The 10 Best “Hidden Gem” Catholic Colleges in the US

For many, the right education begins with a Catholic college.

We all know the big name Catholic colleges – schools like Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, and Boston College.

Don’t get me wrong – those four schools are amazing colleges that have produced great alumni and have tremendous faculty.

However, what if I told you there are some amazing Catholic colleges oftentimes overlooked in national rankings lists. I am talking about schools with tremendous research programs, a wide array of activities, and much more to offer students.

Today, in our continued “hidden gem” series of articles, we are examining amazing, top-tier Catholic Colleges that are true hidden gems.

These schools have produced internationally renowned alumni, have top programs, and nationally on the rise.

Although we have reviewed a few other Catholic schools in other hidden gem lists, in an effort to showcase the widest variety of hidden gem schools, we are only looking at universities not yet listed in one of our other hidden gem articles.

Without further ado, here are College Gazette’s picks for the top 10 hidden gem Catholic Colleges in the US.


10) Regis University (Denver, CO)

photo by J. Pock via Wikimedia Commons

Our list starts off with the only Jesuit university in the entire Western Rocky Mountain Region, Regis University. 

One special focus of Regis University is in medicine, as demonstrated by their highly-rated Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions. This school offers a few highly-employable Doctoral degrees, including Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Nursing. According to Registered Nursing Organization, Regis has some of the best RN programs available in the US.

For 23 years, Regis has been named a “Top School in the West” by US News and World Report

Through Regis’ Jesuit Worldwide Learning initiative, students can serve citizens of developing countries, including Myanmar, Kenya, and Zambia. Since the founding of Jesuit Worldwide Learning in 2010, nearly 10,000 students have participated in this service-oriented program.

Over 10,000 students call Regis their home; additionally, the school has nearly 80,000 alumni.


9) Manhattan College (New York, NY)

photo via Wikimedia Commons

A liberal arts college, Manhattan College was recently named by MONEY Magazine as the #1 Transformative College in the nation. This ranking evaluates which schools help students succeed the most considering economic factors and other variables.

Additionally, the Brookings Institute called Manhattan College a Top-10 college in the country when it came to actual vs. expected mid-career earnings back in 2015. 

However, what makes Manhattan College special is hardly its rankings, but rather, its people, programs, and offerings.

Over 80% of the student body is undergraduate, which is comparable to other liberal arts colleges. This means nearly all of the university’s student resources are allocated towards the undergraduate population, whereas many research universities allocate the majority towards graduate students.

One of Manhattan College’s signature extracurricular activities is the Manhattan College Pipes & Drums, a musical ensemble who perform in many local NYC parades, including the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

With 50,000 alumni working worldwide, past students include a NASCAR team owner, soap opera stars, several NYC mayors including Rudy Giuliani, and a number of University presidents.


8) University of Portland (Portland, OR)

photo by M.O. Stevens via Wikimedia Commons

With approximately 4200 students in total, the University of Portland is a small, private Catholic University based in Oregon. 

Looking at reviews from Unigo as well as the school’s own Facebook page, students describe the teaching environment around them to be encouraging, open, and having close 1-on-1 relationships with professors at the school. 

In 2020, University of Portland ranked as the 2nd best college in Regional Universities West by US News.

Life around campus is endless. They include There are also a lot of places around campus to visit like the Art Museum and the Opera. There you can even get discounted tickets if you’re a student at the university.

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