What is the best Catholic College or University in the United States?


Hey All,
In a couple of years I am looking to go to graduate school. I ideally would like to go to a Catholic institution. Being from Boston, (originally), I might be unique in being a Notre Dame fan and not being a Boston College fan. Still I want to hear your opinions. Which is the best in the US? I am considering a graduate degree in poly-sci or counseling. Thank you!


Texas A&M has one of the biggest Newman Centers and Catholic students bodies in the country, particularly for a public school. Go Aggies!


Though I would ditto the recommendation for Texas A&M / St Mary’s Catholic Center as one of the best Catholic higher ed programs in the USA, A&Ms grad offerings in the fields you mention are not well known. The Catholic fellowship and atmosphere at St Mary’s (which is right by the university proper) may be matched elsewhere (e.g. Steubenville) but has a character of its own that can’t be licked.


That’s why a better major for the OP would be something in construction sciences! :wink:


I saw Scott Hahn speak at Benedictine College in Acheson Kansas last year and I could tell he was very impressed with what’s been happening there lately. Edward Sri also used to teach there and now is on EWTN from time to time.


I think it depends on what your other criteria are. Personally, I didn’t want to go to school in the sticks. I wanted an urban atmosphere, so I applied to schools in Boston, NY, Philly and DC. I ended up at a small all women Catholic college in Boston.

There are plenty of good schools out there, but you have to look at what your other priorities are. A strong alumni, or an excellent sports program, lots of scholarships, graduation rates, diversity, commute time, housing, job prospects etc.


Although I know it has a reputation for being liberal, I will speak up for St. Louis University.

My daughter is not Catholic. She went there because of the academics and because she likes St. Louis. She also lined up a coaching job with one of the many skating rinks in the city.

The professors and staff at SLU are very caring. I’ve told my daughter’s “depression story” on this forum before. If SLU had not intervened, she might not be here.

My daughter really loves her choir professor, and also the advisors and professors in her department. She also loves the “extremely Catholic” professors that she has had in several of her classes. So far, only one “liberal,” and everyone in the class didn’t like her. But the extreme Catholic professors have really stretched her faith, which is pretty small actually.

St. Francis-Xavier is a beautiful church on the campus, and just a mile down the road you can attend the stunning Basilica.

The majority of the students seem to be at SLU to party, at least for their first few years. But my daughter managed to find some “extreme Catholics” who are very serious about their faith. They’re there.

St. Louis is a great city. Dangerous, but great!

I know, everyone will say “LIBERAL!” “It’s not really Catholic!” Well, maybe it isn’t. But it’s still a neat place to grow in your faith and get a good education.


Don’t you mean “Poli Sci” ?


I don’t know if it is the “best,” but I will begin my Freshman year at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina this fall, and I couldn’t possibly be anymore greatful or excited than I already am. It is just 30 minutes from my hometown, and just 10 miles or so from Charlotte, so that is good enough for me. I have never felt as if I were on the right track nearly as much as I have since I began the process of enrollment, and being on campus, it just feels so right, like it was meant to be, an not any other way. Good luck on finding your place!


For poli sci, I’d recommend looking into Georgetown.

Prestigious Catholic school in Washington, the capital of politics and government in the US, which are the industries where expertise in political science would be most useful.


Completely agree! St. Mary’s Catholic Center is amazing and supportive and after 7 years in Aggieland, I can say I’m worried I’ll never find a church I like as well.


I’m inclined to say Notre Dame has the most formidable reputation in so far as the U.S. and world is concerned, especially in the humanities and theology. Alvin Platinga, John Dillon, and many other leading Philosophers are on their department, and when I looked at their English cirriculum, undergraduate and graduate, it certainly competes well with places like Oxford or Cambridge.

The Catholic University of America also seems pretty strong as well.

If you want to do a Ph.D in Catholic mysticism, I’d certainly try for Bernard McGinn at Chicago; he is a leading authority well recognised by Catholics and secular scholars alike.


If you are speaking of a Catholic university that stays faithful to the Church, two that I know personally of are Franciscan University in Stubenville, OH, and The University of Dallas (TX). I have two nephews that attended those colleges, and they have nothing but high praise for them both!


Texas A&M rocks! St. Mary’s currently has 14 former students enrolled in the seminary, daily Mass has hundreds in attendance, homilies are extremely relavent and speak straight to the truth, and next year Texas A&M will be granting 3 credit hours for their theology class!!

I attend a parish 110 miles from there now, and the 3 most involved and dynamic youth ministers are Aggies!!


Franciscan University of Steubenville, is the best, IMHO. They have awesome Theology, Nursing, and Youth ministry programs there. (I dunno much about the other programs). But Steubenville is a very spiritual university. Before making a decision check it out. Before then go to a Steubenville youth conference if you can. :thumbsup:


If you are looking for authenthic Catholicism you will have a hard time finding it at Georgetown, BC or Notre Dame. Best Catholic Colleges:

Belmont Abbey,
U Dallas,
Thomas Aquinas, CA
Benedictine, Kansas,
Ave Maria FL
Thomas MOre, NH
Magdalen NH

Not sure that all these have advanced degree programs.


I have to disagree with all those who say that you’ll have a hard time finding ‘authentic’ Catholicism at Notre Dame–I will be a junior at ND this August, and I absolutely love my school, for so many reasons!

ND is the foremost Catholic university in America which still professes to care about her Catholic identity–you can’t deny this. For all the problems we have with various events / professors / etc., there really is no where else in the country (or perhaps the world?) which I have heard about that cares as much about faith and reason and the Catholic intellectual life as Notre Dame.

I’m a political science and theology double major (PM me any time if you have specific questions about ND profs–I can definitely recommend some and tell you about the positives and negatives of the department!) and have had great experiences with the vast majority of my classes. Once you find them, there are many professors who truly care about ND’s Catholicism, and who use their faith to inform their intellectual pursuits. Yes, we have some profs who don’t give a darn…but there is so much more ND has to offer!

Honestly, the intellectual rigor of a Notre Dame education is hard to find anywhere else, I think. Perhaps some of the smaller Catholic liberal arts colleges can begin to compare, but honestly–I looked at Steubenville, and it just wasn’t there. If you’re up for the academic challenge, go for ND. (I visited BC, too–the ND bubble is much prettier! (Though they do have Peter Kreeft…) :thumbsup: )

As far as personal faith goes, each dorm (all 26 single-sex dormitories) has Mass weekly–most of the men’s dorms, because they have priests-in-residence, have daily 10pm Masses. If that’s not your thing, the beautiful Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus has Masses twice daily and several times on weekends. I love Basilica Masses–Holy Cross priests are fantastic all-around, and the choirs are the most reverent and talented I’ve ever seen. I miss them over the summer!

Notre Dame is a great Catholic university, with people coming from all across the country and around the world to study. 80+% of our students are Catholic, and while not all of those are the most orthodox / faithfully practicing people you’ll find around, most do make a good effort to practice their faith.

I need to finish this later…but definitely consider ND!


I would like to put a word of recommendation in for Villanova University in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Besides and outstanding academic reputation and a very beautiful campus, the kids are wonderful. But what appeals to me as a Catholic are several things:

  1. The core required courses cover a lot of excellent Catholic thought - everything from Confessions of St. Augustine to Dante and more.
  2. The Masses’ homilies are focused on college students and their lives. The priests really identify with the students!
  3. Campus Ministries sponsors a number of great retreats, service weekends, and longer service trips (like for over spring break my daughter went with 190 kids to New Orleans to build houses!)
  4. Service permeates the college. Like I said, 190 students going on a service trip? And that was just one! This isn’t a group that goes partying over spring break (although I am sure some do, like any school).

I love the school because you learn to LIVE life like Christ, in service to others. You get the educational foundation to start down that road, plus experience doing it. Many places stop at the education.


I second the Villanova recommendation, as well. I have a good friend who goes there and who loves it. She’s in the honors program and is having a similar experience as I am at ND.

A few other schools I strongly considered, or would now consider (though I can’t imagine anywhere else but ND!):

  • Catholic University of America (Washington, DC): great if you want to be in DC, very faithful and a quality Politics education from what I can tell, just a kind of sketchy neighborhood
  • Providence College (Rhode Island): great Dominican school, good education and nice campus
  • University of Dallas (Texas): wonderful core curriculum, mandatum and all that jazz…
  • Boston College: if you want an urban atmosphere, I’d say check it out. Apparently it has a rockin’ philosophy department :slight_smile:

Also, I’d add that anywhere you go, your faith will be challenged. What you want to find is a place where you will be challenged but also have the potential to be enriched–and you can find that in so many places if you just look hard enough and trust in God’s providence. Treat this as a discernment process, pray a lot, and go on college visits with your parents. When it feels right and the school fits, you’ll know you’re in the right place.

I can’t imagine going anywhere else but ND, and I pray that every other college student feels the same way about their alma mater. But if you’re looking for a fantastic Catholic education–check out Our Lady’s University! :smiley:


Thank you Rach620, BC is has a particularly fabulous philosophy prof named Fr. Paul McNellis, SJ…he was my daugher’s prof in her freshman year. And we had the pleasure of bringing him here to Michigan to be the priest presiding at my daughter’s wedding last year. He is amazing and wonderful. I highly recommend Boston College and Fr. McNellis.

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