International Student Guide
We have prepared this comprehensive guide to assist you as you prepare for coming to the United States to pursue a higher education. We encourage all new international students to read this guide in its entirety, and it is your responsibility to review the information within before coming to Malibu.
Obtaining a Visa to Study in the U.S.
It is recommended that this process is started as soon as possible. Once you obtain your I-20 form, you should apply for your F-1 visa as soon as possible. Some applications require additional administrative processing that can add several weeks to the process.
The Graziadio School of Business and Management cannot do anything to expedite the process. Obtaining the F-1 visa is the student's responsibility. Students entering with an F-1 visa cannot enter the U.S. more than 30 calendar days before the program start date printed on your Form I-20. It is recommended that travel arrangements are not made until after you receive your visa.
Obtaining the Form I-20
Paying SEVIS I-901 Fee
Obtaining the F-1 student visa in your passport
Follow the steps required to apply for a student visa here.
U.S. Port of Entry Immigration Process upon arrival
- It's important that you keep your Pepperdine admissions letter, I-20, passport, student visa, I-901 receipt of SEVIS fee, and financial documentation in your carry-on luggage. Do not put it in your check-in luggage, as you will need to give it to the Customs and Border Protection officer when you arrive at the airport.
- Print your Admission (I-94) Number Retrieval Form from this site and keep it with your permanent records.
Reporting your arrival to the Office of International Student Services (OISS) to activate your SEVIS record
Life in Los Angeles, Malibu, and Pepperdine
One of the best ways to prepare for your time abroad is to learn as much as you can about Pepperdine University, Malibu, Los Angeles and the United States and American culture prior to your departure.
It is unrealistic, however, to expect that you will be able to prepare yourself completely, so we recommend that you expect the unexpected! Your experience at Pepperdine will largely be what you make of it. If you keep an open mind and maintain your sense of humor, it will help you greatly to meet the challenges of studying in a new country and make the most of the experience.
You should come prepared for sunny days and little temperature variation; mild winters, warmer summers, and pleasant days in between.
The temperature frequently drops to 50°F (10°C) in winter and rises to 90°F (32°C) in the summer. Plan to wear warmer clothing during the winter months (November-March). A jacket or coat will be necessary. Clothing for rainy weather might be needed but rain is rare.
Keep in mind that the U.S. uses the Fahrenheit scale when referring to temperatures: 1.00 °C = 33.80 °F.
On campus and in the classroom, casual and informal attire such as t-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, shorts, khakis, sneakers, and sandals are acceptable for women and men. When deciding which kind of clothing to pack for your move to the U.S., you may also find it helpful to bring national costumes to wear to special events and international celebrations or for speaking engagements around the city, but this is a matter of personal choice.
Bring formal attire (suit, tie, dress shoes, button-down shirt of conservative color, conservative blouse (for women) -- this is a MUST for class presentations, special and formal occasions, job interviews, and any events that indicate "business attire" is required for your attendance!
Housing expenses are very high in Los Angeles, so make sure such costs are all taken into consideration before you come to the U.S. The Graziadio Business School strongly recommends that international students reside on-campus, especially during their first year as a student here.
One deposit will hold your room, and nothing else required for you to move in.
On-campus housing information and application procedures are available here.
The following are off-campus housing resources:
If you decide to live off-campus, a security deposit that is the same amount as one month's rent is usually needed in order to rent an apartment/room. You may be required to sign a rental lease or contract, which outlines the rules, regulations, and monthly rent of the apartment/room. Please be sure to carefully read and understand your apartment/room lease/contract before you sign it and agree to rent the apartment/room from the landlord.
The Graziadio Business School and its staff and faculty are not responsible for assisting students with housing arrangements. It is strongly recommended that housing arrangements be made before you arrive in the U.S.! If you wish to live off-campus, seek the advice of current Graziadio Business School students regarding off-campus housing before you come to the U.S.
Driving and Transportation
Los Angeles is a city that is challenged when it comes to public transportation, especially here in Malibu. There is only one bus line, Metro Bus line 534 that runs between West Los Angeles and Malibu via Santa Monica. There are no bus lines that will take you to points north of Malibu, such as Calabasas, Woodland Hills, and Agoura Hills.
Metro Bus information can be found here.
You can get off line 534 at the corner of Malibu Canyon Road and Civic Center Way in Malibu, right in front of Pepperdine, and enter the university campus to catch the free Pepperdine Campus Shuttle Bus, which will take you up to the Drescher Graduate Campus, where the Graziadio Business School is located. Both the Metro Bus and Shuttle Bus do not run at night. Thus, obtaining a valid California driver license and purchasing a car is necessary in order to survive as a student at Pepperdine University, particularly if you are planning to live off-campus.
You can get off line 534 at the corner of Malibu Canyon Road and Civic Center Way in Malibu, right in front of Pepperdine, and enter the university campus to catch the free Pepperdine Campus Shuttle Bus, which will take you up to the Drescher Graduate Campus, where the Graziadio Business School is located. Both the Metro Bus and Shuttle Bus do not run at night. Thus, obtaining a valid California driver license and purchasing a car is necessary in order to survive as a student at Pepperdine University, particularly if you are planning to live off-campus!
Information on obtaining a driver license can be found here.
Information on purchasing a car can be found here:
Purchasing a car, even if it's a used one, is expensive! You will need to purchase registration, car insurance, gas, and there may be extra costs incurred if your car breaks down. Make sure such costs are all taken into consideration before you come to the U.S.!
The Graziadio Business School and its staff and faculty are not responsible for assisting students with obtaining a driver license and purchasing a car. It is strongly recommended that thorough research regarding the obtainment of a driver license and purchasing of a car be done before you arrive in the U.S.!
Seek the advice of current Graziadio Business School students regarding purchasing a car before you buy one.
Customs and Culture
Customs and culture may be very different in the United States from your own. Prepare yourself for these differences, but keep in mind that understanding Americans can be complicated since we are often a mixture of many cultures, and one of the things Americans value most is their sense of independence.
You may benefit from talking with people in your home country who have studied here or by purchasing a travel guide book.
Arrival in Los Angeles - Transportation to Pepperdine University
When making your travel plans, try to fly directly or find a connecting flight to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). For more information about LAX and which airlines service LAX from your city of origin, visit http://www.lawa.org/welcomeLAX.aspx.
From LAX to Malibu, a taxi ride can cost up to $120 including tip. You must ignore the hecklers who try to offer you a ride from the airport! Always pick up a taxi from designated taxi stands, which you can identify by following the yellow signs outside the terminals!
A less expensive and most recommended way to get from LAX to Pepperdine is using shared ride vans. LAX is serviced by Prime Time Shuttle and Super Shuttle, which you can board by following the orange signs outside the terminals. You can make a shared ride van reservation in advance online, or you can make a reservation at the Ground Transportation Information Desk usually found on the baggage claim level of most terminals at LAX.
Pick-Up from a Friend
Of course, the least expensive solution is to find a friend or current Graziadio Business School student whom you've gotten to know before you leave your country of origin to pick you up and meet you at the arrivals hall at LAX upon your arrival.
Healthcare, Health Insurance, and Immunization Requirements
The on-campus Pepperdine Student Health Center provides health services to all Pepperdine students, including students of the Graziadio Business School.
- All Malibu-registered students are required to show proof of health insurance coverage or enroll in the University policy.
- All international students are required to purchase health insurance with U.S. coverage comparable to the University's policy, or enroll in the Student Insurance Plan.
- Incoming students will receive an e-mail from our insurance carrier during the summer. If you do not want the university health insurance, you must compete the insurance waiver form.
Detailed information regarding health insurance requirements can be found here.
All international students must complete mandatory immunizations and complete the Health History Form (HHF) (please download and print).
You may receive your immunizations in your home country before you arrive on campus or you may receive your vaccines at the Health Center. You must provide official documentation of your off-campus immunizations. Immunization requirements are listed on the HHF.
Cell Phone Carriers
Due to the mountainous landscape of the Drescher Graduate Campus, certain cell phone carriers do not provide very good connection service, which can be an inconvenience especially if you choose to live on-campus. It is recommended that students enroll in a Verizon Wireless or AT&T Wireless cell phone plan. Other cell phone carriers, such as T-Mobile and Sprint are less expensive compared to Verizon and AT&T but service on the Drescher Campus is limited.
Fees and Charges
Keep in mind that U.S. cell phone carriers charge for incoming calls as well as outgoing calls; extra fees and/or enrollment in additional plans may be needed for text messaging and accessing the Internet via your cell phone. International students are also often required to pay a deposit that may cost up to $500 in order to obtain a cell phone in the U.S. Make sure such costs are all taken into consideration before you come to the U.S.!
Cell Phone Contracts
If your cell phone plan requires you to sign a contract, early termination fees may apply should you terminate your contract prior to the contact termination date. Please be sure to carefully read and understand all cell phone contracts before you enroll in a plan. The Graziadio Business School and its staff and faculty are not responsible for assisting students with obtaining a cell phone in the U.S.
Wireless Internet service is available throughout Pepperdine. You will be able to access the Pepperdine wireless Internet network on campus through your Pepperdine University WaveNet account, which will be assigned to you once you are enrolled.
Off-campus, it is your responsibility to enroll in network provider plan so you will have access to the Internet.
You can open a bank account at any of the other banks in the Los Angeles area, but only Bank of America has an ATM on campus. If you do not have a bank account at Bank of America and use the Bank of America ATMs on campus, you will be charged a convenience fee, which can be $2 per transaction, or even more, depending on your financial institution's fee guidelines.
The Graziadio Business School and its staff and faculty are not responsible for assisting students with opening a bank account in the U.S.
Your basic shopping needs, such as grocery shopping, can be done at the Malibu Colony Plaza shopping area and the Malibu Country Mart shopping area, both within a five minute drive from campus. While classes are in session for Seaver College undergraduate students, there are free shuttle buses that can take you to both shopping areas.
All your shopping needs can be met in Santa Monica, and most of your household necessities (i.e., linens, tableware, electrical appliances, basic furniture) can be purchased at Target in Woodland Hills.
Other places for clothing and household items is the Camarillo Premium Outlets and Topanga Westfield Mall. You should be aware that you will need to drive to the Target, Westfield Mall, and the Outlets, as there are no bus lines that go there. Santa Monica is accessible by bus; bus transportation information can be found in the DRIVING & TRANSPORTATION section above within.
Social Security Number and Card
A social security number and card becomes necessary and can be issued to you only if you find paid employment in the U.S. "Paid employment" includes all on-campus student employment, graduate/research assistantships, paid internships, and any full-time employment.
Unless special permission is granted by the Graziadio School and proper work authorization is issued by Pepperdine University, international students are not permitted to partake in an internship or any off-campus employment while they are a student at Pepperdine University.
Business students with an F-1 visa may be authorized for 12 months of employment in the US after graduation, designated as Optional Practical Training (OPT). US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authorizes this type of work permit based on the recommendation of the Designated School Official (DSO) at Pepperdine University. Students in the MS in Applied Finance program can apply for an additional 17-month extension, which, if granted, allows them to work for a total of 29 months on OPT.
Students unfamiliar with the U.S. system may find many aspects of American education different from those in your home country. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures governing academic coursework at Pepperdine, as you will be responsible for complying with them. As academic life is the heart of the university, these policies and procedures are most strictly enforced and respected among the university community. Please review carefully University policy and procedures in the academic catalog.
At the Graziadio Business School, you will find that a core component of your coursework involves group projects and group presentations and not just straightforward classroom lectures and exams. Group meetings with your fellow classmates and late-night meetings with your group members is common and necessary in order to succeed in your coursework. Being a good team player, being able to share workloads, and being a good communicator is essential for success at the Graziadio Business School.
Doing well in your classes is important, but it is just as important for you to participate in social gatherings outside of the classroom, which are called "mixers," where you will go to a restaurant or bar/club off campus (most times to Santa Monica) to socialize with your classmates. It is also important for you to be a member of various student clubs and organizations in order to improve your English, improve your socialization skills with students of different backgrounds, nationalities, and cultures, and truly experience student life here in America. Improving your English communication and social interaction skills is key for success here in the U.S.!
Information regarding the various student clubs and organizations and mixers will be available to you once you start classes in the fall at the Graziadio Business School. Although it may be tempting and easier for you to interact with students that speak your native language, integration, immersion, and interaction with American students and students that don't speak your native language is necessary for you to improve your English communication skills and get the best experience out of your studying in America. The best way to learn English is by speaking English! As with anything, if you put your effort into it, the results will be fruitful.
The Graziadio Business School and its staff and faculty are honored and excited that you've chosen us to be a part of your lives and educational experience here in the U.S. We hope that you're excited, too, about becoming a member of the Graziadio School family.
Safe and happy travels, and we look forward to your arrival in sunny Malibu very soon!