Current religious and political climate at Pepperdine

The last thread touching on this is a few years old, so can anyone share the current climate of politics and religion at Pepperdine? What are the religious requirements of students (i.e. how often do they have to attend a chapel or small group)? Are there strict rules on curfew, members of the opposite gender in dorms, attire on campus or in the classroom, etc.?

Politics I expect to lean right, especially by California standards, but is the atmosphere relatively accepting of a variety of political beliefs? Is the community overly political/activist overall?

My daughter is Christian but I think she wants to be in an environment that welcomes expression and discussion, and doesn’t want to be in an overly politically charged atmosphere (one direction or the other).

She didn’t love her drive-thru tour at Pepperdine but is considering a last-minute application because she loves the idea of college in California and there are several programs that interest her at Pepperdine.


I’d be leery about forcing a square peg in a round hole. If she didn’t like it, why is she pressing the issue. There are other schools in California. :wink:

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Lots of very expensive schools, yes. We are chasing merit and there’s potential for merit at Pepperdine. She’s applied to several others and has one acceptance with merit, but we haven’t visited that campus at all.

On paper, I thought Pepperdine was going to be a great fit. But, she wrote it off after a strange “tour.” It was during the summer and they were on a tight COVID lockdown. We were not allowed out of the car and the tour was a 4-5 minute recording so no opportunity to ask questions or experience students or the community. She’s recently circled back and has decided that maybe our experience was not the best representation of the school. No harm in applying and going back for a real visit if accepted with merit.

But no worries, I will not force her to go to school on the opposite side of the country ;). I will also not force her into our flagship - an excellent highly ranked school where she would be miserable.

Not sure if it helps but we have a Catholic friend who attended and said that she felt uncomfortable from a religious standpoint. She also said that there are significantly more women than men at Pepperdine. Have you looked at LMU, USD, Santa Clara or USF?


All ones I’d recommend too, maybe with the exception of Santa Clara. Love SC, but they aren’t generous with aid.

Depending on major, and what environment she’s looking for (size, location, etc.), she might want to look at Cal Poly too. Full pay it would cost the same as Pepperdine with $132,000 in aid. Just an out of the box thought.

Yes, she’s been accepted to Santa Clara with merit, but we haven’t been to visit yet. Loves USD and has applied but awaiting decision. Also applying to Scripps and Claremont McKenna (not really expecting merit at CMC). She’s more of a suburban gal so USF and LMU are a no. Not sure that I’d call USD suburban but it’s not urban either, and the campus is somewhat isolated but still easy to jump in a car and go somewhere - we were in LA and I suggested visiting LMU but LA was just a bit too much for her!

Congratulations on the Santa Clara acceptance. You should definitely make a point to visit as it might be too urban for her.


Having grown up Church of Christ, I would never send one of my children to Pepperdine. And I’m a Christian.

Wow, that’s pretty strong. My daughter is Christian as well, and attended a Christian high school but wants to be somewhere that is more diverse, open and accepting than the ultra conservative environment that she was in. I’d be interested in more specifics as to why you feel this way. PM me if you’re more comfortable.

Thank you for that information. Definitely planning to make a trip - just trying to figure out how much of California we’ll have to cover LOL.

If she’s in SCU and the money is right, I’d say it’s a must visit. It’s a beautiful little campus in a nice location. It’s urban, but not Los Angeles urban.

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My kid is a Santa Clara grad. While there is a religion course requirement at SCU, there are hundreds of courses from which to choose. My kid took ethics, and women in religion….loved them both.

We toured Pepperdine. In person (in 2005). Very conservative campus. Religion required…Old Testament, New Testament and some thing like Fundamentals of Christian Religion. My kid absolutely said NO to that. The campus is really gorgeous with just about every building with windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean. BUT…there is also not much happening in Malibu itself.

Santa Clara has a gorgeous campus. Yes, it is in the city, but honestly, it seems very suburban. My kid lived off campus last two years in an abutting neighborhood of houses…that felt very suburban. But at the same time…easy access to some of the more urban things. I agree with @eyemgh it’s one of the most beautiful, well maintained and updated campuses we visited.

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Do you want me to PM you the itinerary we did when we did the CA college tour?

Sure! We would be looking at the Claremont colleges, Pepperdine and SCU. I actually looked at flights and it’s not that expensive to just make a multi-stop itinerary (as long as I use the big airports).

It seems no one has posted the religious requirements that you asked about, so here they are:

Pepperdine students are required to take three religion classes as a part of the general education curriculum. The classes survey the Biblical texts, introduce students to critical methods of studying the Bible, review the histories of both the Israelite people and the early church, and challenge students to think deeply about the ways in which culture and religion have impacted one another. Students are also required to attend events from the Convocation series. These events include weekly, student body-wide gatherings in the Firestone Fieldhouse, daily chapels in Stauffer Chapel, and various lecture programs throughout campus. The Convocation series is dedicated to help students build Christian faith, affirm Christian values, and address the moral and ethical dimensions of current issues.

And two articles from the student newspaper for some context (perhaps your D should look for more articles here?):

I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to discuss theology here, but any Christian considering this school should look into Church of Christ doctrine. It does not line up with most other Protestant churches. Maybe it’s not a big deal to you, but you should go in with your eyes open.


The chapel is arguably one of the most beautiful buildings we saw on any college tour. Gorgeous stained glass window…sun sets in the west and that window glows.

Not a good enough reason for our kid to consider the school. But do drive to the very top of the campus where the law school is located. The views along the way are amazing…and there are scenic pullovers so you can take gorgeous pictures.

I went to grad school at Pepperdine. (Actually, left another CA uni you mentioned after a semester to return to Pepperdine for a second grad degree program. Enjoyed the professors and student community that much). Our daughter is about to start her second semester at Pepperdine (undergrad). She is from the Northeast and politically is a centrist who leans a bit liberal. She is non-denominational, coming from a diverse, urban church.

One of the things she has enjoyed about Pepp is the focus on civil discourse. Overall, she has enjoyed the professor’s use of data to stimulate thoughtful discussion and challenge biases, as well as the friendly discussion among students around campus.

She attended one CoC service out of curiosity but prefers more contemporary ones, which she finds heart-warming, inspiring and fun in the ampitheatre. Also likes the mini-services with (free) dinner offered on the President’s lawn when she can go. (What an amazing view that offers). One of the pastors she has enjoyed there is Eric Wilson, for reference. (An award winning playwright, I’ve also enjoyed hearing his spoken-word & encouragement to students & love that he works for racial unity).

There are varied types of services offered on/off campus. Religious attendance requirements have been revamped this year with a long list of options for personal & spiritual growth. There are all sorts of ways to fulfill that - from hiking groups, yoga to classes on happiness etc, which meet weekly for 3/4 of the semester.

A new plan for more varied general education options (with fewer requirements to fulfill) is also currently underway. I believe this is expected for Fall '22, though you can check on progress for that. Hope this helps. Happy to answer any questions you have if I can.


Thanks so much for sharing. It sounds like maybe Pepperdine has relaxed the CofC standards a bit in recent years? My daughter loves the unique options to fulfill the credits that you mentioned - hiking and yoga :). She would welcome some element of religious influence, as long as it’s in a way that isn’t “forcing” a belief system or placing overly restrictive social rules on the community. She’s fine with single-gender dorms and a dry campus, and would probably enjoy the encouragement of community created by small faith groups.

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Could bit a great fit, then! It is definitely a dry campus and the smaller freshman housing is not co-ed, but after that it is. (Enrollment is up this year due to covid-year gaps and so some were housed in other larger, co-ed dorms. A couple of these have fitness rooms and large kitchens, as an added note). When you tour, you can ask about all the options for fulfilling spiritual requirements, which btw are only for Freshman & Sophomores now. Many go abroad 2nd year and it is satisfied through service projects in that case, I believe.