It is important to remember that you will start the PhD program taking graduate level coursework. Therefore, to avoid taking remedial or undergraduate coursework, you should apply to the department appropriate to your academic background. Because Prof. Armani has several joint appointments, she can easily advise students in several different depts.
Specifically, students who apply to the Materials Science, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering depts can easily join the group. Students who apply to the Physics and Chemistry Departments can also join the Armani Lab, but the applications are not always automatically routed to Prof. Armani. Students who apply to other depts within the School of Engineering can also join the group, but they should make sure to contact Prof. Arman after applying.
It is always beneficial to contact Prof. Armani directly after applying, especially if you apply to the Physics or Chemistry departments. On this note, Prof. Armani and/or her students are not able to comment on your chance of being accepted. An acceptance decision is made after evaluating the entire application, which includes recommendation letters. However, the admission decision process is competitive. In other words, while GPA/GRE/TOEFL scores are important, an application is not only judged on its own merits, it is compared with the other applications submitted to all other departments that same year. As such, it is not possible to comment on the probability of admission until all applications have been reviewed.
Additionally, Prof. Armani is not able to have personalized interviews with every PhD applicant. Roughly, over 800 students apply for positions in her group each fall, and she simply does not have the time to interview all of the prospective applicants and still perform all of the other aspects of her job – such as mentoring her current students.
Please note that to be eligible for internal USC fellowships, it is crucial to apply by December 1st. Ideally, students will have applied by November 20th to allow enough time for a thorough evaluation of all application materials.
Typically, the Armani Lab makes offers in the mid-February to mid-March timeframe. Please note that offers from the EE, CHE and MASC depts come directly from Prof. Armani and guarentee a position in the lab. In contrast, offers from Chemistry, Physics and BME come from the dept. Therefore, if you are admitted to Chemistry, Physics or BME depts and want to join the Armani Lab, it is very important to have this discussion with Prof. Armani as soon as possible. The number of positions is limited, and admission to the dept does not guarentee a position in the Armani Lab.
Additional information and answers to common questions are located on this webpage.
General comment for international students: To be admitted to the Armani Lab, it is typically necessary to have a TOEFL score above 105, a verbal/quant GRE score above 155/166 and a writing score above 4.0. More information about the average admission scores for USC is available on the USC Graduate Admissions website, above. However, again, while these numbers can be helpful, they are not a definitive deciding factor nor would having numbers above this threshold guarantee acceptance into either USC or the Armani Lab.