Advertiser disclosure

Top 10 Catholic Colleges

Catholic colleges and universities are popular because of their emphasis on scholarly excellence, service to others, and competitive athletic teams. If you would like to learn more about the top Catholic colleges in the United States, you are in the right place!

First…do I have to be Catholic to attend a Catholic college? 

Catholic colleges usually welcome individuals from any faith to attend their institutions. In fact, 47% of students at Catholic colleges and universities are not Catholic. It is important to note that some Catholic schools may require students to attend mass or religious classes as a part of their curriculum. If you are concerned about the faith-based aspect of attending a Catholic college, be sure to do your research before applying. 

How is this list organized? 

Because every Catholic college/university has its own unique advantages and disadvantages, this list is alphabetical and not put in any particular order. Location, enrollment numbers, and acceptance rates are included, as well as a brief description of what makes these colleges unique. We tried to select a range of colleges in regard to location and acceptance rates. Let’s get started! 

Top 10 Catholic Colleges

Boston College

  • Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,797
  • Acceptance rate: 19%

Boston College was founded in 1863 by the order of priests called the Jesuits, and their Jesuit values still hold true today. The school strives to provide an education that  integrates intellectual pursuit with religion. Boston College has several opportunities on campus for students to be involved in the Jesuit community. This includes daily masses and taking part in Agape Latte,  a faith storytelling series (started at Boston College) that is active in over 50 Catholic colleges nationwide.  

Catholic University of America

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,891
  • Acceptance rate: 86%

The Catholic University of America is a national research university located in the heart of Washington DC. True to its namesake, Catholic University emphasizes core Catholic values. Faith and service are at the heart of their mission; they prove this by offering daily mass on campus, hosting Catholic retreats, and promoting student involvement through local community service. 

Fairfield University

  • Location: Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,548
  • Acceptance rate: 56%

Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1942, Fairfield University is proud to be a Jesuit Catholic University. This is demonstrated by the way the Catholic faith is woven throughout Fairfield’s varied curriculum. Fairfield states that they “attend to the whole self–body, mind, and spirit” through intellectual studies and opportunities for students to practice the Catholic faith and upholding Jesuit traditions. 

Fordham University

  • Location: Bronx, New York
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,669
  • Acceptance rate: 58%

Fordham University prides itself on being known as the “Jesuit University of New York.” Living up to its name, Fordham integrates the Jesuit and Catholic approach to education by helping students grow intellectually and spiritually. Fordham prides itself on service to others; students have countless opportunities to participate in community service through volunteering at local churches near campus. 

Georgetown University

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,119
  • Acceptance rate: 17%

Founded in 1789, Georgetown is the oldest and perhaps most well-known Jesuit institute of higher education in the country. Georgetown embraces the Jesuit mission of “seeking God in all things.” The culture and curriculum of Georgetown strives to do that by emphasizing service to others, especially those most in need. Academically, Georgetown is consistently ranked in the top thirty national universities, as well as being known around the world for their foreign relations/ public policy programs. 

Also see: How many colleges should I apply to?

College of the Holy Cross

Location: Worcester. Massachusetts

Undergraduate Enrollment: 3.005

Acceptance rate: 43%

The College of the Holy Cross has embraced its Jesuit traditions since it was founded in 1843. In upholding Jesuit values, Holy Cross strives to educate the whole person in relation to their  intellectual, social, and spiritual selves. Through a rigorous liberal arts education, students are encouraged to explore their interests and immerse themselves in their chosen paths. 

Loyola Marymount University

Location: Los Angeles, California

Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,999

Acceptance rate: 46%

Founded in 1911, Loyola Marymount University is one of the largest Catholic colleges on the West Coast. Loyola Marymount is a Jesuit institution that offers its diverse student population worship services for all faiths. Loyola Marymount outlines their Jesuit threefold mission as “the encouragement of learning, the education of the whole person, the service of faith, and the promotion of justice.” Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount is also home to Loyola Law School.  

Also see: Tips for successful college applications

University of Notre Dame

Location: Notre Dame, Indiana

Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,950

Acceptance rate: 15%

Founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1842, the University of Notre Dame is one of the most well-known teaching universities in the United States (not to mention their football team!). Notre Dame was founded by Rev. Edward F. Sorin, who envisioned a Catholic university “dedicated to religious belief no less than to scientific knowledge.” This vision is a reality, as Notre Dame is one of the leading research universities in the world, especially in regard to STEM fields. 

Stonehill College

Location: Easton, Massachusetts

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,371

Acceptance rate: 72%

Founded in 1948 by the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Stonehill College is a private, liberal arts college. Stonehill’s mission states that they are a “community of scholarship and faith, anchored by a belief in the inherent dignity of each person.” Stonehill’s education of the whole person includes the promotion of “critical thinking, free inquiry and the interchange of ideas” built upon a foundation of Catholic values.

Related: Top Catholic scholarships

Villanova University

Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania

Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,000

Acceptance rate: 25%

Founded in 1842, Villanova University is the only Augustine Catholic University in the United States. Villanova was named for a Spanish Augustinian priest, Thomas García (1486-1555). St. Thomas of Villanova believed all learning should make a difference in the world. Villanova continues to embrace that thinking through their  motto, Veritas, Unitas, Caritas—Truth, Unity, and Love. Villanova now consists of five colleges, including Liberal Arts and Sciences, Engineering, School of Business, Nursing, and Law School. No matter which school students attend, they can attend mass at the majestic St. Thomas of Villanova Church right on campus.

Also see: What are the oldest universities in the US?

Check out other Catholic colleges

These are only 10 of the many amazing Catholic colleges out there. There are over 200 Catholic colleges and universities in the US, so do your research and find the right Catholic school for you!  

Also see: How to choose a college

Start your scholarship search
  • Vetted scholarships custom-matched to your profile
  • Access exclusive scholarships only available to Scholarships360 members
Get Started