Making a Major Decision: How to Choose a First and Second Choice Major on Your USC Application 

Sometimes a student sends me an email or says to me at a high school visit, “I’m planning on applying to USC as an Undecided major.” I then give them what will likely be unsettling news: You can’t apply to USC ‘Undecided.’ Even though you can put ‘Undecided’ as your second choice major, almost all USC applicants will be admitted to a specific major.  

If you don’t know what majors you want to select as your first and second choice on the USC supplement, I suggest asking yourself these three questions:  

What subject have I consistently succeeded in at high school? 

What am I most passionate about and interested in? 

What skills and knowledge might be necessary for the kind of career I hope to have?  

You may know which majors you want to apply to at USC or you may not, but I always recommend doing some research about all the different majors we offer and the classes that make up each major. It may be in your best interest to pick the major or majors that are made up of classes you are most excited about taking at the time you fill out your application. To see these majors and classes check out the USC Course Catalogue. If there’s a major or department at USC you’re particularly interested in, check out our website to follow them on your favorite social media account or register for their virtual info session.  

It might come as a surprise to learn that many students change their major or add an additional major or minor while at USC. A large part of the college experience is exploring new subjects and discovering new passions. Because USC is a school with so many different fields of study to choose from, academic exploration both inside and outside the major is common and even encouraged. 

Everyone who wants to apply to USC will need to submit the Common Application, which includes some USC specific questions. One of the first questions will ask you to select a first and second choice major. Students approach their major choices in several ways. Some students are only interested in one major, so they do not list a second choice. Some students have a first choice, but are still interested in attending USC even if it is within a different academic program and apply to a second choice. Some students want to double major or take on a minor, so they list both fields. Even though students will only be admitted to one major, you can add a second major or a minor after you start at USC.  

It is also important to note our different application deadlines are dependent on your major selection. Not all majors are eligible for the Early Action (EA) admission plan. If you select EA you won’t see any of the majors requiring a portfolio or audition in the list of available majors. Additionally, if you want to be considered for merit-based scholarships, the scholarship deadline will depend on the major you select. To learn more about our deadlines, visit our website.  

It’s also important to note that Pre-Health or Pre-Law are not majors at USC but advisory tracks. If you are interested in pre-professional programs, you can indicate a pre-professional emphasis right below your first and second choice majors on the Common Application. Any student from any major can add a pre-professional emphasis, and you will have an adviser who will help you make sure you are taking the classes that will prepare you to apply to post-graduate programs.  

The best place to discuss your first and second choice majors is when asked to discuss your academic interests. If there are academic interests you’d like to explore outside of these majors, you are still able to talk about them within one of our USC-specific prompts in the Common Application. Remember that interdisciplinary studies and taking classes outside your major and/or pursuing another major or minor is encouraged at USC. 

As we review your Common Application and the majors you selected, we are looking to see if you would be a good fit for USC. As Admission Counselors, we understand previous exposure to your major might differ for all students. For example, most students who apply for engineering or business will not have had the opportunity in high school to take classes in these fields or even to be a part of a club that directly relates to either field. In those examples, we will look to see how you have performed in math and how you might have pursued these interests outside of the classroom in various ways, be it a job or in your free time. We admit students to majors so you can begin your freshman year taking classes in a field you’re passionate about. Even though you might change your major, we want you to be on track to graduate in four years with at least one major from the start of your time at USC.  

When reviewing your application, we consider you primarily for your first-choice major, but if we are unable to offer you admission to that major, we will consider you for your second choice. If you select a talent-based major or majors that requires a SlideRoom portfolio and/or audition video, your application will also be reviewed by the faculty/admission team of that department. These members are experts in their corresponding fields of study. Even though I personally love movies and spend most of my time outside of work watching them, I know very little about what qualities to look for when selecting future filmmakers to attend the School of Cinematic Arts. These experts will let us know whether they think an applicant is a good match for their program. If you are not admitted to this talent-based major, we will consider you in the Office of Admission for your second-choice or for undecided admission. If you have academic interests outside of your talent-based major (or majors) you selected, I suggest discussing your multiple academic interests in your USC supplement to help us gain a sense of how you might pursue these interests on campus.  

Our job in the USC Office of Admission is creating a class that includes students with different academic backgrounds and interests: USC wouldn’t be USC if we didn’t have a good mix of chemists, filmmakers, occupational therapists, and architects, so we must make sure that we balance our offers of admission to reflect our academic diversity. The majors you choose, your interests and passions, as well as who you are and where you come from will enrich the USC community and Trojan Family during your time at USC and beyond.  

Written by Brittany Baker-Brousseau, Senior Assistant Director, and Isaiah Sneed, Assistant Director 



Making a Major Decision: How to Choose a First and Second Choice Major on Your USC Application 

Sometimes a student sends me an email or says to me at a high school visit, “I’m planning on applying to USC as an Undecided major.” I then give them what will likely be unsettling news: You can’t apply to USC ‘Undecided.’ Even though you can put ‘Undecided’ as your second choice major, almost all USC applicants will be admitted to a specific major.  

If you don’t know what majors you want to select as your first and second choice on the USC supplement, I suggest asking yourself these three questions:  

What subject have I consistently succeeded in at high school? 

What am I most passionate about and interested in? 

What skills and knowledge might be necessary for the kind of career I hope to have?  

You may know which majors you want to apply to at USC or you may not, but I always recommend doing some research about all the different majors we offer and the classes that make up each major. It may be in your best interest to pick the major or majors that are made up of classes you are most excited about taking at the time you fill out your application. To see these majors and classes check out the USC Course Catalogue. If there’s a major or department at USC you’re particularly interested in, check out our website to follow them on your favorite social media account or register for their virtual info session.  

It might come as a surprise to learn that many students change their major or add an additional major or minor while at USC. A large part of the college experience is exploring new subjects and discovering new passions. Because USC is a school with so many different fields of study to choose from, academic exploration both inside and outside the major is common and even encouraged. 

Everyone who wants to apply to USC will need to submit the Common Application, which includes some USC specific questions. One of the first questions will ask you to select a first and second choice major. Students approach their major choices in several ways. Some students are only interested in one major, so they do not list a second choice. Some students have a first choice, but are still interested in attending USC even if it is within a different academic program and apply to a second choice. Some students want to double major or take on a minor, so they list both fields. Even though students will only be admitted to one major, you can add a second major or a minor after you start at USC.  

It is also important to note our different application deadlines are dependent on your major selection. Not all majors are eligible for the Early Action (EA) admission plan. If you select EA you won’t see any of the majors requiring a portfolio or audition in the list of available majors. Additionally, if you want to be considered for merit-based scholarships, the scholarship deadline will depend on the major you select. To learn more about our deadlines, visit our website.  

It’s also important to note that Pre-Health or Pre-Law are not majors at USC but advisory tracks. If you are interested in pre-professional programs, you can indicate a pre-professional emphasis right below your first and second choice majors on the Common Application. Any student from any major can add a pre-professional emphasis, and you will have an adviser who will help you make sure you are taking the classes that will prepare you to apply to post-graduate programs.  

The best place to discuss your first and second choice majors is when asked to discuss your academic interests. If there are academic interests you’d like to explore outside of these majors, you are still able to talk about them within one of our USC-specific prompts in the Common Application. Remember that interdisciplinary studies and taking classes outside your major and/or pursuing another major or minor is encouraged at USC. 

As we review your Common Application and the majors you selected, we are looking to see if you would be a good fit for USC. As Admission Counselors, we understand previous exposure to your major might differ for all students. For example, most students who apply for engineering or business will not have had the opportunity in high school to take classes in these fields or even to be a part of a club that directly relates to either field. In those examples, we will look to see how you have performed in math and how you might have pursued these interests outside of the classroom in various ways, be it a job or in your free time. We admit students to majors so you can begin your freshman year taking classes in a field you’re passionate about. Even though you might change your major, we want you to be on track to graduate in four years with at least one major from the start of your time at USC.  

When reviewing your application, we consider you primarily for your first-choice major, but if we are unable to offer you admission to that major, we will consider you for your second choice. If you select a talent-based major or majors that requires a SlideRoom portfolio and/or audition video, your application will also be reviewed by the faculty/admission team of that department. These members are experts in their corresponding fields of study. Even though I personally love movies and spend most of my time outside of work watching them, I know very little about what qualities to look for when selecting future filmmakers to attend the School of Cinematic Arts. These experts will let us know whether they think an applicant is a good match for their program. If you are not admitted to this talent-based major, we will consider you in the Office of Admission for your second-choice or for undecided admission. If you have academic interests outside of your talent-based major (or majors) you selected, I suggest discussing your multiple academic interests in your USC supplement to help us gain a sense of how you might pursue these interests on campus.  

Our job in the USC Office of Admission is creating a class that includes students with different academic backgrounds and interests: USC wouldn’t be USC if we didn’t have a good mix of chemists, filmmakers, occupational therapists, and architects, so we must make sure that we balance our offers of admission to reflect our academic diversity. The majors you choose, your interests and passions, as well as who you are and where you come from will enrich the USC community and Trojan Family during your time at USC and beyond.  

Written by Brittany Baker-Brousseau, Senior Assistant Director, and Isaiah Sneed, Assistant Director 



Office of Student Accessibility Services (OSAS)

Happy Summer! We hope you are enjoying a well-deserved break and are getting excited for the upcoming academic year! In this week’s blog post, we are highlighting our Office of Student Accessibility Services (OSAS). Whether you are a new or returning Trojan, OSAS is here to provide accommodations to help students with disabilities thrive both in and out of the classroom. 

The purpose and practice of OSAS are to ensure equal access for Trojans with disabilities in compliance with state and federal law. OSAS serves all students in credit-granting courses and programs of study – undergraduate, graduate, and professional; on-campus and on-line. In addition to providing equal access, their mission is to meet the needs of our students, remove disability-related barriers, support civil rights, and raise awareness on behalf of students with disabilities. OSAS provides a respectful, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all of the Trojan Family. 

We reached out to Madison Shaw, OSAS’s Assistant Director of Policy, Programming & Evaluation, who answered our questions about how students can receive accommodations and how OSAS continues to work with students and the rest of the Trojan community: 

How easy is it for students to get the services and accommodations they need? 

“We try to make our accommodation review process as easy and streamlined as possible. Students can also reach out to us to speak with a staff member if they have questions. Here is a little insight to our registration process:  

  1. Begin by telling us about you. Please complete the Online Student Application. Help us get to know you by answering each field as thoroughly as possibly. 
  1. Provide documentation. After you click the “Submit Application” button, you will be directed to a second screen where you will be invited to upload any supporting disability-related documentation. 
  1. Meet with your OSAS Specialist. We like to make sure we have a full picture of you and your experiences as a student. Your OSAS Specialist will generally reach out as part of this connection process, and schedule a time to meet with you in-person or via phone or virtual/video meeting.” 

[You can visit https://osas.usc.edu/ for more detailed information on the application process, providing documentation, and meeting with your OSAS Specialist] 

How are students assigned to OSAS staff? 

“Students can be assigned to any Specialist—the only exception is if they are Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) or Blind/Low Vision (BLV). The DHH and BLV services require a little more complex coordination so we typically have those students work with the Specialist in that area.” 

How much contact throughout the year do students have with OSAS? 

“It depends! Some students only contact us to register and initiate services. Other students may need more regular check-ins. We’re happy to be in contact with students as much or as little as they would like.” 

Are these accommodations free to students? 

“Yes!” 

How involved with OSAS are the faculty members? 

“OSAS frequently collaborates with faculty to support students with disabilities. We often receive outreach from faculty with questions about specific accommodations and regularly present to different academic programs. It is extremely important for us to have a strong relationship with faculty so we can work together to support our students.” 

What’s your favorite part about working for OSAS? 

“The OSAS team is truly dedicated to supporting our students—I love working in an office with a shared goal of increasing accessibility and awareness for students with disabilities. I have been fortunate to work with some truly spectacular USC students. Many of them still keep in touch, and I love receiving updates about their lives and accomplishments after they have graduated.”