Soka University of America

2014 Quick Stats
1 University Drive

Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Phone: (949) 480-4000
2013-2014 Tuition
tuition and fees
male /
Jan. 15
application deadline

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U.S. News Rankings

Ranking score and category
U.S. News rank Category Name
#41 Overall Score: 73 out of 100. National Liberal Arts Colleges

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Soka University of America is a private institution that was founded in 1987. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 436, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 103 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Soka University of America's ranking in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges is National Liberal Arts Colleges, 41. Its tuition and fees are $29,092 (2013-14).

Situated atop a hill overlooking a wilderness park, Soka University of America is located 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. Although the college was founded on the Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life, the school maintains no religious affiliation.

Soka’s unique curriculum emphasizes leadership and contributive citizenship. Students are required to study a non-native language and study abroad in a country where that language is spoken, the cost of which is included in tuition. A bachelor’s degree in liberal arts is the only undergraduate degree available, but students can choose from concentrations in environmental studies, humanities, international studies or social and behavioral sciences.

The school fields a handful of varsity sports teams for men and women and is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and Association of Independent Institutions. There is no Greek life on campus, but students can choose from nearly 40 student organizations to become involved with. All students are required to live on campus. International students from more than 30 countries make up nearly half of the undergraduate population. Notable Soka graduates include Tahereh Mafi, author of the New York Times best-selling book “Shatter Me.”

School mission and unique qualities (as provided by the school):

Soka University of America is a private, non-profit, co-educational institution of higher education in Aliso Viejo, California. Incorporated in 1987, Soka currently offers a BA in liberal arts (since 2001) and an MA in language education (since 1994). Although the University does not offer a religious curriculum and admits students without regard to religious affiliation, the founding spirit is inspired by Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life. Emphasizing a non-sectarian humanistic curriculum, including the importance of self-knowledge, self-mastery, the dignity of life and peace, Soka strives to achieve its mission "to foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life." Soka values student-centered education that promotes peace and human rights, fostering a global humanistic perspective on the world in which we live. Classrooms are centers of dialogue and discussion, emphasizing seminar course settings. The campus offers a 9:1 student/faculty ratio (average class size of 13). All undergraduate students live on campus. The average freshman-year retention is 96%, and 83.5% graduate in 4 years and 89% in 5 years. Soka's 103-acre hilltop campus is open to top students of all nationalities and beliefs. Half of the student body is international. In 2008 Soka became the smallest and youngest university to offer free tuition to admitted students whose annual family income is $60,000 or less. In 2009, over 90% of a total domestic/international student body of 438 received need-based and/or merit-based scholarships totaling over 8 million dollars. The BA program is a multi-disciplinary program in liberal arts with concentrations in Environmental Studies, Humanities, International Studies, and Social & Behavioral Sciences. Taught within each concentration and across the curriculum are multiple perspectives drawing on diverse cultures, traditions, and points of view with special attention given to Eastern and Western thought and practice. A general education program introduces students to disciplinary knowledge and perspectives, as well as to critical and creative thinking and to the communication skills necessary for life-long learning. All students take seminar-style Core Curriculum classes, exploring the great works of both Eastern and Western culture (Core I) and current issues of social inequality, personal and group identities and major issues facing humanity today (Core II). All students, both domestic and international, study a non-native language and spend a semester of their junior year in a country where that language is spoken. Study abroad is mandatory and included in tuition. All seniors complete a capstone project, choosing their own topic and faculty advisor. Learning Clusters are among the most unique academic programs at Soka. A research seminar where students work in teams with faculty facilitators, each Cluster is designed to bridge theory and practice by helping students learn to apply a range of investigative and analytical tools in the discovery and presentation of trends and ideas. Students propose, research, and model constructive approaches to the issues. Learning Clusters occur in 3.5-week block periods to take full advantage of opportunities for field and service learning, traveling to places such as South Africa, China, the Amazon, Panama and India. Although Soka only offers one undergraduate major in liberal arts, its graduates have been accepted into such diverse graduate programs as economics at Stanford, public policy at Berkeley, law at U of Maryland, statistics at Harvard, education at Columbia, urban planning at NYU, conflict resolution at George Mason, public affairs at Cornell, public health at UCLA, psychology at U of Tokyo, international affairs at UCSD, journalism at Northwestern, musicology at Oxford, creative writing at New School, film at San Francisco Art Institute, East Asian studies at Duke, and environmental studies at Penn.

General Information

School type private, coed college
Year founded 1987
Religious affiliation N/A
Academic calendar semester
Setting suburban
2012 Endowment $1,035,512,000


When applying to Soka University of America, it's important to note the application deadline is January 15, and the early action deadline is October 15. Scores for either the ACT or SAT test are due January 15. The application fee at Soka University of America is $45. It is more selective, with an acceptance rate of 45.8 percent and an early acceptance rate of 33.9 percent.

For more information about the tests, essays, interviews, and admissions process, visit the Applying to College knowledge center.

Selectivity more selective
Fall 2012 acceptance rate 45.8%
Application deadline January 15
SAT/ACT scores must be received by January 15

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Academic Life

The student-faculty ratio at Soka University of America is 9:1, and the school has 96.2 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at Soka University of America include: Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 94.8 percent.

Class sizes
Class sizes
Student-faculty ratio 9:1
4-year graduation rate 85%
Five most popular majors for 2012 graduates
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 100%

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Student Life

Soka University of America has a total undergraduate enrollment of 436, with a gender distribution of 34.9 percent male students and 65.1 percent female students. Soka University of America is part of the NAIA athletic conference.

Total enrollment 438
Student gender distribution
Student gender distribution
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Collegiate athletic association NAIA

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Campus Info & Services

Soka University of America offers a number of student services including nonremedial tutoring, placement service, health service, and health insurance. Soka University of America also offers campus safety and security services like 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, 24-hour emergency telephones, lighted pathways/sidewalks, and controlled dormitory access (key, security card, etc). Of the students at Soka University of America, 40 percent have cars on campus. Alcohol is permitted for students of legal age at Soka University of America.

Students who have cars on campus 40%
Health insurance offered Yes

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Paying for School

At Soka University of America, 90.1 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $22,981.

Paying for college doesn't have to be difficult or devastating. Go to the Paying for College knowledge center to get advice on raising cash and reducing costs.

Tuition and fees $29,092 (2013-14)
Room and board $10,916 (2013-14)
Financial aid statistics
Financial aid statistics

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* Overview details based on 2012 data

College Rankings

Best Liberal Arts Colleges - Narrow your search with the U.S. News rankings of Liberal Arts Colleges, schools that emphasize undergrad liberal arts education.

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