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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo?

  • An independent, non-profit, public-benefit co-educational institution of higher education
  • Graduate School opened in 1994 in Calabasas, CA (see Proud Heritage for more history)
  • Four year liberal arts college opened in 2001 in Aliso Viejo, CA.
  • Open to top students of all nationalities and beliefs
  • Outstanding faculty dedicated to bringing out the best in every student
  • 9:1 student/faculty ratio
  • Small seminar classes (average class size of 12 for undergraduate program, 8 for graduate program)
  • About half of SUA students have come from the US and about half from more than 40 other countries.
  • Library with 225,000-volume capacity, reading rooms and rare books facility. We currently offer: Print Books: 80,850 volumes; Electronic Books: 47,700 titles;Print Periodicals: 300 titles;Electronic Periodicals:18,500 full-text titles;Databases: 70 (Most of them with full-text access);VHS/DVDs: 1,700 titles;Audio CDs: 430 titles
  • Computer access available in all administrative and academic buildings including all classrooms, library, residence halls and select outside gathering locations. Wireless network available in designated areas.
  • Beautiful 103-acre campus in South Orange County, California, one mile from the Pacific Ocean (if you're a bird) in the City of Aliso Viejo
  • Campus surrounded by a 4,000-acre wilderness park on 85% of its border
  • Map and directions

BA Program in Liberal Arts

  • Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree with concentrations in Environmental Studies; Humanities; International Studies; and Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Comparative study of Eastern and Western perspectives across the nonsectarian liberal arts curriculum
  • Core Curriculum focusing on major issues of self, society and the environment
  • Learning Clusters where students research issues and propose solutions to problems
  • All students concentrate on one non-native language and culture (Chinese, French, Japanese and Spanish offered currently)
  • All students participate in a semester of study abroad in their junior year, which is included in tuition
  • Catalog

MA Program in Educational Leadership and Societal Change

  • Sound theoretical foundation
  • Broad interdisciplinary knowledge
  • Small class sizes and rigorous academic discipline
  • Practical skills and experience
  • Research internship 

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What does "Soka" mean?

Soka is a Japanese term meaning to "create value."

Value creation is the capacity to find meaning, to enhance one's own existence and to contribute to the well being of others under any circumstances. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the Japanese educator whose writings inspired the concept of Soka education, believed that individuals have the unique ability to create value and that education should guide us toward that end.

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What is the history of Soka University of America?

Soka University has a proud heritage. Soka education has its origins in the work of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a Japanese educator and Buddhist leader. During World War II, Makiguchi was arrested by Japanese military authorities for his opposition to the war and for his defense of religious freedom. He died in prison in 1944.

The small education society that Makiguchi founded in 1930 has since grown to become one of the world's largest lay Buddhist organizations. Today, members of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) work for education, cultural exchange, and peace in over 190 countries.

In 1987 Soka University of America (SUA), an independent not-for-profit organization incorporated in the state of California.  SUA's Graduate School opened in Calabasas in 1994 offering a master's program specializing in Second and Foreign Language Education, with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL.)  The four year liberal arts college opened in Aliso Viejo in 2001. 

In June 2005, Soka University of America was accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC.)  In 2007 the Graduate Program transferred to the Aliso Viejo campus, uniting both programs on one campus for the first time. In 2009 construction began on the new Soka Performing Arts Center and Wangari Maathai Hall, which both opened in September 2011.  SUA announced its new Masters Program in Educational Leadership and Societal Change in 2013.

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Why was this new university built in the United States?

Daisaku Ikeda, Founder of SUA, gave three reasons for constructing SUA's campus in the United States:

  • Outstanding Southern California location on the Pacific Rim.
  • The freedom in the United States to develop educational institutions
  • The United States is the best place for students from around the world to study and experience human rights.

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What is SUA's Mission?

"The mission of Soka University of America is to foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life."

Daisaku Ikeda
Founder, Soka University of America
(See Mission and Values)

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What does the logo mean?

SUA's logo depicts the nib of a pen flanked by the wings of a legendary Chinese bird that can fly great distances and that comes to earth only where there is something precious. The pen represents wisdom and the wings symbolize the ability to put knowledge and wisdom into the service of humanity.

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How is SUA funded?

  • SUA is an independent not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization incorporated in California.
  • SUA welcomes and receives gifts and bequests from individuals and organizations interested in supporting a quality liberal arts education and graduate school.
  • SUA's primary source of funding is Soka Gakkai, a member-supported lay Buddhist organization founded in Japan.  Soka Gakkai is part of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), which has members in over 190 countries.
  • The Soka Education Fund provides assistance for SUA's greatest needs, including scholarships for students who would not be able to attend without financial aid. Soka University offers free tuition to eligible admitted students whose family's annual income is $60,000 or less.  Additional scholarships are available for higher incomes.

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Where is the campus?

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What does the campus look like?

  • SUA is surrounded on 80% of its border by the 4,000 acre Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park in Aliso Viejo, California
  • See short videos that answer questions about our campus
  • The architecture is reminiscent of Tuscany, Italy with buildings stepping down a sloped hillside
  • The campus was carefully designed to harmonize with the neighboring community and to limit visual impact on the adjacent wilderness park
  • Buildings feature hand-troweled plaster in light earthtones, with travertine stonework at ground level and surrounding windows and doorways
  • Roofs are primarily variegated red clay tile, but the new Performing Arts Center and Classroom Building have green roofs.
  • More than 50% of the campus is devoted to natural and landscaped open space
  • The one-mile SUA Millennium Trail for walking or jogging around campus enables students and community members to enjoy the beautiful park vistas. It is open from dawn to dusk daily.
  • Take our Campus Tour for descriptions of individual buildings
  • Take a look at our campus site plan

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Is the campus finished?

  • SUA  completed Gandhi and Pauling Halls (academic buildings with the latest fiber-optic technology), Ikeda Library, Founders Hall (student and community services), Student Center (including dining hall and bookstore), eight student Residence Halls (with student rooms fully wired for campus and network connections), Small Conference Center, Athenaeum (seminar/conference center), Guest Residence, Recreation Center, sports fields and the Olympic-size swimming pool in 2001.
  • A 1000-seat performing arts center and an additional classroom building opened in September 2011 as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Aliso Viejo campus. Future planned additions include additional residence halls, academic buildings, additional dining facilities, and master's and doctoral program buildings.

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When did Soka University's Aliso Viejo campus admit its first class?

SUA admitted its first 120 first year undergraduate students from 18 countries and 18 states on August 24, 2001 at its first Entrance Ceremony.

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Does SUA have scheduled times for visiting?

Interested students may sign up on SUA's Information Request Form to receive information about the campus. High school students and their families are invited to attend Lions Roar student campus days in October and November.  If you cannot come at one of these times, SUA provides guided tours Monday-Saturday at either 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. with reservations.  (Saturday tours are by appointment only and are subject to the availability of a tour guide.) You may also enjoy breakfast ($7.75), lunch ($9.75) or dinner ($10.75) in the Soka Bistro (located in the Student Center.)  Brunch ($9.75) is served on weekends from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm. You can check out the menu before you come!

Can I see a catalog of classes?

Yes!  The undergraduate catalog is available online.

Can I see the Academic Calendar?

Yes!  The Academic Calendar is available online.

How much does it cost to go to SUA?  Is there financial aid?

Tuition and Financial Aid information is available online.  Our Netprice Calculator can help you estimate costs. Please call or email us if you have questions.

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Soka University, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

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