Notre Dame de Namur University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Notre Dame de Namur University
Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is a Catholic, not-for-profit, private, coeducational institution serving...

Notre Dame de Namur University

Belmont, California

Notre Dame de Namur (NDNU) features small classes that average 17 students, personal attention, quality courses and instructors, and a range of majors. Professors at NDNU are not only gifted instructors, but they are also committed to advising and mentoring students through the college journey. Individual learning is a key feature of an NDNU education. The university strives to give students the tools, knowledge, and inspiration to successfully engage and expand their talents. NDNU’s location also presents learning opportunities through community engagement and internships that can’t be found elsewhere.


The university offers a rich variety of day and evening undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and teacher credential programs. NDNU is the third oldest college in California and was the first authorized to grant the baccalaureate degree to women. The university maintains a strong commitment to academic excellence as well as social justice and community engagement. NDNU seeks new ways to open doors to all students who are driven to grow through higher education.


Notre Dame de Namur University embraces diversity of many kinds. More than 60% of incoming NDNU freshmen are the first in their family to attend college. Of current students, 40% identify themselves as Hispanic. More than 49% of NDNU undergraduates come from underrepresented populations. Among NDNU undergraduates, 95% receive some form of financial aid.  



Student Profile

Fall 2016 Enrollment
982 undergraduate students
75% of undergrad students are full time
34% male — 66% female
10% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2016-2017 Academic Year
54 full-time faculty
154 part-time faculty
12 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2016
83% of first year students live on campus
43% of all students live on campus

School Location

NDNU’s 50-acre campus is situated in Silicon Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula. The region is the heart of one of the country’s most exciting areas for professional growth and personal enrichment. The campus is located 30 minutes south of San Francisco, and just miles from California’s spectacular Pacific Coast, with some of the most beautiful landscapes in North America. The San Francisco Bay Area is a world leader for innovation in technology, social change, culture, and cuisine. The university is ideally situated for students to enjoy the career, cultural, outdoor, and recreational opportunities of the region.

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 X


83% of students began in Fall 2015 and returned in Fall 2016 (full time, first time freshmen)


51% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 5%
Hispanic/Latino 40%
Black or African American 7%
White 23%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1%
Asian 13%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 3%
Two or more races 5%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 4%


Competitive Division II sports program. The NDNU Argonauts participate in sports in the NCAA Division II Pacific West Conference. Individual athletes have won local, regional, and national awards. Sports include men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, soccer, and track and field, as well as women’s volleyball and softball, and men’s lacrosse and golf. NDNU teams travel widely to compete against Division II opponents. Roughly one in five undergraduates takes part in a varsity sport. NDNU teams are called the Argonauts, and the mascot is an Argonaut. The school colors are blue and gold. Please visit the NDNU sports website for more information on the university’s athletics.

Other Information

Notre Dame de Namur University (NDNU) is a Catholic, not-for-profit, private, coeducational institution. The third oldest college in the state of California, NDNU was founded in 1851.

More Distinctions

  • The Economist – Ranked NDNU as a Best Value School

  • U.S. News & World Report – Ranked as one of top regional universities in the West of the United States, and as a Best Value University

  • College Choice – Ranked as one of the best Western regional colleges

  • SR Education Group – Ranked NDNU as the #2 graduate program in Psychology

  • NDNU has been ranked as having one of the top master’s degrees in Art Therapy by Best Counseling Degrees.

  • CASE named NDNU a gold and silver award winner of its 2016 Awards of Excellence program

  • NDNU has been named to the President’s higher education community service honor roll five years in a row

At Notre Dame de Namur University, students can take part in a variety of activities that enrich their education.

Student clubs and groups

NDNU features a variety of clubs and activities that bring together students with common interests in careers, shared identity, social action, and sports. Profession-related clubs include groups interested in accounting, art therapy, business, drama, law, medicine, and political science. The campus also offers student groups such as the American Desis (South Asian heritage), the Black Student Union, Gender and Sexuality Awareness, the International Students Association, Latinos Unidos, and the Muslim Students Association. Socially engaged clubs include Sisters for Change and Students 4 Sustainability. The Argo Spirit Squad and Argomaniacs are clubs that support campus sports teams.

Student leadership programs

NDNU offers multiple opportunities for students to develop and exercise leadership skills. Governance experience includes the Associated Students of Notre Dame de Namur University, the official student government. Juniors and seniors can serve as Resident Advisors (RAs) who function as peer mentors, emergency responders, program and event planners, and community creators in all of the campus’s residential communities. Student leaders also serve on the Programming Board, which creates and provides quality programs and events to engage students with the greater NDNU community. The Spirituality Team works with the Office of Spirituality to promote the personal and spiritual development of NDNU students. The Bonner Leader Program and the Alternative Spring Break help interested NDNU students acquire the skills and knowledge to become effective social activists.

Study abroad opportunities

Students at Notre Dame de Namur University participate in a variety of study abroad programs offering courses for all majors, as well as internships, community service, and travel opportunities. NDNU students have taken part in programs throughout the world: in India, China, Africa, Australia, and Europe. Some of the most popular choices are European universities in London, Prague, Geneva, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, and Florence. Eligible students receive financial assistance for study abroad through financial aid, program scholarships, and NDNU study-abroad scholarships. Students of all majors who are sophomores and above are eligible.


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

NDNU supports the success of each student through a network of programs that enhance student preparation, support student learning outcomes, promote personal identity and career development, provide tuition relief where possible, and improve retention rates.

New virtual reality learning lab

NDNU has recently added a new virtual reality 3D learning lab. The lab features technology such as holographic computing with the Microsoft Hololens, virtual reality headsets and hands by Oculus Rift and VIVE, mixed reality using zSpace specialized computers, and Double Robotics and Swivl telepresence robots. With this state-of-the-art learning technology, students can study the anatomy of the human heart in three dimensions, inside and out. For example, students can actually see and feel a heartbeat while it is both at rest and during exercise.

Writing Center and tutoring

NDNU offers a drop-in Writing Center where students may come for assistance with their writing and any course assignments requiring writing. Friendly, dedicated instructors and capable tutors are part of the high quality of instruction at the Writing Center. Tutoring is also available for other subjects. NDNU is committed to providing the support to help students succeed.

Freshman seminars

These small classes provide an introduction to university-level academic life. Students and their professors grapple with complex questions together, while simultaneously learning about themselves as learners and as members of the NDNU campus community. Students also work alongside community partner organizations. From the very beginning of their university experience, they apply their academic knowledge and skills to practical community needs. All freshman read and discuss one book in common as part of a shared academic experience and their entry into a learning community.


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


Other: Religious Studies, Community Engagement


Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 55 153 89 8 0 0 0 305

Sister Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement

The Stang Center is a unique resource that provides numerous opportunities for NDNU students to learn while involved in community engagement activities. Named in honor of Sister Dorothy Stang, who advocated for the poor and for land rights in the rainforest in Brazil, the center seeks to build on her legacy to work for positive social change. The center facilitates student engagement through collaborations and partnerships with a range of community organizations involved in tutoring, housing and homelessness, family and women’s shelters, food banks, restorative justice, environmental preservation, and other issues. The center also invites guest speakers to visit campus to discuss the latest developments in social justice.

Art gallery on campus; students hang exhibitions

The Wiegand Gallery is housed at NDNU in a magnificent 1874 carriage house made of native stone quarried on campus. This exhibit space provides an unusually warm and inviting environment for experiencing art. Students hang the shows themselves as part of classes on art curating. There is also an annual show of student art. The gallery focuses attention on the accomplishments of outstanding, under-recognized artists, as well as rarely seen work by renowned artists. The Wiegand Gallery produces exhibitions that broaden our understanding of social, political, and multicultural questions.

Office of Spirituality

Guided by the spirit of the Sisters of Notre Dame, the Office of Spirituality is a vital and active group that seeks to honor the many religious traditions and spiritual paths in the campus community. The office provides diverse opportunities for tending the sacred in ourselves, each other, and the world. Through the Office of Spirituality, students work and learn collaboratively with community partners to bring about a more just society and positive social change.

Foundresses Week honors the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the university’s history

Notre Dame de Namur University, founded in 1851, is the third oldest college in California. Each year in February, the campus sponsors a series of activities to highlight its founders, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and the Hallmarks that distinguish the education at NDNU. These activities center around the university’s historic buildings and heritage, and the ongoing importance of social justice and diversity at NDNU.

Inspirational guest speakers

NDNU’s location in the San Francisco Bay Area attracts dynamic guest speakers. Recent visitors include Apple computer marketing guru and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki; and John Chisholm, author of Unleash Your Inner Company.

Active performing arts community

NDNU’s major in Musical Performance fosters an active performing arts community on campus. Highlights include the annual spring musical, a full-scale production with professional-quality staging.


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

Community engagement and the NDNU education

Notre Dame de Namur University features community-based learning and an annual campus-wide Call to Action Day, where students, faculty, and staff engage in service. The campus’s Sister Dorothy Stang Center and the Center for Spirituality both offer opportunities for learning through service. Many academic classes also incorporate into their curriculum hands-on projects with community organizations.

Career services and opportunities

Notre Dame de Namur University is located near San Francisco and in Silicon Valley, two of the world’s most dynamic centers for technology and innovation. Career fairs on campus attract a variety of local employers, including corporations, nonprofits, local school districts, small businesses, and government agencies. The Career Services Office provides career counseling, for-credit classes, information resources and tools, and on-campus events aimed at fostering the career development of students and alumni. The center offers career counseling and maintains a career resource library.

Capstone courses

Almost all majors at NDNU culminate in capstone courses that give students the opportunity to integrate and demonstrate knowledge and skills acquired during their study in the major. The courses generally involve student projects, papers, or presentations. Student work in these courses ranges from creating a live performance, to starting a community organization, to writing a research paper, to drawing up a business plan for a start-up.



1,234 Total Applicants 
1,193 Total Admissions 
157 Total Freshmen Enrollment

96.68% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2017-18 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes

Priority date: Feb 1

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Academic GPA
Character/personal qualities
Volunteer work

Rigor of secondary school record
Class rank
Extracurricular activities

Standardized test scores
Application Essay
First generation
Alumni/ae relation
Racial/ethnic status
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest

Freshmen Profile Fall 2016

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 400 508
SAT Math 400 510
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 17 22
ACT Math 16 24
ACT English 15 23
ACT Writing    




Tuition $33,926
Fees $270
Total $34,196
Room and Board (on campus) $13,656
Estimated Total On Campus $47,852


Average Financial Aid Packages 2016-17 Estimated

$29,093 First year students
$21,049 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2016-17 Estimated

59.81% on average, the percentage of need that was met
4% of financial need students that had need fully met

$21,049 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,283 Average need-based loan


As a smaller, private university, the NDNU Office of Admissions advises and reviews each applicant individually. Admissions decisions are based on evaluating an applicant’s entire file. The most important considerations include the academic courses that applicants have taken and their grades in those courses, activities and leadership experiences, an applicant’s ability to balance work and academics, and the essay. Test scores are used only to validate grades, courses, and experiences.

Campus tours and opportunities to shadow a current student are available and give applicants and their families another avenue to explore NDNU and meet representatives of the Office of Admissions.

The Financial Aid Office at Notre Dame de Namur University offers a complete array of financial and support services designed to help students with the education-related expenses involved in obtaining educational goals.

Competitive scholarships available to NDNU students include the Ralston Presidential and Provost Scholarships, the Belmont Scholarship, Athletics Scholarships, Emerging Talent Scholarships, and Catholic Schools Scholarships. There are also numerous scholarships endowed in honor of individuals.

NDNU is fully accredited institution where students are eligible for all federal education grants and/or loans for which they qualify.