Scripps College


The motto of Scripps College is Incipit Vita Nova, Here Begins New Life, and nothing could be closer to the truth. From their first academic day (usually spent listening to a required interdisciplinary Core I lecture) to their last (spent finishing the required senior thesis), students are challenged to grow intellectually and personally by faculty and fellow students alike.

The fact that Scripps is a women’s college makes this growth all the more meaningful. From convocation onwards, students are not just encouraged to make a splash in the world— they are expected to, no matter what their field of study. While many students admit to a clear sense of self-determination, most find the all-female environment to be collaborative rather than competitive.

Situated thirty-five miles east of Los Angeles, the lush campus of Scripps opens up like a hidden oasis as soon as one steps through the western-facing Honnold Gate, welcoming entrants with a quote from Scripps College founder Ellen Browning Scripps: “The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.” This driving mission ensures that Scripps women graduate with the ability to think, live, and succeed in an everchanging world.

At its heart, Scripps is a residential college with ninety-six percent of students choosing to live on campus. The original four residence halls, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, are each unique with tile-roofed Mediterranean architecture, fountains, and sprawling patios perfect for enjoying the California sun. With the exception of a few rainy days, students take advantage of the weather, studying and even taking naps outside on the large expanse of grass in front of the residence halls. When not in class, students can be found participating in one or more of the fifty clubs and organizations on campus (including the newly formed Equestrian Club and a student investment fund), chilling out at the student-run Motley coffee house, or lounging by the outdoor pool.

Claremont Consortium

Scripps is also one of the founding members of the Claremont Colleges Group Plan, the initial vision of creating a group of independent colleges that share key resources. Today, the Claremont Consortium includes five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutes. Claremont Consortium resources include the Honnold/Mudd library (housing over two million volumes) and the newly constructed Student Health Services building. Students are welcome to eat at any of the dining halls and are free to enroll in courses in any of the five undergraduate colleges.

The consortium approach gives each college its own unique social and academic flavor, but it also allows for students to meet people with vastly different experiences and views. Weekend socializing frequently crosses campus boundaries with parties and events advertised across the five undergraduate colleges.

Scripps is a college where an independent and open-minded woman can thrive. She is sure to be challenged each and every day, and any obstacles she encounters are sure to make her grow into a stronger person. Students are constantly stretched to the full breadth of their ability and then urged to share what they know with others. Learning here is never over and is expected to continue long after a student dons her mint green graduation gown. The campus is a community built on sharing ideas and expanding the scope of knowledge in every field. Students are never cornered into choosing only a single interest but are encouraged to explore every area of intrigue and connect them in their thinking. The staff and faculty also push students to take these interests outside of the Scripps walls by studying in another country or conducting research in the surrounding community. The learning process is only limited by what a student is willing to take on during her four short years here.

Best of all, the women of Scripps are able to engage in this high-level thinking within a lush and elegant campus. The residence halls are built to encourage community and the sharing of resources, and it is a daily occurrence to hear students carrying on a conversation about the Core I film The Battle of Algiers, or any other interdisciplinary subject, from lunch until dinner. Of course, Scripps women also know how to relax from time to time and are skilled at finding the perfect spots across Southern California from Mt. Baldy to the Pacific Ocean. The women who graduate from Scripps enrich the world with their critical thinking skills and ability to communicate clearly and confidently. No matter where they may go in life, Scripps women pursue their dreams with a drive to make a difference.

Information Summary

Ranks 6th in California and 68th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 96.1
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $73,756
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 33 / 1480
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 11 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 92% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 1,071


Forget what high school teachers say about college courses: Attendance does matter at Scripps. When a class has only sixteen students (the average class size at Scripps), the professor knows when someone goes missing. In fact, regular participation usually accounts for at least ten percent of a final grade. This helps facilitate the process of students becoming more than just passive recipients of information and instead helps them become active agents in their own learning. The small class sizes also ensure that the faculty creates meaningful connections with the students. It’s not uncommon to see students and faculty enjoying a cup of coffee together in the Motley. Professors are also known to invite their classes to their houses for an end of the year barbeque or dessert celebration. Over fifty percent of Scripps professors are women, and one hundred percent of the faculty holds a Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree.

While students take many if not all of their classes at Scripps, students also have the option of enrolling in courses across the other five colleges. If Scripps does not offer a particular major that another college does offer, students are allowed to fulfill the major requirements of the other institution. Students are also allowed to fill their general electives with courses at the other colleges.

All the women that I met at women’s colleges were incredibly confident, poised, and intelligent—features that I rarely saw in girls at the coed schools I had visited. Moreover, I just felt more comfortable at women’s colleges. I felt a great sense of support for women and women’s intellectual capability than I did at coed schools. —Laura Guaglianone ’07, double major studio art and English


The interdisciplinary focus of Scripps starts early with all first-year students required to take Core I “Culture, Knowledge, and Representation” in the fall semester. It is a course unlike any other in the country in that it brings together twelve professors and the entire first-year class to discuss seemingly disparate topics such as music, philosophy, and metaphysics. The history of Enlightenment intellectual thought is studied by reading primary texts written by thinkers like Rousseau, Descartes, and Darwin, and is then deconstructed through contemporary critiques. Students rotate between attending lectures (given by a different professor each week) and smaller discussion sections organized around the common goal of critically questioning knowledge production and dissemination.

The following semester, students enroll in one of six Core II offerings that are team-taught by two professors, teaching a total of between thirty and forty students in a more specific but still interdisciplinary subject. Past courses have included “Women in Greek Myth,” “Communities of Hate: Genocide in the 20th Century,” and “Literary and Psychological Approaches to the Fairy Tale.” The program culminates with a Core III course taken the following autumn. Students have fifteen courses from which to choose, but in all sections students are expected to transform their knowledge into a final self-designed project. One of the most popular Core III courses is the foreign language and culture teaching clinic, during which students teach another language to elementary school students in the nearby communities. Students, who must have completed at least one upper division language course, may teach Dutch, French, German, Japanese, or Spanish. In the past, students have also been able to submit a syllabus for their own Core III course and, upon approval from the Core convener, students undertake the course under the supervision of a faculty member.

The Core program provides us with a great basis for a modern, liberal arts education. I have taken the significant readings with me to other classes and endeavors in my life. The program also helps develop the critical thought processes that give you a real leg up in the ‘real world. —Kathryn Densmore, ’07, European studies

General Electives

Besides the rigorous three-semester Core program, students are also expected to take a wide variety of general elective courses, including at least one course in letters, social sciences, natural sciences with a lab, fine arts, women’s studies, and race and ethnic studies. Many students find they can count most courses for up to two requirements (for example, the course “Women and Music” would count for both women’s studies and fine arts). Students must also take at least three semesters of foreign language and pass a precalculus or statistics math course. During first-year orientation, entering students take placement tests and can pass out of one or both of these requirements. While some find the requirements to be daunting at first, some students take a course they wouldn’t have otherwise taken and end up minoring or majoring in that very subject.

Joint Science Program

As a women’s college, Scripps prides itself on encouraging its students to pursue scientific knowledge, whether that be in a nonmajor course such as “Energy and the Environment” or through a major field of study such as chemistry, biology, physics, or neuroscience. Students may also combine science majors or create one with a specific focus, including bioethics or environmentalism. Courses are offered through the unique Joint Science Program, linking the resources of Scripps, Pitzer, and Claremont McKenna Colleges to offer an outstanding, comprehensive education in the sciences. The high level of thought that occurs in the science program can be seen through the Scripps students who produce award-winning research projects at conferences across the country. At an international conference on chromosomes last winter, one Scripps student presenter won an award typically given to graduate students. The projects undertaken by science majors ensure that upon graduation, students are more than prepared to pursue higher education in the sciences or continue on to medical school.


One of the strengths of the Scripps academic program is the ability for students to dual or double major in vastly different fields. Interested in neurobiology and studio art? Not only can a student major in both, but she would be expected to explore relevant connections between the two. Students also take advantage of the ability to create their own majors, with recent conceptions like bioethics and commercial communication and design. No matter what their majors, all students must complete a senior thesis. For a chemistry major, this could mean undertaking a major experiment and then writing and presenting the results. English majors usually write at least sixty pages on any topic in literature (one recent grad wrote hers on Harry Potter). Requirements across disciplines vary, but in all cases the thesis must be a substantial undertaking, bringing together the knowledge and know-how of the previous three years of study.

Off-Campus Study

Over 55 percent of Scripps students choose to study off-campus sometime during their junior year for one or both semesters. The Office of Off-Campus Study offers approved programs in every continent (with the exception of Antarctica). While some programs require a certain language proficiency, many others teach language skills in the host country. Foreign language majors must study abroad for at least one semester in order to meet their graduation requirements.

The Office of Off-Campus Study guides students throughout the whole process from narrowing down continent and country options to deciding on whether a home-stay or dorm life is the best option for any particular student. Because of the extensive application process that Scripps requires, almost all Scripps students are accepted to their program of choice.

The Scripps College Humanities Institute

Knowledge knows no bounds when it comes to the Scripps College Humanities Institute. The institute is focused around interdisciplinary studies, focusing specifically on a different theme for each semester. Each theme brings prominent scholars and speakers to campus. “The New Documentary Impulse,” for example, brought documentary filmmakers, war photographers, and radio journalists to campus to speak on the topic. Authors, think tank founders, activists, and artists have frequently been invited in other semesters.

While most institutes restrict their fellowships to graduate students, the Scripps Humanities Institute is unique in inviting undergraduate students to become Junior Fellows for a semester. Between ten and fifteen students are selected, meeting every week to discuss aspects of the theme as well as meeting with the speakers personally. While other classes may dally on what exactly an author meant in a sentence, Junior Fellows get the chance to ask the author herself.

No matter what program a student chooses, she pays Scripps tuition, room, and board and in return the Office of Off-Campus Study covers the host program’s tuition, room, and board as well as the cost of airfare to the host city. The Off-Campus Study program is anything but a semester long vacation—not only must students enroll in the equivalent of a full course load at Scripps, but all grades earned at the host institution are transferred as letter grades on the Scripps transcript. All the hard work generally pays off, and students come back more independent, mature, and culturally aware than they were before they left.

Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery is appropriately housed in a stucco building near the art department building on the Scripps campus and houses nearly 7,500 art pieces. Selections from the collection, including works by impressionist artist Mary Cassatt and Japanese artist Chikanobu, are put on view throughout the year in conjunction with themed gallery shows.

Every year the gallery hosts the Scripps College Ceramics Annual, the longest running exhibition of contemporary ceramics in the country. Artists’ works are selected from across the country, and students are always invited to the opening reception and encouraged to attend the gallery throughout the year. Scripps art students also make use of the gallery in April during the annual senior art show, showcasing the significant projects that senior art majors

Most Popular Fields of Study


The Honnold Mudd Library :: Scripps College Mary Kimberly & Wilbur Hall :: Scripps College
Ellen Browning Hall :: Scripps College Performing Arts Center :: Scripps College


Gaining admission to Scripps becomes more and more competitive each year with over 1,931 applications sent in for the 253 spots in the class of 2012. Even before being admitted, however, each student is thought of as an individual who has the potential to enhance the Scripps community. The admission committee looks over each application a minimum of three times before any final decisions are made in hopes that the students admitted will become a truly unique and cohesive class come fall. The Dean of Admission has described this process as building a kaleidoscope, picking the brightest of all the beautiful pieces and colors. Scripps enrolls students from all over the world, including women from Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. This speaks to the commitment the college has made to establish a campus of diverse identities and ideas. The admission committee seeks out women with different cultural, economic, and political backgrounds in hopes that each woman’s unique perspective will enhance the community as a whole.

Less than two percent of all college graduates come from women’s colleges. I wanted to experience the road less traveled.

While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to securing a spot, applicants should show what they have to offer the campus intellectually and personally. Successful applicants usually have taken a rigorous high school course load including four years of English, three or more years of social sciences, at least three years of one or two foreign languages, three years of science, and three years of math. Students with a special talent or skill are encouraged to submit writing samples, art slides, or other additional materials that show off their abilities.

In addition to the standard application materials, Scripps requires two letters of recommendation from teachers and one from a guidance counselor. These should be written by teachers who know the student on a more personal level and can relate what she has to offer the collegiate community. To get a better sense of who an applicant truly is, the admissions committee also asks each student to list all the books she has read over the past year. This gives the committee a chance to see what engages a student and what she enjoys learning about. Of course, applicants must also submit their SAT or ACT scores and are encouraged to submit any SAT II subject tests they may have taken. Over the past few years, Scripps has enrolled more National Merit Scholars than any other women’s college in the country, with twenty-four choosing to enroll in the class of 2012.

Prospective students interested in experiencing life as a Scripps student are welcome to stay overnight in a residence hall and attend classes with a current Scripps student in addition to the standard student-led tour of the campus. Interviews with an admissions counselor are not required but are strongly encouraged and are available for scheduling at both on- and off-campus locations.

Early Decision

Scripps offers two Early Decision deadlines, the first on November 1 and the second on January 1. Those applying under the earliest deadline should be notified as to their acceptance no later than December 15, while students applying under the January 1 deadline should hear from Scripps by February 15. Applicants accepted under the Early Decision program are expected to withdraw their applications for other colleges and enroll at Scripps.

Merit Scholarships

In order to be considered for one of many merit scholarships, including the James E. Scripps Scholarship worth half tuition for four years, applicants must submit their materials by November 1. This deadline is separate from the Early Decision deadline and is completely nonbinding. When choosing recipients of these scholarships, the admissions committee looks for students who will become leaders and contributors to the Scripps community.

Financial Aid

Over fifty-five percent of Scripps students receive at least some type of financial aid, usually awarded in a combination of grants, loans, and workstudy funds. The average grant or scholarship award for the 2008–2009 year was $24,161, with over $11 million awarded in grants or scholarships. Scripps students shoulder less debt than many other colleges with similar price tags.

Work-study jobs are very common on campus, and students have no trouble finding a job that fits into their course schedule. Many jobs are actually great resume builders, including internships in the offices of the President and the Dean of Students, as well as the Development offices. The Motley Coffeehouse and Student Store are also both completely student run and primarily work-study, offering managerial and product development positions that can serve as great business experience. To be considered for financial aid, students need to submit the CSS PROFILE and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as signed copies of the most recent federal income tax return and W-2 forms for both the student and the student’s parents. The PROFILE only needs to be completed once, but the FAFSA must be completed each year for financial aid consideration.

Scripps offers a monthly payment plan that allows tuition payments to be made over the course of eight months.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4845th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.



The center of Scripps activities is located above the dining hall in SARLO (shortened from Student Activities and Residential Life Office). SARLO is the hub of Scripps Associated Students, or student council, as well as many of the other student organizations. It’s also the place to go if you want to start your own club and need the paperwork to get it approved in order to receive funds from the college.

SARLO regularly organizes trips to Pasadena, Disneyland, the beach, and musicals in Hollywood, all usually at reduced prices. Students who file their driver’s license on record can also apply to check out one of the two Scripps vans to organize their own excursions around Southern California.

Plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and horseback riding are offered by SOAP (Scripps Outdoors Activities Program) and are open to all Scripps students. Outdoor gear like tents and cooking supplies can be checked out from the SOAP office for a small refundable deposit for students interested in taking weekend camping trips to Joshua Tree National Park or the beach.

Students are also free to make use of the fivecollege resources such as the Office of Black Student Affairs, the Chicano Latino Office of Student Affairs, and the Office of the Chaplains, which offers weekly Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish services. Each office plans events throughout the year and offers mentoring and advising to any student who requests it.

Residential Life

Housing on campus has been cozy over the past couple of years in part because the Scripps residence halls are consistently named some of the most beautiful in the country and attract most students to live on campus year after year. Of the nine residence halls, four are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Some students prefer the storage space and bathroom amenities of the newer dorms, but many can’t resist the charm and mythology of the older buildings.

Accommodations vary from standard-issue double rooms, to suite-style living, to apartments for students who want to try their hand at cooking. Most first-year students live in double or triple rooms, but juniors and sometimes even sophomores can land a single room. Almost every room has its own sink, and many rooms on campus have an attached bathroom. Students who are particularly interested in Spanish, French, German, or Italian have the option of living in one of four language corridors. Most of the rooms in the language halls are single rooms, but residents must sign an agreement to speak only the specified language when interacting with anyone else in the corridor.

The European Union Center

Dedicated to expanding the knowledge and understanding of the countries of Europe, the European Union Center of California is based at the Scripps campus and brings influential speakers to discuss foreign policy and international affairs involving the European Union. The center hosts an annual state of the EU address and offers internships and research grants to students interested in working in the field of European studies.

Weekend Social Life

While the small town of Claremont has plenty of boutiques and coffee shops to fill any Saturday or Sunday afternoon, many students find the nightlife of Pasadena and Los Angeles more compelling. But for those without access to a car, the Claremont Colleges provide plenty to do on campus. Every weekend, one of the Claremont Colleges hosts at least one party, often focused around a seasonal theme. Scripps hosts an annual Oktoberfest party held in the courtyard of the Humanities building, as well as a handful of other parties throughout the year.

Outside of the party scene, each campus regularly has film screenings, performances, concerts, or college-organized weekend excursions to satisfy any taste. One of the five-college favorites is the improv group Without a Box that puts on monthly shows on Friday or Saturday nights at a different campus for each performance. Even with all the activities available, many students find the weekend a perfect time to catch up on homework or just relax at the Motley or the pool.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


The Southern California weather provides the perfect environment for students of all athletic inclinations. NCAA Division III varsity sports are offered in conjunction with Claremont McKenna and Harvey Mudd Colleges, with students from all three schools coming together to form a joint Claremont-Mudd-Scrips team. In total, nineteen teams comprise the CMS program. Female sports teams use the Athenas as their mascot, while the male teams are known as the Stags. Since the inception of the CMS women’s teams into the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC), the program has won fifty-five SCIAC titles, the second most out of all SCIAC schools. The other two Claremont Colleges, Pomona and Pitzer, also share an athletic program, which creates quite the rivalry when CMS plays the Pomona-Pitzer team around homecoming.

Pick-up intramural sports are offered across the five colleges and have proved to be a reliable way of getting to know other students at the Claremont Colleges. Thanks to a revitalized interest in the program, the intramural program has become more than just volleyball and flag football and has started to include Texas Hold ’Em tournaments and bowling championships each semester. The program coordinator is also always open to student suggestions and is constantly adding new activities to interest participants.

Students that like to do their own athletic activities can make use of our new 24,000-square-foot recreational athletic facility. The Sallie Tierman Field House contains cardio machines, weight rooms, an aerobics studio, and a yoga room, as well as a lacrosse field.

Many students run in the open space trials just north of the colleges and others enjoy swimming in the 25-meter outdoor pool, regularly staffed with lifeguards.


Wednesday Tea

Continuing an age-old Scripps tradition, students gather around the Seal Court fountain (named for the two seals who grace the lily pads with a steady stream of water) every Wednesday and enjoy afternoon tea. In addition to the hot tea, hot chocolate, and flavored punches available for imbibing, the Malott Commons caters the weekly event with a new confection every week, whether it be cupcakes, cookies, or chocolate fondue. To keep it on the healthy side, vegetables plates with inventive dips are also available.

The tradition is far from a formal affair, but it provides a tasty break for socializing midweek. The event is usually sponsored by a different campus group or office each week, providing students with useful information and other free goodies.


Ellen Browning Scripps, the founder of the college, wanted desperately to visit the first entering Scripps class in 1927. But by that time, she was ninety-two years old and in no condition to travel. So instead, the first Scripps class each wrote their names and hometowns in a book and sent it down to La Jolla where Ms. Scripps lived.

That tradition has continued with entering students signing their name and hometown in a hand-bound book in the Denison library. The main steel doors of the library are only opened twice a year, once for new students to enter and sign, and again at graduation when students leave through the doors, glancing at their signed name on their way out. The ceremony represents the four years spent inside an institution of learning, and hopefully concludes with students exiting more enriched and enlightened


With a friendly and resourceful Career Planning Resources (CP&R) office, Scripps gives its students the chance to get a headstart on post-Scripps life. The office offers tips on searching for jobs and applying to graduate schools and even provides the opportunity for a student to participate in a videotaped mock interview so she can get an idea of how she is presenting herself to prospective employers. A conference entitled “Life After Scripps” is presented for all students each year to get a glimpse of future possibilities. The CP&R Office also offers an alumnae networking service called “Life Connections” that allows any current student to contact alumnae who may be working in her particular field of interest.

A number of Scripps students are awarded the most prestigious national fellowships each year, including the Watson Fellowship, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, and the Fulbright Scholar Program. Many seniors apply to graduate programs across the country and are accepted into some of the most prestigious Masters and Ph.D. programs in the world. Scripps women are also accepted to law and medical schools in high numbers. Recent grads are currently working on pursuing graduate degrees at the University of Oxford, California Institute of Technology, Duke University Law School, and Columbia University. Scripps students are successful when it comes to job hunting as well. According to the survey that the CP&R office sends out to recent graduates, approximately fifty percent of graduates who start their job search during the spring of their senior year have a job by graduation. Scripps College also has an energetic and active alumnae association that plans frequent reunions and social events throughout the country. Former Scripps students are always opening their doors to other former and current Scripps students, providing homes away from home across the entire world.

Prominent Grads

  • Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (Arizona)
  • CBS Contributing Correspondent Serera Altschul
  • Director of Editorial Operations for Hearst Magazines Ellen Levine
  • Best-selling Author Molly Ivins
  • Artist Alison Saar
  • Theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether
  • Humanitarian Tanya Tull
  • Anonymous 4 Musician Marsha Genensky
  • Former White House Chief Counsel Beth Nolan

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