Point Loma Nazarene University is a faith-based liberal arts school with a mission focus. The gorgeous campus sits right on the Pacific Ocean, just north of the San Diego Airport – and the freshman dorms literally have an ocean view. PLNU is a small school of 2700 students – on purpose. They want their campus to be a small community of engaged students.
PLNU is nestled between a residential neighborhood on one side and the beach on the other. It just might be one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve visited. The average class size is 23; the faculty to student ratio is 15:1 and the university reserves 20-25% of its admission spots each year for transfer students.
The majority of students – 74% – hail from California, so 26% come from out of state. About two-thirds of PLNU students are women, but when I asked a group of women about it they said they only noticed it in certain courses – for example, an education major said her classes are predominantly female. PLNU is a Yellow Ribbon School and offers support to all students who are active-duty military, veterans, reservists, and family members.
There is no expectation that students begin their time at PLNU with a particular faith background, but the faculty are expected to be involved in their church community.
Academics and Student Life at Point Loma Nazarene University
Point Loma’s Applied Health Program has degrees in Exercise Science and Kinesiology. Students interested in Childhood Development have on-campus learning opportunities through the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC), a community-serving preschool. Another popular accelerated program is the bachelors Pre-Allied Health + M.S. Athletic Training Five-Year Program. Ninety percent of PLNU students who apply to medical school are admitted – significantly higher than the national average.
Business is another strong program and they offer a blended education degree where students can blend their major with the teacher education track. California residents can earn their California Single Subject Teaching Credential alongside their bachelor’s degree while still graduating in four years!
Communications majors are production-focused (e.g., film, radio, television, and other media production) and debate is featured in the communications studies major.
Nursing is very strong at PLNU. Students are admitted as freshmen to pre-nursing status and must successfully complete the required prerequisite courses to be considered for the nursing major. Point Loma’s Nursing Facility is 10 minutes away, and there’s a shuttle between the nursing facility and the main campus, and 90% of graduates of this program pass the NCLEX exam on the first try. While the program is rigorous, nursing students manage to find time to socialize. Also noteworthy is the 3+2 Athletic training program; the tour guides proudly shared that the PLNU Physician Assistant program was the first in San Diego. There are no impacted majors, and transferring majors is not difficult. All students have a faculty advisor in the program of study and they meet each semester.
The active student body participates in 50+ clubs ranging from Rollerblading by the Bay to advocating for causes such as anti-human trafficking. ASB is especially strong and coordinates many student activities. Point Loma fields NCAA D2 athletic teams, including golf. Students get free tickets to the Padres games! Students who thrive at PLNU – students who want to connect with others; engage in their community, explore and reflect upon their faith and calling in life.
Admission to Point Loma Nazarene University
In the application process, students must submit a “spiritual recommendation” in addition to an academic recommendation. Students are automatically considered for academic merit scholarships upon admission and may also apply for one of several performance-based scholarships including, music, debate, choir, theater, and athletics.
General education includes 3 courses in Christianity and the Bible (1 Old Testament, 1 New Testament, and one upper-division course) and a class in either philosophy or ethics. Chapel attendance is required up to 30 hours a semester for on-campus freshmen, which averages to about twice a week. Commuting students and upperclassmen have a lower chapel requirement. Chapel music is performed by student musicians who sign up to play, and they don’t have to be music majors!
Michelle visited Point Loma Nazarene University in spring, 2022, and you can see all of her photos in the slideshow below.