California Lutheran University

California Lutheran University (also known as Cal Lutheran or CLU) is a university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, part of a 500-year-old tradition of Lutheran higher education. CLU was founded in 1959 as California Lutheran College, and the name was changed to California Lutheran University in 1986.

CLU’s mission statement reads as follows: “California Lutheran University is a selective institution offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in the liberal arts and sciences and professional fields. Rooted in the Lutheran tradition of Christian faith, the University encourages critical inquiry into matters of both faith and reason. The mission of the University is to educate leaders for a global society who are strong in character and judgment, confident in their identity and vocation, and committed to service and justice.”

CLU is located in Thousand Oaks, a master planned community in Southern California. Thousand Oaks consistently ranks as the first or second safest large city in the United States. The city was named after the numerous oak trees that grow in the area. The region has a mild, year-round Mediterranean zone climate with warm, sunny summers and cool, rainy winters. Natural vegetation consists of chaparral and grasses as well as oak trees. Along with ordinances protecting the oaks, the “slow-growth”-minded city’s leaders and residents boast of a ring of protected land, free from development, that surrounds the city’s borders. More than 15,000 acres have been preserved as open space.

The 225-acre college campus occupies a gently sloping hillside amid rolling hills. CLU was built on farmland donated by the Lars and Karn Pederson family, who were among many Scandinavian immigrants that settled the Conejo Valley in the 1890s. Many buildings on campus and streets in the area are named for prominent Scandinavians who helped establish CLU. Every spring, the largest Scandinavian Festival in the southwest is held on campus to celebrate CLU’s heritage. The Scandinavian Cultural Center adjacent to the college campus is a major museum-library-activity complex featuring an extensive collection of historical and cultural documents and displays.

The former chicken coops of the Pederson Ranch were converted into classrooms by Jefferson A. Elmendorf, who designed the original seven buildings on campus called “The Centrum.” The distinctive scalloped barrel roofs of poured concrete attest to the expressive architectural style of that period. The campus of CLU is primarily organized by the four cardinal directions, with the North side located across Olsen Road and backed up against Mt. Clef Ridge, serving as the primary center for athletics. The East side is the primary location for freshmen residence halls and some administrative offices. The West side is the primary location for upperclassmen housing. The South side, also known as the Academic Core, is the primary location for the academic buildings on campus.

The CLU campus has been greatly expanded since its founding. A new athletics complex and aquatic center nearly doubled the size of the developed campus with its completion in 2006. Two new residence halls – Grace Hall and Trinity Hall – were opened on the southwest side of campus. CLU’s first LEED-certified building, Swenson Center for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, opened in Fall 2010 on the south side of campus. A new Poulson Tennis Center opened on the north side of campus in 2008. Additional new facilities located on the rapidly expanding north campus include the KCLU radio station and an Early Childhood Center.

CLU is dedicated to excellence through its undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, and School of Education. CLU offers 37 majors and 31 minors in addition to professional preparation programs in specified fields of study. Students may earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree depending on their major, and are allowed to double-major if they have the time. Undergraduate students who intend to enter certain graduate programs upon completion of their undergraduate studies can choose to enroll in some graduate courses as an undergraduate, and obtain graduate-level course credits. Students also have the option of selecting an Interdisciplinary Studies major which allows them to explore different academic fields while at the same time earning a degree with an emphasis.

CLU strives for a diverse student body of varying backgrounds, faiths, and ambitions. The current student body consists of approximately 3,931 students originating from 39 states and 56 countries. CLU maintains close ties with several foreign organizations and educational institutions, and hosts exchange students from a variety of nations. CLU maintains its residential emphasis with 61 percent of traditional undergraduate students living on campus. The average class size is 16 students.

Students accepted for admission to CLU should have completed a college preparatory program with above average achievement. Students with exceptionally fine preparation are encouraged to “challenge” for placement or credit in subjects in which they may have established college level competence. Methods of challenging include end-of-course examinations, College Level Examination Program (CLEP) subject exams, standardized tests approved by individual departments, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate examinations. A maximum of 32 credits by exam may be applied to the degree; eight upper division units can be included in this total.

The following high school course pattern is required as a minimum: 4 years of English, 3 of mathematics (through Algebra II), 2 of foreign language, 2 of social studies, and 2 of lab science. However, applications from promising students who demonstrate academic potential but have not completed such a college preparatory program will be reviewed on an individual basis. In addition to the measurement of achievement and aptitude as indicated on transcripts and test scores, other factors considered in the admission process include: recommendations; excellence in co-curricular activities; high achievement in the visual or performing arts; initiative and seriousness of purpose as evidenced through work, travel experiences or contributions to home, church, community and school.

According to the CLU catalog, homeschooled students are as competitive for admission as any other student. All applicants must submit:

  • Completed Application for Admission with essay.
  • Non-refundable application fee.
  • Official high school and/or college (if applicable) transcripts sent from each school attended.
  • Official SAT or ACT scores.
  • A letter of recommendation from a high school teacher, principal, or counselor.
  • Personal information you feel may be relevant in reviewing your application (optional).


Matt Ward, dean of undergraduate enrollment at CLU, says that homeschool transcripts can be difficult to evaluate because there is no standard to measure them against. Therefore, students who are homeschooled must also be prepared to provide additional supporting documents as follows:

  • The primary homeschool teacher/ administrator may be asked to submit a typed transcript (semester format) of courses the student completed in the homeschool environment. Grades or averages earned in each course must be included.
  • A curriculum synopsis of the courses which parallel CLU’s core course requirements may be requested. The synopsis should include a brief description (paragraph) of each of these courses, and textbook information listed by course (including titles and authors).
  • Students who have taken courses in a foreign language must include a description of how they learned the verbal component of the language (i.e., tutor, tapes).
  • The homeschool administrator should also provide a detailed description of how the applicant fulfilled the natural science laboratory requirement.


“We want to make sure they [home-schooled applicants] get to a certain level in science, math or English, so getting that description is critical,” Ward stated. In addition, homeschooled students are encouraged to submit passing test scores on the GED (General Equivalency Diploma). Exam results must be sent to the Office of Admission directly from the GED test center. Homeschooled students are also encouraged to complete an interview with a CLU admission counselor before submitting an application.

For more information, visit:

Campus Architecture:


Scandinavian Cultural Center:

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