La Sierra University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
La Sierra University
La Sierra University students investigate, explore, debate, and discuss topics with one another in...

La Sierra University

Riverside, California

La Sierra University, a Christian institution nationally acclaimed for its diverse campus and service to others, sustains a supportive and nurturing environment for students. In small classes, professors lead students in exploration, investigation, and discussion designed to encourage curiosity and growth. La Sierra is home to more than 120 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs for more than 2,300 students.


Through hands-on learning, students have the opportunity to expand their knowledge, build professional connections, and discover what they’re passionate about. La Sierra values more than academics, cultivating change in both local and global communities as well as in students’ hearts. Student-led organizations and clubs, such as the award-winning Enactus team, help develop leadership skills, boost creativity, and forge lifelong friendships. Other programs, like Honors or Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA), give students the chance to travel the world and live independently, gaining an appreciation and understanding of other people, cultures, and faiths.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
2,020 undergraduate students
91% of undergrad students are full time
41% male — 59% female
60% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
102 full-time faculty
15 part-time faculty
14 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
44% of first year students live on campus
30% of all students live on campus

School Location

Nestled at the foot of Two-Bit Mountain in Riverside, La Sierra University is a registered botanical garden with over 250 varieties of trees, plants, and flowers. The relaxed and quiet campus is minutes from the historic Mission Inn and Fox Theater in downtown Riverside. Students can visit Disneyland, Six Flags, or Universal Studios; attend a play or concert in Los Angeles or San Diego; and swim, surf, ski, snowboard, or hike at Southern California’s beautiful beaches, mountains, and deserts. Most activities are within 1-2 hours away—and just a bit further, one can explore various national parks like Yosemite!

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices 

First-Year Seminars and Experiences x
Common Intellectual Experiences  
Learning Communities x
Writing-Intensive Courses x
Collaborative Assignments and Projects x
Undergraduate Research x
Diversity/Global Learning x
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning x
Internships/Coops/Practicums x
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience x

Retention Fall 2015

78% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 year graduation rate 2015

49% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 11%
Hispanic/Latino 48%
Black or African American 6%
White 14%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 16%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 2%
Two or more races 4%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 0%


The La Sierra Golden Eagles, decked out in blue and gold, represent the university in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s baseball, women’s softball, and women’s volleyball. La Sierra University strives to enrich the lives of students in ways that lead to an enjoyment of physical activity, overall wellness, and physical and mental health. Through sports teams, La Sierra creates positive, inclusive, and engaging experiences for athletes.

Other Information

La Sierra University is a co-educational, private institution founded on Seventh-day Adventist principles. Established in 1922 as a small Christian academy, the school went through various phases, including a merger with Loma Linda University, before becoming an independent university in 1990. La Sierra is accredited by the Western Association of School and Colleges (WASC) and the Adventist Accrediting Association (AAA).  

More Distinctions

  • The President’s Honor Roll - Higher Education Community Service

  • Carnegie Foundation - Community Engagement Classification

La Sierra University engages students in various activities both inside and outside the classroom. In an academic setting, each student has the opportunity to strengthen their group project skills, showcase their hard work during Research Emphasis Week, and be involved in teams like Enactus.

Undergraduate Research

There are multiple occasions for undergraduate research in each department, but is especially encouraged for students who are members of the Honors program or Sigma Tau Delta. Honors students complete a scholarship project prior to graduation in which they develop an original research and/or creative project to be presented publicly. Students who are part of Sigma Tau Delta are invited to submit research essays for participation in conference presentations each year.

Global Learning

La Sierra University students have a chance to take a gap or bridge year, during which they can serve as student missionaries in countries like India, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. Many students also choose to take an extra year in order to study abroad in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, or Spain. Through Adventist Colleges Abroad, anyone can completely immerse themselves in another culture, become fluent in another language, and gain an appreciation for the history and communities of others.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries x
Choral groups x
Concert band x
Drama/theater x
International Student Organization x
Jazz band x
Literary magazine  
Marching band  
Model UN  
Music ensembles x
Musical theater  
Opera x
Pep band  
Radio station  
Student government x
Student newspaper x
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra x
Television station  
Yearbook x

First-Year Experience

The La Sierra University faculty and staff care about helping students to think for themselves—a major component of which is guiding first-year students through their initial college experience. The La Sierra Center for Student Academic Success (CSAS) provides undergraduate academic advising and support with the goal of empowering students to achieve educational milestones.

CSAS is joined by other first-year programs designed to welcome students to college life such as IGNITE. IGNITE is a freshman orientation event that introduces new students to the university community, teams them up with others in a unique family group, and acquaints them with workshops, worship services, and team-building games. Popular workshop classes include “College Readiness” and “Fully Alive,” which explore everything from Studying 101 to Title IX.

First-Year Writing Intensive

A first-year college experience is about more than learning the ins and outs of university life. During the first-year College Writing Sequence, each student practices and gains the skills necessary for self-expression and coherency through the written word. These three writing-intensive courses give students the tools necessary for the remainder of their college careers, developing expertise in basic creative writing, argumentative writing, and research writing that are utilized in various other courses at La Sierra.  

Common Core

Arts/fine arts x
Computer literacy x
English (including composition) x
Foreign languages x
History x
Humanities x
Mathematics x
Philosophy x
Sciences (biological or physical) x
Social science x


Other: Religion

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 331 170 101 48 27 14 2 693

Student Activities and Events

The student community at La Sierra University thrives with artistic performances, academic exploration, and group activities. The Drama and Music programs provide chances for amateurs and audience members alike to enjoy the fine arts. Plays and musical performances are well-attended by the community and have won awards in previous years.

Students are always invited to attend Student Association events, the annual Festival of Nations (which celebrates diversity on campus with students from over 40 countries), intramural sports, and TEDx Talks. Other activities include programs hosted by the La Sierra University Church, such as film screenings, bowling excursions, and nature hikes. La Sierra also hosts a yearly REVO fashion show, organized and run completely by students. People can serve as designers, models, and more, raising money for charitable endeavors such as an orphanage in Rwanda or outreach efforts in Peru.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

Coed dorms  
Men’s dorms X
Women’s dorms X
Apartments for married students X
Apartments for single students X
Special housing for disabled students X
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing  
Other housing options  

Service Learning

At La Sierra University, service to others is an integral part of the college experience. The Service Learning program is integrated into specific classes, allowing for a hands-on approach to community service that ties back to the cornerstones of academics and faith. Students can tutor elementary children, read to the elderly, and take part in various other community outreaches.

Career Services

La Sierra students have access to the Career Services Center, which hosts an annual Career Expo. At the expo, students can connect with organizations, network with potential employers, and make a lasting impression in the professional world. Attending the expo can also help build resumes through part- and full-time job opportunities as well as internships and shadowing possibilities.

Senior Capstone

Events like Service Learning and the Career Expo help lead students to successful senior experiences. Seniors at La Sierra take a capstone course specific to their majors in which they demonstrate that they have achieved the student learning outcomes set out by their departments.

Alumni Achievements

La Sierra helps students create outstanding futures for themselves. Accomplished alumni of La Sierra live all over the world, healing others, teaching the next generation, establishing businesses, and creating art.


Admissions Fall 2015

4,328 Total Applicants
1,931 Total Admissions
442 Total Freshmen Enrollment

44.62% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling admission? No

Closing date: Aug 15
Priority date: Feb 1

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Academic GPA
Character/personal qualities
Religious affiliation/commitment

Standardized test scores

Class rank
Extracurricular activities

Freshmen Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 420 510
SAT Math 420 520
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 16 22
ACT Math 16 23
ACT English 15 22
ACT Writing    




Tuition $30,600
Fees $990
Total $31,590
Room and Board (on campus) $8,100
Estimated Total On Campus $39,690


Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-2016 final

$24,865 First year students
$20,938 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-2016 final

68.95% on average, the percentage of need that was met
8% of financial need students that had need fully met

$20,938 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,820 Average need-based loan

Additional Aid Information

Future students are invited to apply online for admission to La Sierra University. The university accepts applications all year long, and there is always a staff member available to answer any questions one may have.

Student Financial Services (SFS) helps students in getting the most out of their financial aid experience. Although arranging aid can often be a complicated and confusing process, the counselors, administrative team, and staff provide accurate and friendly service to help students complete the process quickly and easily. They focus on each student’s unique financial situation in order to maximize their aid eligibility and make everything as simple as possible.

College is expensive, but it is also an investment in the future of any student. Such an investment should be worth it; students want to complete their degrees knowing that they will have more job opportunities and higher starting salaries. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median income of bachelor’s degree holder is significantly higher than those with only a high school education.

For this reason, SFS offers more than 40 merit-based scholarships, awarded to students who demonstrate excellence in academics, leadership, performance, sports, and Adventist Church-related activities. La Sierra believes that a solid Christian education shouldn’t cost a fortune; these scholarships are in addition to any federal aid or outside scholarships and grants.