Dominican University of California - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Dominican University of California
Dominican University of California is an independent university of Catholic heritage located on a...

Dominican University of California

San Rafael, California

Dominican University of California’s mission is to educate and prepare students to be ethical leaders and socially responsible global citizens who incorporate the Dominican values of study, reflection, community, and service into their lives. The University is committed to diversity, sustainability, and the integration of the liberal arts, the sciences, and professional programs.


Located in a community known for its extraordinary creative and entrepreneurial energy, Dominican’s commitment to integrating the liberal arts prepares students for lives of purpose. The University balances academics with extensive practical, hands-on experiences, including service learning, research, and internships with some of the Bay Area’s largest and fastest-growing companies. Upon graduation, students are well-prepared to enter professional life or continue their studies in medical or graduate school.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
1,358 undergraduate students
86% of undergrad students are full time
28% male — 72% female
14% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
111 full-time faculty
174 part-time faculty
9 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
92% of first year students live on campus
34% of all students live on campus

School Location

San Rafael, California, 12 miles north of Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices 

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


82% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)


66% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 2%
Hispanic/Latino 20%
Black or African American 5%
White 36%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1%
Asian 22%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 1%
Two or more races 6%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 6%


NCAA Div. II varsity sports: Men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, women’s volleyball, women’s tennis, softball. Lacrosse is offered as a club sport.

Mascot: Penguins.


Dominican University of California is an independent, four-year, accredited, private liberal arts college founded in 1890. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Academic Programs

Art (BA, BFA, Minor), Concentration Tracks: Graphic Art, Studio Art, Art History (BA, Minor), Biological Sciences (BA, BS, Minor), Concentration Tracks: Environmental Studies, Molecular Cell Biology, Ecology, General Biology, Business Administration (BA, Minor), Concentration Tracks: Management, Marketing, Finance, Accounting, International Business, Chemistry (BA, BS, Minor), Communications and Media Studies (BA, Minor), Concentration Tracks: Broadcast Media, Cinema, Organizational and Corporate Communications, Print/Media, Sports Communication, Dance/Lines Ballet (BFA), English (BA, Minor), English with a Writing Emphasis (BA, Minor), Environmental Studies (Minor), Health Science/Pre-OT (BS), History (BA, Minor), Humanities and Cultural Studies (BA, Minor), Interdisciplinary Studies (BA, BS), International Studies (BA, Minor), Latin American Studies (Minor) (BA/Credential), Mathematics (Minor), Music (BA, Minor), Music with Concentration in Performance (BA), Nursing (BSN), Philosophy (Minor), Political Science (BA, Minor), Concentration Tracks: International Affairs, International Political Economy, Public Law, American Politics, Moral and Political Philosophy, Pre-Law (Minor), Pre-Medicine (Advising Track), Psychology (BA, BS, Minor), Public Health (BS), Religion (BA, Minor), Sports Management (Minor), Undeclared/Vision Quest Program, Women and Gender Studies (BA, Minor)

More Distinctions

  • First Year Experience Focuses on `Big History'
    Dominican graduate student awarded NIH $100,000 grant for breast cancer-related research

Dominican is known for being close-knit, friendly, and supportive. With an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of 15, Dominican provides both the personal attention associated with smaller schools and the academic resources and global opportunities associated with larger universities.

Engaged Learning

Engaged learning at Dominican University of California includes undergraduate research, service learning, internships, clinical practice, student leadership development, and study abroad.

Dominican’s research-intensive curriculum has raised the bar for undergraduate science education. The University’s commitment to active learning through enhanced research activities results in a highly competitive and skilled student body prepared to continue their studies in graduate, health professional school, and industry.

Service Learning

Dominican’s reach extends throughout the San Francisco Bay Area through service learning and internships. Dominican’s Service-Learning (SL) Program, now in its 10th year, offers more than 40 courses a year across the curriculum. Of 250 students participating in a recent survey, 92 percent said they felt that service learning enhanced their learning of class content and theories.

Study Abroad

As part of the university’s mission of fostering an appreciation of cultural diversity and global interdependence, students are encouraged to participate in study abroad opportunities while attending Dominican. Students can arrange to study in virtually any country where an accredited study abroad program exists. Opportunities are available for every major on campus and for periods of study from one week to one year.


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

Dominican offers more than 60 programs of study, reflecting the diversity and creativity of the University’s faculty and students. Some of the most popular and highly-regarded programs include business, psychology, education, biology, chemistry, nursing, political science, and occupational therapy.

Individual Education

Throughout its curriculum, Dominican offers small-size classes that are conducive to providing an intense and engaging learning environment, allowing faculty to give students more individualized attention.


In the sciences, students work alongside faculty researchers on federally funded research, including studies that examine breast cancer, climate change, malaria, and neurobiology. Each year, students are invited to present their findings at academic conferences throughout the United States. Dominican sends one of the largest delegations of students to present work at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. A significant portion of science students enter some of the top medical schools in the country after graduation.


In the humanities, students can combine dance and musical performance with the study of philosophy, literature, world cultures, and religion. Dominican also offers strong undergraduate professional programs in business, education, and nursing, in addition to graduate offerings in these disciplines as well as counseling psychology and occupational therapy. The University offers a nationally recognized BFA in Dance with Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet.


The new Barowsky School of Business offers undergraduate degrees in accounting, finance, international business, management, and marketing. The school’s professors have accumulated years of experience in one of the most vibrant business centers in the world – the San Francisco Bay Area. Students pursue internships and other activities in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Sonoma and Napa (“wine country”) counties. Recent graduates are working in some of the best companies in California, the U.S., and Asia, including the Big 4 accounting firms, regional and national financial institutions, and global management, marketing, and advertising firms.

First-Year Experience

Dominican is the only university in the United States to offer a multidisciplinary First-Year Experience course based on Big History. Big History is an emerging academic discipline that provides a unifying overview of the 14 billion-year history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present day. Big History synthesizes history, astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, sociology, and other fields to provide a cohesive picture of the history of the human race and its relationship to the planet.


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


Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 83 185 121 18 2 0 0 409

An Outstanding Location

The 80-acre campus is at the center in a historic neighborhood located close to downtown San Rafael’s restaurants, sidewalk cafes, movie theaters, live music venues, and a seasonal farmer’s market. Although only 30 minutes from San Francisco, Dominican’s quiet and safe campus is set at the edge of some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails in the Bay Area. Marin County’s popular Stinson Beach is less than an hour from campus, while Lake Tahoe’s mountain resorts are a favorite weekend destination for skiers and snowboarders.


Dominican’s NCAA Division II athletics program is a member of the Pacific West Conference, which stretches from Arizona and Utah to Hawaii. For the past five years, Dominican has received the PacWest Academic Achievement Award for the highest cumulative grade-point average in the PacWest. The University’s recreational sports program offers intramural leagues in flag football, dodgeball, and soccer. Outdoor recreational options include kayaking, standup paddleboard, golf, miniature golf, batting cages, and hiking.

Student Activities

The Associated Students of Dominican University (ASDU) is the primary group that helps students plan and provide campus activities, distribute activity funds, initiate changes in policy, and represent themselves to the University’s administration and the broader community. This group of elected student representatives serves both as the student activities association and the student government board. The members of the ASDU Senate are composed of representatives from all four class levels of regular day-program students.

Opportunities exist for involvement in many activities on and off campus. Recent events include:  the San Francisco Bay boat dance, pumpkin carving parties, on-campus haunted house, midnight madness, VoteSmart Challenge, flashback dance, intramural sports, pool parties, penguin ball, and karaoke nights.

Dominican also offers a wide variety of clubs, including:

  • The Dominican Sailing Club
  • The Penguin Student Athlete Advisory Council
  • The Water Polo Club, the Black Student Union
  • The Latino Cultural Club, the Debate Team
  • The Harry Potter Association
  • Toastmasters
  • The Green Club
  • The Business Bakers Club
  • Dominican University of California Business Association
  • The Dominican Nursing Student Association, the Dominican Political Science Association
  • The Dominican Students Occupational Therapy Association
  • Dominican Writers Guild
  • History Club
  • Phi Alpha Delta
  • The Psychology Club

Guest Speakers

Each year, Dominican welcomes individuals from the worlds of literature, business, entertainment, politics, psychology, civil rights, and the media to participate in the Leadership Lecture Series. Recent speakers include Leon Panetta, Al Gore, Caroline Kennedy, Carlos Santana, Kirsten Gillibrand, Billy Collins, Nancy Pelosi, Dave Eggers, Isabel Allende, Bill McKibbon, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Chris Matthews. Dominican students have many opportunities to be involved with this series, serving as ushers, technical assistants, and assistants in the green room.


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

The Dominican Vision

Dominican instills the values and theories of interdependence, sustainability, social justice, and stewardship into the entirety of its learning environment. The Dominican learning environment encompasses the education programs, maintaining sustainable working and living spaces and adopting policies and business practices that minimize the University’s environmental footprint. Dominican strives to increase the awareness, knowledge, skills, and sense of purpose within its students, faculty, staff and community.

Dominican’s distinctive vision outlines the goals and strategies designed to empower the University community. Through capacity building, accountability, agility, and innovation, Dominican flourishes in this new era. Dominican is providing today’s students with the skills, knowledge, and values they need to be successful. Dominican is committed to creating a stronger, agile, and more competitive university. Today’s students demand and deserve more and better tools and training, and Dominican is prepared to respond.

Senior Thesis

Special characteristics of a Dominican education include the Senior Thesis, an intensive research project that provides all students with an opportunity to shine in their chosen fields of study. The Senior Thesis can also provide the final distinguishing feature that ensures admission to graduate school or the offer of an appealing job.


Internships are available through the University’s Internship and Career Services Office, giving students the opportunity to explore employment options with local companies. The center also offers workshops and individual counseling on career and job search strategies, résumé writing, and interviewing skills. Internship sites include business, nonprofits, and public agencies that also benefit from the program. Students are required to make a formal presentation regarding their experience, what they learned, and what skills they were able to cultivate. They are asked to explain how their experience enriched their understanding of both their major and their future career goals.



2,178 Total Applicants
1,717 Total Admissions
255 Total Freshmen Enrollment

78.83% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling admission? No

Priority date: Aug 15
Closing date: Feb 1

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Academic GPA Standardized test scores
Application Essay
Character/personal qualities

Class rank
Extracurricular activities
Volunteer work
Work experience

Alumni/ae relation

Freshmen Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 480 560
SAT Math 470 580
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 21 25
ACT Math 19 26
ACT English 20 26
ACT Writing    


Priority application deadlines: February 1 for fall semester and December 1 for spring semester. Admission decisions made within two weeks of receipt of all admission materials.

Admission interviews are recommended, but not required. Each candidate is reviewed on the basis of past scholastic record, present motivation, and potential intellectual development as indicated by all admission materials submitted.

Dominican welcomes applications from all students without regard to race, age, religion, color, gender, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation. The University seeks to enroll students who will take full advantage of the academic and extracurricular opportunities available. Offers of admission are contingent upon sustained academic performance and receipt of a final transcript(s). Offers of admission are valid for one semester only. Deferrals may be granted on an individual basis, after review by the Office of Admissions




Tuition $42,950
Fees $450
Total $43,400
Room and Board (on campus) $14,220
Estimated Total On Campus $57,620


Average Financial Aid Packages 2014-2015 FINAL

$30,651 First year students
$22,028 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015 FINAL

67.52% on average, the percentage of need that was met
10% of financial need students that had need fully met

$22,028 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,702 Average need-based loan


Dominican commits over $19 million each year for institutionally-funded scholarships and grants that directly reduce cost of attendance. Scholarships and grants from other sources (federal, state, or private) also directly reduce the cost of attending Dominican. In addition, educational loan programs can help finance part or all of any remaining costs.

Completing the financial aid process at Dominican is easy. First, complete the 2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To meet the priority deadline, complete the FAFSA after January 1 but before March 2. Once Dominican receives your FAFSA results, they will let you know by e-mail if you need to send them anything else.

Dominican offers scholarships based on academic accomplishments, athletic abilities, musical talent, and participation in their Honors program: Scholarships include Trustee, Presidential, Deans, and Dominican merit scholarships; Scholar in the World awards; Coaches awards; and Music scholarships

At the point of admission, each undergraduate day student is automatically considered for a renewable Dominican merit scholarship. For new freshmen, scholarships are based on high school academic achievement, SAT (Critical Reading and Math only) or ACT composite, and high school grade point average (GPA). For new transfers with more than 12 transfer units, scholarships are based on college GPA for all transferable coursework. Merit scholarships are renewable as long as the student maintains the required GPA and continues as a full-time student.

BFA in Dance Alumna Earns Fulbright Fellowship to Israel

Thorne is the Founder and Artistic Director of Inside Out Contemporary Ballet (IOCB), a professional dance company in Marin County. IOCB’s most recent project, If I Were You, is a long-term international outreach project that enlists...

Dominican Grad Working at NBC Universal in New York

“It’s just too perfect the way it is happening and I can’t be anything but grateful,” Chinchilla says. Her good fortune is the product of hard work and persistence and it started during her freshman...

State of Union Research Attracts National Coverage

Dominican University of California political scientist Alison Howard and colleague Donna Hoffman, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, have spent the past decade studying how presidents use...

MS Grad Students Contribute to Research study in PNAS

Four Dominican master’s science students have participated in an Alzheimer’s disease-based research study that has been published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Brittany Philpot, Alex Patent, Sonia Flores and Gabby Cailing...

Dominican Research Advances Anti-Malarial Drugs

Research conducted by scientists at Dominican University of California, Columbia University, the University of London, Princeton University, and Penn State University has led to promising advances in the quest to understand drug resistance in the...

Dominican Project Leads Multi-State Sod Research

As a result of research conducted at the National Ornamentals Research Site at Dominican University of California (NORS-DUC), the United States Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA) is launching a multi-state nursery research effort to...

Research Links Cadmium to Breast Cancer Cell Growth

A newly published study by researchers at Dominican University of California shows that breast cancer cells become more aggressive the longer they are exposed to small concentrations of cadmium, a heavy metal commonly found in...

First Year Experience Focuses on `Big History’

Dominican University of California’s incoming freshmen will spend their first year exploring the origins and evolution of the universe in an interactive, multi-disciplinary course based on “Big History.” Throughout the year, students will gain a...