Anne’s Admission Advice: Applying to USC Kaufman

September 1, 2021

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 or Kaufman or both?” Each college dance program has its own process, requirements and timeline—so I get that it can be super confusing. In short, when it comes to applying for USC Kaufman, you are actually just applying to the University of Southern California. You then declare dance as your intended major and submit some additional documents for the dance faculty to review (before going on to the live audition). Let’s walk through the process.

The USC Undergraduate Application

The first step in applying to USC Kaufman is completing the USC Undergraduate Application. This includes the Common Application and USC Writing Supplement (first-year applicants) or Program Materials (transfer applicants). Be sure to select “KSOD: Dance, B.F.A.” as your intended major—which will generate a link to SlideRoom where you will begin your USC Kaufman Portfolio. Please note that current USC students applying to our program do not need to complete the USC Undergraduate Application.

The USC Kaufman Portfolio

You must upload a number of materials to SlideRoom as a part of the USC Kaufman Portfolio. This includes:

  • A headshot, which need not be professional
  • An action shot showcasing your favorite dance form
  • A one-page dance resume in our requested format
  • A 250-word written response to the prompt: The USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance is uniquely positioned as a conservatory embedded within one of the world’s leading private research universities. How will you take advantage of the many academic, artistic and social opportunities available at the university as a whole?
  • A 30- to 60-second video response to the prompt: The mission of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance is to empower dance thought leaders through artistry and scholarship. What does it mean to be a dance thought leader in 2022?
  • Two contrasting 60-second solos
  • Three short demo videos in each of the following forms: Ballet, Contemporary and Hip-Hop. (This means you’ll be submitting six videos in all!) We provide you with video demonstrations from our faculty, so you know exactly what we’re looking for. A link to the faculty video demonstrations is available at kaufman.usc.edu/usc-kaufman-portfolio.

Both the USC Undergraduate Application and USC Kaufman Portfolio are due by December 1, 2021.

The live audition

Our faculty committee will review all USC Kaufman Portfolios and invite a small number of finalists to a live audition on campus. All applicants will receive an email notification about the live audition in mid-December. Students who are not invited to a live audition will go back into the general application pool and receive full consideration for the other major listed on their applications.

The live audition lasts a full day, since we do not have cuts. Finalists will take ballet, contemporary, improvisation/freestyle, and hip-hop classes. After a lunch break, finalists will have about 10 minutes to chat with our faculty and present a two-minute solo. To answer a question that often follows: Yes, you can show us a longer version of one of the solos from your USC Kaufman Portfolio.

Final admission decisions

After the second round, 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 each candidate’s talent, academic preparation and fit for our community. Students who are not recommended for the dance program will go back into the general application pool and receive full consideration for the other major listed on their applications.

All applicants will receive a final decision by April 1, with scholarship information to follow in early April.

Financial aid

While you’re waiting to receive a final admission decision, you should finish your financial aid application (by mid-February). This includes the FAFSA, CSS Profile and other information requested by USC Financial Aid. Check your FAST account regularly, since you may be asked for additional documentation. You want to take care of all financial aid matters before receiving an admission decision so that (1) we can administer any scholarships you receive and (2) you have a full month to consider your offer of admission while knowing what it will cost to attend USC Kaufman.

Final thoughts

We know that we’re asking for a lot of content and that it will take a lot of time for you to compile all of these materials. But, we hope that you’ll think of each component or part of the process as an opportunity to tell us about yourself. We can’t wait to meet you!


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