There’s no easy formula for choosing the perfect college for you or your child. But if you’re looking for a college or university which will bolster and support students’ faith rather than tear it down, Catholic Digest offers this annual (but not exhaustive) list featuring some excellent Catholic colleges to help you begin the search.
Guided by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, students can choose from programs in liberal arts, business, nursing, and education on the beautiful 83-acre campus in Nashville, Tennessee. Aquinas College’s academic programs are rooted in the liberal arts and the Dominican tradition along with the inclusion of philosophy and theology in each course of study. The academic programs facilitate the “dialogue between faith and reason” as urged by Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Ex Corde Ecclessiae. The college prepares students for professional lives in business, nursing, teacher education, and graduate studies by upholding the universal Catholic principles of the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Daily Mass is offered in St. Jude Chapel during the fall and spring semesters. All classes at Aquinas begin with a prayer or spiritual reading. Many other opportunities for communal prayer are available, including an annual Living Rosary, weekly Rosary recitations, regular praise and worship, biannual penance services, weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and Stations of the Cross during Lent.
Ninety-two percent of students receive financial aid. The college seeks to ensure that every student receives the best financial-aid package for which he or she qualifies, offering a variety of aid packages and scholarships in addition to providing assistance with student loans, government aid, and private scholarships.
Aquinas College has announced that it will expand its current campus as part of a comprehensive strategic plan. The first phase of this growth plan entails the building of a multi-purpose facility to include a residential hall, student life center, and dining facility. Phase I plans to allow students to occupy the new space beginning with the fall 2015 semester. Development for new and expanded academic programs is underway. Also, Joseph Pearce, author, lecturer, and teacher, as well as frequent guest and host on EWTN, joined Aquinas College as director of the Center for Faith and Culture and writer-in-residence in July 2014.
Student size: 576
Student-faculty ratio: 11:1
Ave Maria University
Ave Maria, FL—AveMaria.edu
Academics: All students take 16 core courses, including three each in history/politics, philosophy, and theology, as well as math, literature, a foreign language, and the natural sciences. These are intensive four-credit courses instead of the typical three-credit courses at many institutions. Currently, the university offers 30 undergraduate majors.
In addition to an Extraordinary Form Mass each Sunday and twice during the week, a variety of daily and Sunday Masses are offered in Ordinary Form Latin and English, including one featuring charismatic praise and worship music. The sacrament of reconciliation is available four days a week. In 2011, The Most Rev. Frank Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, established Ave Maria University as a Catholic university according to the guidelines of the Code of Canon Law. The recognition of Ave Maria University as a Catholic university was granted upon the university’s commitment to continue to be guided by the teachings of the Catholic Church and faithfulness to the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
One hundred percent of AMU applicants are offered university scholarships, and many are also awarded federal and state grants that do not have to be repaid.
What’s new: President Jim Towey reduced tuition by 22 percent for fall 2014, making AMU among the lowest priced of any private college in America. Also, Ave Maria’s new “Mother Teresa Project” sets out to create a new generation of students to transform the world the way she did. Mother Teresa’s religious order, the Missionaries of Charity, gave Ave Maria University its first-ever permission to start a project that introduces students to the unique spirituality of Mother Teresa and helps them imitate her legendary compassion by serving, as Mother Teresa put it, “Jesus in his distressing disguise of the poor.”
Student size: 903
Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
Belmont Abbey College
Belmont Abbey College is a faithful Catholic college that features a strong emphasis on the liberal arts, the Catholic intellectual tradition, and Western thought. Fifty-three of the 120 credits required to graduate are in the core curriculum. Students become acclimated to Benedictine values through a first-year symposium and take required courses in rhetoric, logic, grammar, writing, Western civilization, literary classics, political philosophy, Scripture study, and theology.
Belmont Abbey offers 14 majors, providing a balance between liberal arts and career-oriented programs.
Every member of the faculty in theology received from or have applied to the local bishop for the mandatum, as is required by college policy. Courses provide sound Catholic theology. A Lourdes Grotto in the center of campus was dedicated in 1891 and has been given special status as a pilgrimage shrine for religious vocations. There is a special program of prayer each May.
More than 90 percent of Belmont Abbey’s students receive financial aid. The average graduating debt of students is $19,516. Belmont Abbey offers a variety of scholarship opportunities to students, including the Honors Fellowship for strong academic students. For students interested in becoming Catholic leaders, there is the Hintemeyer scholarship. The college also offers the John Oetgen Excellence in Theatre Abbey Players Theatre Scholarship for students interested in drama.
Last year, Belmont Abbey College radically reduced its tuition price by 33 percent to $18,500 per year for all incoming freshman and transfer students. This year, Belmont Abbey has frozen room and board and fees as well as tuition, making it one of the most affordable Catholic colleges in the country.
Student size: 1706
Student-faculty ratio: 16:1
With dozens of majors available from accounting to youth ministry, Benedictine College offers bachelor’s degrees in music education, art, science, nursing, and art education, as well as numerous master’s degrees. The most popular majors at Benedictine College include business, engineering, marketing, education, theology, biological and biomedical sciences, and psychology.
The campus offers four daily Masses, perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, and twice-a-day confession. Mary’s Grotto is the heart and soul of the campus. Incoming freshmen begin their convocation there, and graduating seniors end their time on campus there. Benedictine College aims to form men and women who are joyful in their vocation, leaders in their communities, competent in their profession, mature in their faith, virtuous in their decisions, and dedicated to serving the global human family by building a culture of life and civilization of love for the glory of God.
At Benedictine College, 74.2 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid, and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $12,985, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Ninety-nine percent of the college’s students receive scholarships. Benedictine College offers an array of scholarships, including the Presidential Scholarships, which require a minimum 27 ACT/1210 SAT and a 3.5 GPA to qualify to apply each February. Based on an essay and an interview session, 10 students are selected to receive full tuition Presidential Scholarships ($23,650 per year), and another five are selected to receive 3/4 tuition Dean’s Scholarships ($17,738 per year), good for four years. There are many other academic scholarships available, and they are awarded based on ACT/SAT scores and high school GPA.
Benedictine College has launched its strategic plan “Benedictine 2020: A Vision for Greatness” to attract a world-class faculty, expand its undergraduate programs, and build new academic facilities. The college added its 10th and 11th new residence halls since 2000 for the 2014–2015 school year, launched its Great Books program, and graduated record numbers in its engineering and nursing programs. Benedictine College this year was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In October, the college saw its seventh 21st-century alumni bishop appointed. Benedictine represented Catholic colleges on the USCCB’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae working group and at the Vatican “Church in America” conference. The college led the 41st annual Washington, DC, March for Life and renamed its student union “The St. John Paul II Student Center.”
Student size: 2,108
Student-faculty ratio: 15:1
Front Royal, VA—Christendom.edu
ACADEMICS: Offering formation for this life and the next, Christendom prides itself on teaching students how to think. The college believes that academic excellence will prepare students to be faithful, informed, and articulate members of Christ’s Church and society, as well as build a strong foundation for whatever career choices students make in the future. Christendom exposes students to the canon of Western civilization with an 86-credit-hour core curriculum, with an emphasis on reading and writing papers, Catholic theology, and Thomistic philosophy. Available majors are classical studies, English language and literature, history, philosophy, political science and economics, and theology, along with minors in music, math, and economics.
Hundreds of students attend daily Mass. The college, which is run by a lay board, has the approval of the Ordinary of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. All professors are Catholic and make an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium and a Profession of Faith each year in the presence of the Diocese of Arlington’s Bishop Paul Loverde. All classes, whenever possible, are taught with a Catholic vision and worldview.
Students may be eligible for need assistance loans and grants, merit scholarships, and family discounts based on simultaneous enrollment of siblings. All students also have the opportunity to earn extra money from student jobs at the college. Although Christendom is one of a handful of colleges or universities in the nation not participating in any federal funding programs, more than 70 percent of students at Christendom receive some form of financial assistance every year.
On April 12, Christendom College officially opened its new Crusader Athletic Fields with a blessing by college chaplain Fr. Donald Planty, followed by the first annual Shield Rugby Match against Franciscan University of Steubenville. The college also launched a new annual summer program in Ireland, the St. Columcille Institute. For three weeks students will gather at Ards Friary in Donegal for study, prayer, and fellowship as they take three college-level courses in Catholic theology, literature, and history. The institute aims to promote the New Evangelization called for by Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis by forming young leaders and equipping them with the tools needed to engage the culture and bring the Faith to our modern world.
Student size: 400
Student-faculty ratio: 14:1
The Catholic University of America
CUA is dedicated to the advancement of learning and particularly to the development of knowledge in the light of Christian revelation. Confident that faith is consistent with reason, CUA grants undergraduate degrees in 74 programs from nine schools, including architecture and planning, arts and sciences, business and economics, engineering, music, philosophy, nursing, social work, and theology and religious studies. By far the largest school at Catholic University, the School of Arts and Sciences offers a variety of subjects within 18 departments: anthropology, art, biology, chemistry, drama, education, English, Greek and Latin, history, library science, mathematics, media studies, modern languages and literatures, physics, politics, psychology, Semitic and Egyptian languages and literatures, and sociology.
The Catholic University of America is committed to helping students appropriate an adult spirituality and a deeper knowledge of Church teaching. The university has been visited by two popes, as it has a unique relationship with the Holy See due to its papal charter.
More than 90 percent of full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid. The Office of Student Financial Assistance awards nearly $50 million in institutional grants and scholarships as well as more than $2 million in federal and state grant funds to undergraduate students.
Recent additions to the graduate offerings include the master of legal studies degree, offered by the university’s law school, designed for people who don’t wish to become lawyers but have a need to obtain a foundational knowledge in the law for their careers, and the master of catechesis degree, which the School of Theology and Religious Studies is offering to prepare men and women for ministerial roles in the Church.
Student size: 3,713 (Undergraduate); 3,012 (Graduate)
Student-faculty ratio: 10:1
Franciscan University of Steubenville
Franciscan University of Steubenville integrates strong academics with a dynamic faith environment to serve more than 2,400 students from all 50 states who select from 41 undergraduate and seven master’s programs. The university’s new core curriculum ensures a common grounding for all students, not only in theology and philosophy as called for in Ex Corde Ecclesiae but also in literature, American founding principles, history, fine arts, natural science, and social science.
The university holds faithfully to the teaching authority of the magisterium while boldly pursuing truth. Since all truth is from God and leads back to God, every honest pursuit of truth will begin with what God has revealed and be consonant with what his Church teaches.
More than 80 percent of Franciscan University students receive financial aid, which totals more than $12 million every year. The university also offers a variety of merit-based academic scholarships for excellent students.
In fall 2014, Franciscan University begins its master of arts in catechetics and evangelization online program. Taught by renowned Franciscan faculty members, including Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. John Bergsma, Dr. Alan Schreck, and Dr. Bob Rice, the online program can be completed in two to four years and is designed for those who want to improve their knowledge of Christ and his Church and learn new ways to catechize a world in great need of Christ’s truth.
Tuition, room and board: $30,420
Student size: 2,125
Student-faculty ratio: 15:1
St. Gregory’s University
Oklahoma’s only Catholic university, St. Gregory’s liberal arts curriculum is grounded in the Benedictine tradition of educating the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. St. Gregory’s University offers students the skills they need to be successful professionals as well as ethical, responsible citizens. Grounded in Catholic Benedictine values, they urge students to positively change the world and lead by example.
The faithful Catholic university shares its campus with the St. Gregory’s Abbey and a community of monks from the Order of St. Benedict, some of who serve as instructors and staff members. The Abbey Church has daily Mass, and all are welcome to join the community of monks at prayer five times a day. Students can join several Catholic organizations and participate in an array of devotions and activities. In the classroom, on the playing field, or in the residence halls, the university’s mission is to act with the mind and heart of the Church. Theology faculty and the university president receive the mandatum from the archbishop of Oklahoma City.
Starting this fall, every active Catholic student at St. Gregory’s University will receive a $3,000 grant every year, up from $1,000 per year in the past. The university also has not increased tuition rates for the third year in a row and no longer charges universal fees, which can add up to significant amounts at most other universities.
St. Gregory’s has a robust financial aid program, and almost all full-time students receive some form of financial assistance that does not have to be repaid. Financial aid counselors work with students to customize their financial aid packages.
St. Gregory’s University has partnered with the four Oklahoma Catholic health systems to launch a new Catholic nursing program with a curriculum that will have an ethical focus and be based in Catholic theology and social teaching. Graduates will be well trained to provide holistic care by treating the whole person—spiritually, emotionally, and mentally—as well as physically. Students will also receive a well-rounded and diverse clinical experience and will be recognized as being well-prepared for employment. The process to obtain state and national accreditation for the bachelor of science in nursing is currently underway.
Student size: 682
Student-faculty ratio: 12:1
Holy Apostles College and Seminary
The bachelor of arts program offers a four-year philosophically based Catholic liberal arts degree with the choice of four majors: theology, philosophy, English in the humanities, and history in the social sciences.
The 60-credit core curriculum consists of six Catholic theology courses, six philosophy courses, and six courses in the traditional liberal arts disciplines, with a special focus on literature and history.
Students learn alongside seminarians and religious sisters. Two daily Masses are available, and confession is available before morning Mass as well as twice a week in the afternoon. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is available during the daily Holy Hour.
Eligible undergraduate students may be awarded need-based federal PELL grants and/or federal direct loans.
Holy Apostles opened an Alumni Association in spring 2014 for the purpose of furthering its mission to its graduates and assisting them in job placement. The college (which is approved to offer 50 percent of its programs online) is currently pursuing approval from the State of Connecticut Office of Higher Education for a 100 percent online bachelor of arts program. The college has also developed a BA in educational technology degree program, which it hopes to launch in fall 2014. Holy Apostles makes its Online Writing Lab, which specializes in working with ESL students, available to all students in its programs. The college has launched a series of Massive Open Online Courses at Hacsmooc.cc that are available to anyone at no cost in tuition.
Tuition, room and board: $10,400
Student size: 58 students
Student-faculty ratio: 7:1
John Paul the Great University
John Paul the Great University currently offers two undergraduate bachelor of science degree programs and two graduate programs—an MBA and an MA in biblical theology. All programs operate on a year-round format. Undergraduate students finish their degree program in three years and MA and MBA students in two years. John Paul the Great University’s commitment to innovation and technology paired with a devotion to Catholic tradition makes for one of the most unique educational offerings in the world. The university seeks to “challenge a world in which there is an explosion of knowledge but not of understanding.”
The university’s mission is to graduate leaders and entrepreneurs who know and love Jesus, and boldly proclaim his gospel in culture, impacting fields at the intersections of media, business, and theology, guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ as preserved by his Catholic Church. Every academic day is built around Mass, confession, and Eucharistic Adoration. Students may also develop spiritually in the student community through “households,” which are Christ-centered fraternities or sororities.
John Paul the Great offers a variety of grants and scholarships, including the John Paul II Leadership Scholarship, the Creativity Scholarship, and the Entrepreneurship Scholarship.
Seventy-five percent of students receive some financial assistance.
John Paul the Great Catholic University announced the launch of a new catechetical track for the master of arts in biblical theology. MA. students will now have a choice between an exegetical track and a catechetical track. Both tracks will retain the same core of 13 Scripture and theology courses plus two elective courses. Students in the exegetical track will also take two courses in New Testament Greek, while students in the catechetical track will complete two practicum courses and focus on teaching. At the end of the program, all students will have a choice between a comprehensive exam and a thesis.
Student size: 145
Student-faculty ratio: 11:1
Mount St. Mary’s University
All undergraduate students are required to complete the Veritas Program, a group of core courses that offers students knowledge of Catholic liberal arts, theology, ethics, math, as well as other subjects, helping students become well-rounded individuals who are fully prepared to take on the future.
The Mount, sometimes referred to as the “Cradle of Bishops,” is home to the National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, the second-largest Catholic seminary in the United States.
Through its curriculum, campus ministry and service organizations, community service projects, retreats and campus activities, students experience the intersection of faith and culture in the university’s Catholic liberal arts tradition.
Three Sunday Masses are available on campus, and there are morning weekday Masses at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, as well as at the chapels in two of the residence halls. Confessions are available every day and by appointment. Eucharistic Adoration is frequently available as well.
All students accepted into the Mount’s class of 2016 were guaranteed an academic scholarship based on several criteria, including course achievement, SAT and/or ACT scores, and involvement in extracurricular activities. Financial need is not a factor in merit-based award decisions. Last year, the average freshman award was more than $25,000.
The Mount St. Mary’s University Board of Trustees re-appointed current President Thomas H. Powell to continue in his position for another two years.
Student size: 1,783
Student-faculty ratio: 14:1
Thomas Aquinas College
Santa Paula, CA—ThomasAquinas.edu
There are no majors, no minors, and no electives at Thomas Aquinas College in California. Students read and study the original writings of the great philosophers, historians, mathematicians, poets, scientists, and theologians of the West, including Homer, Herodotus, Plato, Euclid, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Shakespeare, Einstein, and especially St. Thomas Aquinas. There are no classroom lectures or textbooks, but students learn through a sustained conversation in the form of tutorials, seminars, and laboratories guided by tutors and develop the lost tools of inquiry, argument, and translation.
Members of the teaching faculty make a Profession of Faith and an Oath of Fidelity to Church teaching. Theology tutors have a mandatum from the local ordinary. Mass is offered numerous times each day in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, and confessions are heard before and after each Mass. A majority of the students and faculty attend daily Mass and frequent the sacraments.
Thomas Aquinas College is committed to making its program of Catholic liberal education available to accepted students regardless of financial need. The college receives no subsidy from Church or state. It relies, rather, on contributions from individuals and charitable foundations to make up the difference between what students are able to pay and the actual cost of their education. Through the generosity of donors, the college is able to offer financial assistance to young men and women who would otherwise not be able to attend. Loan debt is kept to a minimum, with average student loan indebtedness only $18,000 after four years.
Construction on St. Gladys Hall, which will house eight classrooms designed to facilitate the small, seminar discussions that are at the heart of the College’s unique academic program, is nearly completed. It is the 13th building constructed since the College acquired its campus in the 1970s.
Student size: 370
Student-faculty ratio: 1:10
University of Dallas
The core curriculum is a nationally recognized two-year, 60-credit hour sequence of classes that all UD students take, regardless of major. The core sequence begins with the Greeks and moves forward through the great thinkers that built the Western culture we know today. As part of UD’s core curriculum, students spend a semester studying at the university’s campus in Rome, Italy.
More than 75 percent of students at UD are Catholic. Students have the opportunity to attend daily Mass, reconciliation, retreats, and community service clubs, including a very active pro-life club.
The university actively connects students with opportunities to enrich the lives of others through year-round community service.
Approximately 80 percent of UD’s student body currently receives financial aid in the form of merit- or need-based award packages.
Just weeks after St. John Paul II’s April 27 canonization, his biographer, George Weigel, addressed graduates during UD’s annual commencement ceremony.
Student Size: 1,356
Student-faculty ratio: 12:1
University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas educates students in light of the commitment of the Basilian Fathers to develop the whole person—professionally, ethically, and spiritually. All undergraduates must take the core curriculum, which is rooted in Ex Corde Ecclesiae. UST places a strong emphasis on the study of theology and philosophy, requiring a total of 21 credits in these disciplines for an undergraduate bachelor of arts. Even transfer students must take at least six credits in theology and in philosophy.
There are five schools of the university: the School of Arts and Sciences, the Cameron School of Business, the School of Education, the School of Nursing, and the School of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary. There are 35 undergraduate and ten graduate programs.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is a member of UST’s board of directors and plays an active role in the direction of the university.
The Chapel of St. Basil on campus hosts most of the weekly Masses on campus, the well-attended Sunday Mass, and confession. Three times a semester, a student group sings Gregorian chant for a traditional Extraordinary Form Mass.
Ninety-five percent of first-time freshmen receive financial assistance for their undergraduate education at UST. The university awards nearly $37 million in financial aid annually, including over $13 million in UST-funded scholarships and grants. The average indebtedness of undergraduate degrees in 2013 was $35,358.
WHAT’S NEW: The University of St. Thomas launched the new StThom.edu website in the past year, featuring streamlined navigation, vibrant images, and engaging content to appeal to prospective students, their families, and friends of the university.
Tuition, room and board: $37,890
Student size: 1,609
Student-faculty ratio: 10:1
North Canton, Ohio—Walsh.edu
The most popular of the 60 undergraduate majors at Walsh University include business, management, marketing, education, nursing, psychology, and biological and health sciences.
One hundred percent of the students perform service work.
University President Richard Jusseaume calls the university “deliberately Catholic.” Eucharistic Adoration, campus ministry and student outreach, Rosary, and prayer groups have flourished in recent years. All theology professors receive the mandatum.
At Walsh University, 98 percent of full-time students receive some kind of need-based financial aid, and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $10,668.
Over the past five years, Walsh University has introduced seven new science and healthcare programs designed to prepare students for in-demand and high-paying careers: actuarial science, biochemistry, exercise science, environmental science, master of science in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, and pre-occupational therapy. In addition, Walsh University is adding a 37,000-square-foot Center for Science Innovation, scheduled to open in early 2015.
Walsh University received full standing in the NCAA Division II in 2013.
Student size: 1,854
Student-faculty ratio: 13:1
Wyoming Catholic College
Backpacking, horseback-riding, skiing, and a Great Books curriculum help students learn leadership skills, grow in personal virtue, and communicate well with others at this unique Catholic college.
The college offers an integrated curriculum that allows students to take the same courses and read the same books as their classmates. Graduates all receive the same bachelor of arts degree. This integration allows topics from one course to enlighten and influence similar topics in other classes. Students learn to read and speak Latin, the language of the Church.
Daily Mass is available numerous times a day. An Ordinary Form Mass is celebrated in English with Gregorian chant at noon on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. The Extraordinary Form is celebrated on Tuesday at noon, Saturday at 8:00 a.m., and Sunday at 8:00 a.m. (a sung High Mass). Confession is available on a daily basis, and there is Adoration each weekday from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. Wyoming Catholic College joyfully accepts St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Eighty percent of students receive some form of financial aid. The average graduating debt of the most recent class is $15,000.
Wyoming Catholic College is launching a new career development program. To promote this new program, Wyoming Catholic College has launched a career development website which helps to track, quantify, and publicize the successes WCC students are having in the workplace, as well as documenting arguments for the value of a liberal arts education in the job market. It also provides employers with the ability to post job openings and positions in a central location, which will be readily searchable by both current students and alumni.
Tuition, room and board: $25,150
Student size: 120
Student-faculty ratio: 8:1