Top Catholic Colleges and Universities

The schools below have been selected for a range of factors including reputation, retention rates, graduation rates, academic quality, value and curricular innovations. The colleges and universities vary widely in size, location and mission, so I have not tried to force any kind of arbitrary ranking on them. Instead, I simply list them alphabetically.

Higgins Hall at Boston College
Higgins Hall at Boston College. Photo Credit: Katie Doyle
  • Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  • Enrollment: 14,621 (9,860 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Explore the Campus: Boston College Photo Tour
  • Description: Boston College was founded in 1863 by the Jesuits, and today it is one of the oldest Jesuit university in the U.S., and the Jesuit university with the largest endowment. The campus is distinguished by its stunning Gothic architecture, and the college has a partnership with beautiful St. Ignatius Church. The school always places high on rankings of national universities. The undergraduate business program is particularly strong. BC has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The Boston College Eagles compete in the NCAA Division 1-A Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Boston College profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Boston College
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College of the Holy Cross
College of the Holy Cross. Joe Campbell / Flickr
  • Location: Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Enrollment: 2,847 (all undergraduate)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Holy Cross has an impressive retention and graduation rate, with well over 90% of entering students earning a degree within six years. The college was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, and the school's 10 to 1 student/faculty ratio means that students will have a lot of personal interaction with their professors.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the College of the Holy Cross profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Holy Cross
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Creighton University
Creighton University. Raymond Bucko, SJ / Flickr
  • Location: Omaha, Nebraska
  • Enrollment: 7,051 (4,087 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Creighton has a 12 to 1 student/faculty ratio. Biology and nursing are the most popular undergraduate majors. Creighton frequently ranks #1 among Midwest master's universities in U.S. News & World Report, and the school also wins high marks for its value. On the athletic front, the Creighton Bluejays compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Creighton University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Creighton
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Fairfield University
Fairfield University. Allen Grove
  • Location: Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Enrollment: 5,128 (4,084 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Fairfield strong international programs and has produced a surprising number of Fulbright Scholars. Fairfield's strengths in the liberal arts and sciences earned the school a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, and the university's Dolan School of Business is also well regarded. In athletics, the Fairfield Stags compete in the NCAA Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Fairfield University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Fairfield
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Keating Hall at Fordham Huniversity
Keating Hall at Fordham Huniversity. Chriscobar / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Bronx, New York
  • Enrollment: 14,448 (7,652 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Fordham University's main campus sits next to the Bronx Zoo and the Botanical Garden. Fordham The school has a 12 to 1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 22. For its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, the university was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Preprofessional programs in business and communication studies are most popular among undergraduates. In athletics, the Fordham Rams compete in the NCAA Division I Athletic 10 Conference except for the football team which competes in the Patriot League.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Fordham University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Fordham
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Georgetown University
Georgetown University. Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr / CC by 2.0
  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment: 14,826 (7,038 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Georgetown's location in the capital has contributed to its sizable international student population and the popularity of the International Relations major. Over half of Georgetown students take advantage of the many study abroad opportunities, and the university recently opened a campus in Qatar. For strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, Georgetown was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. On the athletic front, the Georgetown Hoyas compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference. Established in 1789, Georgetown is the oldest Jesuit university in the country.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Georgetown University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Georgetown
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Gonzaga University—Foley Center Library
Gonzaga University—Foley Center Library. SCUMATT / Wikiemedia Commons
  • Location: Spokane, Washington
  • Enrollment: 6,873 (4,385 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Gonzaga, like many Catholic universities, focuses on the education of the whole person -- mind, body and spirit. The university ranks highly among Master's institutions in the West. On the athletic front, the Gonzaga Bulldogs compete in the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference. The basketball team has met with notable success.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Gonzaga University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Gonzaga
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Foley-Building-Loyola-Marymount.jpg
Foley Center at Loyola Marymount. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Enrollment: 8,977 (5,766 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Explore the Campus: LMU Photo Tour
  • Description: Loyola Marymount University is the largest Catholic university on the West Coast. The school has an average undergraduate class size of 18 and a 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio. Undergraduate student life is active with 144 clubs and organizations and 15 national Greek fraternities and sororities. In athletics, the LMU Lions compete in the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Loyola Marymount University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Loyola Marymount
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Cuneo Hall at Loyola University Chicago
Cuneo Hall at Loyola University Chicago. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 15,545 (9,950 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Explore the Campus: Loyola University Chicago Photo Tour
  • Description: Loyola University in Chicago is the largest Jesuit college in the country. Loyola's business school frequently does well in national rankings, and the university's strengths in the liberal arts and sciences have earned it a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Loyola occupies some prime real estate in Chicago, with a northern campus on the Chicago waterfront and a downtown campus just off the Magnificent Mile. In athletics, the Loyola Ramblers competes in the NCAA Division I ​Missouri Valley Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Loyola University Chicago profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Loyola Chicago
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Loyola University Maryland
Loyola University Maryland. Crhayes31288 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Enrollment: 6,028 (3,580 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Loyola University is located on a 79-acre campus just down the road from Johns Hopkins University. Among all the undergraduate majors, the preprofessional programs in business and communication studies are by far the most popular. Loyola University is proud of its 12 to 1 student/faculty ratio, and its average class size of 25. In athletics, the Loyola Greyhounds compete in the NCAA Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, with women's lacrosse competing as an associate member of the Big East Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Loyola University Maryland profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Loyola Maryland
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Marquette Hall at Marquette University
Marquette Hall at Marquette University. Tim Cigelske / Flickr
  • Location: Milwaukee Wisconsin
  • Enrollment: 11,516 (7,955 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Marquette frequently places well on rankings of national universities, and its programs in business, nursing and the biomedical sciences are worth a close look. For its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, Marquette was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. On the athletic front, Marquette competes in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Marquette University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Marquette
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Main Building at the University of Notre Dame
Main Building at the University of Notre Dame. Allen Grove
  • Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Enrollment: 11,733 (8,371 undergraduates)
  • Order: Holy Cross
  • Explore the Campus: University of Notre Dame Photo Tour
  • Description: Notre Dame boasts that its undergraduate alumni have earned more doctorates than any other Catholic university. The school is highly selective and has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Roughly 70% of accepted students rank in the top 5% of their high school class. The university's 1,250-acre campus has two lakes and 137 buildings including Main Building with its well-known Golden Dome. In athletics, many Notre Dame Fighting Irish teams compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Notre Dame profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Notre Dame
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Harkins Hall at Providence College
Harkins Hall at Providence College. Allen Grove
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Enrollment: 5,297 (4,504 undergraduates)
  • Order: Dominican
  • Description: Providence College typically ranks well for both its value and its academic quality when compared to other master's level colleges in the Northeast. The curriculum is distinguished by a four-semester-long course on western civilization that covers history, religion, literature and philosophy. Providence College has an impressive graduation rate of over 85%. In athletics, the Providence College Friars compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Providence College profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Providence College
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Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University. Wilson Delgado / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Enrollment: 16,086 (11,187 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is the second oldest Jesuit university in the country. The university has a 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 23. Professional programs such as business and nursing are particularly popular among undergraduates. Students come from all 50 states and 90 countries. In athletics, the Saint Louis Billikens compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Saint Louis University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Saint Louis University
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Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University. Jessica Harris / Flickr
  • Location: Santa Clara, California
  • Enrollment: 8,758 (5,267 undergraduates)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Santa Clara University frequently ranks among the best master's universities in the country. The university wins high marks for its retention and graduation rates, community service programs, alumni salaries, and sustainability efforts. Business programs are the most popular among undergraduates, and the Leavey School of Business ranks highly among the nation's undergraduate B-schools. In athletics, the Santa Clara University Broncos compete in the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Santa Clara University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Santa Clara
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Siena College
Siena College. Allen Grove
  • Location: Loudonville, New York
  • Enrollment: 3,217 (all undergraduate)
  • Order: Franciscan
  • Description: Siena College is highly student-centered with a 14 to 1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 20. The college can also boast of an 80% six-year graduation rate (with most students graduating in four years). Business is the most popular field for students at Siena. In athletics, the Siena Saints compete in the NCAA Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Siena College profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Siena
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Stonehill College
Stonehill College. Kenneth C. Zirkel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Location: Easton, Massachusetts
  • Enrollment: 2,426 (all undergraduate)
  • Order: Holy Cross
  • Description: Stonehill ranks well among national liberal arts colleges, and the school recently appeared in U.S. News & World Report's list of "Top Up-and-Coming Schools." Stonehill students come from 28 states and 14 countries, and the college wins high marks for its level of student engagement. Stonehill College has a 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio and an average class size of 20. Students can choose from 80 majors and minors. In athletics, the Stonehill Skyhawks compete in the NCAA Division II Northeast Ten Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Stonehill College profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Stonehill
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Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California
Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. Alex Begin / Flickr
  • Location: Santa Paula, California
  • Enrollment: 340 (all undergraduate)
  • Order: Independent
  • Description: Little Thomas Aquinas College is probably the most unusual school on this list. The college uses no textbooks; instead, students read the great books of Western civilization. The college has no lectures, but sustained tutorials, seminars and laboratories. Also, the school​ has no majors, for all students acquire a broad and integrated liberal education. The college frequently ranks highly among national liberal arts colleges, and it also wins praise for its small classes and its value.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Thomas Aquinas College profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Thomas Aquinas
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University of Dallas
University of Dallas. Wissembourg / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Location: Dallas, Texas
  • Enrollment: 2,972 (1,233 undergraduates)
  • Order: Diocesan
  • Description: The University of Dallas does well on the financial aid front -- nearly all students receive significant grant aid. Academically, the university can boast of a 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio, and the school's strengths in the liberal arts and sciences earned it a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The university has a campus in Rome where nearly 80% of all undergraduates study for a semester.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the University of Dallas profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for the University of Dallas
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GE Aviation EPISCenter at the University of Dayton
GE Aviation EPISCenter at the University of Dayton. Ohio Redevelopment Projects - ODSA / Flickr
  • Location: Dayton, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 10,395 (7,434 undergraduates)
  • Order: Marianist
  • Description:  The University of Dayton's program in entrepreneurship has been ranked highly by U.S. News and World Report, and Dayton also gets high marks for student happiness and athletics. Nearly all Dayton students get financial aid. In athletics, the Dayton Flyers compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the University of Dayton profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Dayton
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Romanaggi Hall at the University of Portland
Romanaggi Hall at the University of Portland. Visitor7 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Portland, Oregon
  • Enrollment: 3,661 (3,041 undergraduates)
  • Order: Holy Cross
  • Description: Like many schools on this list, the University of Portland is committed to teaching, faith and service. The school frequently ranks among the best western master's universities, and it also earns high marks for its value. The school has a 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio, and among undergraduates nursing, engineering and business fields are all popular. The engineering programs frequently place well in national rankings. In athletics, the Portland Pilots compete in the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the University of Portland profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for UP
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University of San Diego

Immaculata Church at USD
Immaculata Church at USD. Photo Credit: chrisostermann / Flickr
  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Enrollment: 8,251 (5,647 undergraduates)
  • Description: USD's attractive campus with its Spanish Renaissance style architecture is a short drive to the beach, mountains, and downtown.The diverse student body comes from all 50 states and 141 countries. Students can choose from 43 bachelor degrees, and academics are supported by a 14 to 1 student/faculty ratio. Several business-related fields rank among the most popular majors, although the university was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences. On the athletic front, the University of San Diego Toreros compete in the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the University of San Diego profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for USD
Villanova University
Villanova University. Alertjean / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 10,470 (7,350 undergraduates)
  • Order: Augustinian
  • Description: Located just outside of Philadelphia, Villanova is well known for both its strong academics and athletic programs. The university has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a recognition of its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences. In athletics, the Villanova Wildcats compete in the Division I Big East Conference (football competes in the Division I-AA Atlantic 10 Conference). Villanova students also host the Pennsylvania Special Olympics on their campus.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Villanova University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Villanova
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Xavier University Basketball
Xavier University Basketball. Michael Reaves / Getty Images
  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 6,584 (3,923 undergraduate)
  • Order: Jesuit
  • Description: Founded in 1831, Xavier is one of the oldest Jesuit universities in the country. The university's preprofessional programs in business, education, communications and nursing are all popular among undergraduates. The school was granted a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences. In athletics, the Xavier Musketeers compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference.
  • For acceptance rates, standardized test scores, costs and more information, visit the Xavier University profile.
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Xavier
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