Anne’s Admission Advice: Applying to USC Kaufman

August 1, 2019

Man and woman in red and yellow dance attire outside at USC Village.

Jackie Schiffner and Juan Posada Penagos (BFA '19) in the USC Village | Photo by Heather Toner

Prospective students often ask me, “Am I applying to USC Kaufman, just USC or both?” Each college dance program has its own process, requirements and timeline—so I get that it can be super confusing. In short, for us, you are simply applying to the University of Southern California. You are then declaring dance as your intended major and submitting some additional documents for the dance faculty to review (before going on to the live audition). Let’s walk through the application process step by step.

Start at www.commonapp.org

The process starts with the Common Application. You’ll want to submit all necessary documents for the university, including your personal statement, short answer responses, academic information and activities summary.

  • Create an account at https://www.commonapp.org/.
  • Complete all required information.
  • Add “University of Southern California” to your list of colleges (FY) / programs (T).

USC applicants must submit additional information on the USC Writing Supplement (FY) or Program Materials (T), which is embedded within the Common Application.

  • Complete all required information.

Indicate your intended major in dance

  • Select “KSOD: Dance, B.F.A” as your intended major under the Academics section.
  • Confirm your intent to submit a portfolio when asked in the subsequent section.

Follow the portfolio link

Head over to SlideRoom to provide your USC Kaufman Portfolio of dance materials. You can work on your portfolio while working on the rest of your application to the university.

Submit everything by Dec. 1

You must submit your Common Application (including the USC Writing Supplement for first-year students or program materials for transfer applicants) AND your USC Kaufman Portfolio by Dec. 1. We’re happy to accept your application before Dec. 1 too!

The Office of Admission reviews your university application while our faculty reviews your USC Kaufman Portfolio

The Office of Admission starts its review of your university application, while our faculty spend the first two weeks of December reviewing your USC Kaufman Portfolio. These two processes happen completely independent of one another at this point.

Get your live audition results in mid-December

In mid-December, you’ll get an email stating whether or not you have been selected for a live audition. Students invited to a live audition go back into the general admission pool and receive full consideration for their second-choice majors. Students invited to a live audition are scheduled for an audition date based upon the preferences listed on their USC Kaufman Portfolios. Again, we haven’t talked with the Office of Admission about our finalists yet… except perhaps to say hello.

Audition in January

You’ll join us for an entire day on campus. You will take ballet, contemporary, improvisation and hip-hop classes. Then, you’ll have about 10 minutes to chat with our faculty and present a two-minute solo of your choice. To answer the question that often follows: Yes, you can show us a longer version of the solo from one of your videos.

Relax while we do our thing

Okay, that’s not entirely fair to ask of you. But, at this point, you’ve done all you need to do. After we’ve finished all live auditions, our faculty will recommend students to the USC Office of Admission. There will be a back and forth between the Office of Admission and USC Kaufman about the candidates’ talent, academic preparation and fit for our community. Students not recommended for the dance program go back into the general application pool and receive full consideration for their second-choice majors.

Apply for financial aid

Actually, you haven’t entirely done all you need to do. Don’t forget to submit EVERYTHING for financial aid (FAFSA, CSS Profile and any other requested information) by early February. Don’t wait until you’ve been admitted. Be sure to check your FAST account regularly, since you may be asked for additional documentation.

Get your decision!

You’ll receive a decision by April 1 via snail mail. (I love that we still admit students the old-fashioned way!) If admitted to USC, your packet will indicate the major to which you’ve been admitted. Fingers crossed, that it lists B.F.A., Dance.

And then you get to make us sweat

We’ve made you jump through a million hoops up through your audition, and then you hear nothing from us for two months. Well, the tables then turn. Now you get to make us sweat it out while we hope that you’ll choose us by May 1.


By Anne Aubert-Santelli, Assistant Dean of Admission and Student Services