Santa Clara University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Santa Clara University
"Santa Clara University is California's oldest operating higher-education institution and demonstrates faith-inspired values of...

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, California

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university, offers its students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering as well as engineering Ph.D.s and master’s and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, SCU strives to educate citizens and leaders who will build a more just, humane, and sustainable world.


SCU, founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus, was established on the site of Mission Santa Clara de Asis, the eighth of 21 California missions. Today, the University is committed to promoting academic excellence, enriching its educational experience through the Jesuit philosophy of educating the whole person, fostering an engaged community, and realizing opportunities available through its location in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
5,385 undergraduate students
98% of undergrad students are full time
51% male — 49% female
38% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
536 full-time faculty
360 part-time faculty
12 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

52% of Undergraduates live in college-owned, operated or affiliated housing.

School Location

Santa Clara, CA

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 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

Retention Fall 2015

95% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

84% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 3%
Hispanic/Latino 17%
Black or African American 3%
White 48%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 16%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 7%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 4%


NCAA Division I. 17 Varsity sports.  

Men’s Sports: Baseball, Basketball, Crew, Cross Country/Track, Golf, Soccer, Tennis, Water Polo  
Women’s Sports: Basketball, Crew, Cross Country/Track, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Volleyball, Water Polo

Mascot: Bronco
Colors: Red & White

Other Information

Santa Clara University is a four-year, comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university, founded in 1851

At Santa Clara, students learn that knowledge is not limited to the classroom, labs, and library, but rather has practical applications to the broader world. Professors apply their teachings to real-world situations alongside their students to show how knowledge can lead to both the good of the community as well as their personal growth.

Community-Based Learning

Santa Clara students work with and learn from marginalized groups both in the region and farther afield. They earn course credit through partnerships for community-based learning, choosing opportunities like tutoring elementary-school students in San Jose or assisting at an immigration law clinic. Through these partnerships, students work at more than 50 sites in and around Silicon Valley—in schools, clinics, health-care centers, church parishes, and homeless shelters. Here they learn with and from community partners and engage in research and collaboration around social justice.

Study Abroad

Approximately one ­third of SCU students choose to study abroad. Programs are offered in every major, in more than 50 countries, and on every continent except Antarctica. Students might learn about finance in Beijing or Renaissance painting in Florence. Others have traveled to Thailand to gain new perspectives on public health issues and to Burkina Faso in West Africa to help children to read at a village community library. Many experiences include academic internships and community-based ­learning opportunities.

Internships & Fellowships

Over 70% of SCU students engage in at least one internship before they graduate. These work or volunteer experiences engage students in the process of exploring career goals and fields of interests. SCU also offers undergraduate students several paid fellowships that involve local and international projects justice, ethics, and technology.

Santa Clara teachers are committed to the holistic development of students—intellectual, professional, ethical, and spiritual.


SCU faculty members are award-winning scientists, economists, artists, and writers, but they are first and foremost teachers. Students get the research experience and one-on-one access they need, as SCU’s small classes enable professors to know them each by name. Learning in the classroom is only the first step of an SCU education. Students gain and practice new skills through such real-world applications in their field as isolating DNA for biochemistry research, interviewing residents at a shelter, and helping produce a professional musical.

Integrated Studies

Three interdisciplinary Centers of Distinction engage faculty and students with society in the areas of Jesuit values and community-based learning; applied ethics; and science, technology, and social entrepreneurship.

As part of the core curriculum, all students select and complete a “Pathway,” which is a cluster of 3-4 courses that center around a common theme. Topics like health, humanities, justice, and social issues promote integrative, intentional learning. These concentrated, collaborative courses can also provide unique opportunities for undergraduate research.

Academic Majors

SCU offers 50 undergraduate majors, including an Individual Studies Program that allows students to design their own course of study through customized, interdisciplinary combinations of courses. At the graduate level, SCU has degrees in business administration, information systems, eight areas of engineering, law, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministries, and areas of theology and divinity.

Santa Clara University’s stunning campus is dotted with palm trees and beautiful gardens, sitting just minutes away from San Jose and only a quick train ride from downtown San Francisco.

Clubs & Organizations

More than 150 student-run clubs and organizations exist on campus, including a student newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, and radio station. Popular campus events include the Student Activity Programming Board’s fall concert, the Hawaii club’s spring luau, the Multicultural Center’s annual Global Village event and various cultural nights, and basketball games against rival teams from Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga.

Living & Learning

One unique aspect of Santa Clara life is the Residential Learning Communities. Upon entering Santa Clara, all students select a Residential Learning Community (RLC) in which to live and share classes with peers who have many common interests. Students select an RLC based on their interest in topics such as natural history, diversity, sustainability or social justice, excited to combine their academic, residential, and social components of campus life.


At SCU, living a sustainable life is an integral part of the commitment to social justice, and programs such as RecycleMania, the Eco Fashion Show, and the Residence Energy Challenge all encourage students to get involved. All students are required to participate in a community-based learning program through which they work at more than 50 sites in and around Silicon Valley, including schools, clinics, healthcare centers, churches, and homeless shelters.

SCU aims to educate leaders with the knowledge, integrity, and desire to go out and do good in the world. Its focus on developing the whole person, both inside and outside the classroom, is what truly sets Santa Clara apart.

Santa Clara graduates enter their personal and professional lives prepared not only with knowledge, but also with a commitment to making ethical decisions that serve the needs of humankind. With an education based on the Jesuit heritage, graduates are well prepared to lead, shape, and transform the world.

Notable Alumni

SCU’s 90,000+ alumni live in all 50 states and in 111 foreign countries. The University is proud to see its graduates go on to be leaders in their respective fields. Prominent alumni include: Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California college system, former Secretary of Homeland Security (Obama Administration), and former governor of Arizona; Andy Ackerman, TV producer and director, whose credits include Cheers, Seinfeld, Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Two and a Half Men; Steve Nash, retired professional basketball player, Los Angeles Lakers, two-time NBA MVP; and Leon Panetta, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, former Director of the CIA Obama Administration, former White House chief of staff Clinton Administration, and former member of Congress, CA.

Graduate Outcomes

In a survey of recent graduates, SCU’s class of 2013 had the following information to share about where they were within six months of leaving school:

  • 78 percent were either employed full time, attending graduate school, or participating in a service program.
  • The median starting salary for full-time employees was $51,500.
  • 95 percent of those who applied for full-time graduate study were admitted to at least one graduate program.
  • 93 percent of the graduates indicated that their SCU education had provided them with good to excellent preparation for life after college.


Admissions Fall 2015

14,899 Total Applicants 
7,270 Total Admissions 
1,261 Total Freshman Enrollment

48.80% of applicants admitted

Admissions Fall 2015


  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 590 690
SAT Math 620 710
SAT Writing    
ACT Composite 27 32
ACT Math    
ACT English    
ACT Writing    


Santa Clara admission counselors pay close attention to the rigor of each student’s classes, grades, and the work they’ve accomplished. The application review process is holistic, and no single grade, factor, or score will automatically secure or deny a student admission to SCU.

Students applying should be self-motivated, socially engaged, and embody the Ignatian ideals of respect, truth, justice, and service. In essence, SCU students harbor a deep curiosity for learning about the world and are committed to improving life for those around them.

Applicants are admitted as full-time, degree-seeking students. SCU does not have a part-time undergraduate program option.

Santa Clara University exclusively uses the online Common Application™ ( with a required supplement form.

Freshman candidates may choose to apply to one of three admission programs at SCU during their senior year in high school.

  • Early Decision (ED) Deadline: November 1. By applying ED, students are making a commitment to enroll if admitted to SCU.
  • Early Action (EA) Deadline: November 1. A non-binding admission program that allows the applicant to get an admission decision sooner.
  • Regular Decision (RD) Deadline: January 7. This is the standard method of applying to a university and allows SCU to consider the student’s full first semester or second trimester senior-year grades in our evaluation.


Net Price Calculator


Tuition $45,300
Room and Board (on campus) $13,425
Estimated Total On Campus $58,725


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

75% of full-time first-time undergraduates receiving any financial aid
37% of full-time first-time undergraduates receiving student loan aid

$22,507 Average amount of federal state local or institutional grant aid received
$7,362 Average amount of student loan aid received by full-time first-time undergraduates

Financial Aid

A Santa Clara University education is an investment in the future. Paying for this education involves a partnership among the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), various government agencies, lending organizations, and SCU. The university is committed to helping students and their families find ways to make SCU affordable.

More than 80 percent of Santa Clara undergraduates and their families receive some kind of financial aid. Aid can take several forms:

  • Merit and need-based scholarships
  • Grants from SCU, state, federal, and other sources
  • Work study, in which a student may earn up to $3,000 by working 10 to 20 hours per week throughout the academic year
  • Educational loans

SCU participates in a wide variety of federal and state programs to bring a Santa Clara education within reach. In addition, SCU offers a variety of need- and merit-based scholarship awards. Unless otherwise noted, all admission applicants will be considered for these awards. Here are just a few examples of the awards offered to our incoming students:

  • Presidential Scholarship: 10 full-tuition awards
  • Provost Scholarship: 15 half-tuition awards
  • Dean’s Scholarship: 100+ up to $16,000
  • Jesuit Ignatian Scholarship
  • Alumni Scholarship
  • Music, Theatre & Dance Scholarships
  • Athletic Scholarships
  • ROTC (Army) Merit Scholarship

Federal, state, and University aid programs require that students and their parent(s) or guardian(s), complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.

Financial aid awards are distributed after the student is admitted and before the deposit deadline.