St. Mary's College of Maryland - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
“Showcasing the best of public and private colleges, St. Mary's offers a distinctive liberal...

St. Mary’s College of Maryland

St Marys City, Maryland

The Source of Knowledge


As Maryland’s public honors college, St. Mary’s College offers an undergraduate, liberal arts education and small-college experience like those found at exceptional private colleges, but committed to the ideals of affordability, accessibility, and diversity. By combining the virtues of public and private education, St. Mary’s College provides a unique alternative for students and their families. This special identity underpins the College’s success and its reputation for excellence.

Student Profile

Fall 2016 Enrollment
1,618 undergraduate students
98% of undergrad students are full time
42% male — 58% female
7% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2016-2017 Academic Year
141 full-time faculty
54 part-time faculty
10 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2016
96% of first year students live on campus
83% of all students live on campus

School Location

St. Mary’s City, MD. 70 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., 95 miles south of Baltimore.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices 

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences  
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


87% of students began in Fall 2015 and returned in Fall 2016 (full time, first time freshmen)


73% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 0%
Hispanic/Latino 9%
Black or African American 9%
White 69%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 4%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 5%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 4%


NCAA Division III, Capital Athletic Conference

18 varsity sports
8 men‘s: baseball, basketball, cross country, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, swimming, tennis
9 women’s: basketball, cross country, field hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, swimming, tennis, volleyball
1 coed: sailing

11 club sports and 21 intramural sports

Other Information

St. Mary’s College of Maryland is a four-year, public, coeducational, liberal arts college founded in 1840.

As Maryland’s public honors college since 1992, St. Mary’s College offers an undergraduate liberal arts education comparable to those found at exceptional private colleges. St. Mary’s College shares the hallmarks of such private institutions: an outstanding faculty, talented students, high academic standards, a challenging curriculum, small classes, a sense of community, and a spirit of intellectual inquiry, but at a substantially more affordable cost.

St. Mary’s College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and has been continually accredited since 1959. In addition, the St. Mary’s College Chemistry program has been accredited by the American Chemical Society since 2003, and in 2016, the Biochemistry program received accreditation from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. St. Mary’s College  is the only public institution in Maryland with an accredited Biochemistry program, and one of only about 50 programs nationwide. The accreditation of these programs allows students to obtain nationally certified degrees in chemistry or biochemistry, and signals that St. Mary’s College programs fulfill or exceed national standards for chemistry education.

Academic Programs

Academic Programs
Anthropology, Art, Art History, Asian Studies, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, English, Environmental Studies, History, International Languages and Cultures, Mathematics, Music, Natural Science, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy Studies, Religious Studies, Sociology, Student-Designed Major, Theater Film and Media Studies

Minors and Cross-Disciplinary Programs
African and African Diaspora Studies, Dance, Democracy Studies, Educational Studies, Film and Media Studies, Materials Science, Museum Studies, Neurosciences, Theater Studies, Women Gender and Sexuality Studies

Graduate Programs
Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

More Distinctions

  • Recognized as the lowest student-to-faculty ratio among public institutions in the South, and the second-lowest of any public school nationally by Wall Street Journal

  • Recognized by The Princeton Review in the 2016 edition of its “The Best 380 Colleges.” St. Mary’s College is ranked fourth for the “most beautiful campus” and fifth for the “happiest students.”

  • Named as Second College of Lowest Student Loan Debt at Graduation in Maryland from

  • Named a 2017 Military Friendly School by Victory Media

  • Ranked as the nation’s sixth best public liberal arts college in U.S. News & World Report’s “2017 Best Colleges”

  • Ranked 99 on the national liberal arts colleges list, public and private in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best Colleges”

  • Ranked 10 in best colleges for veterans in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best Colleges”

  • Ranked within 100 Best College Value by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list of the Top 300 Best College Values of 2017

At St. Mary’s College, unique opportunities abound. Students study archaeology in Greece; investigate marine biology in fresh and saltwater labs; paint, draw, and sculpt in art studios; or act in (or direct!) theatrical productions. The possibilities are endless and students coming to St. Mary’s College with numerous interests are not limited in their studies, but are encouraged to explore many different disciplines…

Worldwide Learning through Research

Research puts students in the driver’s seat. At St. Mary’s College, many students earn academic credit doing individual research and independent study projects in collaboration with a faculty member. First- and second-year students often join ongoing projects while advanced students pursue their interest under the mentorship of a favorite professor. St. Marys’ small size affords students the opportunity to play a significant role in the design and execution of research projects. Recent projects include: The Effects of Family Dynamics on Aggression, Nondestructive Coral Health Monitoring, Improving Science Literacy Among Elementary School Children, U.S.-Cuban Relations: Where Do We Go From Here?, The Emergence of A Political Theater in South Africa, and Defining a New Internet Language.

Study Abroad

Study Abroad at St. Mary’s College is a serious subject. Unlike many colleges that expect students to sort out the details for themselves, St. Mary’s College designs unique international programs that truly explore other cultures.  Some of the most popular semester abroad programs include Stellenbosch University in South Africa, China’s Fudan University, Al Akhawayn University in Morocco, France’s Sciences Po University, and James Cook University in Australia. There are also short-term study tours to Belize, India, Greece, Peru, and England, among others.

Activities Offered

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

With a low student/faculty ratio (10:1), small, discussion-based classes, and an excellent core curriculum, St. Mary’s College offers a remarkable liberal arts education. St. Mary’s College is Maryland’s honors college, and that means that undergraduates are held to a higher level of expectation. Students are offered the kinds of academic opportunities, challenges, and results usually reserved exclusively for students in honors programs…

Chart Your Own Course

St. Mary’s College Core Curriculum introduces students to the liberal arts tradition, exposing them to the breadth of human knowledge and teaching them the important skills of effective reading, writing, and critical thinking.

Interdisciplinary Study

St. Mary’s College is a leader in interdisciplinary study. Interdisciplinary options include African and African Diaspora Studies, Asian Studies, Democracy Studies, Environmental Studies, Materials Science, Museum Studies, Neurosciences, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Recent course offerings include such unique topics as The Neuroscience of Sex and Gender.

First-Year Seminars

Incoming students are quickly immersed in the St. Mary’s College experience via their First Year Seminar courses. Students may choose from dozens of small, discussion-focused courses taught by professors from every discipline at the college. Past topics include: The Art of Political Protest, The Many Lives of Lincoln, and The Evolution of Altruism. The First Year Seminars serve as a gateway to the honors college by encouraging students to engage deeply with an intellectual topic. The small class size and focused attention from faculty serves to foster students’ ability to write, speak, research, and think critically.

The St. Mary’s Project

The St. Mary’s Project is a year-long, 8-credit, independently designed and executed course of study that serves as a capstone experience for a student’s time at St. Mary’s College. Working in close conjunction with one or more professors, the St. Mary’s Project provides the opportunity to explore an idea or question that intrigues the student. Many projects are interdisciplinary, bringing together threads from earlier classes taken across the curriculum. Many projects are highly personal, involving creative or innovative work that ties together four years of study in a meaningful way. Past projects include: “A Defect of the Confederation: The Crisis of Virginia’s Western Cession”; “Geospecific 3-dimensional Databases for Real-Time Visual Simulation”; “Economic Aid for Women-Centered Cultures”; “A Miracle Manifested: A New Vision of Public Education”; and “Patients versus Patents: The Economics of Essential Medicines in Poor Countries.”

Common Core

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


Other: Experiencing Liberal Arts in the World (ELAW)

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 90 202 98 13 3 0 0 406

St. Mary’s College is a highly residential campus, with nearly 85% of its undergraduate students living on campus in townhouses, suites, apartments, and dormitories. Students can find plenty to do on campus, with freely available waterfront activities including kayaking and sailing, a strong intramural and varsity athletic program, vibrant academic lectures and artistic performances, and over 100 different student-run clubs and organizations…

Guest Speakers

St. Mary’s College is an active community of friendly people and aspiring scholars. Lecture series and guest speakers help bring innovation to the campus. The annual Margaret Brent Lecture and Carter G. Woodson Lecture bring speakers of notable accomplishments to campus to speak about gender and race issues, while the Goodpaster Lecture in Leadership and Honor brings an important national leader to campus each fall to speak with students.  Past speakers include: Carl Bernstein, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and famed Watergate journalist; Ellen Weintraub, Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission; Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange; John Callahan, literary executor of Ralph Ellison’s estate; and lawyer and activist David Kendall. On a lighter note, the Mark Twain Lecture Series on American Humor and Culture brings nationally recognized humorists and speakers to campus and is eagerly anticipated by students, faculty, and staff each year.

Seahawk Athletics

Whether one plays on a Seahawk varsity team, joins a club sport, or organizes friends on an intramural team, athletics are a major aspect of campus life. St. Mary’s College fields 18 varsity teams in NCAA Division III (and other national associations) competitive play. The College’s nationally ranked sailing team competes against powerhouses like the U.S. Naval Academy, Georgetown, and Harvard, and has won ten national titles. Additionally, there are more than 30 club and intramural sports available, ranging from cheerleading to fencing to Ultimate Frisbee.

Wave of Friendship

Students shape and direct campus life through student government and campus organizations. Opportunities are endless with clubs like the sunset club, travel club, Take One! Improv, and the dance club. With more than 100 campus organizations, there’s a group for almost every interest. If students don’t see a club that they’d like to join, they can always get some people together and start a new one.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

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


Other: Townhomes

St. Mary’s College of Maryland boasts the highest four-year graduation rate of any state-supported college or university in Maryland, and the ninth-highest four-year graduation rate of public institutions nationwide. The education provided from this strong liberal arts institution prepares graduates for the challenges that they will face in graduate school and the work force.

Service Learning

Contributing to the sense of community that defines St. Mary’s College, many students go beyond campus to contribute to the surrounding area. Working in local schools, aiding those in need, and preserving the environment, students find service instructive and rewarding. In addition, many departments offer service learning in conjunction with school work, allowing students to earn academic credit as they make a difference in their community. St. Mary’s College students have completed service learning projects with: America Reads, Christmas in April, St. Mary’s Hospital, and local schools. They also provide tutoring for the GED and at-risk youths.

A Class Act

St. Mary’s College is the place for any student interested in advanced studies. About 60% of St. Mary’s College students continue their education in graduate or professional school. Graduates of the College choose some of the most prestigious programs in the nation; a small sampling includes: Duke University of Law, Scripps Research Institution, College of William and Mary, Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine, Columbia School of Medicine, and University of Virginia.

Even in a less-than-stellar job-market, St. Mary’s College alumni succeed in the workplace. Over 80% of graduates seeking employment have a job within six months – with nearly of third of graduates securing their first job before even graduating. A small sampling of St. Mary’s College employers includes Lockheed Martin, US Department of Labor, NASA, the Portland Stage Theater Company, the National Institutes of Health, the Washington Post, and the Peace Corps.



1,767 Total Applicants
1,413 Total Admissions
334 Total Freshmen Enrollment

79.97% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2017-18 Admission

Rolling admission? No

Closing date: Feb 15
Priority date: Nov 1

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Academic GPA
Standardized test scores
Application Essay

Class rank
Extracurricular activities
Character/personal qualities
Volunteer work

First generation
Alumni/ae relation
Geographical residence
State residency
Racial/ethnic status
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest

Freshmen Profile Fall 2016

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 510 640
SAT Math 490 610
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 23 29
ACT Math 22 30
ACT English 22 28
ACT Writing    

Admission Information

To complete the admission process, applicants should submit the following materials:

  • A completed Application for Admission through the Common App
  • Official transcripts of all completed high school work
  • SAT I and/or ACT scores; TOEFL scores for International Students
  • Two letters of recommendation; with option to send up to 2 more letters from anyone




 Expenses In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $11,418 $26,566
Fees $2,774 $2,774
Total $14,192 $29,340
Room and Board (on campus) $12,442 $12,442
Room Only $7,184 $7,184
Board Only $5,258 $5,258
Estimated Total On Campus $26,634 $41,782


Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-2016 estimated

$13,772 First year students
$9,707 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-2016 estimated

66.7% on average, the percentage of need that was met
4% of financial need students that had need fully met

$9,707 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,107 Average need-based loan


In addition to need-based aid, St. Mary’s College awards several merit-based scholarships each year, with an average amount of $4,500. These scholarships recognize academic achievement and significant co-curricular accomplishments outside of the classroom and are given on a competitive basis. Recipients of merit awards have often challenged themselves with a rigorous course of study that often includes Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or honors courses. Consideration for merit scholarships includes the student’s academic record, strength of curriculum, standardized test scores, essay, recommendations, and co-curricular activities.

Merit awards are renewed for up to four years of full-time study at St. Mary’s College (two years for transfer students) as long as the student remains in good standing and maintains at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in each semester.

St. Mary’s College Academic Achievement Awards are given for outstanding academic achievement in the amount of $1,000 to $15,000. Academic excellence often is demonstrated by a class rank in the top 10%, a cumulative GPA above 3.0 in academic courses (3.5 weighted GPA), or a combined total SAT score above 1800.

CollegeBound Partnership Scholarships are matching awards to students from Baltimore public high schools that receive scholarships or grants from the CollegeBound Foundation.

First-Year Excellence Awards. Students who complete their first year of study at St. Mary’s College with excellent grades in 16 or more credits will be considered, on a competitive basis, for this award in the amount of $500 to $2,000. These awards are limited to students who did not receive a scholarship from St. Mary’s College upon entrance to the College.

St. Mary’s Transfer Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to transfer students with outstanding academic records at another college. Academic excellence can be demonstrated by a cumulative GPA above 3.5 in academic courses and a rigorous course of study. Awards range from $1,000 to  $5,000 per year.

Phi Theta Kappa Awards. All transfer students who enter St. Mary’s College with an A.A. or A.S. degree, a GPA of 3.5 or better, and who are members in good standing of Phi Theta Kappa receive this award in the amount of $500.