Picking the right college can be tough. Students must weigh all options, including a school's selection of majors, its location, post-graduation job success rate, class size, and student-to-faculty ratio.
But for some, faith is sometimes the defining factor in deciding where to earn an education.
Within the United States, there are more than 300 Catholic and Jesuit colleges and universities, 28 of which are known as the “Great 28” Jesuit schools with the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
. All of these institutions aim to strike the perfect balance between integrating faith and reason with a rigorous academic education. These colleges and universities cater especially to students who have a strong desire to grow intellectually, morally, and spiritually while learning to serve and care for others in their local and national communities.
Taking into consideration subjective criteria, such as legacy and influence, along with quantifiable measurements like class size, student-to-faculty ratio, and student retention rates, Newsmax has selected the top 40 traditional Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America.
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1. University of Notre Dame
, Notre Dame, Indiana — Although a larger institution, this college of more than 17,900 makes sure that its students are not lost in the crowd. Lectures once a week break students into smaller discussion groups to provide interaction and add a personal touch to education. Students are heavily involved in athletics and intramural activities at this Catholic university and, while there aren’t any fraternities, it is not a dry campus because administrators would rather students stay and attend parties on campus for safety reasons, according to The Princeton Review
2. Georgetown University
, Washington, D.C. — Based in its Jesuit affiliation, Georgetown teaches “cure personalis,” or “care for the whole person,” according to The Princeton Review
. Being in the nation’s capital has its perks as students commonly hear from political leaders or are taught by former government officials-turned-professors. Additionally, the city provides plenty to do, and networking is a favorite pastime. The nearly 7,600 students tend to be well versed in current events and the world around them.
3. Boston College
, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts — BC is a Jesuit liberal arts college on the outskirts of Boston. The school receives high accolades, and its strong alumni and professional networks provide students with opportunities after graduation. The more than 9,100 Boston students exude school pride as they cheer on their Division I sports teams.
4. Villanova University
, Villanova, Pennsylvania — Each of the more than 10,000 students on campus must take core classes in theology and philosophy at this private Roman Catholic university. Villanova was founded in 1842 by the Order of Saint Augustine. With an emphasis on strong academics (66 percent of admitted students have a GPA over 3.75) as well as athletics (Villanova boasts one of the country's top basketball teams), the school is known to be selective, but is consistently ranked as one of the top regional universities in the country.
5. Duquesne University
, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Its first class of 40 students in 1878 knew the school as the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost before it went on to become Duquesne, the first Catholic college in Pennsylvania. Now boasting a population of more than 10,000 students, the private school is the only Spiritan higher education institution in the world. The Duquesne experience is focused on serving others, whether through tutoring, mission work, or volunteering.
6. Catholic University of America
, Washington, D.C. — Located in the nation’s capital, this institution is great for political junkies and those hoping to obtain good internships. Despite being in a large city, the school manages to maintain a tight-knit community on campus among its nearly 3,600 students. There’s plenty to do in the city and the school offers an array of events from Luaupalooza to university-wide Masses. Community service opportunities are plentiful, as well.
7. College of the Holy Cross
, Worcester, Massachusetts — This centrally located New England college offers a 174-acre hillside campus with a combination of history and modernity in its landscapes and buildings. College of the Holy Cross, which was founded in 1843, is the oldest Catholic college in New England, and it seeks to equip its students to succeed in civic, business, and professional careers and lifestyles.
8. Fordham University
, New York, New York — More than 8,600 students attend this Jesuit university. The school works for excellence in what it does, striving to care for its students while fighting for justice along the way. There are plenty of campus organizations available for students to grow in leadership and enjoy their passions, including the WFUV radio station. The school uses federal TRiO programs to provide opportunities, especially for those in disadvantaged circumstances, and the CSTEP initiative works to get under-represented minorities into the scientific, technical, health-related, and licensed professions.
9. Marquette University
, Milwaukee, Wisconsin — Marquette was founded in 1881 as a university dedicated to Jesuit and Catholic values while in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. Marquette highly prizes academic excellence, leadership, and the pursuit of truth and the development of faith, and it especially emphasizes a duty to one’s fellow man in seeking the truth and living it out faithfully.
10. Santa Clara University
, Santa Clara, California — Santa Clara prides itself on its location and position within Silicon Valley, as well as on its faithfulness in cultivating Jesuit and Catholic values in concordance with its rich tradition and heritage. Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University focuses on nurturing the whole person, broadening knowledge and discipline, and equipping its students to work and minister within the local and national communities around them.
11. Canisius College
, Buffalo, New York — The Jesuits founded this college in 1870, and Canisius offers an education steeped in in a rich Catholic and Jesuit tradition supported by its core liberal arts curriculum. Canisius offers 145 majors, minors, and special programs for its students, and the college has allotted millions of dollars toward autism research.
12. Creighton University
, Omaha, Nebraska — Creighton seeks to offer its 7,000-plus students a contemporary education intertwined with a liberal arts education that remains faithful to its Jesuit roots. This college also makes it a mission to equip students with a lifelong love of serving others through a clear vision and focus centered on ministering to others and making a difference in the world.
13. Fairfield University
, Fairfield, Connecticut — Fairfield University, which was founded in 1942, proudly holds onto its Jesuit roots while offering an education centered on developing the creative and intellectual potential within its students. This college also strives to ensure that each of its roughly 5,000 students leaves the institution with a firmer sense of his or her moral, ethical, and social responsibilities.
14. Gonzaga University
, Spokane, Washington — Gonzaga, which focuses heavily on its School of Law, offers 75 undergraduate programs, 26 master’s degrees, one doctoral research program, and one Doctor of Nursing Practice program. This university seeks to center its education upon Jesuit, Catholic, and humanistic liberal arts values while encouraging its students to care for others and cultivate their gifts and talents for the best possible use in making a difference in the world around them.
15. John Carroll University
, University Heights, Ohio — John Carroll prides itself on being well known for its academic excellence firmly steeped in the Jesuit tradition. It also takes very seriously its students’ desires to flourish in their local and national communities while learning how best to serve them through their educational pursuits.
16. DePaul University
, Chicago, Illinois — DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the United States and is widely recognized for its diverse student body and advantageous location in Chicago. DePaul offers nearly 300 undergraduate majors and graduate programs, and many of the institution’s professors lead successful, high-profile careers within the city as researchers, consultants, entrepreneurs, and lawyers.
17. Loyola Marymount University
, Los Angeles, California — Loyola Marymount prides itself on being one of the largest Catholic universities in the West. With its scenic location overlooking Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, the school offers its students a rich education grounded in Catholic values and seeks to draw from the culture, heritage, and diversity within Los Angeles. It offers more than 60 undergraduate majors, as well as 39 master’s degrees, an education doctorate, and a juris doctorate.
18. Loyola University Chicago
, Chicago, Illinois — This Loyola university, which is consistently ranked among the top universities in the U.S., boasts nearly 16,000 students. Founded in 1870, Loyola seeks to instill within its students a deep love for the Jesuit traditions and values, as well as a desire to love and serve the people around them.
19. Loyola University Maryland
, Baltimore, Maryland — Jesuit priests founded this university in 1852 as the first university to bear the name of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. Loyola prides itself on remaining firmly committed to the Jesuit values and ethics that St. Ignatius held, as well as its faithfulness to its belief in the inherent power and worth of a liberal arts education grounded upon academic excellence.
20. Loyola University New Orleans
, New Orleans, Louisiana — This Loyola university was founded in 1912, and it makes good use of its situation amongst the heart of the city where jazz music was founded. Loyola prides itself on being the only Jesuit university in the U.S. that offers a College of Fine Music and Arts, and it seeks to remain faithful to its Jesuit heritage and moral, social, and personal values.
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21. Regis University
, Denver, Colorado — Regis was founded in 1877 upon a firm Jesuit and Catholic foundation steeped in a commitment to academic, spiritual, social, and personal excellence. Regis also highly encourages its students to engage purposefully with the community around them while discovering new ways in which they may apply their education to serve the community.
22. Rockhurst University
, Kansas City, Missouri — Rockhurst, which was founded in 1910, is committed to engaging with the local and national communities around it by taking its Catholic and Jesuit roots, mixing them with a liberal arts education, and finding ways in which its students can remain culturally relevant in the contemporary world around them.
23. Saint Joseph’s University
, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Saint Joseph’s takes a no-nonsense approach in equipping its students to advance their personal and professional careers with a firm basis in a rigorous Jesuit education. This university places high expectations upon its graduates while supporting them in their studies and ambitions to make the world a better place through their strong moral backbones and character.
24. Saint Louis University
, St. Louis, Missouri — Saint Louis University focuses on serving the community through equipping its students with the education, knowledge, and opportunities to make a difference for the glory of God and the benefit of humanity. This university seeks to instill within its students a desire to utilize their minds, hearts, and talents to pursue excellence in truth in order to transform society.
25. Seattle University
, Seattle, Washington — Seattle University was founded in 1891, and this institution relies upon its religious roots to inform its academic and educational philosophies. Seattle seeks to educate globally minded students through its undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs with an emphasis on exploring where theories meet reality.
26. Spring Hill College
, Mobile, Alabama — Spring Hill was founded in 1830 as a liberal arts institution within the Jesuit tradition, and its mission is to aid its students in discovering and utilizing their unique potentials as leaders. Spring Hill is the third oldest Jesuit college in the U.S., and it is the oldest Catholic college in the Southeast. It boasts approximately 1,400 students from 36 different states and 11 different countries.
27. University of Detroit Mercy
, Detroit, Michigan — The University of Detroit Mercy is the largest Catholic institution in Michigan, and it has taken pride in its long-term commitment to academic excellence through a liberal arts education since its founding by the Society of Jesus in 1877. UDM offers more than 100 academic programs for its roughly 5,100 students.
28. University of San Francisco
, San Francisco, California — This university was founded in 1885 and makes the best possible use of its advantageous location within the heart of one of California’s most eclectic and innovative cities. Both the faculty and students at the University of San Francisco make it a priority to reach academic and professional excellence in their fields, and many of them are heavily involved in San Francisco’s entrepreneurial nonprofit and technological fields.
29. The University of Scranton
, Scranton, Pennsylvania — The University of Scranton was founded in 1888 as a Catholic and Jesuit university with a firm commitment to freedom of inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge and personal fulfillment. This university seeks to inspire its nearly 4,000 undergraduate students and 1,700 graduate students to contribute purposefully to their community through their gifts, talents, and education.
30. Wheeling Jesuit University
, Wheeling, West Virginia — Wheeling takes its Jesuit roots very seriously as it seeks to instill within its students a deep love and appreciation for Jesuit traditions, ethical standards of behavior, service within the community, and the pursuit of academic excellence. Founded in 1954, Wheeling faithfully adheres to its mission statement to support the lives, leadership opportunities, and services of its students.
31. Xavier University
, Cincinnati, Ohio — Xavier caters to its students’ moral, intellectual, and spiritual development as it intertwines the traditional Jesuit ethical values with a liberal arts education. Xavier also seeks to equip its students with the tools and experiences necessary to meaningfully engage with the increasingly diversifying world around them as they learn to reflect and act with compassion.
32. Alvernia University
, Reading, Pennsylvania — Alvernia University proudly holds onto its Franciscan heritage and moral values as it offers an education rooted in a rigorous intellectual tradition that champions diversity of thought, faiths, and cultures. It also seeks to equip all of its students to become active members of their communities while exhibiting principles that are consistent with the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi.
33. Cabrini College
, Radnor, Pennsylvania — Cabrini College, just a short train ride from Philadelphia, offers its students a hands-on, comprehensive education that derives its roots from its Catholic heritage. Cabrini especially emphasizes the need to stand up for the rights and dignity of others while remaining true to one’s own convictions and callings.
34. Le Moyne College
, Syracuse, New York — Although Le Moyne, which was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1946, is the second youngest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S., it was the first to open as a coeducational institution. Le Moyne offers more than 30 majors for its students and it has a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It takes its Jesuit roots very seriously as it seeks to instill those values in students’ hearts, minds, and actions.
35. King’s College
, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania — King’s College was founded in 1946 by the Congregation of the Holy Cross from the University of Notre Dame. This liberal arts college offers a personal setting in which its students have the opportunity to grow spiritually, academically, and socially.
36. Providence College
, Providence, Rhode Island — Providence takes pride in its Catholic and Dominican heritage, and the college was the first institution of higher learning in its state to open its doors to students from all faiths. Providence seeks to integrate a firm understanding of faith and reason, and its doors first opened in 1917 with the blessings of Pope Benedict XV.
37. University of Dayton
, Dayton, Ohio — Dayton is the No. 1 Catholic university in the United States for sponsored engineering and the No. 2 Catholic university for sponsored STEM research. With more than 107,000 alumni across the globe, the University of Dayton believes wholeheartedly in a hands-on education that is informed by faith.
38. University of Portland
, Portland, Oregon — The University of Portland adheres to the Holy Cross tradition, which emphasizes the education of whole person through the head, the heart, and the hands. The university’s core curriculum caters to those values, and the institution maintains its firm commitment to providing an excellent and academically rigorous education for its students.
39. University of San Diego
, San Diego, California — The University of San Diego boasts the nation’s top Catholic graduate nursing program and is ranked third globally for MBAs in entrepreneurship and sixth in the nation for its tax law program. San Diego also offers an excellent study abroad program for its more than 8,300 students.
40. Saint Peter’s University
, Jersey City, New Jersey — Saint Peter’s is all about sophistication in rigorously equipping its students to fulfill their vocations that are firmly grounded in a Jesuit and Catholic education. Saint Peter’s specifically prizes the pursuit of social justice, and brings a well-rounded depth and breadth to higher education in New Jersey.
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