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Premier, Pacifist Liberal Arts Programs at SUA

Soka University of America appears in our ranking of the 30 Best Liberal Arts Colleges on the West Coast.

Ranked 22nd nationally by the U.S. News & World Report, Soka University of America is a private, coed Buddhist-founded ASAIHL member in Southern California that offers five bachelor’s concentrations and one master’s program at an 8:1 student-teacher ratio with 94 percent retention. For example, the BA in Environmental Studies shapes a 120-unit, four-year curriculum led by Dr. Monika Calef with hands-on Hammersley Microbiology Lab research, Instructional Garden projects, and Aquaculture Facility practice. Chaired by Dr. Ian Read, the 120-unit BA in International Studies promotes peace for 21st-century conflicts with internships like the United Nations, study abroad trips from Tokyo to Turkey, AAPI Women’s Lead Conference participation, and Compassion in Action service.

Starting Fall 2020, Soka University of America will deliver a 120-unit, WASC-accredited BA in Life Sciences headed by Dr. Anthony Inder Mazeroll that blends courses from Organic Chemistry to Plant Biology with Pacific Basin Research Center projects for graduate school prep. Directed by Dr. John Heffron, the MA in Educational Change & Societal Change follows a 41-credit, non-licensure track of 24 months where graduates utilize Ikeda Library, attend the World Summit of Educators, find internships like Nishi Hongwanji Los Angeles, and present master’s thesis papers. Two additional Soka degrees are the BA in Social & Behavioral Sciences and a BA in Humanities.

About Soka University of America

Soka University of America originated on November 18, 1930, when Buddhist leader Tsunesaburo Makiguchi started Soka Gakkai for Japanese education reform. In 1944, Makiguchi died in Sugamo Prison after dissenting to World War II. That year, Josei Toda assumed leadership and architected this Buddhist movement. In 1971, Soka University was established in Hachiojl, Tokyo, Japan, with undergraduate studies. In 1987, President Daisaku Ikeda received a charter for a nonprofit American branch from the California Legislature. In 1994, the Graduate School was launched originally in Calabasas for a Master of Arts. In 1995, Soka University of America invested $225 million to build a permanent 18-building San Joaquin Hills campus. By 2001, SUA was the United States’ first college requiring a study abroad term. Fully accredited in June 2005, Soka built Wangari Maathai Hall in 2011 to honor the first African female Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Endowed for $1.2 billion, Soka University of America now employs 67 full-time faculty teaching 432 Lions from 45 countries at the 103-acre Orange County campus in Aliso Viejo near Mathis Canyon with 25+ clubs like Philosophy Circle. In 2014, SUA earned the Association for Leadership in Educational Facilities Award of Excellence. In 2011, Soka accepted the CASE District VII Far West Award of Excellence. The Institute of International Education named Soka the #1 best college for studying abroad. Wise Choice Research deemed Soka University of America the 11th top value countrywide. Newsweek picked SUA as the 24th most desirable small school. The Christian Science Monitor ranked Soka second for global engagement. College Factual positioned SUA 207th with the 250th best financial aid.

Soka University of America Accreditation Details

On June 18, 2010, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission took action to reaffirm the Level III accreditation status at Soka University of America through 2019-20 under President Daniel Y. Habuki, PhD, who received the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s prestigious Hops Administrative Committee Grant. Located 422 miles up Interstate 5 in Alameda, this esteemed eight-territory Pacific Region accreditor is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.

Soka University of America Application Requirements

Starting at Soka University of America is classified “most selective” by Peterson’s because just 180 of the 462 Fall 2017 applicants were triumphant for 39 percent acceptance. First-year Lions seeking a BA in Liberal Arts concentration need to culminate a strong college-prep secondary curriculum. Advanced Placement exams graded 3 or higher qualify for transfer. Most freshmen rank in the upper one-third of their graduating classes. Admitted bachelor’s majors have a mean 3.97 GPA in grades 9-12. The middle 50th percentile report SAT scores of 1200-1390. On the ACT, mid-range accepted scores are 27-31. Competitive transfers will hold 29+ regionally accredited credits with minimum 2.5 GPAs. International students taking the TOEFL iBT exam need an 80 or better. The MA in Educational Leadership & Societal Change requires a four-year bachelor’s or 16 years of equivalent foreign schooling. Along with satisfactory GRE marks, post-grads need a minimum 3.0 GPA or 80 average.

Soka University of America keeps undergrad admission open from August 1st to January 15th. The Early Action deadline is currently November 1st for freshmen. Financial aid forms must arrive by March 2nd. BA in Liberal Arts majors must accept enrollment and aid by June 10th. The MA in Educational Leadership & Societal Change closes on February 15th each year. Accordingly, complete the SUA or Common Application online for $45 (unless waived). Forward official transcripts to 1 University Drive in Aliso Viejo, CA 92656. Request direct testing reports via SAT/GRE code 4066 or ACT code 0467. Additional checklist items include the resume or curriculum vitae, 500-word essay, scholarly writing sample, two recommendation forms, and English proficiency proof. Contact (949) 480-4000 or admission@soka.edu with questions.

Tuition and Financial Aid

For 2019-20, Soka University of America is billing full-time BA in Liberal Arts majors $16,125 each semester or $32,250 annually. Studying part-time incurs $1,344 per unit. Undergrads spend $856 per term on health insurance unless waived. Living at the Orange County campus’ dorms like Sunset Hall adds $6,516 for room and board each session. SUA budgets $1,970 for books, $864 for transportation, and $2,852 for personal expenses yearly. Annual bachelor’s attendance equals $50,968 on-site or $37,936 if commuting. International students should factor in $1,000 extra for $51,968 total. The MA in Educational Leadership & Societal Change charges flat-rate tuition of $1,792 per unit or $73,472 for two years.

According to the NCES College Navigator, the Office of Financial Aid on Founders Hall’s 2nd Floor connects 100 percent of full-time SUA Lions to tuition assistance averaging $33,971 each for $14.13 million combined. University funds include the Makiguchi Scholarship, Global Merit Scholarship, Edison STEM Scholarship, Athletic Scholarship, John D. Montgomery Scholarship, Ikeda Scholarship, Evelyn Hodes Wilson Scholarship, Brian Daisaku McCloskey Memorial Scholarship, Bob & Jane Hodes Memorial Scholarship, and Graduate School Scholarship. The Opportunity Scholarship covers full eight-semester BA tuition for freshmen with annual family income below $60,000. The Soka Academic Merit Scholarship gifts $10,000 each year to the top five academic freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Federal Pell Grant, SEOG Grant, and Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan eligibility is determined on FAFSA forms coded 038144. Student employment beyond Work-Study is available in Aliso Viejo for up to $4,000 annually. Californians could also claim the George Geng On Lee Minorities Scholarship, Christopher Mark Pitkin Memorial Scholarship, Cal Grant, Dorothy & Robert Debolt Scholarship, and more.

Explore the six accredited, global-minded programs placed 78th overall by Washington Monthly at the Soka University of America website.