University of Southern California Review

The University of Southern California is home to a top-ranked information technology program designed for students with substantial prior training in computer science topics.

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The Good

Top national ranking

According to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Southern California (USC) is home to the nation’s top-ranked online graduate programs in information technology. The U.S. News & World Report rankings are based on a comprehensive survey of online programs from around the country, including detailed studies of faculty quality, student engagement efforts, online student services, technology usage, and other important factors that contribute to a quality online educational experience. USC information technology programs scored among the top 10 in nearly every measured category, showing especially strong results in student services. While it’s important to consider the finer details of what USC has to offer for yourself, a top national ranking is a pretty good indication that USC offers online programs of the very highest quality.

Superb student services

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering is unsurpassed in its dedication to providing online students full access to the academic support and technological tools they need to excel in the virtual classroom. As an online student at USC, you always have access to academic advisers, technical support staff, course tutors, and library research assistants, just like students on campus. Most courses even have dedicated teacher assistants, who support course instructors by facilitating online class discussions, leading review sessions, and helping with course assignments. The USC Distance Education Network (DEN) provides access to lectures, course materials, and both real-time and asynchronous communications tools. You’ll even have access to powerful collaboration tools that allow you to share documents and applications with instructors and classmates in a real-time, interactive environment online. Given the power and breadth of the USC online course delivery platform, it’s no wonder the school ranks among the top two programs in the nation.

Excellent variety of degree options

USC is home to several different skills-based graduate programs in information science subjects. If you’re looking to develop the professional skills to design, build, and maintain secure information systems, the online cybersecurity program is just what you’re looking for. If you have a strong undergraduate background in computer programming, both the computer science and the software engineering programs provide you the opportunity to build advanced skills for the job market. Those who already have a professional background in computer science can get advanced training in systems engineering skills through the computer science for technical professionals program. Finally, the multimedia and creative technologies degree program provides the networking and database training you need to build and maintain the information systems that underlie complex multimedia productions. All of these programs are specifically designed for students who already have substantial training in information technology and computer science.

Experienced online faculty

The University of Southern California also stands out when it comes to the quality and experience their faculty brings to the online classroom. USC’s information technology and computer science instructors average more than eight years of experience teaching online courses, which should give you confidence that you’ll get the same level of quality instruction students enjoy in classrooms on campus. According to U.S. News & World Report, this faculty ranks as the 4th best in the nation on measures of educational background, tenure status, teaching experience, and continuing teacher training.

The Bad

Very high tuition costs

Among all the top online graduate programs in information technology, the University of Southern California ranks alongside Columbia University as the most expensive on a per-credit basis. As an online graduate student at USC, you’ll pay tuition of $1,636 per credit, about four times the cost of some of the most affordable programs, such as Sam Houston State University and Mississippi State University. USC does offer a couple pretty unique degrees in their multimedia and creative technology program and their computer science program for technical professionals. But you can find strong alternatives to USC’s cybersecurity and computer science programs at much cheaper cost. That said, USC does offer some of the best student services around and a degree from USC does bring with it a strong reputation for quality. In the end, you’ll have to weigh whether a USC degree is worth the expense for yourself.

Strong technical background required

University of Southern California online graduate degrees in information technology and computer science all require an undergraduate degree in science, engineering, or math. Most degrees also required either a bachelor’s in computer science or a substantial background in computer programming and computing in general. If you don’t have the technical background to pursue a USC degree, there are plenty of other quality programs available from other schools designed specifically for students who have taken only basic courses in computer programming.

The Details

General Information

  • Academic Year Founded: 1999-2000
  • Application Deadline: January 1
  • Application Fee: $85
  • Location: CA
  • Number of Graduate Info Tech Programs: 8
  • Region: West
  • School Type: Private
  • Term Schedule: Semester

Tuition Rates (Per Credit)

  • In-State: $1,636
  • Out-of-State: $1,636


  • Master of Science in Computer Science


  • Software Architecture

Class Profile

  • Acceptance Rate: 36%
  • Average Student Age: 29
  • Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.38
  • Avg. GRE Analytical Writing: 4.4
  • Avg. GRE Quantitative: 161
  • Avg. GRE Verbal: 159
  • Gender Ratio: 14.3% female, 85.7% male
  • Maximum Class Size: 125
  • Total Enrollment: 98


  • Average Online Teaching Experience: 8 years
  • Full-Time Instructional Faculty: 53
  • Part-Time Instructional Faculty: 19

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2009): 72%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2010): 87%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2011): 90%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2013): 100%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2009-2010): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2010-2011): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2011-2012): 53%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2012-2013): 74%

U.S. News Rankings

  • Admissions Selectivity Rank: 2
  • Admissions Selectivity Score: 99/100
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Rank: 4
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Score: 85/100
  • Student Engagement Rank: 8
  • Student Engagement Score: 84/100
  • Student Services and Technology Rank: 1
  • Student Services and Technology Score: 100/100

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