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Early admit deadline and scholarship application deadline: 3/26/21 

Regular deadline: 4/23/21 

Application fee is $35 

Apply HERE

During the COVID pandemic, SHINE offers a hybrid of remote synchronous and asynchronous work optimized to give each student experience in both collaborative and independent research, which are skills essential to college and career success.

Thank you for your interest in USC Viterbi’s Summer High School Intensive in Next-Generation Engineering SHINE. Our program is designed for top performing high school students who have a strong academic record in STEM and research; because SHINE will be fully remote again in 2021 due to COVID, we can accept non-Southern California residents but give preference to students from the area. Applicants can request to be placed in their top three areas of engineering research, and we will do our best to make a good match. The professors of each research group make the final selection of whom to accept to their summer research group.

Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to have ready before you sit down to complete the online SHINE application; sometimes applicants have trouble returning to an incomplete application so we encourage everyone to try to complete it in one session (it may be possible to save work on the application if you use the same computer, the same browser, and click the arrow at the bottom of the last page where you input info). Please also review our FAQ page or contact us.


Applicants must be a rising sophomore, junior or senior in high school by fall semester, 2021, and need to be willing to participate in lab and/or computational research remotely for around 20 hours per week between June 14 - July 30, 2021, primarily on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Once a student is accepted into a professor's research group, the Ph.D. student mentor will discuss specific hours for both synchronous collaboration and independent, asynchronous work -- this gives the SHINE student family and research team the opportunity to create a mutually agreed-upon schedule. This individualized agreement works well if students balance SHINE with summer school or a part-time job. Friday mornings are always dedicated to the full cohort of students to learn and have fun together.

Contact Information and Academic Background:

✓       You will be asked to provide contact information for you and your guardians (email, street address, home and cell phone). Please note that all follow-up communications will be sent to the legal guardian(s) of the student applicant as well as to the applicant. (Guardians with joint custody should each be listed on the application.)

✓ Your overall GPA. We are looking for applicants who have a GPA of 3.4 or higher on a 4.0 (unweighted) scale.

✓ Test scores (SAT, PSAT, ACT) are not required, but if you have them, the scores help us place you in the most appropriate lab. Please be prepared to upload a PDF of your latest results, so download the report issued by the testing organization to have it ready to add to the online SHINE application.

Your Research Preferences, Personal Statement and Supporting Materials: We recommend you begin these action items as soon as you’re interested in applying to SHINE as we need ALL documents to arrive by 3/26/2021 for early bird applicants and 4/23/21 for regular admission. These steps require planning and careful thought.

✓✓ Two letters of recommendation must be received by 3/26 or 4/23, both coming from a teacher who discusses your academic qualifications in science, technology, engineering and/or math as well as your readiness to participate in a research lab for seven full weeks over the summer.

  • Start talking to your teachers well in advance of the firm 3/26 or 4/23 deadlines about your interest in SHINE so we receive their letters in time. Teachers can email their letter to with the subject heading SHINE20 Rec STUDENT LAST NAME_FIRST NAME. MUST BE RECEIVED BY 3/26/2021 or 4/23/2021.
  • Before you begin the online application, be sure to have the names, title, and email addresses of your two recommenders.

✓       A third letter of recommendation is optional; follow the same guidelines.

✓  On the application, you’ll need to rank your top three preferences for the types of engineering research teams you would like to join. Please know that availability in each lab can vary; although we cannot promise you will be placed in your first or second choice, we will do our best to match you well. You can find out more about each of USC Viterbi’s academic departments here. Take a look at the past SHINE students discussing their research.

  • We want to get to know you better, to find out why you’re interested in doing research at USC Viterbi School of Engineering over your summer vacation, so this is your chance to let us know more about Please put some time and effort into your personal statement as it is a key document in the professor’s decision, along with your teacher recommendations. In 500 words or less, write about a specific time when you used your STEM knowledge to solve a problem and a specific time when you realized that research was key to your future academic goals. On the same document, please add up to 250 words about why you selected the three engineering research areas where you would like to be placed. Applications with over 750 words will be disqualified from consideration. Please name your file: LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME_PERSONAL STATEMENT and make sure your first and last name are also on all documents, which need to be in pdf format.
  • You will also need to upload a PDF of your Unofficial High School Transcript.
  • Additionally, please be prepared to submit online the $35 application fee. To submit fees, please visit our payments page.
    • Because all staff are working remotely during COVID, we prefer electronic payment of fees; however, if you need to pay by check, please contact us at to proceed.

✓✓ You are also welcome to add one supplemental PDF that showcases your interest in research, e.g., an award, a technical paper, lab report, science fair essay, etc.


Early bird applications and all teacher recommendations are due March 26, 2021, to be qualified for either financial aid or the reduced early bird fee of $5,100; Regular applications are due by April 23, 2021 for the regular fee of $5,250. Once we receive all materials from the applicant (including teacher recommendations, which often take longer for teachers to send than applicants realize), we send a dossier on to the professor. If a professor is already committed for SHINE students or rejects an applicant, we pass the applicant dossier to another professor.

Notification of admission via email to the applicant and her/his legal guardian will usually be made within two weeks, and admitted students must confirm their participation in SHINE within 2 weeks or sooner to secure their spot in the program. Payment schedule for students attending the SHINE program: Deposit of $1,200 is due upon acceptance of USC's offer letter.

The balance will be due by deadline in USC's offer letter.


Application page

Questions, please contact the K-12 STEM Center:

Published on January 11th, 2017

Last updated on April 21st, 2021