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

3) Gannon University (Erie, PA)

photo via Wikimedia Commons

Gannon University was founded in 1925 in Erie, the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania and one of the ports on the Great Lakes. The university, like most Catholic Colleges in the US, emphasizes faith, leadership and social responsibility, as well as inclusiveness.

Almost 15 years ago, Gannon launched an unprecedented $25m campaign to transform its school and campus. With that investment, the school erected a technology incubator fostering local business development, a renovated science center, and a new academic center.

One of Gannon’s flagship student programs is known as LIFECORE. LIFECORE is a university-sponsored initiative helping students to grow outside the classroom; to this end, the school stages events appealing to LIFECORE principles, including spiritual, physical, and emotional, and culture growth. 

The idea of LIFECORE is simple; Gannon prepares students not to just become productive students, but also self-discovered, aware individuals.


2) St. Edward’s University (Austin, TX)

photo via Wikimedia Commons

Saint Edward’s is among the highest Fulbright-producing Catholic colleges in the nation. In 2014 alone, 5 students were awarded the prestigious Fulbright prize. Since 2008, 66 Fulbright winners have been produced by St. Edward’s

In the past 5 years, St. Edward’s has undergone tremendous innovation to its programs. This included developing greater partnerships with Austin-based businesses; the idea behind this is to help bridge and foster connections between local corporations and students seeking internships, jobs, and other opportunities.

In 1999, St. Edward’s embarked on a huge renovation project. The result of the school’s tireless fundraising efforts have been an amazing success, with $300 million(!) worth of campus and school technology improvements.

The students at St. Edwards are remarkable in their achievements; each year, 70,000 combined hours of community service are performed by the 4300 students at St. Edward’s.  

Rankings for St. Edward’s include a “Top Colleges” Designation by Forbes, “Green College” by The Princeton Review, and a National Survey of Student Engagement award.


1) Xavier University (Cincinnati, OH)

photo via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1831, this amazing hidden gem school has over 7,000 students in a campus measuring 190 acres.

Xavier places a significant emphasis on undergraduate study and liberal arts education, although a number of excellent, highly-specialized graduate programs exist as well. Rankings for this school include a Best Value nod by Kiplinger as well as a #2 “up-and-coming” ranking. 

Xavier boasts significant learning outcomes for their students, including an 86% of pre-med students accepted into graduate school, well above the national average of 45%. Additionally, the school has many offerings for their students, including 90+ majors, 60+ minors, and over 150+ clubs and extracurricular activities. 

All students at the school are required to take the Core Curriculum based around the Ratio Studiorum, a document of Jesuit ideals including philosophy, foreign language, mathematics, and more. The

One unique offering Xavier is home to is their “Alternative Break” program. This unique program helps students find opportunities for volunteer services during Spring Break, reflecting the school’s commitment to service-based leadership.

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