St. Mary's University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
St. Mary’s University
St. Mary's University is a Catholic university in San Antonio, Texas. As a liberal...

St. Mary’s University

San Antonio, Texas

St. Mary’s University, founded by Marianist brothers in 1852, is the first higher education institution established in San Antonio. It offers a strong educational experience – integrating liberal arts, professional preparation, and ethical commitment. St. Mary’s students receive the value of quality programs, holistic learning, and community support – helping graduates discover what they love to do and how to apply their knowledge in meaningful ways, giving them an edge for a successful future.


With a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, students receive focused attention, allowing them to flourish within the challenging academic programs offered. St. Mary’s has undergraduate studies in humanities, sciences, and business, with programs for graduate, doctoral, and law degrees. There are also pre-health professional programs in medicine, dentistry, nursing, physical therapy, and public health. Students can enhance their educational experience through undergraduate research, community service, internships, and study abroad.


St. Mary’s has a vibrant on-campus community that offers events, activities, and programs for students to enjoy. There are 13 residence halls on campus. The newest residence hall, which opened fall 2017, includes shared amenities such as an outdoor swimming pool, grills and picnic areas, sports courts, a hammock garden, and more.



Student Profile

Fall 2016 Enrollment
2,268 undergraduate students
96%of undergrad students are full time
47% male — 53% female
9% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2016-2017 Academic Year
210 full-time faculty
189 part-time faculty
11 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2016
78% of first year students live on campus
56% of all students live on campus

School Location

St. Mary’s University is located in the vibrant city of San Antonio, Texas. This area of the Southwest has a balmy average annual temperature of 69.5 degrees, which allows outdoor recreation throughout the year. As the seventh-largest city in the United States, San Antonio abounds in professional sports teams, world-class museums, picturesque parks, expansive shopping options, and a strong cultural and artistic flair.

San Antonio is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the nation, annually playing host to hundreds of conferences and millions of visitors. The downtown River Walk offers a multitude of shops and restaurants in a lush, quiet setting imbued with history. Nearby, the Alamo and other Spanish colonial missions have become a draw for tourists worldwide.

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


76% of students began in Fall 2015 and returned in Fall 2016 (full time, first time freshmen)


55% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 9%
Hispanic/Latino 68%
Black or African American 3%
White 14%
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 3%


The St. Mary’s Rattlers are a member of the Heartland Conference and compete in NCAA Division II. The program’s official colors are gold and blue. St. Mary’s hosts 11 varsity intercollegiate sports: baseball; men’s and women’s basketball; men’s and women’s golf; men’s and women’s soccer; softball; men’s and women’s tennis; and volleyball. St. Mary’s Athletics, which dates back to 1902, has won six national titles in men’s basketball, baseball, and two in softball and golf (one individual and one academic). The Rattlers have had more than 170 student-athletes named All-American in its history.

Other Information

St. Mary’s—aka StMU (S-T-M-U, not Saint Moo)—was the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio and is the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest. It was founded in 1852 by Catholic, Marianist brothers and priests as a grade school for boys. St. Mary’s made the transition to junior college in 1895 and to four-year college in 1923. It became fully co-educational in 1963, although women earned degrees from St. Mary’s as early as 1929.

Personal attention and challenging academics have made St. Mary’s, located on 135 acres northwest of downtown San Antonio, a nationally recognized liberal arts institution.

With about 4,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds, St. Mary’s is home to four schools:

  • Humanities and Social Sciences, which holds several accreditations for Counseling, Education, and Music
  • Greehey School of Business, accredited by AACSB International
  • Science, Engineering and Technology, accredited by ABET’s Engineering Accreditation Commission
  • Law, accredited by the ABA and AALS


The St. Mary’s School of Law was established in 1927 and provides comprehensive opportunities for legal education.  

The university as a whole is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

St. Mary’s has more than 75 academic programs, including graduate programs and law. The student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1 permits small classes and promotes active learning.

More Distinctions

  • New York Times – Equality of Opportunity Project
    In 2017, the New York Times explored economic diversity and student outcomes in U.S. colleges and universities. It focused on a study by the Equality of Opportunity Project, which formulated “mobility report cards” by analyzing public data on 30 million college students and their parents. The project studied their pre- and post-college income to reveal just how well their school prepared them for life after college.

    St. Mary’s students succeed, the results show. Thirty-eight percent of students coming from the bottom fifth of incomes as students moved to the top fifth as adults —a figure that ranks 10th of 123 Texas colleges.

    The median family income of a St. Mary’s student is $61,600, among the lowest for selective private colleges. But by age 34, a St. Mary’s alum has a median personal income of $49,700, which ranks No. 102 of 578 selective private schools.

  • Brookings Institution – Beyond College Rankings
    In 2015, the Brookings Institution gave St. Mary’s a score of 99 out of 100, making it the best university in San Antonio, second in Texas, and 17th nationally for how well it prepares students for their careers, putting it ahead of Harvard, Notre Dame, Yale, Texas A&M, and UT-Austin. Brookings used government and private data to analyze college value-added, considering the economic success of graduates—incomes, occupations, and loan repayment rates.

  • New York Times – Brookings-Common Sense ranking
    New York Times columnist James B. Stewart wrote in 2015 that many of today’s college rankings are flawed in that they don’t measure institutions’ true effect on students’ futures. So he shed light on the Brookings Institution’s “value added” rankings. Stewart interviewed the author of the Brookings study, Jonathan Rothwell, who isolated the highest “value added” colleges regardless of major and determined that St. Mary’s was the ninth in the country.

  • Money’s Best Colleges
    Money Magazine ranked St. Mary’s University the best university in San Antonio, fourth in Texas, and 52nd of 705 nationally in its 2016 Best Colleges ranking. Schools were ranked based on quality of education, affordability, and graduates’ job success. Money also ranked StMU 13th nationally in its 2016 50 Best Colleges You Can Actually Get Into list.

  • PayScale – College Salary Report
    PayScale has repeatedly recognized St. Mary’s for alumni with top salary potential in their careers, and 2016-2017 was no different. For the fifth year in a row, StMU was in Texas’ top 10. PayScale also has St. Mary’s tied for 242 overall, out of 963 schools nationally, and tied for 146 among 502 private institutions.

  • Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education – College Rankings
    St. Mary’s was second in San Antonio and 10th of 46 ranked colleges in Texas in 2017. In the South, StMU was ranked 65th of 311 schools. Nationally, St. Mary’s tied for 288th of 1,061 schools. This ranking takes college resources, student engagement, graduate outcomes, and learning environment into consideration.

  • Forbes – America’s Top Colleges
    St. Mary’s was 14th of 27 schools in Texas that made the 2016 America’s Top Colleges ranking. StMU was No. 424 nationally of 660 institutions ranked, as well as 95th in the South.

  • College Factual
    In 2017, for the second time in three years, StMU ranked first (of 82) in the Southwest in the Best Colleges for the Money rankings by College Factual, affiliated with USA Today. St. Mary’s sat at 23rd nationally (out of 1,211 schools) for value. In the overall Best Colleges list, StMU was 15th of 95 ranked schools in the region and 11th of 62 Texas schools.

  • College Choice
    StMU ranked No. 4 on the 50 Best Colleges and Universities in Texas list and No. 21 (of 50) on the Best Western Regional Universities list in 2016. College Choice uses data from U.S. News, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.

  • San Antonio Express-News Readers’ Choice Award
    In 2016, St. Mary’s won gold in the College/University category. South Texas readers vote on their favorite institution of higher education.

  • Niche – Best Colleges
    Niche ranked St. Mary’s second in San Antonio and eighth of 74 state schools in 2017. St. Mary’s was also highly ranked among the Best Catholic Colleges in America (20 of 169), Best Small Colleges in America (75 of 1,024), and Best Value Colleges in America (119 of 1,591).

  • U.S. News & World Report – Best Colleges
    “The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal,” as U.S. News & World Report put it. St. Mary’s was ranked third in the West region in the 2017 Best Value Schools rankings. In its Best Colleges ranking, StMU was 21st of 124 schools in the West for academic quality, especially student outcomes. St. Mary’s has been included in the list of top-tier regional universities for 23 consecutive years.   

  • The Princeton Review
    The Greehey School of Business at St. Mary’s was on the Princeton Review’s national and regional lists of the Best 294 Business Schools 2017. The St. Mary’s School of Law made the list of Best 172 Law Schools 2017, as well as the Most Chosen By Older Students (No. 5 of 10) ranking.

  • St. Mary’s twice has been named among the top 25 graduate schools in the world for video game design, in 2014 and 2016. The Computer Science Department unveiled a certificate program in Educational Computer Gaming in 2013.

  • President’s Community Service Honor Roll
    St. Mary’s is a perennial honoree on this prestigious list.

Common Intellectual Experiences

The St. Mary’s Core Curriculum provides all undergraduate students a common intellectual experience. Composed of 10 sequenced courses (freshmen to senior), the Core offers an opportunity to more deeply understand oneself, the role of science in the world, and the human response to the search for God. Students share common experiences through intellectual communities, civic engagement, and the pursuit of ethical action. Through the study of literature and the arts, students participate in the search for interpretations of human experience. In the Senior Capstone, students propose how the values of the St. Mary’s Core might transform their present and future experiences in life and work.  

Collaborative Assignments and Projects

Departments and majors across the university integrate collaborative learning and assignments inside and outside of the classroom. For example, students in the sciences participate in Peer-led Team Learning, where student leaders work closely with faculty members to facilitate weekly activities and discussions with peers regarding topics covered in Physics and Chemistry courses.

In the History Department, students work together to develop short films on borderlands history. One project, “Santa Anna’s Leg,” was recognized by the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and the Dallas Morning News. The Art Department regularly produces jointly created works of art that are auctioned to raise money for scholarships. St. Mary’s participates in the annual Model Organization of American States, where delegations of students work together to represent their assigned country and seek solutions to hemispheric issues.

Undergraduate Research

St. Mary’s encourages and supports undergraduate research. The senior capstone course in the core curriculum requires students to engage in individual research and apply knowledge and skills learned throughout the core curriculum to problems at the local, regional, national, or international level. Numerous majors have research projects as the final requirement for graduation. The university hosts a research symposium every spring where students are provided an opportunity to publicly present their research. Student research is supported through Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships and Undergraduate Research Travel Funds. This year, St. Mary’s is engaged in a university-wide initiative in which faculty-student research on any aspect of Hispanic San Antonio is being promoted as part of San Antonio’s celebration of the tricentennial of its founding. Winning projects will receive awards and be displayed in local venues and in the state Capitol.

Global Learning

Students are provided numerous opportunities to extend the horizons of their learning. The St. Mary’s Center for International Programs offers study abroad programs, international service-learning opportunities, and international internships. These programs permit students to immerse themselves in their international host communities while engaging in academically challenging studies. Programs are offered in a number of formats including short-term faculty-led programs to semester-long exchange programs in a variety of locations including Japan, China, Spain, Brazil, and London. Numerous student organizations support non-U.S. students and provide opportunities for cross-cultural activities and co-curricular learning.

Activities Offered

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

First-year Seminar

This class assists students in deriving maximum benefit from their undergraduate experience. Instructors facilitate the transition from high school to life on a college campus with a focus on both classroom success and personal development. The course is offered to general sections of students as well as through affinity groups (e.g., Living Learning Communities; Honors; STEM; etc.).  A unique feature is the ability for students to build relationships with faculty and staff, providing a new support contact for their collegiate years.  

Common Core

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

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 109 223 236 29 1 0 0 598

Living-learning communities

Living-learning communities (LLCs) are academic- or interest-themed living communities primarily for students with similar majors or interests. There are eight LLCs at St. Mary’s: Biology, Political Science, Psychology, the Honors Program, the Marianist Leadership Program, Rattler Athletics fans, and health and wellness enthusiasts. Students in LLCs not only live together, but also go to class and study together. The cultivation of peer mentoring in LLCs has led to greater student success and retention. Students who live and study together also succeed together.

Speakers and seminars

The Cimadevilla Memorial Seminar Series, in honor of the late Jose Miguel Cimadevilla, Ph.D., a long-time St. Mary’s professor, invites health care professionals to campus — often St. Mary’s graduates who’ve earned doctoral degrees — in a weekly format.

The Lin Great Speakers Series, Catholic Intellectual Tradition Lecture Series, Escobedo Saint John’s Bible Lecture Series, and Conference on Justice and Social Concerns bring thought leaders to St. Mary’s to discuss myriad topics, including religious freedom, bioethics, the arts in faith, Bible illuminations, and more. Community Conversations addresses current topics of political and public policy interest.

Artistic Events

St. Mary’s has multiple concerts throughout the year thanks to a vibrant and talented music program. The Music Department also hosts an annual Fiesta Jazz Band Festival that welcomes musicians of local to international renown. The Drama program is also active on campus and puts on three or four major productions each year.

The St. Mary’s University Alumni Association hosts the annual Fiesta Oyster Bake on campus, which is held during the city’s Fiesta celebrations. The event, one of the most popular during the more than week-long party, is a two-day entertainment and food festival that offers live blues, hip-hop, jazz, country, Tejano, and rock music from multiple stages.

The Surrounding Community

San Antonio has long been known as “Military City, USA,” a place that exemplifies hospitality and warmth not only to its men and women in uniform, but also to its culturally diverse citizens. San Antonio has been increasingly expanding, especially in its business sector, but the people will say it feels like a big small town — in the best possible way. At St. Mary’s, community service is part of the Marianist Charism that defines the university. Students devote countless hours to local volunteer opportunities, service-learning classes, advocacy work, and liturgical ministry to name a few.  

San Antonio offers multiple museums, the World Heritage San Antonio Missions, the San Antonio Spurs, and much more for students to explore. Ample destinations to visit are within a short drive. The Texas Hill Country is only a few miles outside of San Antonio. The Gulf of Mexico and all its beaches are less than three hours away, and Austin is just an hour’s drive away.

Unique Excellence

St. Mary’s is a Hispanic-serving Institution, committed to fostering the academic success of students, particularly those interested in STEM fields. In 2015, St. Mary’s received Fair Trade University certification — the only fair-trade-designated university in Texas — to promote businesses that respect human and environmental factors that go into creating consumer products. St. Mary’s graduates are accepted to medical and dental schools at almost twice the national rate. St. Mary’s is also home to several communities of Marianists — religious brothers and priests whose faith tradition traces back to Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, the founder of the Society of Mary. Marianists are still very much involved in educating and socializing (“Burgers with the Brothers”) with students on campus.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

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

Endless Service

St. Mary’s prides itself on being a place where students are not only dedicated to the classroom and academic excellence, but are also dedicated to the community in which they live. Annually St. Mary’s has retained its position on the President’s Honor Roll, and is a recipient of the Carnegie Classification. Nearly 70 percent of students are engaged in service activities, the vast majority in the city of San Antonio. Students have numerous outlets through which to engage in community-based experiences. Examples include service-learning experiences that are ingrained in a class’ curriculum, projects led by student-run groups and Greek Life Chapters, and individual service excursions for students who simply want to enact change in the world. Alternative Spring Break, another groundbreaking program, utilizes the spring intercession by taking students on trips all around the country for a full week of service. Additionally, the Marianist Leadership Program teaches students to be strong leaders by having them enact their faith faith through service.

Local Service

Twice a year, St. Mary’s hosts a day of service that brings in participation of anywhere from 500-800 campus community members, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, called Continuing the Heritage. These events honor the legacy of the Marianist founders through involvement in and service to the community, volunteering at about 25 different community partner sites.

While there are many opportunities for students to be engaged in community work both around the nation and abroad, St. Mary’s focuses the majority of its service efforts locally. This commitment, in adherence to the mission and vision of the Marianist family, helps students feel both invested in and responsible for the community in which they live. The area in which St. Mary’s University resides is full of potential, growth, existing beauty, and room to enhance the quality of life for its residents.

Community-based research

Community-based research is a striking way in which students can engage in service, all while discovering something new. As researchers, students explore real-world scenarios and needs within the university community, developing management tools to help deal with existing challenges. These projects are often focused in the Greehey School of Business and the School of Science Engineering and Technology.

Summer of Service

The Summer of Service program is another opportunity for students to be engaged in the West side of San Antonio. Students live in a small faith community while running a summer camp for about 40 children from the surrounding neighborhood and sister Marianist parish, Holy Rosary. This collaboration with Holy Rosary and Catholic Charities gives St. Mary’s students the ability to learn more about the community in which they live and learn. Providing children a safe space for continued education and character formation over the summer, students may connect their service to an exploration of the community narrative.

International Immersion Program

St. Mary’s students are invited to participate in the International Immersion Program, a one-of-a-kind opportunity to travel to Guayaquil, Ecuador, to earn class credit alongside a compassionate, Catholic volunteer program. Students are invited to enter deeply into the reality of the world, and the relationship between the U.S. and Ecuador, exploring concerns of justice, faith and solidarity. Participating students build community and grow together in their vocation as individuals and as a group to be agents of change in the world in light of faith.

Faculty Academic Mentor (FAM) Program

In 2010, St. Mary’s implemented a Faculty Academic Mentor (FAM) program, which was developed to provide first-generation students with both faculty and student mentors.These mentors become trusted advisers and make navigating college life easier through check-ins, support and reminders. Click here to read stories about mentors and first-gen students and their experience within this program.


At St. Mary’s, students can enhance their educational experience through undergraduate research, community service, study abroad, and internships. Opportunities to participate in meaningful, career-driven internship experiences allow students to explore a prospective profession while developing hands-on skills. High-profile employers who offer internships to St. Mary’s students include the Southwest Research Institute, USAA, Valero Energy, the White House, and more.

The Office of Career Services also provides support and resources before and after graduation to help connect students with potential employers and offers career preparation tips, mock interviews, networking events as well as job shadowing and career panel discussions.



4,346 Total Applicants
3,375 Total Admissions
587 Total Freshmen Enrollment

77.66% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2017-18 Admission

Rolling admission? No

Closing date: September
Priority date: Jan 15

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record
Academic GPA

Standardized test scores

Application Essay
Extracurricular activities
Character/personal qualities
Volunteer work
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest

Freshmen Profile Fall 2016

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 470 560
SAT Math 480 570
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 19 25
ACT Math 18 25
ACT English 18 24
ACT Writing    




Tuition $27,520
Fees $680
Total $28,200
Room and Board (on campus) $9,300
Estimated Total On Campus $37,500


Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-2016 Final

$25,269 First year students
$18,310 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-2016 Final

71% on average, the percentage of need that was met
13% of financial need students that had need fully met

$18,310 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$5,016 Average need-based loan

Admissions and Aid Information

The admission team at St. Mary’s University is committed to providing more than just information and answers to prospective students and families, St. Mary’s is committed to providing an experience for all families. The staff has a wealth of knowledge and insight to share with  families and a strong desire to help educate would be students on the process. In line with St. Mary’s Marianist tradition, St. Mary’s hopes to provide information, insight, and questions to students as they make an informed decision about where to study for four years (or more if they are interested in a graduate degree).

Students who apply (with a complete application) to St. Mary’s are automatically considered for the full range of general academic merit awards. First-time freshmen students simply submit the St. Mary’s University Application or the ApplyTexas application online, free of charge. Beginning in the Fall of 2017, St. Mary’s University is pleased to accept the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. To learn more about the Coalition Application and to create an account, please visit

In addition to these general awards, students may submit additional applications and materials for the following awards:

  • The St. Mary’s University Honors Program – The Honors Program is open to incoming freshman by application who exhibit a SAT (CR+M) super score of 1220, SAT-R (EBR+M) of 1290, or ACT composite of 27+. Once students are in the program, they must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher in their first year and a minimum 3.25 GPA after their freshman year.
  • The Greehey Scholars Program – Open by application and interview to qualified business majors at St. Mary’s University. The Greehey Scholars Program provides
  • The Marianist Leadership Program (MLP) – The MLP is a community of equals that cultivates relationships through hospitality, selfless servant leadership and faith for the purpose of making a positive change to the San Antonio community by St. Mary’s students. MLP is open to persons of all faiths and backgrounds by application and freshmen and sophomore members are required to volunteer for three to four hours a week with a nonprofit agency. This program offers members the opportunity to live in a Marianist Leadership Living-learning Community.
  • Music Scholarships – Open to students, regardless of major, who exhibit a talent in the musical arts. Students have the option to major or minor in music or participate in one (or more) of St. Mary’s University’s many music ensembles.


Transfer students are welcome to submit the St. Mary’s University Application for admission online, free of charge. Transfer students, who complete their application, will also be considered for a full range of general transfer merit awards. Students who are a member of Phi Theta Kappa may also qualify for a PTK Scholarship.

In addition to these awards, the St. Mary’s community is committed to making students aware of additional funding opportunities through community partnerships and endowed scholarship funds. Current St. Mary’s students are welcome to contact the Office of Financial Assistance to explore additional scholarship offerings in academic or co-curricular areas.

As a NCAA Division II institution, St. Mary’s University is pleased to offer athletic awards to qualified.

St. Mary’s set for “Serve 300” volunteer efforts

University teams up with Tricentennial Commission, Catholic Charities of San Antonio Hundreds of St. Mary’s University students will volunteer across San Antonio on Saturday, Feb. 17, for Continuing the Heritage – an official Tricentennial Serve 300 SA Day event and...