Saint Francis University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Saint Francis University
Saint Francis University has been has educating competent, caring professionals in the tradition of...

Saint Francis University

Loretto, Pennsylvania

Saint Francis University offers academic study within the Franciscan tradition of using one’s talents to serve others. The more than 60 offerings include highly targeted, career-focused majors grounded in the liberal arts tradition of inquiry and self-discovery. The values of respect, drive, generosity and joy run deep in the University culture and help to prepare ethical, knowledgeable professionals with a passion to shape the world. This holistic approach to career preparation is supported by respected faculty who work closely with students in small settings to meet individual goals. 



Student Profile

Fall 2014 Enrollment
1,991 undergraduate students
80% of undergrad students are full time
38% male — 62% female
24% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2014-2015 Academic Year
133 full-time faculty
103 part-time faculty
14 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Saint Francis University has 11 residence halls including Christian Hall, which has a spectacular view of the central Pennsylvania mountains. Living options include traditional residential dorms, study floors, non-smoking floors, single suites, apartments, townhouses, and rooms with private bathrooms.

School Location

Saint Francis University is located in Loretto, a quaint town in Cambria County, Pennsylvania about two hours east of Pittsburgh. The rural 600-acre campus is located in a scenic portion of the Allegheny Mountains centrally located between New York and Washington DC, making day trips to urban experiences possible for student.

Retention Fall 2014

85% of students began in Fall 2013 and returned in Fall 2014 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 Year Graduation Rate 2014

72% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 2%
Hispanic/Latino 1%
Black or African American 6%
White 81%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 2%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 1%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 7%


Home of the Red Flash, Mascot “Frankie the Friar”

NCAA Division I
Northeast Conference Member

21 varsity teams 
Men‘s: baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, indoor track or outdoor track, soccer, tennis, and volleyball
Women‘s: basketball, bowling, cross country, field hockey, golf, indoor track, outdoor track, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis volleyball, and water polo
Club Sports: baseball, fishing, golf, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, table tennis, ultimate frisbee, weightlifting, and wrestling.

Academic Programs

Accounting, Arts & Letters, Allied Health, Bioinformatics, Digital & Strategic Media, Criminal Justice, Education, Environmental Studies, History, Management, Political  Science, Pre-Professional Studies, Public Health, Sociology, Zoo & Aquarium Science , STEM fields, Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering, Environmental Engineering

More Distinctions

  • Founded by the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular in 1847 as the first Franciscan university in the nation.

  • Designated by the Templeton Foundation as one of the nation's Top 100 Character Building Colleges.

  • Named one of the top 100 colleges and universities in America in a new report by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. "Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two and Four- Year Schools."

  • One of the smallest schools in the NCAA Division I, yet it is is well known for its excellence in the field of competition, always among the top finishers in the Northeast Conference's Commissioner's Cup Standings and recognized annually with All-American Selections.

  • The University’s Greek Life community stands as the oldest Greek system at any Catholic college in the U.S.

  • Saint Francis University’s student-athletes and its Greek members are routinely recognized as top academic achievers both internally and as compared to their peers at other institutions.

  • Named as one of Money Magazine's BEST Colleges for the money and ranked by both the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report's in their “Best Colleges” surveys.

Diversity/Global Experiences

“A Global Vision” is one of the key tenets of the University’s “Goals of Franciscan Education.” To foster understanding of other cultures, the university encourages study abroad through semester-long study at the university-operated facility in Ambialet, France as well as shorter excursions related to their field of study such as Engineering in Bolivia and Sign Language Immersion in Jamaica. On campus, students participate in diversity programing throughout the year with one of the larger events being “Multicultural Week.”   

Undergraduate Research and Service

Saint Francis students enhance the theoretical knowledge gained through classroom experiences with faculty-guided research and service projects. As a core element of the University’s Franciscan mission, every student is required to participate in some form of research and service, and many start as early as their freshman year. As part of their class curricula, undergraduate and graduate students can work alongside Ph.D. faculty members in research and service projects. They can also enjoy unique experiences through such specialized outreach centers as the Center for Watershed Research and Service, The Keirn Family World War II Museum, the Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation, and the Center for Rural Cancer Survivorship.

Caring, Professional Faculty

Saint Francis University’s faculty place a special emphasis on enthusiasm motivation in the classroom, all while helping students to develop as compassionate, ethical professionals. On a practical level, this means one-on-one interaction in small classes, as well as collaborative experiences outside of classroom.  

While teaching is the number one priority, faculty actively contribute to their field of specialization by conducting service projects as well as researching and publishing in their field. They routinely involve both their undergraduate and graduate students in their work. Because of this close working relationship with PH.D-level faculty, students have the opportunity to have work published and to present at national conferences.  

Centers of Learning

The University provides a rich tapestry of hands-on service and research opportunities through its centers and institutes.These include the Disepio Institute for Rural Health and Wellness, The Institute for Ethics, The Keirn Family World War II Museum, and The Small Business Development Center to name a few. These entities provide practical internship experience, thus allowing students to delve deeply into a subject area. In addition to these formal centers, there are several clubs and organizations dedicated to certain areas of study. These groups build upon the concepts taught in the classroom and, in some cases, they allow students to network with industry leaders. Many majors also have discipline-specific study zones to enhance collaboration.

Ethical Citizenship for the 21st Century

Through the General Education program, Ethical Citizenship for the 21st Century, students build a solid academic base, establish critical thinking skills, a love for learning, and a strong moral foundation. The program extends beyond the classroom to include lectures, presentations, performances, service projects and other educational activities. The result is an educational experience that is diverse and practical, and at the same time integrated and focused. Core components of the program include: the community enrichment series, a writing competency exam, wellness initiatives, the summer reading program, and study abroad and service learning.

Honors Program

The Saint Francis University (SFU) Honors Program is designed to challenge highly motivated students by making them part of a community of learners, while at the same time affording them the opportunity to devise a personal program of study. Students are introduced to the Honors Program through a year-long learning community experience consisting of a four-course sequence with intense critical thinking, writing and speaking components.  Based upon the Franciscan ideal of concern for others above self, service learning activities are built into all upper-level Honors seminars.  An original research project is the program’s capstone requirement.

Honors House

Those participating in the Honors Program are the only students granted priority registration at the university.  The Honors House includes a conference room-with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment-for seminars and Honors core courses; a residence for eight Honors students per year; a 24-hour study space for all Honors students; and meeting, lecture and movie space. Founded in 1984, the program currently enrolls 100 students.

Clubs & Activities

The University’s campus capitalizes greatly on its beautifully natural, rural setting, standing as a comfortable environment in which student activities can thrive. There are more than 50 official clubs and organizations including Campus Ministry, club sports, Greek Life, the Literary Guild, and marching band. Athletics also plays a major role in the student life, with twenty-three NCAA Division I sports for men and women ranging from football to water polo.

Community Enrichment Series

The University sponsors a wide-range of cultural events that are integrated into the curriculum as “CES” credits.  By attending a lecture, concert, theatrical performance, or other select events on campus, students can receive community enrichment credits towards completion of their degree. Outside groups such as the American Shakespeare Center are invited to host a variety of activities, while the University’s staff collaborate to host events like the “International Coffee House” sessions.

Franciscan Endowment Series

As a way to encourage scholarly research and promote activities that reflect the works of St. Francis, St. Clare, and Dorothy Day, the university began the The Rev. Gabriel J. Zeis, T.O.R. Endowment in Franciscan Studies and Roman Catholic Theology. This endowment has enabled the University to host such speakers as Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and Fr. Dan Horan, OFM, who presented on the topic of the Franciscan Response to Racism

Great Outdoors

Saint Francis University isn’t just near the great outdoors, it is the great outdoors. High in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, students find a rare combination of vibrant campus life within a close-knit campus community setting. Recreational activities abound for all four seasons both on campus and at nearby state and national parks. Many academic programs take advantage of the natural setting to promote environmental advocacy and conduct research in areas like improving water quality.

Multicultural Week

Every September, the School of Arts & Letters hosts the annual Multicultural Week for a lively celebration of the diverse student body on campus. Each day throughout the week is packed with vibrant cultural activities, all culminating in a large Multicultural Festival on the final day, which is packed full of music, art, poetry, and food that represents countries from all over the world.

Reaching Every Door

Organized by Saint Francis’ chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma, Reaching Every Door (R.E.D.) is an annual event in which the Saint Francis community commits a full day to meaningful service. Throughout R.E.D., students disperse into the local community and give back to all those who work hard to help keep Saint Francis and the greater Loretto area afloat.

Saint Francis University students go on to become accountants, biologists, business owners, chemists, doctors, environmental engineers, lawyers, nurses, occupational therapists, physician assistants, and physical therapists to name just a few–and they carry their Franciscan values with them.

Transformational Experiences

Saint Francis University highly values the extra steps students take to become professionally engaged in the world beyond college. Because of that, the University now issues two separate transcripts to its graduates in order to highlight every effort. In addition to a standard academic transcript, students receive a transcript that acknowledges accomplishments within six categories of Transformational Experiences: internship, study abroad, community service, leadership experiences, and campus ministry. This is known as a student’s L.I.S.T  (Leadership, Involvement, & Service Transcript).

Service Learning

While service learning has always been a part of the fabric of the Franciscan tradition, recently, the university strengthened the goal of connecting service activities and career preparation. In fall 2015, the Center for Service & Learning  was formed to engage students, faculty, staff and community partners in ways that would bring together academic programming to benefit the greater community.  

Internships and Career Services

The University’s Career Services office recently added a dedicated staff member who assists academic departments in procuring  internship opportunities for students by building relationships with businesses and organizations. Saint Francis students have interned with The Cleveland Clinic, the National Aquarium (Washington DC), British House of Commons, Republican and Democratic National Conventions, to name a few.

First Destination Report

The Class of 2015 First Destination Report features data collected from the Class of 2015 about their post-graduate outcomes. Job locations, employment and salary outcomes, career snapshots and much more is embedded in this report. The University’s overall employment/graduate school rate for the Class of 2015 remains competitive at 99% employed or attending graduate school within 9 months of graduation (95% employed or attending graduate school within 6 months). The 2016 survey is currently underway.


Admissions Fall 2014

1,640 Total Applicants
1,127 Total Admissions
394 Total Freshmen Enrollment

68.72% of applicants admitted

Freshmen Profile Fall 2014

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 450 560
SAT Math 470 570
SAT Writing 440 560
ACT Composite 20 25
ACT Math 18 25
ACT English 19 24
ACT Writing    

How to Apply

The Office of Admissions encourages students to submit their completed application  as soon as possible in their senior year. To be considered for the following fall semester, your application should be filed no later than June 1.

Saint Francis University admits students on a rolling basis.  Students will be notified of an admissions decision approximately three to five weeks after the completed application is submitted. The Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy majors have a December 1 priority application date.

  • To be considered for admission a student must submit the following:
  • The completed Saint Francis University Online Application or the Common Application.
  • Candidates must submit a transcript showing completion of at least 16 academic units of work.
  • Candidate must submit scores from the SAT I or the ACT. Candidates are encouraged to submit these results directly from the testing agency.
  • Candidates are required to submit at least one letter of recommendation.
  • An essay is required to be considered for admission. Please refer to the Saint Francis University application for essay options.


Net Price Calculator


Tuition $30,028
Fees $1,050
Total $31,078
Room and Board (on campus) $10,760
Room Only $5,406
Board Only $5,354
Estimated Total On Campus $41,838


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

98% of full-time first-time undergraduates receiving any financial aid
86% of full-time first-time undergraduates receiving student loan aid

$20,599 Average amount of federal state local or institutional grant aid received
$9,123 Average amount of student loan aid received by full-time first-time undergraduates

Scholarship Opportunities

Founders Award
Amount: $42,000 – $64,000 ($10,500 – $16,000 each year for all four undergraduate years).  A minimum 3.7 GPA in a college preparatory curriculum. A minimum score of 1250 on the SAT I (Math & Critical Reading) or ACT Composite of 28.

Presidential Award
Amount: $30,000 – $40,000 ($7,500 – $10,000 each year for all four undergraduate years).  A minimum 3.5 GPA in a college preparatory curriculum. A minimum score of 1100 on the SAT I (Math & Critical Reading) or ACT Composite of 24.

Assisi Award
Amount: $12,000 – $28,000 ($3,000 – $7,000 each year for all four undergraduate years). A minimum 3.2 GPA in a college preparatory curriculum.  A minimum score of 1020 on the SAT I (Math & Critical Reading) or ACT Composite of 22.

Red Flash Co-Curricular Achievement Award
Amount: $4,000 – $24,000 ($1,000 – $6,000 each year for all four undergraduate years)

Based on demonstration of co-curricular involvements with particular emphasis on leadership positions held and accomplishments through the Application for Admission. The provision of additional documentation, e.g., resume, activities list, recommendation letters, etc., that shows demonstrated leadership and involvement is encouraged. Awards will be granted to accepted eligible students based on the level and depth of their involvements.

Franciscan Award
Amount: $8,000 ($2,000 each year for all four undergraduate years) Available to eligible graduates of a Catholic high school.


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