Holy Names University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Holy Names University
As one of the most diverse universities in the United States, Holy Names University...

Holy Names University

Oakland, California

Holy Names University is a regional, residential university with an academic program of 20 majors in the arts and sciences. Innovative programs such as sports management and self-designed majors instill in students the desire to be lifelong learners and responsible world citizens.


HNU is co-educational, welcomes students of all faiths, and effectively provides a personal hospitable learning environment. Approximately 70 percent of undergraduate students live on campus in one of the HNU’s learning communities (service, leadership, diversity).


Holy Names University was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1868 on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland. In 1957, the campus was moved from Lake Merritt to a wooded, sixty-acre site in the Oakland Hills. An academic community committed to the full development of each student, HNU offers a liberal education rooted in the Catholic tradition, empowering a diverse student body for leadership and service in a complex world.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
656 undergraduate students
83% of undergrad students are full time
35% male — 65% female
8% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
42 full-time faculty
110 part-time faculty
10 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Students have several living-learning communities to choose from. These halls enhance the learning that takes place in the classroom by placing students with peers that share common interests.

School Location

Oakland, CA

Retention Fall 2015

60% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

40% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 4%
Hispanic/Latino 38%
Black or African American 18%
White 20%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 16%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 3%
Two or more races 2%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 2%


HNU is currently a member of the NCAA Division II and The Pacific West Conference (PacWest).

HNU Athletics offers sports for women in soccer, golf, volleyball, basketball, softball, tennis, and cross-country, and sports for men in soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, golf, baseball, and cross-country.

Mascot: Hawk
Colors: Red and white

Other Information

Holy Names University is a four-year, liberal arts university founded in 1868. It is a multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multinational campus community that offers students growth through diversity. HNU cultivates leaders through hands-on experiential learning opportunities where students develop as a whole person.

Academic Programs

Accounting, Biological Science, Business (with concentrations in Communication, International Business, Management, Marketing, and Sports Management), Communications Studies, Criminology, English, History, Intercultural Peace and Justice, International Relations, Latin American and Latino/a Studies, Liberal Studies (Education), Multimedia Arts and Communication, Music, Nursing, Philosophy, Psychobiology, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology, Sports Biology

HNU also offers pre-professional concentrations in Law, Medicine, Veterinary, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy, and a seamless transition to HNU’s MBA Program.

Connections Project

The HNU Experience involves connecting learning to social justice and service. Students begin the experience with the “Connections Project,” part of a comprehensive first-year experience that prepares students to become lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and responsible citizens. Inherent in the HNU Experience is an emphasis on the total development of students, promoting academic success through experience and reflection on the connections between activities inside and outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to explore their own interests, strengths, and challenges, to embrace multiple perspectives, to engage in meaningful dialogue with others, and to be active participants in creating a good and just community.

Service Learning

HNU’s Center for Social Justice and Civic Engagement works with faculty members to facilitate service learning courses. These courses integrate classroom learning with action alongside some of HNU’s many nonprofit community partners. Service-based learning offers students the opportunity to apply the theories learned in class to real-life social justice work in the Oakland community, which is a vibrant source of social justice activity.

Compelling majors, exceptional teaching, and accomplished faculty members in a highly diverse, personalized, and interactive setting – this is the HNU Educational Experience!

Learning from the Best

Faculty members at HNU are just as passionate about the educational experience as they are about the classes they teach. They share, explore and cultivate their academic interests with students through a balance of real-world experience and academic research. Students have opportunities to take courses taught by published novelists, social justice advocates, and professionals in accounting and marketing who own their own companies. HNU professors are passionate and engaged in their disciplines, eager to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with students.

HNU faculty members have gained wide recognition for their scholarship and teaching. Over 90 percent hold doctorates or the highest degree in their field.

Diverse Campus

Holy Names University is consistently ranked as one of the most diverse universities in the country. HNU’s diversity is due not only to students who represent dozens of different ethnic backgrounds, but also to students who represent more than 20 nations beyond the United States border. Situated in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most beautiful regions of the world, students have access to music, culture, professional sports, and spectacular natural and human-made wonders like the Golden Gate Bridge.

Service and Advocacy

HNU’s students are activists, mentors and leaders. Holy Names University is committed to inspiring students to take action and go beyond just attending class, listening to lectures, and reading a textbook. Students are encouraged to engage the world at every stage of their education. For instance, students can participate in actions and service projects, like helping out at the Oakland Catholic Worker, walking for breast cancer research, and traveling to Tutwiler, Mississippi to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Student commitment to these projects is what makes the HNU vision of service actually happen.

HNU is a living lab of how a diverse community can come together and celebrate similarities and differences. It is a community that reflects where students live and work. Students are encouraged and supported by staff and faculty to host events that are born of the inspiration they receive in the classroom. These include the 24-hour Relay for Life fundraiser and celebration, which is organized by student-athletes in coordination with the American Cancer Society, and the Jim Durbin Entrepreneurship Speaker Series, hosted by students from the Business program.

Each year, HNU hosts the Bay Area Social Justice Forum, which presents speakers from a myriad of local organizations concerned with promoting social justice. In addition to HNU’s annual traditions, like the Community Thanksgiving Dinner, Founders’ Day, Convocation, and Alpha Delta Leadership Awards, Holy Names hosts numerous campus events, including the Pacific Islanders Club’s Luau & BBQ, the Student Success Center’s Academic Toolbox Series, and the Center for Social Justice’s monthly Justice Cafe.

Facilities for Fun and Learning

The Cushing Library offers a variety of events – art exhibits, art talks, book talks, and musical performances. The Glass Lounge doubles as a study space and an exhibit space, where local artists display artwork for the community’s enjoyment. Past exhibits and performances have featured both members of the wider community as well as HNU students and professors.


HNU Athletics currently serves more than 200 student-athletes through fourteen varsity-level sports (seven for women: basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball; seven for men: basketball, cross-country, soccer, tennis, baseball, volleyball, and golf). Athletic accomplishments include 7 California Pacific Athletic Conference All-Sports Awards and 54 California Pacific Conference Championships. HNU was accepted for “Candidacy Membership” in the NCAA Division II beginning 2012.

A Sturdy Foundation for the Future

Preparation for success is deeply embedded in the HNU Experience. With the foundation of the Connections Project, HNU’s first-year experience program, students begin to develop the skills necessary for understanding and action. Goal setting, motivation, learning styles, time management, critical reading, and critical thinking are all addressed to facilitate students’ understanding of not just how to learn, but how they learn.  

Through this foundation, multiple opportunities for hands-on learning through service, internships, and community-based leadership allow students to think critically, to challenge others, to identify the needs of their community, and to understand their own role as agents of change. HNU students don’t just learn about complex issues and theoretical concepts, they learn how to integrate and apply their knowledge in the community and in the workplace. They learn how to make a difference.


HNU also encourages hands-on learning and job preparation through internship opportunities in the local community and beyond. Many majors, such as Business, Sociology, Communications Studies, and Sports Biology either require or strongly encourage students to enroll in at least one internship course as a way to explore, experience, and reflect on their chosen fields of study. In collaboration with faculty,

Career Services

Students at HNU benefit from the Career Center’s focus on preparing graduates for meaningful work and supporting them in the transition to the workplace or postgraduate education. Services include individualized career counseling and job search preparation, career interest inventories and assessments, support in internship search and application process, industry spotlight events, and alumni networking events. Career Services also offers assistance with graduate school research and applications, and encourages postgraduate study through events such as the Bay Area Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education.

Alumni Achievements

HNU aims to prepare its students to think about, engage with, and understand a variety of perspectives. By engaging with the exceptional diversity on campus, students prepare for living, learning, and working in a global society. In keeping with HNU’s mission of service and social justice, alumni are most represented in non-profit organizations and educational settings, but are also leaders in business and finance. Recent alumni can be found working at organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, DreamWorks, Pixar Animation Studios, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Enterprise Rental Car and the San Francisco Giants. Over one third of the most recent graduating class at HNU is pursuing a graduate degree and HNU alumni have attended a diverse array of graduate programs at universities such as Georgetown University, UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Sarah Lawrence.


Admissions Fall 2015

872 Total Applicants 
375 Total Admissions 
119 Total Freshman Enrollment

43% of applicants admitted

Freshman Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 390 470
SAT Math 380 470
SAT Writing    
ACT Composite 15 21
ACT Math 15 20
ACT English 15 21
ACT Writing    


Net Price Calculator



Tuition $35,166
Fees $500
Total $35,666
Room and Board (on campus) $12,072
Room Only $6,290
Board Only $5,782
Estimated Total On Campus $47,738


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

99% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
92% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded student loan aid

$25,411 Average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid awarded
$5,882 Average amount of student loan aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates

Financial Aid Details

The Office of Student Financial Assistance provides a financial counselor to each student on campus based on the student’s last name. One-on-one financial counseling begins at Hawk Day, as each student registers to become a member of the HNU community. 

Through personalized counseling, the Office of Student Financial Assistance strives to provide each student and their family with the following: options and resources needed to fund their entire college education; competencies related to financial literacy; assistance to help them navigate through any financial issues; counseling sessions to help them understand the entire financial aid process and the importance of renewing annually; and an understanding of all loan options including Parent Plus Loans and alternative loans.

Holy Names University provides generous scholarships and institutional grants to eligible undergraduate students to help them succeed at HNU. Awards are based on talent (academic, athletic, and music) and financial need. Talent awards are made on the basis of potential and will not be reduced over time unless the person receiving the award does not meet the criteria on which the award was based.  

HNU also offers a variety of other institutional and endowed scholarships and grants that are based on admission applications and criteria. No other application is required.