Pepperdine University

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Updated August 7, 2020

In 1909, George Pepperdine, who was only 23 years old, founded Western Auto Supply Company, a retail chain that specialized in auto parts and accessories. His initial investment was five dollars and the chain grew to approximately 1,200 stores throughout the country. Pepperdine had a strong Christian faith and, as he matured, he noticed that Christian young men were turning from their faith when they attended institutes of higher education. A philanthropist, Pepperdine decided to create and endow a college that would provide higher education with a strong focus on Christianity.

Pepperdine College opened in 1937, just seven months after construction began. Pepperdine spoke at the event, informing students that the college had a twofold objective – academic training in liberal arts and the building of students in a Christ-like life. Pepperdine remained involved with the college his entire life, often seen at chapel, at sporting events, school functions and walking through the campus with his wife.

The campus was located in the Vermont Knolls area of Los Angeles, a few miles south of downtown. The campus was formerly a 34-acre estate with an 18-room mansion that had been converted to the president's residence. Pepperdine built four buildings, Baxter Hall, which housed the men's dormitory; Marilyn Hall, which housed the women's dormitory; the administration building and a dining hall. All of the buildings were painted a light blue that later became known as "Pepperdine Blue." Tuition at the time was low relative to other universities of the time at only $420 due to the large endowment provided by Pepperdine.

The first commencement was held at Pepperdine in 1938 with a graduating class of four. In 1944, a Master of Arts in Religion became the first graduate degree offered at the college, addressing the fact that Pepperdine served as a training ground for a significant number of people who wanted to enter the ministry. The passage of the G.I. Bill in 1944 further increased enrollment at Pepperdine, as it did to institutes of higher education across the country. Enrollment at the school was 824 in 1946 and swelled to 1,830 by 1949.

In 1958, Pepperdine began offering extension programs at off-site centers that ranged from North Carolina to the Philippines. A satellite campus was even located in Okinawa, allowing students a flexible schedule designed to allow military personnel to complete their degrees. During this time, the Los Angeles campus continued to grow as the college began acquiring neighboring properties to expand. Eventually, they were no longer able to purchase adjacent property either because the cost was too significant or the land was unavailable. In 1968, Pepperdine was offered 138-acres of land, donated by Merritt H. Adamson, Sylvia Rindge Adamson Neville and Rhoda-May Adamson Dallas, in order to construct a satellite campus. The Malibu property was dedicated in 1970 and, at the 1974 commencement ceremony, it was announced that the campus would be known as the Frank R. Seaver College of Letters, Arts and Science, in memory of the husband of Blanche Ebert Seaver, the campus' primary benefactor.

The college continued to develop satellite campuses when, in 1969, the Orange University College of Law, the first law school in Orange County, became part of Pepperdine. As more satellite campuses were created, enrollment on the Los Angeles Campus declined. In 1981, the campus closed and was sold, in part, for a housing development. However, much of the property today serves as the campus of the Crenshaw Christian Center.

Today, Pepperdine is still committed to the highest standards of academic excellence entrenched in Christian values. There are 73 degree programs across five schools. Pepperdine has been ranked 25th as a Best Value School by U.S. News & World Report, ninth in Best College Value in the West/Southwest by Kiplinger and tenth among the Mot Entrepreneurial Universities by Forbes. The Princeton Review named Pepperdine as the fifth most beautiful campus and 11th in most popular study abroad programs in the United States.

Pepperdine University Accreditation Details

Pepperdine University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. The commission encourages continuous institutional improvement and assures that the school meets or exceeds their mission in service to their students and the public good. In addition, specific programs at Pepperdine are accredited by the following organizations:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Accreditation Council for Education and Nutrition Dietetics
  • American Bar Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • Association for Computing Machinery
  • Association of American Law Schools
  • Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs
  • Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
  • Committee of Bar Examiners, State Bar of California
  • National Association for Schools of Public Affairs and Administration
  • National Association of Schools of Music
  • Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program

Pepperdine University Application Requirements

First-year students at Pepperdine should complete the Common Application. In addition, official high school transcripts must be submitted along with an academic letter of recommendation. The letter must be from the instructor of a core subject, such as math, science, English, history or foreign language. Students must also provide official SAT or ACT scores.

Students who have taken any college or university credits after high school graduation are considered transfer students. Transfer students must complete the Common Application and provide official high school transcripts. In addition, official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must also be provided. Transfer applicants must also provide a letter of recommendation from an instructor in a core subject as well as official SAT/ACT scores.

Admission requirements for graduate studies vary for each program and students are encouraged to contact an admissions counselor before applying to Pepperdine.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Full-time tuition for undergraduate studies at Pepperdine is $48,090 or $1,510 per credit hour. Graduate tuition is $1,455 per credit hour. Financial aid is available in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study programs. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify for financial aid. During the 2014-15 academic year, Pepperdine awarded $64 million in grants and scholarships for undergraduate education.

Online Degree(s) Available

Master of Arts in Psychology

The Master of Arts in Psychology is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of the principles of psychology. The program has a strong clinical framework as well as providing theoretical and practical learning. Students who complete the program are able to enter leadership roles in the human services field or advance to doctoral studies. The program takes between one-and-half to two years to complete. Although there are some online classes available throughout the program, students must take many of the classes on campus at Irvine, Encino or West Los Angeles. The university assists students in obtaining the required clinical experience as well. Core courses in the program include:

  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
  • Assessment of Intelligence
  • Personality Assessment
  • Interpersonal Skills and Group Therapy
  • Social Psychology
  • Theories of Personality
  • Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Techniques of Counseling and Psychotherapy
  • Career Development Theory and Techniques
  • Community/Clinical Research and Service I & II

Pepperdine University offers a strong liberal arts education based in Christian values. Students are able to take a wide range of courses online that provide them with the flexibility they need to meet work, family and social obligations.

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