Saint Francis University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Saint Francis University
Saint Francis University has been educating competent, caring professionals in the tradition of St....

Saint Francis University

Loretto, Pennsylvania

Saint Francis University offers academic study within the Franciscan tradition of using one’s talents to serve others. The more than 60 offerings include highly targeted, career-focused majors grounded in the liberal arts tradition of inquiry and self-discovery. Highly regarded programs in health science, education, business, and science attract a diverse student body to the beautiful campus setting. The values of respect, drive, generosity, and joy run deep in the University culture and help to prepare ethical, knowledgeable professionals with a passion to shape the world. This holistic approach to career preparation is supported by respected faculty who work closely with students in small settings to meet individual goals.



Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
2,045 undergraduate students
78% of undergrad students are full time
39% male — 61% female

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
130 full-time faculty
0 part-time faculty
14 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Saint Francis University has 11 residence halls including Christian Hall, which has a spectacular view of the central Pennsylvania mountains. Living options include traditional residential dorms, study floors, non-smoking floors, single suites, apartments, townhouses, and rooms with private bathrooms.

School Location

Saint Francis University is located in Loretto, a quaint town in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, about two hours east of Pittsburgh. Ebensburg, the county seat, is located 6 miles from campus. Altoona and Johnstown, located approximately 20 minutes from campus, offer a wide variety of shopping and dining options. The residential 600-acre campus is located in a scenic portion of the Allegheny Mountains centrally located between New York and Washington, D.C., making day trips to urban experiences possible for student.

Retention Fall 2015

87% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

72% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 2%
Hispanic/Latino 1%
Black or African American 6%
White 52%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 2%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 1%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 36%


Saint Francis University boasts one of the smallest NCAA Division I athletic programs in the country. 23 successful athletic teams compete in the Northeast Conference.     

23 varsity teams
Men‘s: baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, indoor track or outdoor track, soccer, tennis, and volleyball
Women‘s: basketball, bowling, cross country, field hockey, golf, indoor track, outdoor track, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, volleyball, and water polo

Club Sports: baseball, fishing, golf, ice hockey, rugby, soccer, table tennis, ultimate frisbee, weightlifting, and wrestling.

Other Information

Saint Francis University is a private, coeducational institution founded in 1847 by the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular.  

Academic Programs

Accounting, Arts & Letters, Allied Health, Bioinformatics, Digital & Strategic Media, Criminal Justice, Education, Environmental Studies, History, Management, Political  Science, Pre-Professional Studies, Public Health, Sociology, Zoo & Aquarium Science , STEM fields, Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering, Environmental Engineering

More Distinctions

  • Founded by the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular in 1847 as the first Franciscan university in the nation.

  • Designated by the Templeton Foundation as one of the nation's Top 100 Character-Building Colleges.

  • Named one of the top 100 colleges and universities in America in a new report by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. "Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools."

  • One of the smallest schools in the NCAA Division I, yet well-known for its excellence in the field of competition. The University is consistently among the top finishers in the Northeast Conference's Commissioner's Cup Standings and recognized annually with All-American Selections.

  • The University’s Greek Life community stands as the oldest Greek system at any Catholic college in the U.S.

  • Saint Francis University’s student-athletes and its Greek members are routinely recognized as top academic achievers both internally and as compared to their peers at other institutions.

  • Named as one of Money Magazine's BEST Colleges for the money and ranked by both the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report's in their “Best Colleges” surveys.

Saint Francis University has a strong commitment to transformational experiences for students. Embedded in the strategic plan of the institution is a firm commitment to ensuring high impact, transformational experiences as a means for students to deepen their educational career. Saint Francis University aims to have all students complete and document a minimum number of experiences via a co-curricular transcript. The six areas of emphasis that Saint Francis University identifies as transformational experiences include internships, research, study abroad, leadership, community service, and campus ministry. Strategic investments have been made by the institution in an effort to diversify learning opportunities, enhance marketability of student,s and provide mechanisms for self-discovery. More information may be found at

Diversity/Global Experiences

“A Global Vision” is one of the key tenets of the University’s “Goals of Franciscan Education.” To foster understanding of other cultures, the university encourages study abroad through semester-long study at the university-operated facility in Ambialet, France, as well as shorter excursions such as Engineering in Bolivia and Sign Language Immersion in Jamaica. On campus, students participate in diversity programming throughout the year, with one of the larger events being “Multicultural Week.”  

Undergraduate Research and Service

Saint Francis students enhance the theoretical knowledge gained through classroom experiences with faculty-guided research and service projects. As a core element of the University’s Franciscan mission, every student is required to participate in some form of research and service, and many start as early as their freshman year. As part of their class curricula, undergraduate and graduate students can work alongside Ph.D. faculty members in research and service projects. They can also enjoy unique experiences through such specialized outreach centers as the Center for Watershed Research and Service, The Keirn Family World War II Museum, the Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation, and the Center for Rural Cancer Survivorship.

Common Intellectual Experiences

At Saint Francis University, every student completes carefully designed General Education experience. This experience starts the first year when students take such common core courses as English, First-Year Seminar, Writing for a Discipline, Franciscan Goals for Today, and Community Enrichment Series. Students progress through their academic careers, pursuing advanced integrative studies along with a variety of curricular and cocurriular options.

Caring, Professional Faculty

Saint Francis University’s faculty place a special emphasis on enthusiasm and motivation in the classroom, all while helping students to develop as compassionate, ethical professionals. On a practical level, this means one-on-one interaction in small classes as well as collaborative experiences outside of classroom.  

While teaching is their number-one priority, Saint Francis faculty actively contribute to their field of specialization by conducting service projects as well as researching and publishing in their field. They routinely involve both their undergraduate and graduate students in their work. Because of this close working relationship with PH.D-level faculty, students have the opportunity to have work published as well as to present at national conferences.  

Centers of Learning

The University provides a rich tapestry of hands-on service and research opportunities through its centers and institutes. Just a few of these include the Disepio Institute for Rural Health and Wellness, The Institute for Ethics, The Keirn Family World War II Museum, and The Small Business Development Center. These entities provide practical internship experience, thus allowing students to delve deeply into a subject area. In addition to these formal centers, there are several clubs and organizations dedicated to certain areas of study. These groups build upon the concepts taught in the classroom and, in some cases, allow students to network with industry leaders. Many majors also have discipline-specific study zones to enhance collaboration.

Ethical Citizenship for the 21st Century

Through the General Education program, Ethical Citizenship for the 21st Century, students build a solid academic base while establishing critical-thinking skills, a love for learning, and a strong moral foundation. The program extends beyond the classroom to include lectures, presentations, performances, service projects, and other educational activities. Such an educational experience is diverse and practical while also being highly integrated and focused. Core components of this program include the community enrichment series, a writing competency exam, wellness initiatives, the summer reading program, study abroad, and service learning.

Honors Program

The SFU Honors Program is designed to challenge highly motivated students by making them part of a community of learners, while at the same time affording them the opportunity to devise their own personal program of study. Students are introduced to the Honors Program through a year-long learning community experience consisting of a four-course sequence with intense critical thinking, writing, and speaking components.  Based upon the Franciscan ideal of concern for others above self, service learning activities are built into all upper-level Honors seminars. An original research project serves as the program’s culminating capstone requirement. Those participating in the Honors Program are the only students granted priority registration at the university.

The Honors House includes a conference room-with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment; a residence for eight Honors students per year; a 24-hour study space for all Honors students; and a meeting, lecture, and movie space. Founded in 1984, the program currently enrolls 100 students.

Clubs & Activities

The University’s campus capitalizes greatly on its beautifully natural, rural setting, standing as a comfortable environment in which student activities can thrive. There are more than 60 official clubs and organizations, including Campus Ministry, club sports, Greek Life, the Literary Guild, and marching band. Athletics also plays a major role in the student life, with twenty-three NCAA Division I sports for men and women, ranging from football to water polo.

Community Enrichment Series

The University sponsors a wide range of cultural events that are integrated into the curriculum as “CES” credits.  By attending a lecture, concert, theatrical performance, or other select events on campus, students can receive community enrichment credits toward the completion of their degree. Outside groups such as the American Shakespeare Center are invited to host a variety of activities, while the University’s staff collaborate to host events like the “International Coffee House” sessions.

Franciscan Endowment Series

As a way to encourage scholarly research and promote activities that reflect the works of St. Francis, St. Clare, and Dorothy Day, the university began the The Rev. Gabriel J. Zeis, T.O.R. Endowment in Franciscan Studies and Roman Catholic Theology. This endowment has enabled the University to host such speakers as Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and Fr. Dan Horan, OFM, who presented on the topic of the Franciscan Response to Racism.

Great Outdoors

Saint Francis University isn’t just near the great outdoors, it is the great outdoors. High in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, students find a rare combination of vibrant campus life within a close-knit campus community setting. Recreational activities abound for all four seasons both on campus and at nearby state and national parks. Many academic programs take advantage of the natural setting to promote environmental advocacy and conduct research.

Multicultural Week

Every September, the School of Arts & Letters hosts the annual Multicultural Week for a lively celebration of the diverse student body on campus. Each day throughout the week is packed with vibrant cultural activities, all culminating in a large Multicultural Festival on the final day, which is packed full of music, art, poetry, and food that represents countries from all over the world.

Reaching Every Door

Organized by Saint Francis’ chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma, Reaching Every Door (R.E.D.) is an annual event in which the Saint Francis community commits a full day to meaningful service. Throughout R.E.D., students disperse into the local community and give back to all those who work hard to help keep Saint Francis and the greater Loretto area afloat.

Saint Francis University students go on to become accountants, biologists, business owners, chemists, doctors, environmental engineers, lawyers, nurses, occupational therapists, physician assistants, and physical therapists—and they all carry their Franciscan values with them.

Transformational Experiences

Saint Francis University highly values the extra steps students take to become professionally engaged in the world beyond college. Because of that, the University now issues two separate transcripts to its graduates in order to highlight every effort. In addition to a standard academic transcript, students receive a transcript that acknowledges accomplishments within six categories of Transformational Experiences: internship, study abroad, community service, leadership experiences, and campus ministry. This is known as a student’s L.I.S.T  (Leadership, Involvement, & Service Transcript).

Service Learning

While service learning has always been a part of the fabric of the Franciscan tradition, the university has recently strengthened the goal of connecting service activities and career preparation even further. In the fall 2015, the Center for Service & Learning was formed to engage students, faculty, staff, and community partners in ways that would help direct academic programming toward a benefit to the greater community.  

Internships and Career Services

The University’s Career Services office recently added a dedicated staff member who assists academic departments in procuring internship opportunities for students by building relationships with businesses and organizations. Saint Francis students have interned with The Cleveland Clinic, the National Aquarium (Washington DC), British House of Commons, Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and many more outstanding organizations.

First Destination Report

The Class of 2016 First Destination Report features data collected from the Class of 2016 about their post-graduate outcomes, filled with information on alumni’s job locations, employment and salary outcomes, career snapshots, and much more. The University’s overall employment/graduate school rate for the Class of 2016 remains competitive at 98% employed or attending graduate school within 9 months of graduation (97% employed or attending graduate school within 6 months).


Admissions Fall 2015

1,932 Total Applicants 
1,432 Total Admissions 
417 Total Freshman Enrollment

74.12% of applicants admitted

Freshman Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 460 570
SAT Math 470 590
SAT Writing 450 560
ACT Composite 21 26
ACT Math 20 26
ACT English 20 25
ACT Writing    


Net Price Calculator


Tuition $31,078
Fees $1,100
Total $32,178
Room and Board (on campus) $11,190
Room Only $5,622
Board Only $5,568
Estimated Total On Campus $43,368


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

98% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
78% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded student loan aid

$20,587 Average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid awarded
$10,885 Average amount of student loan aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates

Scholarship Opportunities

Founders Award
Amount: $42,000 – $64,000 ($10,500 – $16,000 each year for all four undergraduate years).  A minimum 3.7 GPA in a college preparatory curriculum. A minimum score of 1250 on the SAT I (Math & Critical Reading) or ACT Composite of 28.

Presidential Award
Amount: $30,000 – $40,000 ($7,500 – $10,000 each year for all four undergraduate years).  A minimum 3.5 GPA in a college preparatory curriculum. A minimum score of 1100 on the SAT I (Math & Critical Reading) or ACT Composite of 24.

Assisi Award
Amount: $12,000 – $28,000 ($3,000 – $7,000 each year for all four undergraduate years). A minimum 3.2 GPA in a college preparatory curriculum.  A minimum score of 1020 on the SAT I (Math & Critical Reading) or ACT Composite of 22.

Red Flash Co-Curricular Achievement Award
Amount: $4,000 – $24,000 ($1,000 – $6,000 each year for all four undergraduate years)

Based on demonstration of co-curricular involvements with particular emphasis on leadership positions held and accomplishments through the Application for Admission. The provision of additional documentation, e.g., resume, activities list, recommendation letters, etc., that shows demonstrated leadership and involvement is encouraged. Awards will be granted to accepted eligible students based on the level and depth of their involvements.

Franciscan Award
Amount: $8,000 ($2,000 each year for all four undergraduate years) Available to eligible graduates of a Catholic high school.