Academic Catalog 2023-2024

University Mission


Discovering vocation, expanding horizons, deepening faith, and transforming communities.

Mission Statement

To Teach ~ To Shape ~ To Send

Point Loma Nazarene University exists to provide higher education in a vital Christian community where minds are engaged and challenged, character is modeled and formed, and service is an expression of faith. Being of Wesleyan heritage, we strive to be a learning community where truth is pursued, grace is foundational, and holiness is a way of life.

Mission Context

The university, established in 1902 by the Church of the Nazarene, offers quality liberal arts and professional programs on its campus in San Diego and select graduate and professional programs throughout the denomination’s Southwest Educational Region.

Core Values

  • Excellence in teaching and learning - Teaching and learning constitute the central and defining activities of Point Loma Nazarene University. Faculty believe that effective teaching includes maintaining a vital relationship with one’s discipline, establishing a positive connection to students, and building bridges among the students as a community of learning with the academic material.
  • An intentionally Christian community - PLNU wants students to be participants in a community of learning who intentionally think and behave as Christians in all of their endeavors. Through many curricular and co-curricular activities, PLNU builds a community where women and men are challenged to explore ways to align their hearts and minds to that of Christ.
  • Faithfulness to our Nazarene heritage and a Wesleyan theological tradition - While working cooperatively with the whole church of Jesus Christ, the university is committed to maintaining and celebrating our denominational ties with the Church of the Nazarene and embracing the distinctives of that tradition.
  • The development of students as whole persons - A complete education prepares women and men to live full lives that integrate the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. Holistic learning prepares students to make a positive difference in the world.
  • A global perspective and experience - PLNU students should be equipped to become “world citizens.” The university provides academic coursework, international study, field research, and ministry experiences that aid students in becoming conversant with the complexities of life in the global community.
  • Ethnic and cultural diversity - PLNU recruits women and men from a variety of cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds as students, faculty, and staff. A willingness to hear and learn from many diverse voices is foundational to a Christian liberal arts education and prepares students to become truly educated people, equipped to live in a diverse society and world. The university therefore actively pursues ideas, practices, and relationships that honor diversity and encourages engagement with others different from one’s self in order to grow in community with and be reconciled to one another.
  • The stewardship of resources - PLNU considers itself to be caretaker of all that has been entrusted to the university (people, facilities, money, and knowledge), using resources in a way that reflects the purposes of God and protects the goodness of God’s creation.
  • Service as an expression of faith - The university community understands itself to be stewards, not owners, of time, talent, and selves. Part of the call to Christians is to serve the world, working to better the condition of humankind both locally and globally.

Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILO)

Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILO’s) at Point Loma Nazarene University are the broad, over-arching outcomes aligned with university mission and core values that inform program outcomes in the university’s academic, co-curricular, and support units. These ILO’s capture the breadth of the PLNU experience and community and help define its uniqueness. For students beginning their educational experience, the ILO’s determine those focal points that mark their journey, and for graduate and adult students continuing their academic careers, the ILO’s define both the starting point and the direction of their ongoing journey. For the PLNU staff and faculty, the outcomes explicitly articulate the institution’s expectations. They guide the community in discussions around questions of faith, profession, social justice, personal relationships, service, giftedness, political and community engagement, and life choices.

The university and the student work cooperatively to achieve ILO’s, so that students will be prepared to live faithfully as engaged, growing Christians who seek to model the character of God in their lives. These students will also possess curiosity for life-long learning; the ability to think critically about global challenges; the ability to identify, create and weigh alternative viewpoints and opinions; and the ability to imagine and enact characteristically Christian ways of addressing these challenges. To assist students in achieving these ILO’s, the university offers students a safe environment to challenge the status quo, to engage intentionally in discussions that test the foundation of their views, to build a respect for the stewardship of creation, to show compassion toward those in need, and to respect the diversity of opinions within and outside the Christian faith community.

“As a community of faithful learners, Point Loma Nazarene University’s purpose for learning is to engender greater and deeper love for God and all that God has created, exploring the world in the confidence of God’s grace. As a university seeking faithfulness to the Wesleyan tradition, we do not see learning and faith as two separate and distinct spheres that need to be forced together. Rather, we engage in the learning process as a people striving to live faithfully toward Jesus Christ, who calls us to this love of God and neighbor. We pursue such faithful learning, living and loving in the community. We pursue the vocation of learning together in the very presence of the God of the universe, freeing us to ask hard questions about our beliefs, ourselves and our world.” (A Wesleyan Approach to Faithful Academic Life, PLNU, from 2009 edition).

As a learner-centered expression of our mission statement, the ILO’s describe how members of the Point Loma Nazarene University community will demonstrate learning, growing and serving.

Context #1: Learning, Informed by our Faith in Christ

ILO #1: Students will acquire knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world while developing skills and habits that foster life-long learning.

Context #2: Growing, in a Christ-Centered Faith Community

ILO #2: Students will develop a deeper and more informed understanding of self and others as they negotiate complex environments.

Context #3: Serving, in a Context of Christian Faith

ILO #3: Students will serve locally and/or globally in vocational and social settings.

University Profile

Programs at the graduate level are organized for the general purpose of giving the student a fundamental understanding and thorough mastery of a major field of study and of advanced preparation for a professional career.

Graduate Programs exist to:

  • Recognize and foster superior scholarship through post-baccalaureate instruction, seminars, and research;
  • Develop professional skills and competence;
  • Encourage the acquisition and mastery of responsible and thorough methods of research;
  • Enable students to improve their ability to think critically and achieve a greater measure of intellectual independence;
  • Encourage the integration of the student’s faith and learning; and
  • Accelerate the engagement of graduates’ faith in their professions.

Graduate study requires independent direction, a mature approach to study, and a commitment to professional goals. Students who have demonstrated a high level of achievement in undergraduate work and who want to increase their professional skills, expand their knowledge, and qualify for more demanding responsibilities are invited to apply for admission to Point Loma Nazarene University’s Graduate and Professional Studies programs.

Courses and programs are offered through departments and schools of the university. Faculty determine the standards of admission, the standards for retention, the requirements for graduation, regulations governing transfer credit, and other matters pertaining to academic activities and responsibilities of graduate students. Thus, to receive graduate credit and to be eligible for a graduate degree, a student must be properly admitted to a graduate degree program and must meet the standards set by the faculty.

Community Standards

Above all, Point Loma Nazarene University is a Christian community. Regardless of personal religious perspectives, when students enroll at Point Loma, they have entered into this unique community. Thus, the university community hopes that students will sense the love and holiness that characterizes life in Christ throughout their time of participation in the community. Faculty and staff desire to model that life in all they do.

Studying in a Christian community has several ramifications. First, it has an impact on the quality of workmanship - Christians offer God and each other their very best work. Students and faculty alike are held to a very high standard of workmanship. Second, work in a Christian community is characterized by integrity; there is a level of trust that makes life in Christian community uplifting. Third, work is grounded in Christ-like love and service. Faculty and students commit themselves to service in their professions, community, and places of worship. Fourth, students, faculty, and staff are expected to live disciplined lives. Living and working in Christian community affects our life-style choices.

The University Seal

The university seal is used on all official documents. It consists of a shield picturing the symbols of Venia (Grace), Veritas (Truth) and Sanctitas (Holiness), themes that-in keeping with the heritage of Point Loma Nazarene University-have been identified with the Wesleyan-holiness tradition.