For the 2017–18 academic year, there were 19,170 students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs. USC also has 26,517 graduate and professional students in a number of different programs, including business, law, engineering, social work, and medicine. The university is one of the top fundraising institutions in the world, consistently ranking among the top three in external contributions and alumni giving rates.
USC was one of the earliest nodes on ARPANET and is the birthplace of the Domain Name System. Other technologies invented at USC include DNA computing, dynamic programming, image compression, VoIP, and antivirus software.
USC maintains a strong tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship, with alumni having founded companies such as Lucasfilm, Myspace, Salesforce.com, Intuit, Qualcomm, Box, Tinder, and Riot Games. As of 2017, the university has produced the fourth largest number of billionaire alumni out of all undergraduate institutions in the world.
USC sponsors a variety of intercollegiate sports and competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as a member of the Pac-12 Conference. Members of the sports teams, the Trojans, have won 104 NCAA team championships, ranking them third in the US, and 399 NCAA individual championships, ranking them second in the US. Trojan athletes have won 288 medals at the Olympic Games (135 golds, 88 silvers and 65 bronzes), more than any other university in the United States. If USC were a country, its athletes would have collectively received the 12th-most Olympic gold medals in history, as of 2016. In 1969, it joined the Association of American Universities.
The University of Southern California was founded following the efforts of Judge Robert M. Widney, who helped secure donations from several key figures in early Los Angeles history: a Protestant nurseryman, Ozro Childs, an Irish Catholic former-Governor, John Gately Downey, and a German Jewish banker, Isaias W. Hellman. The three donated 308 lots of land to establish the campus and provided the necessary seed money for the construction of the first buildings. Originally operated in affiliation with the Methodist Church, the school mandated from the start that "no student would be denied admission because of race." The university is no longer affiliated with any church, having severed formal ties in 1952.