College of the Holy Cross - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
College of the Holy Cross
College of the Holy Cross is a selective, liberal arts institution with a focus...

College of the Holy Cross

Worcester, Massachusetts

College of the Holy Cross is a selective, liberal arts institution with a focus on discovery. Students are encouraged to explore their talents and intellectual capabilities, while applying their skills to improve the local and global communities. 

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
2,729 undergraduate students
99% of undergrad students are full time
50% male — 50% female

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
294 full-time faculty
48 part-time faculty
10 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
99% of first year students live on campus
91% of all students live on campus

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences X
Learning Communities X
Writing-Intensive Courses  
Collaborative Assignments and Projects  
Undergraduate Research X
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning X
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X

Retention Fall 2015

96% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

92% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 2%
Hispanic/Latino 10%
Black or African American 4%
White 70%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 5%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 3%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 6%

Fall Gateways

Fall Gateways is an orientation session that starts on move-in day. Students are enthusiastically welcomed to campus through a series of community-building activities and information meetings. Fall Gateways is a crucial part of the undergraduate experience. In so many cases, students are nervous to leave their families for the first time. Fall Gateways eases that transition by getting students excited about the upcoming year.


Montserrat is the First-Year Experience at College of Holy Cross. The name refers to a mountain and symbolizes a student’s upward academic and personal journey. Montserrat invites each student to act as an engaging and lively member of the intellectual community. Students will explore a broad range of topics that span over several disciplines, and they will learn to become thoughtful in their approach. They will ask questions and contribute to class discussion. Montserrat pushes students to pursue their own journeys of intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth.

The Cluster: The Cluster is a component of Montserrat that organizes students into one of six groups, based on an interdisciplinary theme. Under the direction of faculty, cluster groups come together throughout the year to engage in common texts, topics, and activities. Cluster-wide activities draw connections between disciplines and can be super fun events. In the past, some of the cluster-wide activities have included trips to museums, hiking a mountain, or seeing a theatrical performance.

Living with the Cluster: Each cluster will live together in a residence hall. This is meant to encourage learning outside the classroom, as well as provide a structure of support. The different clusters include: Contemporary Challenges, Core Human Questions, Divine, Global Society, Natural World, and Self.

Washington Semester Program

Students have the option to participate in the Washington Semester, a highly competitive program that connects students from all disciplines to professional experiences. The Washington Semester program is incredibly beneficial. Students gain hands-on experience while learning how to connect their studies to real-world situations.

The program has three components: a seminar, an internship, and research. Students are required to complete all sections of the program. The seminar is a useful resource, pushing students to critically analyze their experience and tie their discipline to their work. The internship provides hands-on learning, which is a valuable experience to all employers. Finally, the research project is completed under the supervision of a faculty advisor. By the end of the program, students will have finished an entire thesis. 

Semester Away

Semester Away allows students to expand upon their discipline by studying through another institution. This is a great opportunity for students to experience another school’s programs, culture, and social life. In the past, students have studied through institutions like New York University, Boston University, and Union College.

Study Abroad

There are 42 study abroad programs at Holy Cross, and the College ranks #1 for long-term study abroad. There are 29 host countries for students to choose from, opening the possibilities to several regions around the world. Students can narrow down their options by searching for programs based on language and subject matter. There is also the choice to study through a full-immersion program—a culture rich experience that forces participants out of their comfort zones.

Independent Cultural Immersion Project

The Independent Cultural Immersion Project is required of all study abroad students, but should not be viewed as an academic burden. Instead, students are encouraged to view the project as an extracurricular activity and immerse themselves in some aspect of the local culture. The project can be fulfilled in three ways: study abroad internship, community-based learning project, or development a hobby or passion that immerses the student in the culture.

Domestic Spring Break Immersion Program

Students may opt to join the Spring Break Immersion Program. The domestic sector of this program allows students to act as volunteers for various projects around the U.S. Not only are participants involved in a variety of community service initiatives, but they also get to bond with a community in need.

A similar option is available during the first semester. Fall Break Immersion calls upon students to serve for a week in October. There are three immersion sites available at this time: L’Arche, Worcester Immersion, and Rural Immersion. L’Arche connects students with a community sector of both intellectually disabled and abled people. Worcester Immersion is only open to first year students and involves service within the city of Worcester. Rural Immersion maintains a focus on sustainable and contemplative living.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries X
Choral groups X
Concert band X
Dance X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band X
Literary magazine X
Marching band X
Model UN X
Music ensembles X
Musical theater X
Pep band X
Radio station X
Student government X
Student newspaper X
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra  
Television station  
Yearbook X

The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies

The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies is an awesome way for students and faculty to explore their interests across a wide range of disciplines. Students can work with faculty to design their own major/minor multidisciplinary program. This is a great way for students with varying interests to combine programs and pave a whole new path. Students can also participate in off-campus, collaborative programs such as Washington Semester Program, Academic Internship, and the Semester Away Program.

Common Core

Arts/fine arts X
Computer literacy  
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages X
History X
Humanities X
Mathematics X
Philosophy X
Sciences (biological or physical) X
Social science X

Class size breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 79 309 159 27 7 4 0 585


Coed dorms X
Men’s dorms  
Women’s dorms  
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students X
Special housing for disabled students X
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing X
Other housing options  

Academic Internship Program

The Academic Internship Program is open to all third and fourth year students. Participants must complete both components of the program, which includes fieldwork and a seminar. With regards to field work, students must spend 8 hours a week on the job. Beyond this, students must dedicate 3-4 hours a week on their seminar and related academic work. Almost 25% of students participate in the Academic Internship Program.


Admissions Fall 2015

6,595 Total Applicants 
2,442 Total Admissions 
738 Total Freshman Enrollment

37.03% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling Admission? No

Closing date: Jan 15

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Academic GPA

Class rank
Application Essay
Extracurricular activities
Character/personal qualities

Standardized test scores
First generation
Alumni/ae relation
Geographical residence
State residency
Religious affiliation/commitment
Racial/ethnic status
Volunteer work
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest

Freshman Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 600 690
SAT Math 620 690
SAT Writing 610 700
SAT Essay 8 10
ACT Composite 28 31
ACT Math 27 30
ACT English 28 33
ACT Writing 8 10


Net Price Calculator


Tuition $46,550
Fees $626
Total $47,176
Room and Board (on campus) $12,748
Room Only $6,878
Board Only $5,870
Estimated Total On Campus $59,924


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

69% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
52% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded student loan aid

$34,876 Average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid awarded
$6,407 Average amount of student loan aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates