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Best Catholic Colleges in the U.S.

When considering the best Catholic colleges in the nation, you should consider several factors as to what makes it a top college. This article will take a look at the graduation and retention rates as well as other key factors of several Catholic colleges.

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There are over 200 Catholic colleges in the United States. Many of these schools incorporate faith-based education, while encouraging mass attendance on campus.

School Comparison

Retention rates, housing options, and student-to-faculty ratios are all important factors when choosing a college. The schools listed as the best Catholic colleges, below, all have impressive statistics like these along with high graduation rates. All of these schools fall within a graduation rate of 85% for an expected timeframe.

School Name Institution Type Graduation Rate Location Tuition (2017-2018)*
University of Notre Dame 4-year, private not-for-profit 95% Notre Dame, IN $51,505
Georgetown University 4-year, private not-for-profit 94% Washington, D.C. $52,300
Boston College 4-year, private not-for-profit 93% Chestnut Hill, MA $53,346
College of the Holy Cross 4-year, private not-for-profit 92% Worcester, MA $50,630
Villanova University 4-year, private not-for-profit 90% Villanova, PA $51,284
Santa Clara University 4-year, private not-for-profit 89% Santa Clara, CA $49,858

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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Best Catholic Colleges Overview

The following colleges have a variety of academic programs and faith-based activities. Most offer on-campus organizations and Division I athletics, while keeping a Christian-focused education at the forefront.

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is a medium-sized school with 12,393 enrolled students, and it houses seven different undergraduate schools: the College of Arts and Letters, Keough School of Global Affairs, the College of Science, the School of Architecture, the First Year of Studies, the Mendoza College of Business, and the College of Engineering. There are 75 undergraduate programs available throughout. Because of the First Year of Studies program, students are given intimate attention to guarantee the best chance at a great first year, which may partly explain their 98% first year retention rate and 96% graduation rate. There are also a host of theology and faith-based departments, organizations, and clubs, where students can strengthen their faith.

Georgetown University

This university was founded in 1789 and is considered the oldest Catholic and Jesuit school in the country. The Jesuit faith is incorporated into Georgetown's academics, and students are encouraged to become a change in the world, acting in service for those who are disadvantaged. Georgetown has over 18,000 students and offers 15 diverse areas of study, including government, politics, and policy and international affairs. Since the college is located in the nation's capital, you can expect several well-known politicians to speak at the college, such as former president Barack Obama. There are 17 different residency options on campus for students who want to immerse themselves in the campus life.

Boston College

With over 65 undergraduate majors available, Boston College has a wide variety of areas of study. Some of the majors available include art history, film studies, Hispanic studies, Geological sciences, criminal and social justice, corporate systems, elementary education, American heritage, and applied psychology & human development. At the Center for Student Foundation, students are guided to combine their academic, spiritual, and social life under the Jesuit principles. For those interested in athletics, the Boston Eagles have 25 teams available, including rowing, sailing, ice hockey, field hockey, golf, and soccer.

College of the Holy Cross

The College of the Holy Cross provides over 30 undergraduate majors, including anthropology, Asian studies, computer science, economics, history, studio art, and philosophy. To add to the college experience, Holy Cross offers a study abroad program, a writer's workshop, a New York semester, and a summer science program. Room and board averaged $13,690 for the 2017-2018 school year. The campus offers faith and worship with the Jesuit tradition. Mass is not mandatory, but it is offered along with a weekly interdenominational service. Interfaith prayer opportunities are also available.

Villanova University

Founded by the Order of St. Augustine, Villanova University has over 175 years of experience teaching and guiding students interested in the Catholic faith. The college houses six different schools: College of Liberal Arts and Science, Villanova School of Business, College of Engineering, Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, College of Professional Studies, and Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Over 65 degree options are available at these schools. While the student to teacher ratio is 12:1, the average class is 22 students. The retention rate for Villanova University is 95%, with close to 7,000 students currently enrolled in undergraduate programs. Should you want to live on campus, there are 18 residence halls and 8 apartment-style buildings available on campus.

Santa Clara University

The student to teacher ratio of 11:1 keeps class sizes modest at Santa Clara University. There are around 50 different undergraduate programs offered through the university. Six schools offer graduate degrees at the master's and doctoral levels. The Career Center helps students find internship opportunities to extend their newfound skills in the workplace. For those who are interested in athletics, there are 20 Division I sports and 17 other sports clubs available on campus. To practice faith, there are spaces all over campus, like the St. Clare Garden, where meditation, reflection, and prayer are encouraged. Roughly half the student population is Catholic, and religions of all kinds are welcomed.

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