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The university that students choose to attend for a four-year degree is one of the most important choices they will make.

It is a decision that will not only impact their education and career prospects, but also their character and identity. 

This is especially true for members of certain faiths who find themselves at odds with the default culture found on many college campuses.

For students of the Roman Catholic faith and non-Catholics alike, a four-year degree at a Catholic university is a possibility. Many of these universities have policies and campus cultures that are highly influenced by Church teachings, while boasting impressive academic records and a range of extracurricular activities. 

AMERICA’S TOP CHRISTIAN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

While college enrollment overall has declined by 3% since 2010, as noted by the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment at many Catholic universities is thriving. 

While this list is not inclusive, read on to learn about some notable Catholic universities in the United States, followed by a bulleted list of others. 

Providence College 

Providence, Rhode Island

Tuition and fees (2023-2024): $60,848

Providence College was founded in 1917 by Dominican friars, and to this day, Dominican friars and sisters serve as professors, administrators, chaplains and counselors. The college’s mission is steeped in its Dominican identity, which seeks, according to the school’s website, “understanding not only for its own sake, but because we believe that the truth informs us about our place in the world and orients us towards that good life which all men and women desire.”

COLLEGE KIDS ARE ‘HUNGRY’ FOR CHRISTIANITY ON CAMPUS, PEPPERDINE LEADER SAYS: ‘CENTRAL’ TO SCHOOL LIFE’ 

Providence College was U.S. News and World Report’s top ranked university in the northern U.S. region for 2024. 

Thomas Aquinas College

Northfield, Massachusetts, and Santa Paula, California

Tuition and fees (2024-2025): $41,400

With two campuses to choose from – a historic New England setting in the Connecticut River Valley and a sunny California campus less than an hour away from Pacific beaches – Thomas Aquinas College says it offers “one program, two coasts.” 

Thomas Aquinas College was founded in 1971 and had a unique curriculum focused on the classics. “In lieu of textbooks and lectures, this college’s students would study only original works — the great books of Western civilization,” and learn from these works in small classes that emphasize the Socratic method of discussion.

Thomas Aquinas College

The Catholic University of America

Washington, D.C.

Tuition and fees (2023-2024): $53,040

Founded and sponsored by America’s bishops with the approval of the Holy See, The Catholic University of America is the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States. It opened in 1889 as a graduate and research center, and began accepting undergraduates in 1904. 

Its location in the nation’s capital city is a major component of the university’s DNA. The campus is located in northeast Washington, D.C., and is a short metro ride to the National Mall, Smithsonian museums and the U.S. Capitol.

Christendom College

Front Royal, Virginia

Tuition and fees (2024-2025): $43,850

Located just outside the northern entrance to Shenandoah National Park, Christendom College offers a liberal arts education with study abroad opportunities in Rome and Donegal, Ireland. 

A strong emphasis is placed on adhering to Catholic teaching at Christendom, with faculty making voluntary oaths of fidelity to the Catholic Magisterium each year. According to the college’s website, “Christendom College fully embraces and implements Pope Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on Catholic Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which is the Church’s constitution or set of norms for Catholic institutions of higher education. 

Franciscan University of Steubenville

Steubenville, Ohio

Tuition and fees (2023-2024): $42,395

The Franciscan University of Steubenville was founded in 1946 by members of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, who had previously established St. Francis College in Pennsylvania. 

The university is dedicated to helping students “grow in wisdom and understanding” while also acquiring the skills to accomplish a God-given purpose in this world, and to offer “a solid liberal arts education and helping you discover the truth about God, man, and the created world.” 

Ave Maria University

Ave Maria, Florida

Tuition and fees (2023-2024): $46,717

Ave Maria University was founded by entrepreneur and businessman Tom S. Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza. His dream was to “restore Catholic higher education amid an age of secularism, progressivism and even doctrinal divergence in Catholic institutions.” 

Ave Maria University was established in 2003, becoming the first new Catholic university since 1963. It has a tight-knit campus community in sunny Southwest Florida, with a 17:1 student-teacher ratio.

Benedictine College

Atchison, Kansas

Tuition and fees (2024-2025): $35,350

Set on the bank of the Missouri River, Benedictine College is committed to the “beliefs and natural principles that form the framework of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and it is committed further to those specific matters of faith of the Roman Catholic tradition,” according to its website.

The college is sponsored by the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey and the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, and presents itself as the inheritor of the Benedictine Order’s 1,500-year tradition. 

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY BECOMES SAFE HAVEN FOR JEWISH STUDENTS ESCAPING ANTISEMITISM

Benedictine College ranked No. 8 on the 2024 U.S. News and World Report list of top colleges in the Midwest region and is recognized for its strong Catholic identity by the Cardinal Newman Society’s Newman Guide, which highlights colleges and universities with a strong Catholic identity.

University of Dallas

Irving, Texas

Tuition and fees (2023-2024): $53,930

The University of Dallas is dedicated to a core curriculum rooted in the history and teachings of Western civilization, which offers students “an opportunity to inquire into the fundamental aspects of being and our relationship with God, nature and our fellow human beings,” as its website states.

The university has its main campus in Irving, Texas, as well as a satellite campus in the historic Due Santi, about an hour southeast of Rome. Students have a chance to study at the Rome campus during their sophomore year. 

University of Mary

Bismarck, North Dakota

Tuition and fees (2023-2024): $19,084

The University of Mary was founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, who first came to the Dakota Territory in 1878 to minister to the local community. Service remains a key virtue for the university, and its mission is to educate and form “servant leaders with moral courage, global understanding, and commitment to the common good,” as stated on its website. 

The school opened as a college for nursing and education degrees, but expanded its undergraduate programs and became a university in 1986.

John Paul the Great Catholic University

Escondido, California

Tuition and fees (one academic year, or three quarts): $28,500

John Paul the Great Catholic University was founded in 2003. It was established after its founding president, Derry Connolly, PhD, was inspired by the Catholic culture on campus while visiting Franciscan University. 

John Paul the Great Catholic University focuses on serving artists and innovators. 

Its website states, “We seek to create culture by bringing together storytellers, artists, designers, leaders, and entrepreneurs in the pursuit of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.” 

The curriculum is centered on a year-round quarter system, in which students can expect to earn a bachelor’s degree in three years. John Paul the Great aims to prepare students to gain real-world experience in their chosen industry, “with a focus on hands-on projects, internships, and portfolio preparation.”

Other Catholic universities across America

  • Boston College
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Portland
  • DePaul University
  • University of St. Thomas
  • St. Catherine University
  • St. Bonaventure University
  • Saint Louis University
  • Georgetown University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Portland
  • Villanova University
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • College of Saint Mary
  • Belmont Abbey College
  • College of the Holy Cross

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