Progressive Master’s Degree

USC Annenberg progressive degree programs

The USC Progressive Degree Program (PDP) enables superior USC undergraduates to begin work on a master’s degree while completing the requirements for the bachelor’s degree. After earning the bachelor’s degree, PDP students transition fully into their master’s degree program. USC Annenberg offers the following progressive master’s degrees:

*Communication Data Science is jointly taught by USC Annenberg and USC Viterbi. However, the PDP application process is managed by USC Viterbi Admissions. For more information, visit USC Viterbi’s PDP website.

Instructions for USC students graduating December 2024 and May 2025

Review the progressive degree eligibility requirement and download the PDP application forms on the USC undergraduate education website at

Follow these steps to complete your application for admission to a USC Annenberg PDP: 

Step 1: Identify the graduate degree program of interest to you and attend a PDP information session.

The digital social media virtual information session date is listed below. To attend, click here.

  • February 16, 2024, at noon PT

The journalism program virtual information session dates are listed below. 

  • February 12, 2024, at 2 p.m. PT (Journalism (MS) only). To attend, click here.
  • February 12, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. PT (Specialized Journalism and Specialized Journalism (Arts and Culture) only). To attend, click here.

The public relations and advertising degree program virtual information session date is listed below. To attend, click here

  • February 15, 2024, at 10 a.m. PT

Virtual Office Hours are also listed below. To attend, click here.

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at noon and 5 p.m. PT
  • Monday, February 26, 2024, at noon PT
  • Wednesday, February 28, 2024, at 5 p.m. PT

NOTE: For the Communication Data Science program, the PDP application process is managed by USC Viterbi Admissions. Although you may attend an Annenberg information session, you will apply through USC Viterbi. Visit

Step 2: Contact the USC Financial Aid Office since financial eligibility differs for students in PDP programs. 

Visit USC Financial Aid at for more details. Contact if you have specific questions. 

Step 3: Complete the top section of the application. Also, with your major adviser, complete the proposed course plan section. USC Annenberg advisers are available November 1 – December 1, 2023; check with your major adviser for availability. 

With your major adviser, plan one graduate class per semester (fall and spring) in your senior year along with your undergraduate coursework needed to complete your bachelor’s degree. Your academic adviser will determine if graduate courses fit your senior year course plan and will add current and future undergraduate courses to the form. If you have a double major, there is space on the form for the adviser of your second major to approve your course plan too. Additional appointments with a USC Annenberg adviser will be available February 1 – 16, 2024. For other majors, check with your major adviser.

Step 4: Complete the graduate proposed course plan section of the application form with the graduate adviser assigned to your degree program of interest from November 1 – December 14, 2023. You may not meet with a graduate adviser without completing the undergraduate proposed course plan section of your application form with your undergraduate adviser and obtaining signatures.

Arrange to meet with the graduate adviser assigned to your degree program of interest. The graduate academic adviser will add graduate courses to your proposed course plan. Additional appointments will be available on February 1 – 26, 2024. 

Communication Management – Susan Zhang ( OR Adrienne Capirchio (

Digital Social Media – Nicole Valdez ( OR Jessica De La Cruz-Gonzalez (

Journalism (MS) – Mike Ploszek (

Public Diplomacy – Nicole Valdez (

Public Relations and Advertising – Mike Ploszek (

Specialized Journalism – Mike Ploszek (

Specialized Journalism (Arts and Culture) – Mike Ploszek (

Step 5: Save your complete PDP application in PDF format and email the PDF to by the Friday, March 1, 2024, 5 p.m. application deadline. A complete application assembled in this order will include:

  1. Application for Admission to Progressive Master’s Degree Program
  2. Copy of your most current STARS report
  3. Statement of purpose – see the specific prompt for your degree program of interest (See below for statement of purpose essay prompts)
  4. Résumé – Include your permanent home address as well as academic awards, USC honors, scholarships, association memberships, research experience, computer literacy, and foreign language skills. Your résumé may exceed one page.
  5. Writing sample – Submit an academic paper (5‐10 pages) written for an undergraduate class at USC. Single-authored published articles, news clips, or brochures may be submitted in addition to the academic paper if you are applying for admission to a journalism degree program
  6. Letter of recommendation – One letter of recommendation written by a faculty instructor in your major. Your signed recommendation form must be attached to the letter submitted on your behalf. 

Ensure that your digital signature is on all forms where required. Save your documents in PDF format and email a single PDF to The deadline has passed, and was March 1, 2024, at 5 p.m. PT. You will receive an email from an Annenberg PDP coordinator when your application is received. Late applications will not be accepted, and no extensions will be granted for incomplete applications. Once submitted, you may not change, edit, or provide any new materials. On-demand updates will not be provided. 

Step 6: Application review and admission decision notification 

Applications are reviewed by Annenberg faculty admission committees. Once an admission decision is made, Annenberg Admissions will notify you of your decision. Email questions and concerns to

Statement of Purpose Essay Prompts 

Communication Management In a two-to-four-page persuasive essay, respond to the following questions: 

  • What skill set are you looking to develop through graduate studies? Explain how a graduate degree in communication management is suited to accomplishing this.
  • How will a degree in communication management enhance your professional development, thinking about both your short-term and long-term career goals?

Digital Social Media In a two-to-four-page persuasive essay, respond to the following prompts: 

  • How does advanced academic work in Digital Social Media relate to your career goals?
  • What skills are you looking to develop through graduate studies?
  • Describe what kind of work you see yourself doing after graduation from the M.S. Digital Social Media.
  • What is it about the M.S. Digital Social Media that inspired you to apply as a progressive degree student?

Journalism and Specialized Journalism Limit your statement to 1,500 words and convey your passion for the field of journalism while addressing the following: 

  • Describe a journalistic event or experience that sparked your interest in pursuing this profession and why.
  • Discuss a favorite news site and why it works for you.
  • Describe how you see yourself in this moment in American history and what role you’d like to carve for yourself during the crucial years ahead.
  • Describe how you would engage with the USC Annenberg curriculum, and what kind of work you see yourself doing upon completion of the graduate degree program.
  • Discuss an aspect or area of the field that is of particular interest to you.
  • Describe how you would engage with the USC Annenberg curriculum and what kind of work you see yourself doing after graduation from the SJ degree program.

Public Diplomacy In a two-to-three page personal essay, please address the following: 

  • Explain how the Annenberg School generally and the Master of Public Diplomacy program specifically relate to your career aspiration.
  • What aspects of public diplomacy are of particular interest to you?
  • What relevant attributes/skills/experiences (including international experience) do you have that would make you an exceptional candidate for the MPD program?

Public Relations and Advertising In a two-to-four-page persuasive essay, respond to the following: 

  • Why are you interested in studying public relations and advertising at the graduate level?
  • What area(s) within the greater public relations and advertising space interests you?
  • What makes you an exceptional candidate to study public relations and advertising at USC Annenberg?
  • What is it about the Public Relations and Advertising degree program that inspired you to apply as a progressive degree student?

Specialized Journalism (Arts and Culture) In a single personal essay no longer than 1500 words, please consider and address the following: 

  • Why are you pursuing the Specialized Journalism (Arts and Culture) degree?
  • Describe the specific subject area you intend to pursue.
  • Knowing that our program encourages you to take electives in other USC schools outside of Annenberg, what excites you about this possibility?
  • Explain how you expect to apply your new skills and knowledge to your future work.

Instructions for December 2023 and May 2024 graduating seniors

For USC Annenberg graduate degree programs, apply through the USC graduate admission application process instead of the progressive degree admission application process. Review the USC Annenberg application guidelines for the degree program(s) of interest to you. If you have questions after reviewing the application guidelines, contact Annenberg Admissions at

Advantages for graduating seniors applying through the graduate application process:

  1. No GRE for USC Annenberg degree programs
  2. No application fee
  3. No course plan required
  4. An online application process
  5. Apply to as many as three different degree programs
  6. Update your application to 2025 if you are unable to enroll in 2024