Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from its original version to reflect the most recent data for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Students have many options when it comes to choosing a college. Some may want to focus on the school’s strength in academics alone, while others look for a school in a specific location, and some students place a high emphasis on the social scene at the college.
Some students want to be built up spiritually as they learn more about their faith and the many faiths of the world. Students who are interested in attending a school rooted in Roman Catholic traditions may be interested in this list of the 10 best Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S. These schools are devoted to providing a strong education while being rooted in the Roman Catholic faith. Tradition and faith are important to these schools, but they also value diversity and open dialogue. Most of these schools accept and support students of any faith or belief system.
The schools that appear on this list have listed Roman Catholicism as their religious affiliation via the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. These schools are ranked using College Factual’s quality ranking system which is highly focused on outcomes such as loan default rates, graduation rates and average salaries of graduates. You can read more about the methodology here.
1. University of Notre Dame
Founded in 1842, Notre Dame has maintained its Catholic roots throughout the years. This four-year university is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the country and is well known for its research endeavors.
The school has five colleges — Engineering, Arts and Letters, Science, the School of Architecture and the Mendoza College of Business — that offer 65 undergraduate degree programs. These colleges promote interdisciplinary learning and allow students to take classes across departments.
In addition to access to classes in some of the best academic programs in the country, Notre Dame also provides students with the opportunity to maintain their faith. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart offers Mass to students, while the campus ministry helps encourage personal growth in the Catholic tradition.
Although the annual net price for Notre Dame may seem high at first glance, the university is a good value for your money due to its strong academic programs and the potential earnings boost for its graduates.
2. College of the Holy Cross
The College of the Holy Cross was founded in 1843 in the Jesuit tradition. The college is devoted to providing an undergraduate liberal arts education and giving students the opportunity to work closely with faculty members in order to promote innovative thinking across numerous disciplines. Holy Cross also offers its diverse student population the opportunity to become involved in numerous campus activities, including student government and campus ministry. The Chaplain’s Office provides service opportunities, retreats, and immersion programs in addition to chapel services.
Holy Cross typically ranks high on college ranking sites due to its strong academic programs that give students the knowledge and skills needed to make a change in the world. Students receive a top education due to small class sizes and collaborative work between students and faculty. The university is highly selective and accepts only a handful of applicants so if you want to attend this school, it’s important to hit those books.
3. Georgetown University
Georgetown University offers an exceptional education in a variety of fields. Established in 1789, Georgetown is the country’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit school. It has maintained a tradition of exposing students to numerous cultures and beliefs to ensure students receive a well-rounded education. The campus ministry provides students with religious services along with retreats and lectures to help enhance spirituality.
Georgetown is a great school because it offers high earnings boost to graduates along with an impressive graduation rate. The university has some of the best academic programs in the country, including the top Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, and Group Studies and English language and literature programs. Admission to Georgetown is extremely selective and requires hard work.
Dig deeper into College Factual’s Roman Catholic College rankings with this interactive tool:
4. Boston College
Boston College was founded in 1863 by the Society of Jesus and continues to maintain its connection to its Jesuit tradition. The school’s mission includes helping students grow intellectually, personally and spiritually by promoting service.
Boston College is considered one of the top schools in the country thanks to the strength of its academic programs. The school is home to some of the best education, history and philosophy, and religious studies programs in the country.
The university’s high freshman retention and on-time graduation rates make it a good choice for students looking for a high-quality education.
5. Villanova University
Founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842, Villanova University has maintained its Roman Catholic roots and incorporates its values into the curriculum. The school is known for its strong community and works to supplement academics with community service to enrich the lives of its students.
The campus ministry at Villanova helps students develop and strengthen their faith while providing a variety of leadership and service opportunities. The school boasts small classes that promote discussion and the exchange of ideas. Popular majors — such as business, management, and marketing, engineering and programs in the health professions — challenge students to push themselves and meet their potential.
A degree from Villanova will help boost potential earnings for graduates because employers know its students have been provided with an outstanding education that prepared them for success in any field.
6. Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a private school with strong Jesuit roots. The campus ministry provides students with numerous opportunities to strengthen their faith along with the chance to participate in retreats and service trips.
The school has a high freshman retention rate and is known for providing a rigorous and rewarding education. Many students at Santa Clara decide to major in business or the social sciences, which have become two of the most popular academic fields at the school. Students also have the ability to maintain a close connection with their faith and beliefs as they work towards earning an undergraduate degree.
7. Providence College
Providence College is a liberal arts school that focuses primarily on undergraduate education. The school has a strong Catholic and Dominican identity that is the center of its mission and values. St. Dominic’s Chapel is in the middle of campus and offers mass services to students and faculty. The Office of Mission and Ministry works to provide and maintain a strong Catholic tradition, while the Center for Catholic and Dominican Studies provides students with intellectual and spiritual events along with service opportunities.
Providence offers numerous undergraduate majors with classes taught in a small classroom setting. Students have the opportunity to work closely with their professors to ensure they are well equipped with the knowledge and skills to be successful after graduation. Some of the more popular programs at Providence are business and social science. No matter what major students decide on, they can rest assured they will be receiving a top education from this college.
8. College of Saint Benedict
The College of Saint Benedict is an all-female school that is rooted in the Catholic tradition. The school partners with Saint John’s University to provide students with access to a top liberal arts education. Saint Benedict has a solid reputation for developing its students intellectually, spiritually and ethically. The school is committed to providing an environment that helps students maintain and strengthen their faith as they work to earn their undergraduate degree.
The low student to faculty ratio and a high percentage of full-time faculty members ensure students are taught in small classrooms by professors who have vast experience and knowledge in the subjects they are teaching. One of the top programs at Saint Benedict is Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, which is ranked among the top 10 in the country. Saint Benedict is a great option for students who are looking for a dynamic education while maintaining a strong connection to their faith.
9. Thomas Aquinas College
Thomas Aquinas College takes a unique approach to post-secondary education and only offers one integrated program of study that culminates in a Bachelor of Arts degree. Instead of textbooks and lectures, students read the original works of great thinkers and discuss them in various settings. The traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church are intertwined with this Socratic method of teaching for an education experience for both the mind and the soul.
As expected, the college has a great student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1, and 100% of its teachers are full time. The school relies on charitable contributions from individuals and foundations as it does not accept subsidies from the Catholic Church or government entities. Thomas Aquinas College has excellent graduation and freshman retention rates, and a diverse student body that comes from states all across the nation.
10. Gonzaga University
Gonzaga University is a private, four-year school that is dedicated to providing an education rooted in Jesuit and Catholic values. The University Ministry helps to support this mission by offering mass, daily readings and other religious services that encourage and strengthen students’ faith.
Gonzaga offers numerous academic programs with a strong liberal arts focus. Students take classes in the humanities and sciences to help provide them with a dynamic education. Gonzaga is considered one of the best values for your money because it offers an exceptional education at an affordable price. It has high freshman retention and graduation rates and provides good earnings boost for its graduates.
Filed under: THE LOWDOWN FROM COLLEGE FACTUAL Tagged: Boston College, catholic colleges, College Factual, college of saint benedict, college of the holy cross, college rankings, fairfield university, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Notre Dame, providence college, Santa Clara University, University of Notre Dame, Villanova University