By June 1906, six young women had become the first graduates of the adjacent Immaculate Heart High School. The college campus was owned and conducted by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who had founded Immaculate Heart Convent and High School on their 13-acre (53,000 m2) property in 1905. The high school still specialises in preparing its students for university education.
In the following decades, both Immaculate Heart High School and the College soon established their reputations as an excellent university preparatory school for girls and co-educational center respectively. By far the majority of the high school's more than 10,000 graduates continued their education at colleges and universities across the country. The women - and male graduates of the college - have served with distinction as artists, musicians, educators, journalists, doctors, lawyers, judges, and stars of stage and screen. Some Immaculate Heart women were pioneers in professions not accustomed to having women.
The religious community's original convent building, much of which was torn down in the early 1970s, included classrooms for high school and elementary students, boarding facilities for girls, offices and living quarters for the sisters. The Jo Anne Cotsen Building was formerly the Immaculate Heart College Student Union Building. It was purchased by the American Film Institute in 1983.
In the late 1960s, in response to directives from Vatican II as well as participation in therapy experiments run by researchers from the Esalen Institute, the Sisters followed the guidance of Pope Paul VI and conducted an extensive review of their structure and proposed changes in how they prayed, worked, lived together and governed themselves. However, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, was opposed to all of the sisters' proposed changes, leading to a public dispute where he ordered the removal of all Immaculate Heart Sisters teaching in Los Angeles diocesan schools, and finally presented the Community with an ultimatum: either conform to the standards of traditional religious life or seek dispensation from vows. In the end, 90% chose to dispense from their vows and reorganize as a nonprofit organization (501(c)(3)), The Immaculate Heart Community, a voluntary lay community. Patricia Reif played an important part in encouraging the establishment of an ecumenical community.
The College closed in 1981 due to financial difficulties; its successor was the Immaculate Heart College Center, which closed in 2000.
- Corita Kent, artist
- Karen Boccalero, artist, nun, founder of Self-Help Graphics & Art in Los Angeles
- Angie Dickinson, actress, Police Woman
- Mark Ridley-Thomas, California legislator
- Cherríe Moraga, playwright and activist
- Helena Maria Viramontes, novelist and short story writer, Professor of English, Cornell University
- Lucia Capacchione, art therapist
- Charlotte Caffey, musician and songwriter, "The Go-Go's"
- Pat Carroll, voice actress and actress well known for the voice of Ursula in the Little Mermaid
- Demi (author), artist and author/illustrator
- Jennifer Warnes, Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, producer
- Cheryl Metoyer-Duran, researcher and professor at the University of Washington known for her work on Indigenous knowledge
- Grace Perreiah, artist
- "The Spirited Art Of Sister Corita". Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Mc Dannel, Colleen (2011). The Spirit of Vatican II: A History of Catholic Reform in America. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465023387. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
THE PROGRESSIVE FACULTY - and students of Immaculate Heart College....
- "History - Immaculate Heart High School & Middle School". Immaculate Heart High School & Middle School. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- TIME Magazine. The Immaculate Heart Rebels February 16, 1970
- History IHM Community Archived 2008-09-21 at the Wayback Machine, The Immaculate Heart Community.
- Wirpsa, Leslie (12 December 1997). "Feminist spirituality core of unique M.A." National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- Gomez, Bryony (2011). Graphic Design, Referenced: A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications and the History of Graphic Design. Rockport Publishers. p. 172. ISBN 9781592537426. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Leslie Wirpsa, [Feminist spirituality core of unique M.A - Immaculate Heart College Center of Los Angeles offers the only master's program on women's spirituality], National Catholic Reporter, December 12, 1997.