Why Should I Choose a Catholic University or College?

Tyson Schritter / Explore 80+ Catholic Colleges & Universities »

Reviewed and edited by Tyson Schritter : 27 May, 2024.

Whether or not you were raised as a Catholic, these universities offer some unique advantages beyond their special brand of theology. Many American Catholic colleges and universities match up with our Four Distinctions of Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community and Successful Outcomes. Some of the “secular” advantages of Catholic schools include smaller class sizes, a greater focus on students’ individual needs, and faculty and staff that do a great job of preparing their students for careers and graduate schools.

Advantages of a Catholic Education

While founded in the Catholic faith, Catholic schools are very welcoming to students of all religions and backgrounds, as well as those with no religious affiliation. At Boston’s Emmanuel College, students take courses across “domains,” one of which is Religious Thought and Moral Reasoning, but courses cover a broad range of religions and ideologies.

Naturally, if you were raised in a Catholic home, a Catholic university or college will provide a place that is familiar and welcoming. For those who want to attend Mass, or go to Bible study, a Catholic campus offers a place for young Catholics to feel at home. At Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, there is an active Campus Ministry that offers daily worship, retreats and volunteer service, plus ongoing faculty seminars about issues related to the Catholic identity. Could you attend a secular private school or state school and keep your faith? Sure, but at a Catholic school, you’ll find an environment that’s definitely conducive to spiritual growth and Catholic social justice.

Embracing Catholic Intellectual Tradition

The curriculum and course offerings at Catholic universities or colleges are often rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition. At Seton Hall University in New Jersey, the Core Curriculum encourages students to become thinking, caring, communicative and ethically responsible leaders with a commitment to service.

Jesuit Educational Excellence

The Jesuit tradition, which places an emphasis on scholarly excellence and service to others, is one of America’s largest educational networks, with more than 200,000 students enrolled in the 28 Jesuit universities. On the Catholic Colleges of Distinction list, Jesuit schools include Fordham University in New York-founded in 1841, Marquette UniversitySaint Louis University in MissouriLoyola University in ChicagoCreighton University in Nebraska, among others.

Exploring Western Civilization at Providence College

At Providence College in Rhode Island, part of the core curricula is the Development of Western Civilization, an interdisciplinary course that reflects the unique nature of Dominican education, with its focus on the compatibility of faith and reason and an understanding of the complexities in the world. This four-semester, team-taught course explores the ideas, events and people who have shaped Western Civilization from ancient to contemporary times.

Mission-Driven Education

Students who attend Catholic institutions are united by a sense of mission, who want an education with a Catholic worldview, and want to put that into practice in whatever professional career they pursue. Service is part of that mission, and Catholic colleges and universities do a fantastic job of providing volunteer opportunities. At the University of Dayton in Ohio, the Fitz Center For Leadership in Community works to build partnerships with Dayton urban neighborhoods, helping the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized. If community service is important to you, at a Catholic school, you’ll definitely way to get involved in issues and causes that are meaningful to you.

Engaging Community and Values

Catholic schools share many of the benefits of other faith-based colleges and universities: you’ll be with many students and faculty that hold your same beliefs and values, and the environment will be much more structured than at a secular school. Also, at a Catholic university or college, you’ll know that when you attend concerts, join clubs, or go to social events, these will be places you’ll feel comfortable and at ease.

Finding Your Fit

Is a Catholic school right for you? Whether you’re interested in a liberal arts program or university setting, there are plenty of options from which to choose. Take a look at our Catholic Colleges of Distinction, visit the websites, and plan a visit to see which ones are the best fit for you.

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