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Colleges / Explore Lists / Best Jesuit Colleges 2021

Best Jesuit Colleges 2021

List by College Confidential
Photo: Vlada Karpovich/Pexels

There are 175 Jesuit colleges and universities in the world, and 28 of them are located in the United States. These colleges are not defined by their size or school type; they range from large research universities like Georgetown to small liberal arts schools like Holy Cross. This network of schools is united in their mission to uphold the vision of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Catholic Priest from Spain who founded the Society of Jesus in 1540. The first Jesuit School was founded in 1548 in Sicily, Italy. Though they are rooted in Catholicism, Jesuit schools are not exactly the same as Catholic schools. All Jesuit schools are Catholic, but not all Catholic colleges are Jesuit. Jesuit schools are known for their focus on community service, social justice, and ethics. Many of the top Jesuit schools also offer Division I sports teams and all are members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). All of the top Jesuit schools listed below have high first-year student retention and 6-year graduation rates, and graduates with average starting salaries over $50k and manageable debt. See a college you're interested in? Click the heart to save it to your own personal list of saved colleges.

Georgetown University

Georgetown is the oldest and most prestigious of the Jesuit schools. It has always been a very selective university, but in 2021, their admissions rate reached an all-time low. Only 11.7% of all 27,650 applicants were admitted, and the total number of applicants was up 30% from the previous year, even though the university didn't adopt a test-optional policy in response to the pandemic. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at Georgetown, around 94% return for their sophomore year. Around 94% of students who started at Georgetown earn their Bachelor's degrees within six years. The average student debt for graduates in the class of 2021 was around $26,078 per student, not including those with no debt. Georgetown meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $42,920 a year. Georgetown, along with other Jesuit colleges Creighton, Marquette, and Xavier, has Division I athletic teams that participate in the Big East Conference.

  • Georgetown University
    Washington, DC
  • Gonzaga University

    Gonzaga is one of two Jesuit universities located in the Pacific Northwest (the other one is Seattle University), a part of the country is known for its towering forests, misty weather, and opportunities for outdoor adventures. Gonzaga also offers Division I sports, and is a member of the West Coast Conference along with Jesuit schools Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara, and University of San Francisco. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at Gonzaga University, around 92% return for their sophomore year. Around 88% of students who started at Gonzaga University earn their Bachelor's degrees within six years. Recent grads have an average starting salary of $56,719 a year. In 2020, students graduated with an average of $28,426 in student loans for each student with debt. Gonzaga University meets 80% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. First-year students that attend Gonzaga University full-time are awarded $33,002 a year in financial aid, on average.

  • Gonzaga University
    Spokane, WA
  • Fordham University

    Fordham is a Jesuit school located in the heart of vibrant New York City. The University's motto is "New York is my campus. Fordham is my school." Fordham offer Division I sports and is a member of the Atlantic 10 conference and an associate member of the Patriot League. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at Fordham, around 89% return for their sophomore year. Fordham's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 83%. Recent grads have an average starting salary of $61,660 a year. The average student debt for graduates in the class of 2021 was around $37,283 per student, not including those with no debt. Fordham meets 76.8% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $40,197 a year.

  • Boston College

    In a Commencement address delivered in 1956, President John F. Kennedy Jr. called Boston College the "Jesuit Ivy." BC is one of the most selective of the Jesuit colleges. In 2021, BC received a record number of applicants and admitted only 18.9% of the 39,875 students who applied. The Boston College Eagles participate in the Division I Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). About 95% of students who start at BC come back the next year. Out of BC's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 94%. About 95% of students who start at BC come back the next year. BC's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 94%. BC meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $46,417 a year.

  • Boston College
    Chestnut Hill, MA
  • Saint Joseph's University

    Saint Joseph's is located just 15 minutes from Center City Philadelphia. The Jesuit university recently merged with the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, and will be begin offering more health-related areas of study in Fall of 2022. The Saint Joseph's Hawks compete with Fordham and Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 conference. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at Saint Joseph's University, around 89% return for their sophomore year. Around 81% of students who started at Saint Joseph's University earn their Bachelor's degrees within six years. Within six months of graduating, 92% of graduates receive at least one full-time job offer. The average starting salary for recent grads is $52,538 a year. In 2020, students graduated with an average of $42,747 in student loans for each student with debt. Saint Joseph's University meets 81% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $37,781 a year.

  • Saint Joseph's University
    Philadelphia, PA
  • Loyola Marymount University

    Loyola Marymount's pristine 142-acre campus, which is situated on a bluff just minutes from downtown Los Angeles, is often considered one of the most beautiful college campuses. The Loyola Marymount Lions compete with Santa Clara, Gonzaga, and University of San Francisco in the West Coast conference. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at Loyola Marymount University, around 83% return for their sophomore year. Loyola Marymount University's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 83%. Recent grads have an average starting salary of $57,481 a year. The average student debt for graduates in the class of 2021 was around $31,377 per student, not including those with no debt. Loyola Marymount meets 66.2% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. First-year students that attend full-time are awarded an average of $32,921 a year in financial aid.

  • Loyola Marymount University
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Santa Clara University

    Santa Clara is the Jesuit school for sun-lovers. The university claims that its 106 acre campus in the Silicon Valley area of California sees over 300 days of sunshine each year. It is also one of the oldest institutes of higher education in California. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at Santa Clara University, around 92% return for their sophomore year. Out of the 1,318 students who started at Santa Clara University as first-time freshman, 1,157 graduate within four years. Around 92% of students who started at Santa Clara University earn their Bachelor's degrees within six years. Recent grads have an average starting salary of $67,012 a year. Students in the class of 2021 who had taken out student loans graduated with an average of $25,610 of debt.

  • Santa Clara University
    Santa Clara, CA
  • Fairfield University

    About 92% of students who start at Fairfield University come back for their second year of college. Fairfield joins Jesuit school Canisius in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 82% at Fairfield, and the average starting salary for recent grads is $60,139 a year. The class of 2021 graduated with an average of $41,911 in student loans per borrower. Fairfield University meets 82% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $33,330 a year.

  • Fairfield University
    Fairfield, CT
  • Loyola University Maryland

    Loyola University Maryland is located on 81 wooded acres in North Baltimore, Maryland. It was the first Jesuit school to be named for St. Ignatius of Loyola. Loyola Maryland joins another top Jesuit school, Holy Cross, as a member of Patriot League, an NCAA Division I athletic conference. About 87% of students who start at Loyola University Maryland come back the next year. Around 81% of students who started at Loyola University Maryland earn their Bachelor's degrees within six years. Recent grads have an average starting salary of $57,915 a year. In 2020, students graduated with an average of $39,177 in student loans for each student with debt. Loyola University Maryland meets 85% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $37,290 a year.

  • Loyola University Chicago

    With two Chicago campuses serving around 16,000 undergrads and grad students, Loyola University Chicago is one of the largest Jesuit universities. The Loyola Ramblers participate in the Missouri Valley Conference. About 85% of students who start at Loyola University Chicago return for their second year of college. Loyola University Chicago's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 76%. In 2020, students graduated with an average of $33,898 in student loans for each student with debt. Loyola University Chicago meets 84.5% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $35,074 a year.

  • Marquette University

    Marquette is a Jesuit University not far from downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Like all Jesuit schools, community service is a core value, and over 80% of students participate in some community service. Marquette has sixteen Division I sports teams and participates in the Big East Conference along with other Jesuit schools, Georgetown, Creighton and Xavier. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at Marquette University, around 88% return for their sophomore year. Out of the 1,989 students who started at Marquette University as first-time freshman, 1,329 graduate within four years. Marquette University's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 84%. Graduates in the class of 2021 had an average of $36,321 in student loans per borrower.

  • Marquette University
    Milwaukee, WI
  • Saint Louis University

    Saint Louis University offers classes at its campuses in St. Louis, MO and Madrid, Spain and online. The University is a member of the Atlantic 10 athletic conference, along with other Jesuit schools, Fordham and Saint Joseph's. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at SLU, around 90% return for their sophomore year and approximately 80% of students who started at SLU earn their Bachelor's degrees within six years. The average student debt for graduates in the class of 2021 was around $35,315 per student, not including students without any debt.

  • Saint Louis University
    St. Louis, MO
  • College of the Holy Cross

    Holy Cross combines the liberal arts approach with a jesuit mission. The liberal arts school is an hour west of Boston, in Worcester, MA. In October of 2021, Holy Cross welcomed its 33rd President, Vincent D. Rougeau. Rougeau is the college's first black President, and former dean of the Boston College Law Schoo. He is a national expert on Catholic social thought and legal education. Holy Cross is a member of Patriot League, an NCAA Division I athletic conference. Out of all students who start college at Holy Cross, 89% return for their Sophomore year. Holy Cross meets 100% of demonstrated need for admitted students. Holy Cross meets 100% of demonstrated need for admitted students. First-year students that attend Holy Cross full-time are awarded $44,288 a year in financial aid, on average.

  • Creighton University

    Creighton University is located right in the heart of the country in Omaha, Nebraska, but 77% of students come from outside of Nebraska. The Creighton Bluejays participate in the Big East Conference along with Georgetown, Marquette, and Xavier. About 92% of students who start at Creighton University come back the next year. Creighton University's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 82%. The average starting salary for recent grads is $51,000 a year. Graduates in the class of 2021 had an average of $40,341 in student loans per borrower. Creighton University meets 81% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $34,219 a year.

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