Chapman University is a private research university in the heart of Orange, California, just 10 minutes from Disneyland and 15 miles from the beach. Chapman is well-regarded for its film, media, and performing arts programs, drawing students from around the country who want the focus of an arts program with the breadth of liberal arts education. Although the campus community itself is politically moderate, leaning slightly to the left, Chapman is well-known for its conservative-leaning law school and the conservative community it is a part of.
Students and visitors remark on the friendliness of the campus community, the impressive student housing, and the cute, nearby old town which exudes a strong college town feel. Chapman is religiously affiliated with the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ, but there are no specific religious studies requirements for students, nor are students required to be religiously affiliated to attend.
Interested potential students may wish to explore the university’s CustomViewbook to find information about programs tailored to their specific interests and needs.
Students who thrive
Chapman is an excellent option for a wide variety of students. The small-town feel of old town Orange and the suburban communities surrounding campus will appeal to students who are looking for a less urban experience, while still being close to major metropolitan cities in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Chapman’s proximity to the beach communities of south Los Angeles County and north Orange County will draw students who want access to the ocean. Disney lovers will appreciate Chapman’s close proximity to the Disneyland Parks.
Because of its strong film and media arts programs at Dodge College, and relative proximity to LA and Hollywood, Chapman is a top choice for aspiring directors, actors, and stage performers. Chapman’s support for performing arts programs extends as well to dedicated colleges for Music, Dance, and Theatre. Students interested in STEM fields, Business & Economics, and Educational Studies are also well-served at Chapman, with modern new facilities and well-ranked dedicated colleges.
Students do not need to be religious or Christian to feel at home and have a fulfilling academic experience at Chapman. Because Chapman does not impose affiliation or religious studies requirements on students, individuals from a wide variety of religious or non-religious backgrounds will feel welcome. In particular, students hoping to explore their religious or spiritual identity in a more secular and religiously diverse context will find Chapman particularly appealing. The university offers spiritual resources, including access to the beautiful Fish Interfaith Center with space for talks, community events, religious practice, and quiet meditation or prayer, as well as religious art from many different faiths. But due to the university’s religious affiliation, students affiliated with the United Church of Christ will find a familiar and welcoming religious environment at Chapman.
Students who are highly self-motivated and committed to their field of study are likely to excel at Chapman. Unlike many other small to medium sized private universities, Chapman offers a more self-directed academic program in which students take the lead in defining and progressing through their course of study. Academic advisors are available, and many students praise their professors' attentiveness and teaching quality, but there is less hand-holding than at many other private institutions.
Students who may have challenges
Some very high performing, research-oriented students may need greater challenge than they will find in Chapman’s academic programs, though most students will find Chapman’s curriculum to be rigorous and fulfilling. As a private university, the costs associated with education here may also be out of reach to some lower income families because Chapman meets full demonstrated need for only about two-thirds of all admitted students. However, the school does provide considerable merit-based aid to students who are highly accomplished or very talented arts students (see Financials, below).
Strongly left-leaning or very politically-oriented students may feel that the campus does not offer enough political opportunities to engage with. However, north Orange County is a politically competitive region, giving interested students the opportunity to staff congressional or state legislative campaigns to a high degree of impact.
Students with executive functioning challenges and other learning differences may have difficulty at Chapman. The university’s learning differences and disability support programs are not entirely comprehensive and rely on a great degree of self-reliance on the part of the student. Other forms of academic support are available, but more limited than at other campuses. As a result, students who are unable to maintain the self-motivation required to stay on top of coursework and requirements, or who need extra help to complete assignments and learn academic skills, may have to seek outside support.
Although Chapman is a private university, it does not consider family legacy as part of its admission process, so having a parent, grandparent, or sibling who attended will not give applicants an advantage. The university also does not consider religious affiliation, despite being affiliated with the United Church of Christ and its communion church the Disciples of Christ—although student members of these churches and students whose parents are church ministers have the opportunity to receive tuition discounts.
Chapman considers interviews as part of the admissions process, so Capstone recommends that interested students sign up and prepare for an interview during the admissions cycle. The admissions office also considers first-generation student status: students who are the first in their families to attend college will receive extra points on their applications, increasing the likelihood of acceptance.
Chapman is a test-optional university, meaning that it will accept SAT or ACT scores if an applicant chooses to submit them, but they are not required. For more information about test-optional admissions, including the best strategy for deciding whether or not to submit your scores, check out these Capstone Articles on the topic:
Test-optional admissions information & strategies
Test-optional admissions during COVID, Part 1
Test-optional admissions during COVID, Part 2
Of admitted first-years who submit their test scores, 60% score between 1200 and 1399 on the SAT composite, while 25% score higher; 50% score between 24 and 29 on the ACT composite, while 40% score higher. Admitted first years are also very likely to be relatively high performing in their high schools: 87% graduate in the top half of their graduating class by GPA.
For talent-based programs, Chapman’s top consideration is the applicants’ ability to perform at a high level in rigorous, focused courses in their artistic field, while ensuring that they are able to successfully complete General Education and other graduation requirements. Because Chapman requires a liberal arts program for all students, artistic merit will not be enough on its own to guarantee admission. But a very strong Creative Supplement in an applicant’s chosen artistic field, combined with reasonably strong academic credentials, will make them an attractive candidate for admission to Chapman.
Chapman offers a timeline and checklist for incoming first-years to prepare for college if they choose to accept an admissions offer.
Chapman is a great choice for transfer students. It does not require a minimum number of credits completed before transferring from another institution, but does require that students meet a minimum GPA of 2.5 along with showing aptitude in their major field. The maximum number of transferable credits is 70, and transfer students must complete at least 48 credits at Chapman in order to graduate with a Chapman degree. Transfer students have the opportunity to enroll in the fall or spring, and admissions are handled on a rolling basis with priority deadlines for fall and spring admission cohorts.
Unlike many other institutions, Chapman offers merit scholarships for transfer students, based their previous college GPA, up to $15,000 per year.
Chapman provides a timeline and checklist for incoming transfers so students can be prepared to continue their education at Chapman if they choose to accept a transfer offer.
How the application process handles majors
Chapman considers each applicant for their first choice major, based on ways that they have prepared themselves for the major and how they have demonstrated interest in the major. If Chapman feels that an applicant isn't competitive for the 1st choice major, they will consider them in the same way for the 2nd choice major. Students who choose undecided/undeclared will still be considered for admission and can be successful if the admissions office believes that they are otherwise well prepared for a Chapman education.
Students applying to majors in the College of Film and Media Arts, College of Performing Arts, or Department of Art, are required to provide a Creative Supplement after submitting their Common Application. Each department and program has unique requirements for the Creative Supplement, reflecting the artistic education that the department offers. In some cases, students may not be admitted to their first choice major in one of these programs, in which case a separate Creative Supplement for a different major may be requested. Music, dance, and theatre programs require an audition as part of the application process.
The Pre-Pharmacy Early Assurance Program requires an additional essay on why the applicant feels they would make a good pharmacist, among a couple other procedural application requirements.
Most of the classes offered at Chapman are relatively small—75% of classes have only 10-30 students, with an average class size of 23. But the campus also offers large lecture courses for some of its lower division requirements, especially in the sciences. Chapman professors are noted for their engagement in their students' success and the quality of their instruction.
As noted above, Chapman has robust film, media, and performing arts programs in dedicated colleges. Students in these fields get hands-on training and experience in the technologies and techniques of their arts, experience writing, producing and directing performances, and opportunities to work with accomplished professionals and in professional environments. Chapman arts degrees are considered highly valuable, though not quite as impressive as the famous art conservatories. In exchange, art students at Chapman receive a well-rounded liberal arts education in addition to their focused artistic studies, giving them a greater educational breadth than conservatory students might receive. The breadth that Chapman offers is a strong benefit to art students who may want to explore careers surrounding or beyond their artistic training.
Chapman received a large donation a few years ago to rebuild Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. It now offers world-class facilities for students and has been ranked as a top 10 university for film and media programs.
Chapman also provides strong options for students interested in STEM fields, business, and economics, and educational studies. The campus has recently built new facilities for math, science, and engineering, with the goal of ramping up those programs. Students at the Schmid College of Science and Technology, and at the Fowler College of Engineering, participate in a unique two-year program called the Grand Challenge Initiative (GCI). In the GCI, four to six students from a wide variety of academic fields, supervised by a research mentor, address pressing global issues, such as climate change, data security, and health care technologies, among many others.
The Argyros College of Business and Economics has a strong reputation with programs for undergraduates and master’s students, while the Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies has strong preparatory programs for aspiring teachers.
Chapman’s International Study program at the Center for Global Education includes a traditional study abroad program, International Internships during the summer, and a unique MBA Prague program in partnership with the Anglo-American University, among others.
Chapman students who need academic support have access to Academic Advising services, where they can work with an individual academic advisor who can answer questions about academic policy, credits, course selection, major changes, and more. The Academic Advising Center also offers workshops and serves as a primary academic advisor for undeclared students.
The university also offers a Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC), where students have access to academic mentoring, tutoring, supplemental instruction (SI), and a writing center.
Although Chapman’s academic advising services are relatively robust, its services for other forms of academic support are somewhat more limited. Due to the manageably small student population, students with academic support needs are likely to have them met, though they may not find every service they could hope for. These minor deficiencies relate to the university’s lack of comprehensive support services for students with learning differences.
Support for learning differences
Although Chapman has a dedicated disability support staff, the services offered for students with disabilities and learning differences is limited and relies on a great degree of self-reliance by students. Support depends on registration and documentation of “significant difficulties due to disability”, which sets an ambiguous standard that may be hard for some students who need accommodations to meet. Some services are offered, including extra time on tests, alternate testing days, peer notetakers, alternative formats for books, and more. The campus does not offer personal tutors or assistants to students with learning differences, and, as is standard at most colleges, Chapman does not offer modifications to curricula, assignments, or exams.
There appears to be limited coaching and support for executive functioning challenges or educational therapy. Access to the Testing Center, where students with testing accommodations can go to complete tests and exams, requires 1 to 4 weeks of notice beforehand, depending on the type of exam, which may present significant challenges to students who need those accommodations. The Center does send students reminders to register at intervals before exam dates, but this may not be enough for some students.
Overall, Chapman provides a baseline of support for basic disabilities or differences that require limited intervention. Students with more significant, complex, or rare disabilities may, however, have great difficulty in finding the resources and accommodations they require.
On the policy front, however, Chapman’s Thompson Policy Institute on Disability and Autism has recently received an $11 million grant to improve the educational experience and encourage inclusion for all K-12 students with learning differences. This may indicate a coming expansion of Chapman’s disability resources, but for the time being, interested applicants should operate on the assumption that services will be limited.
If you have any questions about how to evaluate schools for disability and learning difference support, or want help building a college list and navigating college admissions with these needs in mind, please reach out to Capstone for a free consultation. Carolyn Weirick and our other expert counselors are ready to answer all of your questions and help you find a path to a fulfilling college experience.
In addition to the state and federal loans and grants offered by most universities, Chapman offers a large number of Institutional Awards to qualifying students. Merit scholarships may be valued up to $36,000 per year, including for transfer students, who are eligible for up to $15,000 per year. Talent scholarships awarded by departments are offered to students who excel in their programs or come to the university highly accomplished in their field. These awards are particularly robust in the university’s many art colleges and departments. For example, Dodge College of Media Arts offers incoming first years talent scholarships valued at $2,000 to $5,000 per year based on the quality of their application’s creative supplement, while outstanding continuing students are eligible for Awards and Grants valued up to around $10,000, though the amount varies by year. Other art colleges and departments offer similar talent and excellence awards.
Students who are members of the United Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ are eligible for $2,000 annual awards based on their participation in the Disciples on Campus campus group. UCC or Disciples student youth leaders, or students whose parents or grandparents are ministers in the UCC/Disciples communion, are eligible for a 50% tuition discount, though this award is not stackable with other campus merit scholarships such as the Dean’s Scholarship.
Chapman also offers Mission-Driven Awards that serve to foster a diverse student community by reducing the cost of attendance for students from a variety of backgrounds. Some groups eligible include international students; students in foster care, whose parents are incarcerated, or who are experiencing homelessness; or who graduated from Orange County high schools with certain conditions; and others.
The average institutional award to each Chapman student is $31,600 per year, though many students will find that their financial aid package is much smaller than this. If you are concerned about financing, be sure to carefully evaluate using the net price calculator on Chapman’s financial aid website. You may also consider whether you are likely to receive talent scholarships, prior to choosing Chapman as your top school. Merit awards are included with offers of admission.
Housing & transportation
Chapman has excellent, modern, and comfortable student housing options available. As a result, 90% of freshmen and 40% of all students live in campus housing. Only students who live locally are excluded from the first- and second-year housing requirement. The university offers coed dorms, housing for qualifying disabled students with documentation, and married students. Although by default incoming first-years are assigned to rooms with others of the same reported legal sex, gender-inclusive housing options are easily accessible to students who request it on the housing application. All dorms are coed, so even students who are assigned a default housing option will live in a community with students of differing genders. Dorms do not have community bathrooms; they are only shared between room- or suite-mates.
First year students are assigned to one of five first-year residence halls, while continuing students may select from an additional five. First years are placed in housing with other students in their college or field of study, in order to encourage academic and intellectual growth and collaboration, as well as increasing the likelihood that students make friends with their dormmates. Most of the housing options for continuing students are apartment-style, with private kitchens or food-prep areas.
On-campus housing is not guaranteed or required for transfer students, but Chapman makes “every effort” to find housing for interested transfers.
Students are eligible for free parking on campus if they register their car with the university. Since public transportation options in Orange County are limited mostly to public buses, having a car on campus may be a necessity for many students. Chapman offers shuttle services to connect parking structures and dorms with campus, as well as the Irvine train station and Rinker Health Sciences campus, but travel beyond campus and downtown Orange may require a car.
Students can travel to Downtown LA via Metrolink, a commuter rail system with a station adjacent to Chapman’s campus. Students can also access Orange County public buses at the station.
Students at Chapman have many arts-based student organizations to get involved in, including choral and jazz bands, symphony orchestra, theatre, and visual art clubs. Many students involved in film and media programs spend free time working on extra-curricular projects with friends and classmates in order to build their portfolios and learn new skills related to their chosen programs.
The university provides a recreational pool facility for students called the Masson Family Beach Club in close proximity to the dorms—a welcome service in a city where it can get very hot in the summer and fall. Students can also drive or take public buses to the beach, 15 miles away, on weekends or days without classes.
Greek life is fairly strong at Chapman, with 22% of men and 35% of women pledged to a Greek house. But because of the great diversity in campus academic programs and large number of art-focused students, it’s easy for students to avoid participating in Greek activities or parties if they want to stay away from that kind of social culture.
Religious or spiritual students, or students who want a quiet place to meditate or learn about religion, can make use of the Fish Interfaith Center on campus. It hosts a tranquil garden with mats to sit on, lecture spaces, and a variety of religious objects and artwork in its collection.
Chapman is a politically moderate campus, located in a generally conservative area, with a moderately liberal campus culture. Politically interested students can find lots of opportunities to get involved in local, state, and federal campaigns because of the competitive nature of north Orange County elections.
ROTC programs are offered at partner institutions.
Chapman is a Division III college with 21 intercollegiate athletics programs and eight club sports. The campus is home to over 500 DIII student athletes—6.5% of the overall student body—and approximately one quarter of all students participate in sports in some capacity. Recreational athletes have the opportunity to form intramural teams and leagues with other Chapman students across four sports. Students can do weight training and take fitness classes at the Argyros Fitness Center on campus.
The Student Health Center is available to all students and paid for through an annual enrollment fee. Students are required to have health insurance, so a student health insurance plan is available and mandatory for students who do not waive the requirement with private insurance. Through the online Health & Wellness portal, students can access and find healthcare resources for a broad range of needs: mental, spiritual, financial, physical and social health services; and intellectual, environmental, and occupational wellness support. Students have access to mental health resources and psychological services through Student Psychological Counseling Services.
Chapman’s graduation requirements are fairly standard and limited, due to the university’s many talent-based programs focusing on extensive training in specific artistic fields. Graduation requirements for all students include a liberal arts based General Education, major and minor requirements, free electives, and two Focus programs. The first, First-Year Focus, is a three-unit course for first year students to explore academic opportunities, learn about communication, and study critical and complex issues in society in an environment that seeks to develop intellectual growth rather than test students on rigid curricular standards. The Global Focus requirement for continuing students includes three courses addressing social and environmental topics, citizenship and the community, and global languages. A full list of undergraduate degree requirements for recent years can be found here.
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Motto: o Χριστòς καì η Εκκλησíα
(Christ and the Church)
Mascot: Pete the Panther
NCAA Division III SCIAC
Private research university
Affiliated with United Church of Christ
Affiliated with Disciples of Christ
2,300 graduate students
560 full-time faculty
12:1 student-faculty ratio
23 average class size
90 acre campus
Two 15-week terms per year
One 4-week winter interterm
Mediterranean climate with hot summers, warm winters, and mostly sunny days
High school GPA
Character or personal qualities
Talent or ability
Letters of recommendation
Race or ethnicity
Test scores, optional (SAT/ACT)
Does not evaluate
Fall Priority Deadline
Spring Priority Deadline
$84,000 / year
$60,300 / year
Housing & Meal Plan
$18,500 / year
$400 / year
Personal & travel expenses
~ $4,000 / year
Student Health Insurance Plan
Additional $1,850 / year if not waived
Percent of financial need met (average)
$20,400 / year
Amount of merit aid awarded to students without financial need (average)
Percent of undergraduates without financial need receiving merit aid
Notable Majors & Programs
Film & Media Arts at Dodge College
Ranked in the top 10 nationwide
Theatre, Music, Dance programs at the College of Performing Arts
Business & Economics at Argyros College
Educational Studies at Donna Ford Atallah College
Holocaust Education programs at the Barry & Phyllis Rodgers Center
Grand Challenge Initiative (GCI) at the Schmid College of Science & Technology and Fowler School of Engineering
Equity & Inclusion
- Transfer housing guaranteed: No
- Separate transfer housing: No
- Transfer admission rate: 64%
- Transfer matriculation rate: 25%
- Excellent choice for transfers
- Transfer scholarships available
- On-campus transfer housing limited
- Relatively limited transfer resources
- No minimum number of credits required for transfer
- Transfer in fall or spring
- Timeline for incoming transfers
Disability Support & Equity
- Basic support for disabilities & learning differences
- Self-advocacy & independence required
- Resources for Students with Disabilities
- Student Psychological Counseling Services
- Disability Services
- Cross-Cultural Center
- Cross-Cultural Education & Resource Team
- Chapman Diversity Project
- Diversity-oriented clubs and organizations
- Advocates for Students of Color
- No culture-themed residential programs
- Relatively limited official support for students of color
- Black, Latino, Indigenous students underrepresented
- Minority-group faculty significantly underrepresented
- Campus Pride Index: 3.5 / 5
- Minor in LGBTQ Studies
- Queer Student Alliance
- QTPOC Collective
- Queer/Trans Resources
- Pronoun-affirming campus policies
- Gender-affirming restroom/locker room policies
- Gender-inclusive housing
- Generally inclusive preferred name policy
- Sex-segregated sports policies with limited exceptions
- Resources for Undocumented Students
- Scholarships for students in foster care, with incarcerated parents, or experiencing homelessness
- Veterans Resource Center
- Resources for Veterans
- Yellow Ribbon School
- Female faculty underrepresented
One of the top institutions producing Fulbright scholars
Free, lifetime career support to all alumni;
Career support resources for students
Social life, recreation & campus spirit