What You Need To Know About Occidental College

Occidental College is a private liberal arts college located in Los Angeles, California, United States. The college was founded in 1887. The campus covers 120 acres in the residential neighborhood of Eagle Rock, northeast of downtown Los Angeles. The college is known for its commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. It has received national recognition for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainability practices on campus. Occidental College also has a strong tradition of social justice activism and has been a leader in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.


Occidental College is a picturesque campus nestled in the hills of Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock. Occidental College campus includes the academic quad, iconic Thorne Hall, residence halls, the Greek Bowl, and athletic facilities including Jack Kemp Stadium, Patterson Field and Bell Field.

Student Cohort Size

Occidental College has an undergraduate population of 2,104 students. 99% of students full-time. The college has a diverse population and 58% of the students are females. 7% of students are international students.


Acceptance Rate:

Occidental College received 7,500 applicants. This is historically the highest amount to applications received by Occidental College. The college has selected only 550 students for the class of 2023.

Acceptance GPA:

Most students that are admitted to Occidental College have a 3.75+ high school GPA. Only 4% of admitted students have a 3.24 high school GPA.

Types of Admission:

The students can enroll through Early Decision I and II. Students can only apply to one college for Early Decision. They are expected to attend college if accepted.  59% of the students were enrolled during the Early Decision admissions cycle. They also have the option of the Regular Decision.

Application Components:

Complete the Common App
School Report
Counselor Recommendation
Official High School Transcript:
This should include your midyear Report after your first term of senior year
Standardized Test Scores: Occidental is test optional. Occidental accepted students who had an SAT score of more than 1370 and an ACT score of more than 31.
Two Letters of Recommendation: One letter should be from a core subject area.
Early Decision Agreement: If you are applying for Early Decision


Why are you applying to Occidental? What are your academic interests and why do you think Occidental is the right place for you to pursue them? (150 – 200 words)

Please answer one of the following questions—your choice (200 – 300 words):

Research is an integral part of an Oxy education. Completing a senior comprehensive is a requirement of every Oxy student and there are a myriad of opportunities for research throughout your four years. Imagine you were just awarded one of our research grants for a project of your choice. What are you researching and why?
Briefly describe a current event or social movement that is affecting a place that is important to you. Describe its significance to you and the future implications for that community. How do you anticipate an Oxy education helping you better understand and respond to that event/movement?
Oxy’s central mission emphasizes the value of community amidst diversity. What do you value in a community and how do you see your perspectives and life experiences enhancing it?
What is the first song you would play for your Oxy roommate on move-in day? (20 words)


Occidental Colege offers 45 majors, minors, and programs across the arts, humanities, and sciences. You can create your journey and expand your knowledge through interdisciplinary majors, self-designed courses of study, and majors with multiple emphases.

Some of the major choices include:

American Studies
Art & Art History
Asian Studies
Cognitive Science
Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture
Computer Science
Diplomacy & World Affairs

Special Academic Programs at Occidental College

3-2 Engineering Program: The 3-2 Engineering Program is a rigorous course of study that allows qualified students the opportunity to study at Oxy for three years before finishing off their undergraduate education with an additional two years at either Columbia or Caltech. At the end of the five years, the student receives two degrees: a bachelor of arts in “the combined plan” from Oxy and a bachelor of science in engineering from the engineering institution.

Cross-registration at Occidental College refers to the program that allows students to take courses at other colleges and universities within the Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges (CLAC) in the Greater Los Angeles area. The CLAC includes Occidental College, Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Scripps College, and the Claremont Graduate University. Students can take advantage of the diverse course offerings and resources available at other colleges and universities.  in the consortium, without having to transfer or pay additional tuition. Students can enroll in courses that are not offered at their home institution, supplement their current course load, or pursue specific academic interests.

Student-Designed Major: The Student-Designed Major (SDM) program at Occidental College allows students to create a personalized major that integrates multiple academic disciplines to pursue a unique and specific academic interest. To apply for the SDM program, students must submit a proposal that includes a detailed plan for their major, a description of their academic goals and objectives, and a list of courses that they plan to take to fulfill the requirements of their major. Some examples of SDM topics that students have pursued in the past include environmental justice, global health, and urban studies.

Double Major: It is possible for students to accomplish a double major. The students must complete all requirements and a comprehensive exam for the major in each of the two separate departments.

Honors Program: The Honors Program at Occidental College is designed for high achieving students who are focused on a directed investigation for a sustained period of time. It is expected that students admitted to the College Honors Program will have outstanding prospects for individualized work in the department of their major

Independent Study: Independent Study courses are designed for self-reliant and motivated students to pursue intellectual inquiry outside of regularly scheduled course offerings. These are to be supervised by faculty members, generally involving substantial, close student-faculty interactions.

Faculty/Student Ratio

The student/faculty ratio at Occidental College is 9:1. A smaller class size helps students get more guidance from their professors. The faculty members work alongside students on research and creative projects. The experienced faculty at Occidental College serve as academic advisors, mentors, and research collaborators. The excellent mentorship provided by the professors helps students with their critical thinking, and problem-solving skills to address challenging situations in college and beyond.

Four-Year Graduation Rate

The graduation rate is one of the most important factors when selecting a college. Occidental College’s first-year retention rate is 82%. This means that 82% of first-year students continue their education for their sophomore year and beyond. The 4-year graduation rate is 78% and the 6-year graduation rate is 84%. This implies that 78% of students were able to graduate after 4 years, whereas 84% were able to graduate after 6 years. The extra semesters or years you take to graduate increases the cost of your degree.

Cost of Attendance

2024-25 Costs for Attending Occidental College

On-Campus Off-Campus
Tuition $65,678 $65,678
Housing & Food $19,252 $15,674*
Required Fees $596 $596
Total Direct Costs $85,526 $66,274

Overall, Occidental College offers a comprehensive liberal arts education. The college is located in a vibrant urban setting. The campus has a diverse student body and a focus on academic excellence, sustainability, and social justice.

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