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Jesuit Colleges and Universities: Are You a Fit? 

Are you seeking a liberal arts education at a small to midsize school? Are you passionate about serving your community? If so, you may want to consider attending one of the many Jesuit colleges in the U.S. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Jesuit colleges and universities. 

Related: Top Christian scholarships

What is a Jesuit college? 

Jesuit colleges are private colleges and universities associated with the Jesuit order, which is a form of Catholicism also known as the Society of Jesus. There are currently 28 colleges and universities in the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). These schools emphasize Jesuit principles such as community service, leadership, and social justice. Despite being grounded in Jesuit tradition, students don’t have to be Jesuit or even Catholic to attend. These colleges welcome students of all faiths and backgrounds. While every Jesuit college is unique, they typically have the following things in common:

Related: How to choose a college

Emphasis on service 

Jesuit schools take pride in their commitment to service work. Inspired by Catholic tenets, a Jesuit education places emphasis on “forming people for others”. If you attend a Jesuit school, you’ll be encouraged to get involved in the community through volunteer work and service-learning courses. 

Liberal arts focus

While rooted in Catholic tradition, Jesuit schools encourage free thought by promoting coursework grounded in the liberal arts. According to AJCU, focus is placed on “quality teaching, critical thinking, and rigorous academic standards and scholarship”. Regardless of what you major in, you can expect an interdisciplinary education that draws on multiple fields.

Small student populations

If you’re looking for small class sizes and a close-knit campus culture, Jesuit colleges are a match. Nearly all Jesuit colleges are small to midsize schools with enrollment sizes under 10,000. In this type of environment, it can be easier to form strong relationships with professors and peers. 

Urban settings

While not always the case, Jesuit schools are typically located in or near major cities. This is a huge plus for students drawn to the big city buzz of places like Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, and New York. Students attending Jesuit colleges can typically expect a rich variety of restaurants, bars, concerts, and athletic events in their area. 

Also see: Safety, reach, and match schools: What you need to know

Jesuit colleges: A to Z

If you’re interested in attending a Jesuit college, there’s plenty of great options to choose from. Most people are familiar with standouts like Boston College and Georgetown University, but there’s so many other Jesuit colleges that offer excellent academics and extracurricular opportunities. The following list includes all 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in alphabetical order. The acceptance rates and undergraduate enrollment were sourced from the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. Let’s get started! 

1. Boston College 

Location: Newton, Massachusetts
Acceptance Rate: 19%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,797

Founded in 1863, BC is one of the nation’s most highly regarded universities. The college is made up of eight schools, including highly ranked graduate programs such as the Lynch School of Education and Boston College Law School. The campus is located a stone’s throw away from downtown Boston, where there’s no shortage of dining and entertainment options. 

2. Canisius College

Location: Buffalo, New York
Acceptance Rate: 81%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,807

Canisius College offers over 100 majors and minors, each one grounded in a liberal arts curriculum. The institution also offers graduate programs in business, education, technology, sport administration, and health. The campus is located just a few miles away from Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, and the Canadian border. 

3. College of the Holy Cross

Location: Worcester, Massachusetts
Acceptance Rate: 43%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,005

Holy Cross is the nation’s only Jesuit school dedicated exclusively to undergraduates, offering over 60 majors across the arts, humanities, and sciences. Although the school is predominantly Catholic, students of all faiths are welcome. Within the bustling college town of Worcester, students will find plenty of dining, nightlife, and recreational activities to keep them busy. 

4. Creighton University

Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Acceptance Rate: 78%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,455

This mid-sized university offers a full range of undergraduate, master’s, and doctor’s degree programs across nine different schools. Outside of academics, there’s plenty of ways for students to get involved on campus. Along with over 200 student organizations, the school has a thriving Greek community and offers ministry opportunities such as retreats and community service. 

5. Fairfield University 

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

At Fairfield, students can choose from 49 undergraduate majors and 80 study abroad programs. The university is known for its thriving arts scene, commonly hosting dance troupe performances, musical acts, magic shows, live radio dramas, and traveling art exhibits. The campus is located on the coast of Connecticut about an hour away from New York City. 

6. Fordham University

Location: New York City, New York
Acceptance Rate: 58%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,669

Fordham University encompasses eleven schools (including its highly ranked law school) and has campuses in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Westchester County. For students eager to explore life in New York City, Fordham is an excellent launch pad. The university is also home to the esteemed Louis Calder Center, a biological field station where students can examine the natural world first-hand. 

7. Georgetown University

Location: Washington, D.C.
Acceptance Rate: 12%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,395

Founded in 1789, Georgetown is the nation’s oldest Jesuit university and one of the premier institutions of higher education in the U.S. Along with being a top-notch research university, Georgetown has an exciting campus culture featuring more than 200 student clubs. Not to mention, students interested in politics, journalism, business, and public relations will find plenty of internship opportunities in the nation’s capital.

8. Gonzaga University

Location: Spokane, Washington
Acceptance Rate: 76%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,962

In addition to offering solid academic programs, Gonzaga is an excellent school for students interested in sports and outdoor activities. Over 60% of students participate in intramural sports, and the men’s Division I basketball team is consistently competitive. The nearby Riverfront Park and Spokane River Centennial Trail are both great for outdoor pursuits such as ice skating, jogging, and biking. 

9. John Carroll University

Location: University Heights, Ohio
Acceptance Rate: 88%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,609

Located just outside of Cleveland, John Carroll offers majors in over 50 areas of study. Outside of the classroom, there’s a variety of intramural and club sports, student organizations, and fraternities and sororities to choose from. The university is also known for its Late Night at John Carroll weekend program, which features events such as ice skating, movie nights, and themed dances.

10. Le Moyne College

Location: Syracuse, New York
Acceptance Rate: 73%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,604

One of the youngest Jesuit colleges in the nation, Le Moyne blends its liberal arts approach with training for specific career paths and graduate programs. The student-faculty ratio is 13:1, and popular majors include business, biology, and psychology. The campus is located in the suburbs of Syracuse, within driving distance of several major cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto.

11. Loyola Marymount University

Location: Los Angeles, California
Acceptance Rate: 46%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,999

Loyola Marymount is the largest Catholic university on the West Coast, and has a lot to offer in terms of both academics and extracurriculars. Its student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1, and students are encouraged to engage in interdisciplinary coursework. LMU’s campus is brimming with clubs and events, and its location in L.A. is great for students seeking networking opportunities, internships, and employment. 

12. Loyola University Chicago

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Acceptance Rate: 77%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,739

Boasting nearly 12,000 undergrad students, Loyola Chicago is the largest Jesuit university in the nation. Students here can choose from more than 80 undergraduate majors, including popular ones such as nursing, biology, and psychology. The school’s location in the heart of Chicago offers plenty of entertainment options, in addition to many internship, networking, and volunteer opportunities. 

13. Loyola University Maryland

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Acceptance Rate: 84%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,768

Comprising three schools, Loyola Maryland offers over 30 undergraduate majors and 45+ graduate programs. The university emphasizes experiential learning, with more than 80% of students participating in a practicum, internship, or field experience by the time they graduate. Outside of academics, students can participate in over 170 clubs that range from theater groups to the campus newspaper. 

14. Loyola University New Orleans

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Acceptance Rate: 78%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,230 

Although it’s a Catholic university, Loyola New Orleans features students of many different backgrounds, beliefs, races, and sexualities. Regarding academics, the student-faculty ratio is 13:1 and popular majors include psychology, music management, and creative writing. And since the campus is located in the heart of one of the nation’s most lively cities, Loyola New Orleans promises tons of excitement outside the classroom. 

15. Marquette University

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Acceptance Rate: 86%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,466

With nearly 300 student clubs, over 20 fraternities and sororities, and ample service opportunities, there’s no shortage of activities at Marquette. Plus, the nearby downtown  Milwaukee area has a lot to offer in terms of restaurants, breweries, museums, and athletic events. As far as academics, there’s over 80 undergraduate majors including popular ones like business, biomedical sciences, and engineering. 

16. Regis University

Location: Denver, Colorado
Acceptance Rate: 81%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,616

Recognized for its commitment to promoting career readiness, Regis University offers excellent academic advising and professional development. The university’s nursing school and business program are ranked as some of the best in Colorado. Not to mention, the school’s location in Denver makes it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts eager to explore the natural wonders of Colorado. 

17. Rockhurst University

Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Acceptance Rate: 67%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,921

Offering a curriculum grounded in the liberal arts, Rockhurst supports 50+ undergraduate majors ranging from civil engineering to theology. The university also offers several graduate programs that prepare students for careers in occupational therapy, physical therapy, education, and speech pathology. Located minutes from downtown Kansas City, the school’s quiet campus is distinguished by large oak trees and rustic stone buildings. 

18. St. Joseph’s University

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Acceptance Rate: 83%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,112

Offering over 100 majors and minors, St. Joseph’s caters to students with a variety of interests and goals. Popular majors include finance, marketing, and accounting. The university’s career development center is committed to preparing students for life after graduation. This is demonstrated by the fact that 92% of the university’s 2020 class were employed full-time or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation. 

19. St. Louis University

Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Acceptance Rate: 70%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,277

Dating back to 1818, St. Louis University is one of the oldest universities west of the Mississippi River. The school takes pride in its research efforts, encouraging students to collaborate with faculty mentors on hands-on projects. Along with its main location in Missouri, the school has an additional campus in Madrid, Spain. Students can study here for the entirety of their undergraduate years or just a semester. 

20. St. Peter’s University 

Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
Acceptance Rate: 93%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,017

From its location minutes from New York City to its collection of Division I sports teams, there’s a lot to like about St. Peter’s. The university offers over 50 undergraduate degrees along with 13 graduate programs. St. Peter’s takes pride in setting its students up for success, boasting a 94% job placement rate and starting salaries exceeding the national average. 

21. Santa Clara University

Location: Santa Clara, California
Acceptance Rate: 54%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,887

SCU’s prime location in Silicon Valley makes it a superb school for students seeking internships and employment opportunities in tech. Plus, the campus is within reach of popular destinations such as San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Santa Cruz. In terms of academics, popular majors include business, social sciences, engineering, and communications. 

22. Seattle University

Location: Seattle, Washington
Acceptance Rate: 82%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,233

Considered one of the most liberal Jesuit colleges, Seattle University features a large LGBTQ community and lots of international students. The university’s location combines the best of both worlds, featuring the coffee shops and concert venues of Seattle along with the beauty of the nearby mountains and ocean. Academically speaking, the university’s core curriculum is geared toward topics like philosophy, theology, psychology, ethics, and service learning. 

23. Spring Hill College

Location: Mobile, Alabama
Acceptance Rate: 72%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 989

Founded in 1830, Spring Hill is the fifth oldest Catholic college in the nation. Students can count on a close-knit community at Spring Hill, which features an undergraduate population that’s just over 1,000 students. The school takes pride in its top-ranked nursing program and its high job placement rate. The campus is located a short drive from downtown Mobile, which is known for its rich history, great seafood, and live music. 

24. St. John’s College

Location: Belize City, Belize
Acceptance Rate: N/A
Undergraduate Enrollment: ~2,000

Located in Belize, St. John’s College is the only international member of the AJCU. The college features various programs in the sciences, liberal arts, and humanities, along with a music program recently developed in conjunction with Loyola University New Orleans. Belize features an abundance of natural gems including dense jungles, white-sand beaches, and the world’s second largest coral reef. 

25. The University of Scranton

Location: Scranton, Pennsylvania
Acceptance Rate: 80%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,433

Grounded in the liberal arts, the University of Scranton offers a wide range of undergraduate majors spanning business, health, humanities, STEM, and the social sciences. Students are encouraged to enrich their academic experience outside the classroom through honors programs, internships, study abroad, and faculty-student research. 

26. University of Detroit, Mercy

Location: Detroit, Michigan
Acceptance Rate: 93%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,385

One of the most notable things about Detroit Mercy is its commitment to service. The school offers students many opportunities to give back to the Detroit community through the Leadership Development Institute and University Outreach projects. The university is also committed to providing an affordable education, with more than 90% of its students receiving some form of financial aid. 

27. University of San Francisco

Location: San Francisco, California
Acceptance Rate: 71%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,837

Consistent with the mission of other Jesuit colleges, USF places a big emphasis on service. Many students participate in service-learning courses, in which their academic work is complemented by hands-on volunteer work. The school offers over 40 majors and 70 minors, plus more than 100 study abroad options. Not to mention, the campus serves as a great base for exploring everything San Francisco has to offer. 

28. Xavier University

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Acceptance Rate: 84%
Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,124

Xavier is one of the oldest Catholic universities in the nation, and has established itself as one of the best colleges in the Midwest. The university offers a wide range of high quality academic programs, along with plenty of study abroad, service work, and internship opportunities. In sports, the school is best known for its consistently competitive Division I men’s basketball team. 

Related: How many colleges should I apply to?

Next steps

As you consider where to study, you should also give some consideration to how you want to pay for your studies! If you secure scholarships and figure out your student loan situation, you’ll have a wider range of options for places to study. Additionally, if you graduate with less debt, you’ll have more freedom to pursue your passions after graduation rather than needing a high-paying job.

A great place to start for financial aid is our free scholarship search tool. We’ll custom-match you with vetted scholarships that update automatically for your situation. We also have a great guide to student loans to help you learn how much you can take out and what your options are. Finally, check out our guide to how much student loan debt is too much. This helps you determine whether a certain program is financially feasible for you. Good luck!

Frequently asked questions about Jesuit colleges and universities

Can you attend a Jesuit school if you are not Catholic?

In short– yes! You can attend a Jesuit school if you are not Catholic. Although curriculum tends to be slightly different in faith based colleges and universities, so this is something to look into and discuss with counselors prior to committing if this is something you are wanting to learn more about.  

re Jesuit colleges more expensive to attend than public colleges?

Ultimately, price varies from college to college and student to student how much tuition will cost. When it comes to applying at private schools, it can be a bit easier to get scholarships simply because of the alumni base that choose to give back to those schools. But, ultimately, you can apply for scholarships anywhere, so when it comes to paying for college, you get back what you put into it. 

Some programs are more expensive than others in terms of course fees, materials needed, and experiential learning requirements. But, this is with any school, so you should look into your desired program individually to know how much tuition will actually cost you.