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University of the West


University of the West is a small private college in California. Founded in 1991, classes originally took place in the Hsi Lai Temple. It started out with fewer than 50 students and just four teachers. The founder of the university was the same man who founded Fo Guang Shan, which was a branch of Buddhism. Its first classes focused heavily on Buddhist principles and taught students how to use those principles in their everyday lives. The order associated with that branch then purchased a 10-acre plot of land for a campus with an eye towards future growth and expansion. After gaining accreditation and adding new programs to its curriculum, it adopted the name University of the West.

Often called UWest, the university still has a deep connection to Buddhism, though it welcomes students with a passion for learning, regardless of their religious beliefs or backgrounds. Around 40% of those attending classes today are Americans, but 60% of students come from other countries. It implemented an ESL program to help new students from other countries develop better language skills to assist them in their classes. The university now offers four bachelor’s programs, four master’s programs, two doctoral programs and several teaching certification programs.

University of the West Accreditation Details

Though you may not think that accreditation is important, it’s important for those who need financial aid. The only way a college or university can offer federal aid is if it has approval from the United States Department of Education, which it will only get if it has regional accreditation. The University of West obtained regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). It then received a letter that reconfirmed its accreditation status and lets it maintain its status until 2021. The University of the West creates its own accreditation review council that consists of faculty members, administrative workers and students. That council meets prior to the review to determine what steps the university can take to maintain its accreditation.

University of the West Application Requirements

The University of the West has an open enrollment policy that ensures any student who meets all its admissions requirements will receive an acceptance letter. This policy also allows the university to eliminate application deadlines. As long as you meet all the requirements and complete the application before classes start, you can enroll and start.

Applying to the university requires several key things, but the most important step is the completion of the online application. As with other college applications, this one asks you to fill out several sections. One section will cover your own personal history, while another section covers the personal histories of your parents. You need to know their full names, addresses, places of employment and their birth dates. Another section of the application asks questions about your academic background, including whether you took one of the standardized tests, the types of grades you earned in high school and some of the classes that you took. There is also a $50 application fee that you can pay online with a credit card or via mail with a check.

Submitting the application is just one step. The university also asks for an official high school transcript and two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your academic history. They can submit those letters from a professional and academic email address or through the mail. University of the West also asks for a personal essay of between 400 and 500 words on the skills you think are most important. You must then supply the university with proof that you have your GED or a high school diploma and proof of your identify such as a driver’s license or social security card.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Regardless of which program you enroll in, the University of the West charges $382 per credit hour. Full-time students pay nearly $4,600 a semester for their classes alone. Mandatory fees charged by the university, including a student activity fee and technology fee, add $400 to your total. Housing starts at $1,400 a semester, and the university requires that all boarders purchase a meal plan too that costs at least $900 a semester. You must also pay your own transportation costs, buy your own school supplies and cover your own personal expenses.

Though the university does not have an application deadline, it does ask students to file the FAFSA as soon as possible. The sooner you file that electronic form, the sooner you’ll find out about the financial aid given to you for the coming school year. Most University of the West students qualify for loans and grants, but students with more financial need can join the work-study program. University of the West also offers a variety of scholarships for students with more financial need or higher grades. A single scholarship can provide you with up to $10,000 in funding for the coming year.

Student Experience

UWest has a quieter and more peaceful environment than what you would find on other college campuses. It has two on-site research institutions that help students learn more about Buddhism and Chinese cultures, and it offers a number of opportunities for students who want to learn more than just what their classes teach. A large number of students spend at least one semester in a study abroad program. Though it has an enrollment of just a few hundred students, this allows the university to keep its class sizes low, which helps each instructor focus on individual students.

Its Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is one of the more traditional programs offered by the university. Though it consists of standard courses like social psychology, experimental psychology and research and statistics, it also gives you the option of studying other cultures. Unique courses in this program include Buddhist psychology, psychology of religion and Buddhist practices and mental health.

The University of the West also offers a bachelor’s in general studies. Designed for those who have interests and passions that go beyond a single subject, this program lets you pick and choose from courses in all departments. University of the West general studies students can take classes in English, business administration, religion, psychology, sociology and marketing to earn their degrees, and you have the option of enrolling in one or more certification programs at the same time.