Catholic Liberal Arts Colleges
Compare and contrast Catholic liberal arts colleges to other liberal arts colleges with different or no religious affiliations. Explore some of the subjects you could study at a Catholic liberal arts college. Find out whether you need to be Catholic to enroll in one of these schools, and get info on locating a school for your studies.
Enrolling in a school with a Catholic affiliation can still provide you with lots of postsecondary education options. Learn about undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Catholic schools, check out sample programs, and explore what makes a Catholic institution different than a non-affiliated one by reading the article below.
How are Catholic Liberal Arts Colleges Similar to and Different from Other Liberal Arts Colleges?
The first and most obvious characteristic of Catholic colleges is their church affiliation. That said, not all Catholic colleges are alike. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, out of over 200 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States, less than 12 are sponsored by dioceses (www.usccb.org). Except for The Catholic University of America, which is sponsored and partially funded by the Catholic Church, all others are sponsored by their founding order, such as Jesuits, Franciscans or Benedictines.
Like most liberal arts colleges, many of these schools emphasize undergraduate education. However, some also offer graduate degrees or are part of an institution that does. You'll find the usual array of majors and concentrations that are offered at other liberal arts colleges. In addition, there are a number of Catholic liberal arts schools that offer various online programs or courses.
Most standard majors and classes are available at Catholic liberal arts colleges, including degrees in the arts and sciences and in more career-focused disciplines such as business or information technology.
Among Catholic schools, you'll notice there's a declaration of an adhesion to Judeo-Christian tradition and the educational traditions of their founding order. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education (September 12, 2010), in 1990, Pope John Paul II issued Ex corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church), in which he emphasized the integration of knowledge, faith and truth within the context of a Christ-centered Catholic college (http://chronicle.com). In other words, you'll find that Catholic colleges reinforce the beliefs of the Catholic Church and tend to be less socially and ethically permissive than their secular counterparts.
Which Catholic Schools Offer Associate Degree Programs?
Associate degree programs at Catholic colleges are commonly offered in a wide range of fields. See the programs listed here:
- Providence College provides an Associate of Science in Administrative Management degree program
- Niagara University has an Associate in Applied Science in Business Administration degree program
- University of Scranton houses an Associate in Arts degree program
Which Catholic Schools Offer Bachelor Degree Programs?
Plenty of Catholic colleges and universities grant an opportunity for students to earn a bachelor's degree. Some of these schools include:
- Saint Michael's College hosts a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science degree program
- DeSales University delivers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree program
- University of St. Francis has a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Leadership degree program
Which Catholic Schools Offer Master Degree Programs?
You can also find graduate degree programs offered at many Catholic universities, including the examples below:
- Alvernia University provides a Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling degree program
- Loyola University Chicago has a Master of Arts in Bioethics & Health Policy degree program available online
- Edgewood College offers a Master of Science in Accountancy degree program
Do I Have to be Catholic to Attend?
While Catholic liberal arts schools, like all private liberal arts colleges, tend to be somewhat more selective in their admission policies than public institutions, religion isn't one of their admission criteria. Consequently, you don't have to be Catholic to be admitted to the school. However, considering that the school was founded on a clear set of Catholic principles, you'll be expected to respect them and behave accordingly.
As part of your undergraduate education at a Catholic liberal arts college, you'll be required to complete courses in theology and philosophy. Prevailing school policy determines the number of courses.
Where Can I Find a School?
The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities provides a list of 250 schools throughout the United States. The list notes which schools have seminaries associated with them. Although the list provides links to very few of the schools, it does give city and state locations for each.
At the website of St. Irene's Roman Catholic Church in Carlisle, Massachusetts, you'll find a list of nearly 200 Catholic colleges and universities throughout the country. The alphabetized list provides links to each school's website (www.stirenes.org).
Students who are interested in an education grounded in the Catholic faith are by no means limited in their education. Catholic schools provide undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of fields, allowing you to pursue higher education while studying in a Catholic environment.