Thank you for your interest in USC Viterbi’s Summer High School Intensive in Next-Generation Engineering – SHINE – program. Our program is designed for aspiring high school students with a strong academic record in STEM and research. This non-residential program; students from any school are welcome if they have a place to stay within commuting distance.

Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to have ready before you sit down to complete the online SHINE application; you will be able to begin the application and return to it later. If you have questions, please review our FAQ page or contact us.


Applicants must be a rising sophomore, junior or senior in high school by fall semester, 2017, and need to be willing to participate in lab research on the USC campus for at least 20 hours per week between June 19 – August 4, 2017. Each lab will suggest the hours, days, and the amount of time for the SHINE student to participate, giving the SHINE student family as well as the USC professor’s research team the opportunity to discuss and adjust availabilities for a mutually agreed-upon schedule. Some labs may invite SHINE students to spend up to 40 hours per week in the lab, while others may mentor SHINE students only on certain days. This individualized agreement works best for students balancing SHINE and summer school or a part-time job.

Contact Information and Academic Background

  • You will be asked to provide contact information for you and your guardians (email, street address, phone). Please note that all follow-up communications will be sent to the legal guardian of the student applicant as well as to the applicant. (Divorced or separated parents with joint custody should each be listed on the application with contact info.)
  • 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. These steps require planning and careful thought:

  • Two letters of recommendation are required, both from teachers who discuss your academic qualifications in science, technology, engineering and/or math as well as your readiness to participate responsibly and somewhat independently in a research lab for seven full weeks.
    • Start talking to your teachers well in advance about your interest in SHINE and research. Let your recommenders know they will receive an email with the form from the USC Viterbi SHINE program; their completed forms must be returned online within one week of submission of the application. THIS IS THE STEP THAT SLOWS DOWN MOST APPLICATIONS, SO TALK TO YOUR TEACHERS SOON.
    • 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 2016 SHINE students discussing their research as well as their final posters to get an idea of the projects.
    • 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 you. 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, tell us why SHINE interests you, and how your seven week research experience will help you reach your future academic goals, why you’re interested in the areas of engineering that you selected as your first, second, and third choices on your application. Please take note: Statements with over 500 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.
    • Be sure to review the types of research projects that will be open this summer and discuss any two or three of them in your personal statement to let us know how they most engage you. This is key to helping place you in the optimal lab.
  • You will also need to upload a PDF of your Unofficial High School Transcript on the application, so have that ready.
  • Additionally, please be prepared to submit online the $35 application fee by credit card here or by check made out to the University of SouthernCalifornia for $35 – applications will not be processed until the fee and all materials are received:
    c/o Dr. Katie Mills
    USC Viterbi VAST Program
    1042 Downey Way, Denney Research Building #254
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-1111
  • 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.

We pass the applicant’s dossier on to the professor as soon as the application is complete (i.e., when all materials are in, including teacher recommendations, application fee, etc.; note that this often takes longer than applicants realize); then the professor takes up to 1 – 5 weeks to decide, depending on the professor’s travel and teaching schedule – we will do our best to accelerate this process. Notification of admission via email to the applicant and her/his legal guardian will be made May 15. By May 22, 2017, admitted students confirm their participation in SHINE.

Payment schedule for students attending the SHINE program:
May 9, 2017: $1,000 deposit due
June 9, 2017: $3,750 balance due

Please mail check made out to University of Southern California to:
ATTN: SHINE / c/o Dr. Katie Mills / 1042 Downey Way, DRB #254 / Los Angeles, CA 90089-­‐1111
Or click here to pay via credit card.

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Katie Mills,, 213-­‐740-­‐0237