Health and Safety Information

An Introduction

At Pepperdine University, health and safety is a top priority. We strive to keep our students that travel abroad healthy physically, mentally and spiritually. Please see below for more information about health and safety.

Students should think through their wants and needs to help direct them to the proper study abroad opportunity. If you have culture, safety, and/or health concerns, please contact the International Programs Office before they apply. If a student requires a confidential resource to help them process whether or not a study abroad program is right for them, they can contact the chaplain's office or counseling services office for support.


Health Clearance Process

All students are required to complete a health clearance appointment 45-90 days prior to departure. Please refer to the Health Clearance Form for instructions. Students can make an appointment with their doctor, the Pepperdine Student Health Center, a local urgent care or travel clinic, or another medical practitioner of their choice. Completed Health Clearance Forms should be submitted to IP via the Vital Document Submission Form. Paper copies or forms submitted via email will not be accepted.

Health Insurance

All students must obtain their own personal health and dental insurance for routine and non-urgent health needs. This includes students needing their own health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions that require ongoing careStudents must be ready at all times to pay the necessary co-payment or deductibles themselves (Lausanne students studying in the fall and/or spring semesters are exempt from this requirement because they are automatically enrolled in a Swiss health insurance plan. As a result, Lausanne students do not need to submit a health insurance waiver to Pepperdine for the term they are studying in Lausanne). Students are responsible for checking with their insurer(s) to ensure level of coverage abroad is sufficient. Share planned travel itinerary with your health professional for the most relevant information. Questions to ask insurer(s):

  • Does this insurance cover high-risk activities such as parasailing, scuba diving and off-roading (activities your student will engage in)?
  • Does this policy cover pre-existing conditions while abroad?
  • Does the insurance company require pre-authorizations or second opinions before emergency treatment can begin?
  • Does the insurance company guarantee medical payments abroad?
  • Will the insurance company pay foreign hospitals and foreign doctors directly?
  • Does the insurance company have 24-hour physician-backed support center?
  • How are claims submitted?

Depending on the responses from your insurer(s), you may want to purchase additional travel health insurance. You may refer to the US Department of State's page on travel insurance for further information.

The University health plan offered through Anthem (SHIP) does cover students if they choose to go abroad for emergency needs only. Those who choose to purchase SHIP will be enrolled for the annual plan regardless of how long they are abroad. Please click here for further information. SHIP Summary of Benefits and Coverage document is available by contacting USI Insurance Services at (800) 853-5899.

Local Program Health Fees (all fees posted to a student's account)

Florence (All Terms): Required by the government to pay a local emergency health insurance fee.

Buenos Aires (All Terms): Required to pay a basic emergency medical assistance program. 

London (Academic Year Only): Required by the government to pay a national health fee which enables them to access National Health Services in The UK. 

Lausanne (All Terms): Required by the government to be enrolled in a local Swiss health insurance plan. 

Heidelberg (Academic Year, Fall and Spring starting fall 2019) Required by the government to be enrolled in a local health plan.

Pepperdine's Travel Assistance Program

Pepperdine provides all IP program participants with an emergency travel assistance program through International SOS. All participants are automatically enrolled in this program. International SOS provides the following types of support:
  • Health, safety, and travel advice
  • Cultural advice
  • Assistance with passport replacement
  • Medical assistance, including on-call doctors and nurses, referrals for medical care, and guarantee of payment for medical expenses
  • Emergency assistance

We strongly encourage all students to contact International SOS during their pre-trip preparation process to discuss safety and health information. This is a free service. Some services are free to Pepperdine students and some services have an associated cost. Ask International SOS for details.

International SOS also offers free medical tele-consulting if using the International SOS Assistance App available in your smartphone's app store. 

International SOS contact information: 1-215-942-8226

Emergency Services Policy

Students are automatically enrolled in an international emergency services policy while abroad (excludes students studying in the DC program while in DC). This emergency services policy (through our insurer) is coordinated by International SOS. This emergency policy is only to be used for urgent needs (health care needs that must be attended to immediately and are not routine health care needs). There is at minimum a $100 copay per incident if a student sees a health professional in person or uses other services contained within this policy. There is a $100k cap per incident. International SOS will coordinate all billing with the insurer and the portion that students are responsible to pay will be placed on the student account for payment. This emergency services policy includes the following:

  • Emergency medical evacuation services
  • Emergency medical services in the location you are studying/traveling
  • Emergency document processing
  • Repatriation of remains

Click here to view a document that explains the emergency services policy.

Prescription Medications

If you have pre-existing medical problems you should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs. Any medications you carry overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. Some U.S. prescription medications are illegal in foreign countries and may subject you to arrest. We strongly encourage students contact International SOS (free service) at 1-215-942-8226 to discuss the countries you are visiting or transiting en-route to make sure your medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics in that country. 

Mental Health Support

All 7 International Programs campuses have contracted with local mental health providers to provide limited counseling services to students. In addition, any student abroad can contact International SOS at 1-215-942-8226 and be matched with an approved provider and receive up to 5 counseling sessions which are either in-person or on the phone depending on counselor availability. Emergency psychiatric (immediately life threatening) services are available with International SOS and will cost the student at minimum $100 per incident. Above and beyond these resources, students may contact counseling and psychiatric services that International SOS has recommended and pay at time of service or utilize their personal mental health insurance policy. Please review list of International SOS recommended mental health providers organized by campus location here


All students are required to complete a health clearance process and vaccines should be discussed while meeting with a health care professional. Some countries require foreign visitors to carry an International Certificate of Vaccination (aka Yellow Card) or other proof that they have had certain inoculations or medical tests before entering or transiting their country. Before students travel, students should contact International SOS for the most up to date information on current requirements at 1-215-942-8226. As additional resources, U.S. citizens can review country specific information and contact the foreign embassy of the country to be visited or transited through for current entry requirements and refer to the CDC website for a list of appropriate immunizations. 


Renter's Insurance

Pepperdine recommends that all students consider purchasing renter's insurance through 

  • Covers all electronic devices
  • Covers laptop and cell phone at the same time
  • Covers theft
  • Covers accidental damage
  • A coverage settlement can be used for an upgrade if the student chooses
  • Minimum Annual Cost: $87 (only annual policies can be purchased - 12 months of coverage). Can purchase more expensive insurance. Check website for further information.
  • Deductible for $87 annual policy: $25

Safeguarding the Pepperdine Community Abroad

What Pepperdine does to safeguard the Pepperdine community abroad:

  • Conduct an international travel safety session at orientation
  • Offer free self-defense classes
  • Provide In-country safety briefings during your orientation
  • Campuses equipped with security cameras, secure entry doors and policies that help safeguard the community
  • Communicate to students and regularly update emergency plans that cover a multitude of scenarios
  • Students have access to a travel assistance program that provides students with select emergency assistance offerings
  • We go through an extensive process to assess and approve \educational field trips and faculty-led summer programs through the U.S. State Department and then cross-reference that safety information with global safety experts and local U.S. safety officials in countries you are traveling to. Please click here for more information about how we assess and approve Pepperdine international group travel. 
  • International Programs does not allow students during their session on their personal time to travel to countries/regions on the U.S. State Department Travel Warning list and countries on high threat alerts. Pepperdine does not control student travel over and above this point.

What students do to safeguard themselves:

  • Ensure you fully and accurately fill out Pepperdine's travel log (you will be trained when you arrive at your location) to ensure that Pepperdine staff know where you are and how we can contact you during travel breaks and weekends. Each weekend and travel break while abroad, students are required to log their travel through the International SOS feature 'MyTrips' so that in the case of an emergency the university is aware of where every student is located and can best support them. Click here for instructions on how to properly log travel.
  • For U.S. Passport holders: Required to enroll and log all travel in STEP (U.S. Department of State Safe Traveler Enrollment Program) which enables students and and emergency contacts to receive travel advisories and alerts
  • Ensure they have the ability to make phone calls to family and Pepperdine personnel at all times
  • Follow safety guidelines from the international travel safety presentation all students reviewed during the Malibu orientation
  • Speak with parents/guardians about an agreeable personal travel itinerary on weekends and travel breaks.
  • All students are able to use the Live Safe App which can link students with Pepperdine personnel at anytime provided device has network connectivity
  • Have proper telecommunications capabilities: We require students to secure a smartphone with an international calling and data plan or an in-country call and data plan in order to take advantage of all International SOS applications (our travel assistance provider) and to be able to be reached in cases of emergency. Please consider one of the following options:
    • Use your existing smartphone. This may be possible depending on your carrier and smartphone. Contact your cellular provider to understand how your phone would work abroad and about any international calling and data plans available. Also your cellular provider if you can unlock your smartphone and how to do so. 
    • Bring another unlocked smartphone in which a local SIM card can be installed. Please visit this page to learn about unlocking your smartphone.
    • Purchase a new U.S. smartphone with global service (e.g. google phone plan, select T-Mobile, and select Sprint offerings).
    • Purchase an international sim card similar to one found at Cellular Abroad.

    • Review program location specific pages information about local data and cellular plans.

Please note that Pepperdine does our due diligence in regards to community safety and cannot plan for or anticipate every emergency. We, like any other institution, cannot guarantee safety and do everything reasonable to safeguard community members.