International Applicant: Frequently Asked Questions

How would you describe Soka University?

Soka University of America is a 4-year, private, non-profit liberal arts college located in Southern California. Soka is located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. It is founded on the Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and respect for the dignity of life and is open to top students of all nationalities and beliefs. It offers:

  • 9:1 student/faculty ratio with an average class size of 16
  • Eastern and Western perspectives taught across the non-sectarian curriculum
  • Every student studies a foreign language
  • Every student participates in a semester of study abroad in the junior year

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How can I get an Undergraduate application?

There are three ways to apply for admission:
• Apply online through The Common Application.
• Apply online through this web page, using the Soka Online Application.
• Download a PDF version of the Paper Application which you can view and print out using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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How can I get an Undergraduate catalog?

Soka's catalog is available online or you may contact Soka and request one.

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Who can attend Soka?

Soka is open to highly motivated students of all nationalities and beliefs who have excelled in a range of academic courses. Soka carefully considers a number of criteria for admission without a rigid emphasis on any one factor.

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I plan on applying to Soka for admission. How will you evaluate my application? Will you use only grades and test scores?

In addition to academic excellence, Soka values students' commitment, service, active leadership, and the ability to interact well with others.

Soka uses admission processes similar to those at other institutions and acts through its Admission Committee to review student applications and make selections for each entering class. The Admission Committee evaluates an applicant's ability to excel in the classroom and to develop as a thoughtful scholar. Therefore, applicants are evaluated on the following:

  • High school record for grades 9 - 11
  • Extracurricular activities, leadership and special talents
  • Written personal statements (two)
  • Academic Recommendations (two)
  • Scores from SAT I Test or ACT(with associated writing exam)

You must have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent prior to entering Soka. You should also have completed a college preparatory program. Applicants who graduate from high schools outside of the United States or its territories should have completed a high school program that qualifies them for college and university entrance in the United States. Fluency in English, with strong reading and writing skills, is essential.

Although all successful Soka applicants will have excellent academic records, good grades and strong test scores are not enough by themselves for an applicant to be accepted. The committee also reviews an applicant's extracurricular interests, activities, and talents. There is no ideal extracurricular profile for a Soka applicant. However, the committee strongly considers the variety of extracurricular activities in which the applicant has been recognized and, especially, has demonstrated leadership.

The Admission Committee examines an applicant's performance on either the SAT I or ACT test, required of all applicants. SAT II tests are not required. Soka does not employ an SAT score numerical cut-off below which a student will not be accepted. An applicant's primary language is considered during review of SAT scores. The committee carefully reads an applicant's personal essays. The essays serve as an important indicator of an applicant's ability to think critically and creatively. The essays are also an extremely important avenue for the Admission Committee to discover something personal about the applicant and about his or her reasons for choosing Soka. The essay provides applicants the opportunity to show the committee who they are beyond their grades and test scores. Finally, applicants must submit recommendations from two faculty members who know them and their work. One recommendation can come from the applicant's guidance counselor, principal, or headmaster, as appropriate. The recommendation is most helpful when the writer knows the applicant well. In summary, Soka seeks students who demonstrate the real potential to live the mission of Soka in their lives after graduation.

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Does Soka have application deadlines and an Early Action process?

Yes, we use two admission periods. The Early Action application deadline is October 15th with a notification postmark date of December 1st. At Soka, Early Action is not binding, but provides applicants an early decision. Early Action is suggested only for academically superior applicants. Applicants accepted during Early Action who wish to attend Soka are required to pay their US $400 refundable tuition deposit by May 1st. Students who are not accepted during Early Action will automatically have their applications rolled into the Regular Admission cycle for further admission consideration, therefore an applicant need not reapply to Soka for the Regular Admission cycle. However, students who are denied admission during the Early Action cycle cannot reapply to Soka for the Regular Admission cycle. The Regular Admission application deadline is January 15th with a notification postmark date of March 1st. The tuition deposit deadline for regular admission is May 1st.

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What are the demographic data on Soka's student body?

Our current student body totals approximately 400 students.  About 50% are from over 40 other countries, including Argentina, Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Canada, China, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany,Ghana, Great Britain,Hungary, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela and Zambia.

The statistics also show students with strong academic achievement:

Average Entering Academic Scores
GPA 3.74
SAT Combo Score 1789

Approximately 72% of our students are of Asian or Asian-American descent (both domestic and international), 16% Caucasian, 6% African-American and 6% Hispanic.

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I thought I would apply for Early Action, but I just couldn't get all of my recommendations (or other parts of the application) completed by October 15th. Do I need to start over for Regular Admission or can I just complete the already started application?

No, you do not need to start over. We realize that it takes a lot of effort to get all of these materials to Soka University. If you have a "partial file" at Soka after the Early Admission deadline of October 15th, we will keep it open so that you may complete it during the Regular Admission process. Soka's admission process requires the application, an essay, two recommendation letters, transcripts from all schools attended, your SAT/ACT scores (sent in by the testing agency) and an application fee. If you missed the Early Action period, please don't be discouraged. We accept the majority of our class during the Regular Admission period and both groups are evaluated in exactly the same manner.
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I applied for Early Action and was not accepted. If my application was not denied and was rolled over to Regular Admission, can I make additions or changes to my application at that time?

Yes, you can make the following additions to your application: (1) You may add new SAT or ACT scores taken since the Early Action deadline; (2) You may send Soka official school grades/transcripts for any coursework taken during the fall if you wish, although it is not required. You may not send another essay or submit new letters of recommendation or make other changes except for the test scores and grades.

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Where can I find the Soka University college code for SAT?

The code is printed on your application form under Admission Applications Procedures. The SAT code is 4066. With the Soka college code, the testing agency can send results directly to Soka. Soka's ACT code is 0467. (It is important that you request that your scores be sent to us directly from the appropriate agency and not rely on your school or counselor to send them for you.)

Does Soka accept students who are undocumented immigrants?

Assembly Bill 540 (AB 540) which was signed into law on October 12, 2001 authorizes undocumented students who meet specific criteria to pay in-state tuition at California's public colleges and universities (e.g., California Community Colleges, California State University and University of California). AB 540, however, does not guarantee admission, or eligibility for admission to any private college or university.

Soka University of America's academic program requires that every student participates in a mandatory semester abroad to graduate. Unfortunately, an undocumented student would be unable to obtain the proper immigration documentation to complete this requirement. 

Therefore, while Soka University of America does not discriminate on the basis of: race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, national origin, ancestry, marital status, disability, age or citizenship. SUA is unable to offer admission to undocumented students unless the applicant, after receiving our offer of admission, is willing to exit the U.S. and apply for the appropriate F-1 (Student) Visa to re-enter the U.S. to attend Soka.  Should a student choose to exercise this option and leave the country, there are potentially serious risks related to re-entry.  It is Soka University of America's position that it is unethical to allow a student to enroll in a program that he or she cannot complete.

If you are an undocumented student interested in applying for permanent residency in the U.S. we recommend that you contact a licensed immigration attorney. What does it mean to be undocumented? If you are not a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident and do not currently possess a valid green card, visa, or other legal documentation, you are considered an undocumented immigrant.

Does Soka accept students who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may be given a type of temporary permission to stay in the U.S. called “deferred action.” Deferred action will be valid for two years and may be renewed at the end of the two years. A grant of deferred action is temporary and does not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship.

However, a person granted deferred action is considered by the federal government to be lawfully present in the U.S. for as long as the grant of deferred action is in effect. A unique aspect of Soka University of America's curriculum requires that all students participate in a semester of study abroad during their junior year for which they will receive academic credit. This requirement reflects Soka University of America's educational philosophy of creating relevance for students between their classroom study and the world around them.

Regarding the fulfillment of this requirement, the U.S. government has outlined its position regarding travel for DACA recipients in the form of a travel document called "Advance Parole‟ which would allow an otherwise inadmissible immigrant to re-enter the U.S. However, the proposed form and instructions have not yet been finalized and until USCIS is able to reconcile its "Advance Parole‟ policies to allow young immigrants to travel abroad and safely re-enter the U.S., currently, it is Soka University of America's position that it is unethical to allow a student to enroll in a program that he or she cannot complete. Therefore, at this time SUA is unable to offer admission to prospective students who have been granted DACA approval. If you are a DACA approved student interested in learning more about Advance Parole, we recommend that you contact a licensed immigration attorney.

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