This is a ranking of the top ten best Catholic universities in the USA. Roman Catholicism has a long history of scholarship, and many of the best universities in the world are run by the Roman Catholic church. Top Roman Catholic universities like Notre Dame are considered to be on the same level as some of the United States’ most illustrious ivy league universities. These ten Roman Catholic schools represent the best value available from over 200 Roman Catholic institutions of higher learning. Schools were evaluated and scored based on tuition, the average student loan debt of graduates, the 20 year net return on investment of graduates, and the graduation rate. More information on methodology and sources can be found at the bottom of the page.
Reviewing the Best Catholic Universities
#10. Molloy College
Rockville Centre, New York
Molloy College has an undergraduate student population of 3,425 and a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio. U.S. News and World Report ranks Molloy #43 among regional universities north, and #25 among the best colleges for veterans. Molloy accepts 76% of undergraduate applicants and retains 87% of first year students. The school offers 41 undergraduate programs.
Avg. Loan Debt: $27,000
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $405,000
Graduation Rate: 71%
#9. Loyola University Maryland
Loyola University Maryland is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as #3 among regional universities north, #42 for engineering, and #22 for marketing. Loyola has 4,068 undergraduate students and an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Loyola’s undergraduate majors are contained in three schools which are the college of arts and sciences, the school of education, and the Sellinger school of business.
Avg. Loan Debt: $35,700
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $438,000
Graduation Rate: 81%
#8. Manhattan College
Riverdale, New York
Manhattan College is a liberal arts college with 4,071 undergraduate students and a 13 to 1 student to faculty ratio. The acceptance rate at this school is 67% and the school retains 84% of undergraduate freshman. Schools at the college include the school of continuing and professional studies, school of science, school of liberal arts, school of engineering, school of education and health, and school of business.
Avg. Loan Debt: $28,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $558,000
Graduation Rate: 72%
#7. College of the Holy Cross
College of the Holy Cross accepts 37% of undergraduate applicants, making it a moderately accessible school with a very high graduation rate. The student body is 2,729 students, and the school maintains a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio. U.S. News and World Report ranks College of the Holy Cross #32 among national liberal arts colleges, and #37 in high school counselor rankings.
Avg. Loan Debt: $32,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $411,000
Graduation Rate: 92%
#6. Mount Carmel College of Nursing
Mount Carmel College of Nursing retains 85% of first year undergraduate students. Student to faculty ratio is 13 to 1 with an undergraduate student population of 1,063. Nursing programs offered include bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, online doctor of nursing practice, online RN-BSN completion program, and online MSN in nursing education.
Avg. Loan Debt: $34,100
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $476,000
Graduation Rate: 72%
#5. Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Boston College has schools of arts and sciences, law, advancing studies, social work, nursing, management, education, and theology and ministry. Students will enjoy a 14 to 1 student to faculty ratio. The undergraduate student population is 9,796. U.S. News and World Report ranks Boston College #31 among national universities, #41 among best value schools, and #11 in finance.
Avg. Loan Debt: $18,000
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $494,000
Graduation Rate: 92%
#4. Villanova University
Villanova University admits 48% of undergraduate applicants, making its 90% graduation rate quite impressive. The student population at this best value Roman Catholic university is 10,711, and the school boasts a 12 to 1 student to faculty ratio. U.S. News and World Report ranks Villanova #50 among national universities, #29 in best colleges for veterans, and #91 for best undergraduate engineering programs.
Avg. Loan Debt: $32,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $554,000
Graduation Rate: 90%
#3. Georgetown University
Georgetown boasts a 96% retention rate for first-year undergraduate students. The undergraduate student population is 7,562, with a student to faculty ratio of just 11 to 1. Georgetown is one of the most exclusive schools ranked among our best value Roman Catholic colleges, accepting only 17% of undergraduate applicants. U.S. News and World Report ranks Georgetown #20 among national universities, #15 in business programs, and #6 in international business.
Avg. Loan Debt: $25,100
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $564,000
Graduation Rate: 94%
#2. Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California
Santa Clara University has an undergraduate student population of 5,385 and a 12 to 1 student to faculty ratio. 49% of applicants are admitted, which makes the school’s graduation rate even more impressive. Santa Clara University is ranked #2 among regional universities in the West, #2 among best colleges for veterans in the West, and #63 among top business programs by U.S. News and World Report.
Avg. Loan Debt: $29,400
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $589,000
Graduation Rate: 84%
#1. University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
Notre Dame University accepts 20% of undergraduate applicants. Notre Dame is ranked #15 among top national universities, #6 among best colleges for veterans, and #7 for best undergraduate teaching by U.S. News and World Report. Notre Dame offers 65 undergraduate majors. Colleges at the university consist of engineering, arts and letters, science, architecture, and business.
Avg. Loan Debt: $25,300
20 Year Net Return on Investment: $546,000
Graduation Rate: 97%
Each of the four categories awarded points on a scale based on the school’s stats in that category. Explanations of each category and how points are allocated follow.
20 Year Net Return on Investment
Return on investment is weighted the highest out of all factors. When one looks at education as an investment, the return on that investment becomes one of the most important factors.
Return on investment doesn’t become a factor until the degree is complete. That’s why graduation rate of universities is key. Now this can be affected by numerous factors. More selective schools that accept only top students will have higher graduation rates than schools with open admittance or lower requirements. However, there are schools with high acceptance rates that manage to have high graduation rates, so the ability of the school to help struggling students succeed is a factor. We subtract one point from schools with below 50% graduation rate unless the school has open admittance or a high enough transfer-out rate to bring the number above 50%. However transfer out rate does not factor into the overall graduation rate because the students don’t graduate from that university.
Below 50%=-1 Point
It doesn’t matter how great the return on investment is if you can’t afford the school. So tuition is important. It also contributes to which end of the average you are on for return on investment. The more you pay through loans, the lower your return will be because of interest and other factors. So while tuition may not be the most important factor when considering the value of a university, it is still important.
Below Average ($37,172) Student Loan Debt=3 Points
Students should always attempt to graduate with as little debt as possible. A school having lower than average student debt shows they are willing to help students find funding alternatives to loans, and keep the student debt low. Not all financial aid departments are created equal.
Information comes from either the website of each individual school or from the following sources.
- Small Catholic Colleges
- Best Online Colleges
- Best Online Colleges for Veterans
- Should I Be Catholic to Go to a Catholic College?