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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 Insurance

All students must obtain their own personal health and dental insurance. Students 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 response from your insurer(s), you may want to purchase additional travel health insurance. 

The University health plan offered through Anthem (SHIP) does cover students if they choose to go abroad. Please contact Wells Fargo for a detailed explanation of benefits at https://wfis.wellsfargo.com/pepperdine/ImporantContacts/Pages/default.aspx . Those who choose to purchase SHIP will be enrolled for the annual plan regardless of how long they are abroad. Contact Wells Fargo's SHIP program if you have any other questions.

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

Florence (Fall/Spring): Required by the government to pay a local emergency health insurance fee.

Buenos Aires (All Terms): Required to pay a small fee for a basic emergency medical assistance program called Emergencias. 

London (Fall/Spring/Internship): Required by the government to pay a national health fee which enables them to access national health services in The UK. 

Lausanne (Fall/Spring): Required by the government to be enrolled in a local Swiss health insurance plan. 

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. Be sure to check with the foreign embassy of the country 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 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.

Health Clearance Process

All students are required to complete a health clearance 45-90 days prior to departure. Please check here for a document that outlines the process and needed documents.


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 you travel, U.S. citizens can check country specific information and contact the foreign embassy of the country to be visited or transited through for current entry requirements. Please also check the CDC website for appropriate immunizations. 

Pepperdine's Travel Assistance Program

Pepperdine provides all IP program participants with an emergency travel assistance program through International SOS. 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

Some services are free to Pepperdine students and some services have an associated cost.

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

Students are also 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.


Safeguarding the Pepperdine Community Abroad

What Pepperdine does to safeguard the Pepperdine community abroad:

  • Conduct an international travel safety orientation for students in Malibu
  • 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 your 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 your educational field trip
  • 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
  • For U.S. Passport holders: You will enroll and log all travel in STEP (U.S. Department of State Safe Traveler Enrollment Program) which enables you and your loved ones to receive travel advisories and alerts
  • Ensure you have the ability to make phone calls to your family and program director at all times
  • Follow safety guidelines from the international travel safety presentation you saw at your Malibu orientation
  • Speak with your 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
  • Ensure you have proper telecommunications capabilities: We strongly encourage students to secure a smartphone with an international calling and data plan in order to take advantage of all International SOS applications and to be able to reach someone in cases of emergency. Campus-based program locations will provide suggestions and support on how to secure a local phone and sim card once students arrive to the program location. Please consider one of the following options:
    • Bring an unlocked phone in which a local SIM card can be installed. Please visit this page to learn about unlocking your smartphone and watch this video.
    • Purchase a "talk abroad phone package" similar to this plan or a google solution similar to this plan.
    • Purchase a smartphone and plan in the country you will be studying.

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.

If a student attends orientation in Malibu, they experienced a travel safety presentation. Please click on the below link to see the slide deck.