Soka University of America

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Soka University of America was established in 2001 by Daisaku Ikeda, the President of Soka Gakki International (SGI). Its bigger sister school has been located in Tokyo, Japan, since 1971 to promote the philosophies of Tsunesaburō Makiguchi. Deeply rooted in the Buddhist values of human rights and peace, SUA is a private, nonsectarian liberal arts institution. Soka University of America has attracted around 515 undergraduates from 40+ diverse countries. Though it originated in Calabasas, SUA has moved to a 103-acre suburban campus in Aliso Viejo within Southern California’s famed Orange County.

Esteemed for a 96 percent retention rate, Soka University of America is ranked the 41st best national liberal arts college and eighth top value by the U.S. News. Within its class, SUA placed #1 nationally for highest percentage of international students. Newsweek magazine lauded SUA within its “Top 25 Most Diverse Schools.” On College Factual, Soka University claims the #2 spot for the United States’ best colleges for the money. Niche granted SUA an A+ for campus diversity, dorm living, and academics. Washington Monthly also honored Soka as the 40th best liberal arts college for civic engagement.

Soka University of America Accreditation Details

Reaffirmed in 2010, Soka University of America holds five-year regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission. This accrediting body is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for reviewing colleges in California, Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, and other Pacific nations. SUA doesn’t currently hold any discipline-specific professional accreditations.

Soka University of America Application Requirements

Getting into Soka University of America isn’t simple with the “more selective” acceptance rate of 46 percent. For the 2016-17 school year, only 127 undergraduates were admitted. First-year applicants must wow the committee with a rigorous high school curriculum that includes AP or Honors courses. International students must hold a certificate qualifying them for university entrance. At minimum, four years of English and mathematics are required. Freshman typically rank in the top 20 percent with an average GPA of 3.85. Accepted Lions also present a mean SAT score of 1798 and ACT score of 27, including 8 on the Writing section.

Transfer students from other accredited colleges are welcome at Soka, but transferred credits won’t be. Everyone begins as a freshman because of the intensive core and learning cluster requirements. Transfers should present academic aptitude with a minimum 2.5 GPA and perhaps test into more advanced classes. Excellent reading and writing skills in English are necessary, so international students need a minimum TOEFL score of 100 (Internet-based). The Graduate School requires a bachelor’s degree or 16 years of foreign pre- and post-secondary education. Most master’s programs set the bar at an undergrad GPA of 3.0. Graduate Record Exam scores must be sent via code 4720.

Soka University of America has established an Early Action deadline on November 1st and Regular Admission deadline on January 15th. Before these dates, submit the Soka online application or Common Application with the following supplements:

• Non-refundable $45 application fee (or NACAC fee waiver)
• Official transcripts of completed high school or college courses
• Original standardized testing results (SAT or ACT with Writing)
• Two signed academic recommendation letters
• Resume of extra-curricular activities and achievements
• Two personal 500-word essays answering assigned questions
• Test of English as a Foreign Language (if applicable)

Tuition and Financial Aid

Full-time undergraduates at Soka University of America will pay $29,372 for yearly tuition. Studying part-time will garner an education price of $1,134 per credit. Room and board is estimated to add $11,812 annually. SUA suggests budgeting $1,592 for textbooks, $744 for transportation, and $2,072 for personal expenses. Unless waived, student health insurance premiums are $1,670 each year. Total annual cost of attendance for undergrad Lions will be $45,592. For the M.A. in Education Leadership & Societal Change program, the average post-bachelor’s student pays $28,938 annually.

The NCES recognizes Soka for providing 100 percent of full-time students financial aid. The average award amount is a whopping $32,255. Free tuition is guaranteed to undergraduates who have annual household income under $60,000. Repayable Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Perkins, and PLUS loans are available. Need-based aid is provided by the Federal Pell Grant and FSEOG Grant. Golden State residents often qualify for the Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship. Veterans benefits are granted by the Montgomery and Post/911 G.I. Bill. Federal Work-Study (FWS) could be provided with an hourly wage of $9. Institutional endowments also cover the Soka Opportunity Scholarship, Global Merit Scholarship, STEM Scholarship, Makiguchi Scholarship, and more.

Student Experience

Soka University of America strives to produce global-minded citizens with a liberal arts curriculum that treasures the sanctity of life. All undergraduates pursue a B.A. in Liberal Arts, but four concentrations are offered for Environmental Studies, Humanities, International Studies, and Social/Behavioral Sciences. At the graduate level, there’s solely a two-year M.A. in Education Leadership & Societal Change. Courses at SUA encourage active discourse with a student-faculty ratio of 8:1. Professors organize students into learning clusters for research. Upperclassmen must also complete a semester-long study abroad trip and senior capstone. Travel costs are included in tuition for immersing in Chinese, French, Japanese, or Spanish.

Ambitious students can add to their education with several unique learning options. For instance, the Creative Arts Program fills electives with imaginative art projects across media. The Pacific Basin Research Center (PBRC) offers on-campus research opportunities for the study of Asia. For-credit international internships are arranged in diverse nations from Taiwan to Peru and Senegal. Annually, SUA students can participate in a Symposium Series that’s drawn Nobel Peace Laureates like Shirin Ebadi and Joseph Rotblat. The 1,000-seat Soka Performing Arts Center also features shows from the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Emerson String Quartet, and more.

Around 98 percent of Soka students reside on-campus in Living Learning communities, so campus life is exciting. There are currently over 20 student-led clubs available. Students could debate with Philosophy Circle, give back with Compassion in Action, groove with Rhythmission, or advocate with the Students of Color Coalition. Thanks to the ideal location in Aliso Viejo, Southern California’s beaches are just nine miles away for swimming, surfing, and volleyball. Athletes can also participate on eight varsity teams in the NAIA California Pacific Conference. Soka University of America has famously trained NFL players and Olympic swimmers at its cutting-edge Athletic Complex.