Pepperdine Admissions: The SAT Scores, ACT Scores, and GPA You Need to Get in

Pepperdine University Admissions - Magoosh

Pepperdine University is a private, Christian, research-based college located in Malibu California. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I can’t think of a more beautiful place to go to school.

While you don’t have to identify as any particular religion to attend Pepperdine, it’s worth mentioning right away that attendance requires religious participation. According to U.S News and World Report, “Students must attend 14 spiritual events a semester and take at least three religion courses during their time at Pepperdine. There is a Church of Christ on campus, as well as a handful of student-led ministries.”

Pepperine is ranked #50 in National Universities and is considered fairly selective. It’s best known for its business, marketing, and science programs. Seaver College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences is the main school for undergraduates (although some also attend the Graziadio Business School part-time while working full-time), so that’s what we’ll be focusing on.

Before we explore just how to get into Pepperdine, let’s take a quick look at some quick Pepperdine admissions statistics.

Quick Pepperdine Admissions Statistics

Pepperdine SAT scores (average composite)1321 out of 1600 for the class of 2023
Pepperdine ACT scores (average composite)29 out of 36 for the class of 2023
Pepperdine GPA (average of admitted students)3.6 for the class of 2023
Pepperdine acceptance Rate30% for class of 2023

You’ll have to be a very strong student if you want to call Malibu home, but with high grades and test scores, it’s certainly doable.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at exactly how to get into Pepperdine!

More About Pepperdine SAT Scores

Before we get into what score to aim for, here are a few things to know about Pepperdine SAT scores:

  • Pepperdine requires either the SAT or ACT, but you can take both if you’d like.
  • Pepperdine superscores the SAT, meaning that they will consider only the highest section scores across all testing dates. This means that you can take the SAT as many times as necessary to get highly competitive scores in each section.
  • The SAT Essay is optional.

As far as what you’ll need to score, the average composite SAT score of students admitted to Pepperdine is 1290, but looking at percentiles can help give you a better sense of your actual chances of getting in:

  • The 25th percentile for composite Pepperdine SAT scores is 1220.
  • The 75th percentile for composite Pepperdine SAT scores is 1420.

So what does this actually mean?

It means that if you score an 1220 or lower, you’ll be below average compared to the other students applying to Pepperdine. On the other hand, if you score a 1420 or higher, you’ll be above average.

The takeaway? You want to aim for a 1390 or higher to stand a strong chance of getting in.

As far as the percentiles go for the individual sections:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Reading and Writing651610690
Composite 132112201420

A good rule of thumb, then, is to aim for the 75th percentile scores or higher for an excellent chance of getting into Pepperdine.

More About Pepperdine ACT Scores

Here are a couple things to keep in mind about Pepperdine ACT scores:

  • Pepperdine does not superscore the ACT, but you can choose which scores by testing date are sent to them.
  • The ACT Writing test is optional.

The average composite ACT of students accepted to Pepperdine is 29, which is considered a competitive score.

As far as percentiles:

  • The 25th percentile for composite Pepperdine ACT scores is 26.
  • The 75th percentile for composite Pepperdine ACT scores is 32.

In other words, a score of 26 or lower will put you below average compared to the other applicants, while a score of 32 or higher will place you above average.

So your sweet spot to aim for? 30 or higher!

More About Pepperdine GPA

The average high school GPA of students admitted to Pepperdine is 3.6, which is a B+ average.

This means you’ll need very good grades to be a strong applicant.

Depending on how your high school calculates GPA, getting high grades in honors, AP, and IB classes can help raise it, since these classes are often weighted more heavily. In fact, excelling in these challenging courses indicates to colleges that you are ready for the rigor of their classes.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it’s very difficult to change your GPA after your sophomore year. So if you have your eye on Pepperdine, you’ll have to earn A’s and B’s from the get-go!

Here’s a breakdown of your admissions chances with various GPAs:

GPA in High SchoolPepperdine Freshmen Accepted

3.50 to 3.75

3.25 to 3.50

3.00 to 3.25

2.75 to 3.00
2.25 to 2.50

2.25 to 2.50
2.00 to 2.25

As you can see, even with a very high GPA, your chances are still under 40% and become increasingly slim with even a small GPA drop. What this means is that having a great GPA is just one part of the Pepperdine admissions equation.

Pepperdine Acceptance Rate

Pepperdine is harder to get into than ever before, as detailed in “Pepperdine Becomes More Competitive as Seaver Reports Lowest Admittance Rate for 2019.”

According to the article, 13,718 students applied to Pepperdine for the 2019-2020 academic year, of which 4,241 were admitted, a record low of a 30% admissions rate.

Director of Admissions Falone Serna notes that there was an 11% increase in applicants this year, making the selection process more challenging.

In the fall of 2019, Pepperdine began accepting Early Action applications for the first time ever. According to Enrollment Manager Kristy Collins, about 1/3 of all applications were Early Action, which she expects to continue.

Greater selectivity often means greater prestige, so the good news is, if you’re admitted to Pepperdine, you’ll be getting into a school with an excellent reputation.

Pepperdine Freshman Profile

Here’s a great, very comprehensive overview of Pepperdine’s freshman profile for fall of 2019, complete with GPA and test score averages, religious affiliations, states and countries of origin, and general demographic breakdowns. This is also a valuable comparative chart of Pepperdine’s past freshman profiles. These types of statistics can obviously change over time, but they’ll give you a pretty good indication of who Pepperdine is admitting, generally.

Here are some quick stats on Pepperdine’s admitted class of 2023:

  • 60% admitted students are female
  • 40% admitted students are male
  • 79.2% of admitted students are domestic
  • 11.8% of admitted students are international

Furthermore, the ethnicity breakdown for enrolled students is as follows:

  • 49% white
  • 14% Hispanic or Latino
  • 10% Asian
  • 13% non-resident/alien
  • 8% indicated “other”
  • 5% Black or African American
  • 1% race or ethnicity unknown

Other Admissions Requirements for Pepperdine

So what will you actually need to formally apply to Pepperdine University? Here’s a handy list:

  • All parts of the Common Application, sometimes just referred to as the “Common App.” As part of the Common App, you will need to submit a Common App essay, so here’s a great resource on exactly how to write a Common App essay that will get you accepted!
  • A $65 application fee
  • Responses to two additional Pepperdine-specific prompts that can be uploaded through the Common App.
  • Official high school transcripts (for each school you’ve attended if you’ve attended more than one).
  • An academic letter of recommendation from a core subject teacher (e.g. math, English, etc.) or from a school counselor. There are various ways you can submit this letter, whether electronically or through good old fashioned snail mail.
  • Your official SAT or ACT scores

You can also read more about Pepperdine admissions requirements for transfer applicants, international applicants, and re-applicants if you fall into one of those categories.

Pepperdine FAQs

This is an absolutely fantastic overview of just about every FAQ about Pepperdine that you could possibly have, and here are some other great FAQs about Pepperdine’s admissions process, but let’s take a look at a few of the most common questions about Pepperdine that you may also have.

Is Pepperdine Early Action binding?

No, Pepperdine is not Early Action binding. What this means is that if you’re admitted to Pepperdine after submitting an Early Action application, you are not required to attend.

Does Pepperdine interview?

No. According to Pepperdine’s Admissions Department, “Pepperdine does not offer evaluative interviews. Admission Counselors are available to meet with prospective students to discuss the University and the application process, but these discussions are not among the factors considered when applications are evaluated.”

Is Pepperdine need-blind?

Yes, Pepperdine is need-blind, meaning that your need (or lack thereof) for financial aid will not impact your chances of being accepted. That said, you may be eligible for financial aid, and you can read more about Pepperdine’s tuition, cost, and financial aid here.

How to Get Into Pepperdine University

So, here we are. We’ve reviewed all of the actual application requirements for Pepperdine University, as well as the average tests scores and GPAs of those admitted. If you’re wondering then, just exactly how to get into Pepperdine University, consider this your all-around “cheat sheet” to be a highly competitive candidate and increase your chances significantly:

  • Score a 1420 or higher on your SAT or a 32 or higher on your ACT
  • Earn a GPA of 3.6 or higher
  • Have plenty of extracurricular and volunteer activities listed, especially if you served in leadership roles
  • Get a very strong letter of recommendation from a teacher who knows you well and can speak to your ability, growth, and potential. Here’s a handy resource on how to ask for a letter of recommendation to ensure you get the best letter possible in a timely manner.
  • Write a strong Common App essay and strong responses to the Pepperdine-specific essays. Strong writing goes a long way and this is your best chance to give Pepperdine a sense of who you are, not just of your academic performance.

And if you want advice right from the source, here’s what Pepperdine’s Admissions says about candidates: “The admission committee looks closely at an applicant’s academic record, GPA, standardized test scores, background of service and leadership, and character as exhibited in references and short answer/personal statements.”

And of course, as always, since test scores play a large role in your application, you’ll want to start studying as early as possible. Check out this 1-week SAT free trial as well as a great 1-week ACT free trial to get you started!

Best of luck!!!

Improve your SAT or ACT score, guaranteed. Start your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh SAT Prep or your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh ACT Prep today!

magoosh logo checks


  • Nadyja Von Ebers

    Nadyja von Ebers is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. Nadyja holds an MA in English from DePaul University and has taught English and at the high school and college levels for twelve years. She has a decade of experience teaching preparation for the AP exams, the SAT, and the ACT, among other tests. Additionally, Nadyja has worked as an academic advisor at college level and considers herself an expert in all things related to college-prep. She’s applied her college expertise to posts such as UCLA Admissions: The SAT Scores, ACT Scores, and GPA You Need to Get in and A Family Guide to College Admissions. Nadyja loves helping students reach their maximum potential and thrives in both literal and virtual classrooms. When she's not teaching, she enjoys reading and writing for pleasure and loves spending time in or near the ocean. You can connect with her on LinkedIn!

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

No comments yet.

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply