some programs include a foreign language component (e.g. students in our Rome program take a 'survival Italian' course) and students should be adequately prepared to study and live in a country where English is not the native language. 

Is there a minimum GPA required? 
Yes, a minimum USC cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for all programs.

Please note that Annenberg International Programs conducts checks on all study abroad applicants with USC Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. Any academic and non-academic policy violations and sanctions will be taken into consideration in the admission process.

How much does it cost?

Program costs vary and range from significantly less than a semester on campus to significantly more. Detailed estimates of program costs can be found on each program page. 

Can I use financial aid to go overseas for a semester? 
Yes, USC financial aid — including loans, grants, and scholarships — may be applied to official semester study abroad programs. When a student is accepted into a study abroad program, an all-inclusive program cost sheet including tuition, housing, health insurance, round-trip airfare, and personal expenses (food, entertainment, travel, etc), is sent to the USC Financial Aid Office (FAO). The FAO then adjusts the student’s financial package accordingly.

If the costs of the program are more than a semester at USC, FAO may offer the student loans to make up the difference. In cases where a program may be less expensive than an on-campus semester, the estimated family contribution (EFC) may be maintained and the aid package reduced.

Can I use financial aid to go overseas during the summer? 
Maybe. Many forms of USC financial aid are not transferable to summer programs, although the USC Financial Aid Office may be able to facilitate the borrowing of funds by students, parents, or guardians for up to the full program cost. In addition, some merit scholarships may be transferable to help alleviate program costs.

Are there any scholarships for study abroad? 
The USC Financial Aid Office and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism currently offer a select number of scholarships for semester study abroad programs. We highly encourage students to apply for outside scholarships. Please visit our Funding Opportunities page for a more comprehensive list of available scholarships.

How early can I start applying? 

For fall programs, applications are due in February; for spring programs, applications are due in August or September. Summer program deadlines vary. Applications are available on our website one to two months before they are due.

What is the application process like? 
All applications come with specific detailed instructions. Please visit our Application Information page for more details. 

During competitive application cycles (when Annenberg International Programs receives more applications than the number of spots in a study abroad program), all factors that negatively impact applications will be taken into consideration when evaluating students for admission. Please click here to read more information about competitive application cycles and factors for possible disqualification.

Can I apply for more than one program? 
Undergraduate students applying for a semester program have the option to select their first and second choice programs within the application. Students are not permitted to submit multiple applications.

If I am not accepted to a study abroad program can I appeal the decision? 
No. All study abroad admission decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

Will all the courses I take abroad transfer back as USC credit? 

Almost all courses will come back as USC credit. Most courses transfer as upper-division major elective units and will count toward the 64-unit residency requirement. However, if a class that you take overseas does not have an equivalent department at USC (e.g., Intro to Sustainable Eco-Tourism), it will not be accepted for credit at USC. Credit toward major or minor requirements is dependent upon departmental approval.

Can I earn minor credit abroad? 
It depends. Students should consult with their academic advisor regarding the feasibility of studying abroad if seeking minor credit. Our programs are designed primarily for majors to earn major credit. As soon as you start thinking about studying abroad you should let your academic advisor know. Your academic advisor can create a course plan to help you fit study abroad into your studies at USC.

How will a semester abroad affect my GPA? 
Students participating in the London and Rome programs are directly enrolled in upper-division USC Annenberg catalog-courses and will earn letter grades, which count towards their GPA. For the Hong Kong and Sydney programs, the grades earned while abroad will not count toward your USC GPA. On your USC transcript, it will show that you received Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) for those courses and not letter grades.

If my GPA is not affected by a semester abroad, why should I still care about grades? 
If you decide to apply for graduate school or need official transcripts for any reason, you will have to submit your USC transcript AND an official transcript from your host university. If you fail a course during your semester abroad, it will show as "No Credit" (NC) on your USC transcript; however, your host university transcript will indicate that you failed. Do not risk your chances of being admitted into graduate school by mistakenly thinking that a failed course taken overseas will not matter.

What about my housing at USC? 

Students who wish to return to USC housing after their semester abroad need to arrange this before their overseas departure. For students in non-university housing, it is their responsibility to make housing arrangements both before and after studying abroad. Unfortunately, Annenberg International Programs cannot assist study-abroad participants who need to find other students to take over their housing leases. When considering studying abroad, you may want to find off-campus housing where you can sign a contract on a semester-to-semester basis.

What are the overseas living arrangements?
Accommodations vary among Annenberg's study abroad programs, but in almost all cases students reside in either university housing (dorms or apartments with dining halls or cooking facilities), or shared apartments.

What can I do to start preparing today? 

  • Let your academic advisor know that you are interested in studying abroad
  • Make connections with professors as they can be potential recommendation letter writers
  • Start researching programs on our website and/or make an appointment with us
  • Apply for your passport now if you do not already have a passport that will be valid for at least 6 months after the end of the program you are interested in participating in.