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Pepperdine University

School of Public Policy COVID-19 Updates

The School of Public Policy is implementing plans to address COVID-19 for the fall 2020 semester in coordination with the Pepperdine Restoration Plan. Additional information will be shared by the school as it becomes available.

Latest Updates



  Prospective Students

Are you accepting applications for fall 2021?

The fall 2021 application portal opened on October 1, 2020. If you have any questions regarding the application process, please reach out to our SPP Admissions team at sppadmissions@pepperdine.edu for further information.

I started my application. What are the next steps?

First, please be sure to submit your application. You do not have to upload all your required documents before you press submit. When you are ready, you can go back into your application portal and attach your admission documents. You can also email documents to us at sppadmissions@pepperdine.edu and we will upload them for you. (Remember, you must submit your application in order for our Admission Team to attach documents to your applicant file). Please keep in mind that when you submit your application, your recommenders are automatically notified that you are requesting a letter of recommendation.

Submitting your application allows our admission team to monitor your application progress and notify you of missing items and when letters of recommendation come in. You may also contact us directly at sppadmissions@pepperdine.edu or call us at 310.506.7493 if you have any questions or would like a real-time status update.

Will the fall 2021 semester be online, remote, or in person?

Though our program is designed to be a "residential" program in person, given the current circumstances, the University is still in discussion regarding the class modality for future terms. Check our admissions website for updates. 

I am an admitted international student, what are the next steps?

We know the current, rapidly changing health and travel situation has raised issues and concerns about visas and prospective students' ability to be able to travel to the US to attend school here at Pepperdine in Malibu, California.

First, know that the School of Public Policy is aware of these challenges and is actively working to provide options that address the issues and developments as they unfold. Second, and most importantly, make sure to move quickly with your appointments when the embassies do open, so that you will be ready to join us when it is possible.

We encourage students to reach out to Pepperdine University's Office of International Student Services for questions regarding visa processing.

Is housing available for fall 2021?

Our ability to house students on campus is directly impacted by state and county restrictions. For further information, please reach out to housing directly at 310.506.7586 or housing@pepperdine.edu about the housing application process. 

Will tuition rates be adjusted for remote/online education?

At this time, there are no plans to change our published tuition rates for the 2020–2021 academic year. Our commitment to academic integrity and program design remains the same whether our classes are delivered in person or via remote/online learning. As a rule, 90 percent of our students receive scholarships, and we are committed to providing this same level of support to the incoming class. At the ready are our experienced faculty, our unique and innovative James Q. Wilson core curriculum, and the resources of Pepperdine University and our community to guide you academically from start to finish while in attendance at the School of Public Policy.

Can I visit the campus?

Currently, access to campus is restricted to essential staff. However, we encourage you to reach out to us at sppadmissions@pepperdine.edu or call us at 310.506.7493 for a video tour and meeting options and informative online brochures.

How has COVID-19 impacted admission requirements?

Our admission team is fully committed to helping our applicants during this challenging time. We understand and recognize the potential challenges caused by recent events. That being said, we have decided to make all GRE/GMAT/LSAT test requirements optional for our incoming applicants.

Required documents are:

  1. Online Application
  2. Personal Statement
  3. Ethical Moral Dilemma Essay
  4. Resume/CV
  5. Two letters of recommendation
  6. For International Applicants: Language exams. We accept TOEFL or IELTS. If you are unable to take these exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have other options available to you. Please contact us at sppadmissions@pepperdine.edu for details.
  7. Transcripts: please note that we will accept unofficial transcripts during the application process. If you are admitted, your academic institution(s) will be required to send us official transcripts indicating bachelor's degree conferral.

For more information about our admission requirements, check out our admissions page.

The application still requests standardized test scores. How can I confirm that these will be waived based on the guidance outlined above?

As these official test scores are optional, the application system requires an applicant to select a test. You will NOT be required to submit a test score unless you choose to. For further questions, feel free to contact our office at sppadmissions@pepperdine.edu.

I am an international student and cannot take the TOEFL or IELTS. Are these still required? Is there an alternative?

Language exams are still a requirement for admission. Please visit our admissions website or contact sppadmissions@pepperdine.edu for questions.

When is my application considered complete and ready for review by the admissions committee?

In order for your application to be reviewed by our admission committee, you must submit your application and upload all your required admission documents. Our Admission Office will email to notify you that your application is complete. You may also contact us anytime at sppadmissions@pepperdine.edu or by calling 310.506.7493 if you have any questions.

Are you awarding scholarships for fall 2021? How do I complete the Financial Aid Process?

Yes, scholarships are available for students applying for fall 2021 term. Application portal opens October 1, 2020. To be considered for non-institutional aid (federal student loans and work study) you still need to submit the FAFSA. If you do not submit a FAFSA, you cannot qualify for federal student loans nor federal work study. The application is free, and you can begin here. A student must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the Federal Student Aid Programs to determine financial need and apply for loans. The Federal Title IV School Code for Pepperdine University is 001264. Please note, financial aid packages will be made available to students beginning summer 2021. Please contact Christopher Jones, director of program services and admissions, at 310.506.7369 or christopher.j.jones@pepperdine.edu if you have any questions about the financial aid process.


Will classes be online or in person in the spring 2021 term?

Though our program is designed to be a "residential" program in person, given the current circumstances, the University decided it is best for the safety of all the faculty, students, and staff that the Spring 2021 semester remain online.  Students may access the details the Pepperdine Restoration Plan on the University's COVID-19 Planning and Preparedness website. Students may notice that there are classroom numbers listed in their Wavenet Student Center.  We are holding these rooms in case the Los Angeles County Department of Health and California agencies give the University clearance to open.  We do not anticipate any new updates until early March.

How do I order books for my spring 2021 classes?

Students can order their books online by clicking on the "Class Material(s)" link after a course has been added to their Shopping Cart in WaveNet or by clicking on the "Bookstore" link while viewing their enrolled courses. Students may also visit the bookstore's website directly and follow the drop-down prompts under "Find My Course Materials." Since, in-store pick-up will be unlikely course materials may be shipped directly to your home. In some instances, free ground shipping will be available with a minimum purchase.

My job offer was rescinded due to this unique situation what should I do?

We know there have been concerns related to the employment market for our second year students. We are regularly checking with our professional networks and job boards to seek out opportunities. Students should continue to reach out to Kirsten Vassie as their main point of contact for additional details. The Public Policy Job Board, SPP developed two years ago, continues to be a resource for open positions as well as the University's Handshake platform.

I am an international student. What should I do?

All international students who plan to travel or have Optional Practical Training should contact the Office of International Student Services for detailed information or access the FAQ for international students. For an expedient response, please contact the Office of International Student Services via email or call 310.506.7747 with your CWID, full name, and request.

What do we do about rented textbooks or textbooks we plan to sell back to the bookstore?

Students can mail rentals back at no charge or sell books back to the Pepperdine Bookstore in the spring semester.

How do I complete my Professional Development credit since we are not on campus?

Students are still required to complete their Professional Development credit. To view the requirements, event types, and submission deadline, visit the Professional Development Community page.  

Do I still need to do an internship for the full 240-hour requirement? Are there alternative internships I could pursue?

Internships are an integral part of the experiential learning process and often lead students into career opportunities upon graduation. Students will still be expected to fulfill their 240-hour internship requirements and should be actively seeking internship opportunities if not already secured. We are regularly checking with our professional networks and job boards to seek out internship opportunities.

The School of Public Policy has approved a "Flexible Internship Strategy" that has additional options. SPP will continue to work with students to obtain substantive policy-based internships to meet the requirement this fall 2020 and spring 2021. Students who are still looking for internships, finding it difficult to secure traditional and or remote internship opportunities, or concerned about meeting the 240-hour requirement may now consider the options below. Each request to pursue "flexible" options will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will need to be approved by Kirsten Vassie PRIOR to pursuit. Students' demonstration of significant progress in securing an internship (meetings with Kirsten, updated resume, cover letters, number of organizations where applications submitted are examples) will be considered in the approval process.

  • Remote work will continue to be an option for approved organizations.
  • Students, who cannot complete the full 240-hour requirement with a single organization, may request to have a "second" internship approved to supplement the hours for the full credit. "Flexible" hours may be split between no more than two organizations.
  • Students, who can continue working with their current organization in future terms, will be allowed to carry-over their enrollment across consecutive semesters.
  • Research projects from current full-time SPP faculty will be considered. Faculty member(s) would provide structure and oversight. Students are responsible for securing their own research project, which must be approved.
  • Volunteering with an organization, ideally related to the student's area of specialization, may be considered. This option would require a writing component as part of the assessment.
  • LinkedIn learning sessions may be a supplement to hours needed. A student would first complete a soft-skills assessment with Kirsten and then complete recommended learning modules to improve professional skills.
  • Alumni informational interviews in an area that aligns with the student's career objectives may supplement hours needed. Students would be required to work with Kirsten on outreach and this option is subject to alumni availability. Students would prepare a written assessment of the informational interview.
  • Employer informational interviews in an area that aligns with the student's career objectives may supplement hours needed. The employer would need to be approved in advance by Kirsten and a written assessment of the informational interview will be required.

In all instances, students will be expected to assemble a portfolio of experiences that is equivalent to the 240 hours required from the policy internship experience. Students seeking credit for these alternative activities will need to receive prior approval and to provide the documentation necessary for Kirsten to validate and approve the hours. Policy internship forms will still be required and students should continue to reach out to Kirsten Vassie as their main point of contact for additional details.

Will the Class of 2020 and 2021 have a commencement ceremony?

In line with recommendations from multiple governmental and health agencies limiting the number of people at gatherings, the University postponed all commencement ceremonies scheduled for spring 2020. Nonetheless, graduating students who complete their coursework will receive their degrees as scheduled. Discussions with the president, provost, and other deans continue around scheduling of postponed 2020 and 2021 commencements. The focus of the conversations has been to provide as much time as possible for your planning purposes and the commitment remains to provide an on-campus ceremony in Malibu to every graduating Pepperdine student.

While we're seeing declining COVID rates in Los Angeles County with encouraging prospects for lifting this restriction, the date that is "best for most" for an on-campus ceremony is Friday, May 14. Please note, SPP cannot confirm this date. This date is set whether people are able to meet on-campus or we host an online gathering. Similar to what the Pepperdine schools are planning, if the ceremony will be online, SPP will still look to plan an on-campus ceremony when possible.

We understand the need and want to make plans, and SPP wants to give us the best chance of confirming what will happen on May 14 while allowing enough time to make arrangements. To that end, SPP will make a final decision on commencement exercises on Monday, April 19. SPP strongly advises not to take on any non-refundable travel expenses until final confirmation.

As a graduating student, how long can I keep my Pepperdine email?

The University Registrar and Information Technology will extend email and WaveNet access for graduating students to 90 days after commencement ceremonies. Commencement dates are to be determined. This extension has been put in place to afford graduating students extra time to update their contact information in WaveNet. Students will be informed of this extension via automated email reminders when they complete their program.

  Tuition, Financial Aid, and Housing

What if I have an emergency financial situation?

Students should contact CJ Jones regarding student accounts and financial aid questions. Students with a financial emergency unrelated to tuition, aid, or their student account may contact Sheryl Covey or LaShonda Coleman with the Student CARE team. 

How do I complete federal exit counseling?

Federal exit counseling may be done online. Please reference the SPP Loan Counseling website for applicable links and contact CJ Jones for additional information.

Am I eligible for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding from the Department of Education?

University financial aid administrators are currently reviewing eligibility of the CARES Act emergency funding grants for students. The University will provide an FAQ of eligibility and an application will be developed. Students may contact CJ Jones or LaShonda Coleman for additional questions.

  Campus Resources

Will graduate campuses be open?

The Calabasas, Encino, Irvine, and West L.A. campuses are closed, with no graduate campus staffing. However, critical support faculty and staff may continue to access these campuses to do essential work that must be completed on-site.

How can I access library resources?

Pepperdine Libraries is excited to support students, faculty, and staff as we adapt to this online semester. Although the library buildings are closed, there are numerous online services available for teaching and learning remotely. If you need further assistance, don't hesitate to contact a librarian through online chat or email.

Faculty and students may also directly email Lauren Haberstock, Drescher Graduate Campus Librarian,  regarding any questions and assistance. 

Students are not permitted to gather in groups on any campus. How do I return my rental textbooks from the bookstore?

Visit the Pepperdine Bookstore website for information on rental returns and how to ship rentals back free of charge.

  Faculty and Staff FAQ

Am I expected to report to work on campus?

Pepperdine University is open only for essential tasks performed by faculty and staff. Pepperdine is currently in a critical support personnel staffing model in which departments work remotely except for essential tasks that must be handled on-site. All employees who can perform their work from home should work remotely.

How will I implement accommodations during remote classes and assessments?

  • Notes: The Office of Student Accessibility will continue to provide notetakers for classes where there is currently a notetaker. The note-takers will take notes in your online class in the same way they take notes in your face-to-face class.
  • Extended time on exams: If a student has extended time on an exam, please provide the appropriate extended time to that particular student. Some students have time and a half extended time. This means for an hour exam, they would receive an hour and one-half for the exam. Some students have double time extended time. If the rest of the class receives an hour for the exam, this student would receive two hours. If you are providing your exam on Sakai (Courses), you may work with your technology liaison to create different exam links with different time parameters. If you are planning on proctoring the exams, remember to allow students with extended time to have their additional time without disruption.
  • Other accommodations: Some accommodations may not be necessary to implement, such as word processors for essay exams, as the student will already be accommodated by using a computer.
  • Captions: Please remember that everyone benefits when videos are captioned.
  • If you have specific questions that are not answered, please contact the Office of Student Accessibility via email or by phone at 310.506.6500. They are here to support you as you provide access to your classes and exams.
  Video Conferencing

What technology do I need for my online classes? 

We want students to have the best possible experience during their online class sessions. In today's COVID‐shaped environment, technology plays an increasing role in the student's learning community experience. The guidelines below provide some parameters for ensuring your ability to participate fully. Because of local factors, these are only recommendations—additional or higher levels of tech investments may be needed in certain settings to provide an acceptable experience.

Computer Specs:

  • For PC Users: Windows 10
  • For Mac Users: OS X 10.13 or higher (10.15 preferred)
  • At least 8 GB RAM, 2.8 GHz Dual Core or faster processor
  • At least 11" screen (15" or larger preferred)—cell phones screens will not be adequate and tablets may not enable full class participation
  • Intel i5 processor or faster (or AMD equivalent‐no Chromebooks)

Internet Connection:

  • Speeds of no less than:
  • 20 mbps download, 10 mbps upload, less than 45 ms ping
  • Hardwired is preferred, but reliable Wi‐Fi can work If sharing connection with others

Needed Peripherals:

  • Internal or external webcam (any can work—Zoom limits resolution to 720p)
  • Speakers and separate microphone connected to computer (recommended)
  • Headset or headphones with mic at a minimum (again smartphones will not be enough here)

Visit the Tech Central - Information Technology page for further information. 

Can I share a Zoom session link with others?

Treat the Zoom session as a private event and share the Zoom meeting link only with the intended participants. Participants should not share the link publicly or with others who do not need to be in the meeting. Participants are also advised to not post the meeting link in social public forums. Faculty are encouraged to post the meeting link in their institutional learning management system for students to access.

How can I prevent "Zoombombing" during a Zoom session?

Some universities and school districts are reporting inappropriate and offensive activities known as Zoombombing, where unwanted participants enter the Zoom meeting room and screen-share and/or proceed to say or write very offensive things. Zoombombing can usually be prevented by following these best practices:

  • Assign screen sharing ability only to the host. In Zoom, click the upward arrowhead (^) next to Share | Advanced Sharing Options | Only Host.
  • Mute participants upon entry and disable their ability to unmute themselves. In Zoom, click Manage Participants | the "More" button and check both "Mute Participants On Entry" and "Allow participants to unmute themselves."
  • Allow participants to chat with the host only. In Zoom, click Chat | the "ellipsis" button and check "Host only."

What do I do if I experience offensive or disruptive activity during a Zoom session?

Zoombombing can happen in Zoom or any other video conferencing solution. If you experience such activities, please report the incident as soon as possible to a member of the University IT staff.


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