America’s Top Jesuit Colleges

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The Jesuit religious order has long been associated with education, running many schools dedicated to primary, secondary, and collegiate studies. The universities they run in the US are not all ranked highly, but several of them are regularly ranked among the top 100 institutions in the country. 

In this article, we’ll go over the best Jesuit affiliated colleges in the United States. We’ll cover their unique offerings, and what you can expect going to them, along with some information on what is required to get into them. Let’s get started!

A Note on Notre Dame

Notre Dame is the most famous Catholic university in the US, and is a very good school as well. It is not, however, a Jesuit school. While the Jesuits are a Catholic association, and are highly associated with education, not every Catholic school or college is run by the Jesuits. Thus, while Notre Dame is a very good school, we won’t be covering them in this article. For more information about Notre Dame, check out our university guide on the school.

Georgetown University

Located in Washington DC, Georgetown is the best school in our nation’s capital. They are known especially for graduates going into law, business, politics, and international locations, and their proximity to the halls of power makes securing internships with political groups, think tanks, and other vested interests in the capital quite common. 

While Georgetown is associated with the Jesuits, and does profess a Catholic character, they are welcome to students of all religions, and there are no religious duties imposed on students (though the school does have moral standards they expect students to uphold, these are not far off from many other schools). 

Last year, Georgetown had a total acceptance rate of 14%, and an early action acceptance rate of 11.8%. We do not know how many students deferred from early admissions were later accepted into the school. Georgetown’s overall acceptance rates have been gradually declining for the past 8 years, and we expect that trend to continue. 

Georgetown asks applicants to answer the following essay questions: 

  • Prompt 1: Indicate any special talents or skills you possess. (250 words)
  • Prompt 2: Briefly discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved. (approximately 1/2 page, single-spaced)
  • Prompt 3: As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you. (approximately 1 page, single-spaced)

Those three prompts are required of all applicants. A fourth essay is required, with the prompt based on which school within Georgetown you are applying to. This essay should be one page in length, single spaced. These prompts are: 

  • Georgetown College: What does it mean to you to be educated? How might Georgetown College help you achieve this aim? (Applicants to the Sciences and Mathematics or the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics should address their chosen course of study.)
  • School of Nursing & Health Studies: Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studying health care. Please specifically address your intended major (Global Health, Health Care Management & Policy, Human Science, or Nursing).
  • Walsh School of Foreign Service: The Walsh School of Foreign Service was founded more than a century ago to prepare generations of leaders to solve global problems. What is motivating you to dedicate your undergraduate studies to a future in service to the world?
  • McDonough School of Business: The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives. Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.

Important Note:

Georgetown is not on the Common App. If you intend to apply to Georgetown, you will need to do so through their website directly, and fill out all of their required information there. This is why their essay prompts have a page limit, and not a word count. For more information about strategy for applying to Georgetown, and for more information about the school itself, see our university guide on the school. 

Boston College

Located in Boston, and frequently confused with Boston University, Boston College is one of the top schools in the country, and students often mingle with those from other elite universities in the Boston area. The school is commonly ranked in the top 30 colleges in the US. 

Boston College does profess a strong religious character, and is associated with the Catholic church through the Jesuits. Students of all religions are accepted into the school however, and there are no religious obligations placed upon students, though the school does maintain a strict ethics policy. 

Last year, Boston College had an overall acceptance rate of 19%. The average SAT scores of admitted students ranged from 1460-1540, while the average ACT scores were 33-35. The average admitted student had an A/A- average in high school. As with most other top schools, Boston College’s acceptance rates have been gradually declining over the past decade, and we expect that trend to continue. 

Boston College asks applicants to answer one the following supplemental essay questions in 400 words or less. Students applying to the Human-Centered Engineering major must select the 6th prompt: 

  • Students at Boston College are encouraged to consider critical questions as they pursue lives of meaning and purpose. What is a question that matters to you and how do you hope Boston College will help you answer it?
  • In 2020, we faced a national reckoning on racial injustice in America – a reckoning that continues today. Discuss how this has affected you, what you have learned, or how you have been inspired to be a change agent around this important issue.
  • At Boston College, we hope to draw on the Jesuit tradition of finding conversation partners to discuss issues and problems facing society. Who is your favorite conversation partner? What do you discuss with that person?
  • Socrates stated that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Discuss a time when reflection, prayer, or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.
  • Each year at University Convocation, the incoming class engages in reflective dialogue around a common text. What book would you recommend for your class to read and explore together – and why?
  • Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) Applicants: One goal of a Jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the Common Good. Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College integrates technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. What societal problems are important to you and how will you use your HCE education to solve them?

For advice on how to answer these questions, strategic advice for applying to Boston College, and more information about what the school offers, you should check out our university guide on Boston College.

Loyola Marymount University

Located on the west side of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount is one of the top 100 universities in the US. The school gained its name when it became a coeducational institution, with the boys-only Loyola University combining with the women-only Marymount college in 1973. It is the largest Catholic university on the west coast.

While the school is primarily Jesuit, several other religious orders are also affiliated with the university. While the school maintains a Catholic character, no religious affiliation is required to attend the school, and students of all religions (or none) are welcomed. There are no religious requirements of students, though the school maintains a strict ethics policy. 

Last year, Loyola Marymount had an acceptance rate of 46%, with an early acceptance rate of 67%. The average SAT scores for admitted students are 1250 and 1420, while the average ACT scores are in the range of 28 and 32. Loyola Marymount does accept the Common App. 

Loyola Marymount requires applicants submit a single supplemental essay: 

  • Please briefly state your reason for wishing to attend LMU and/or how you came to select your major. (500 words)

If you are looking for advice on how to approach writing an essay of this kind, we recommend checking out our article on supplemental essays

A Note on Loyolas

There are many universities with the name Loyola attached to them. All of these are run by the Jesuits, and all provide a good education. This does not mean all are highly ranked however. Just as Columbia University in New York and Columbia College in Chicago are different, so are all Loyola universities separate institutions. 
Ignatious of Loyola founded the Jesuit order, and they have a predilection to name their institutions in his honor. This can lead to a great deal of confusion for students trying to apply to one in particular. We recommend double and triple checking when you add these schools in the Common App, to make sure you are applying to the university you intend to.

Final Thoughts

Religiously-affiliated schools aren’t for everyone, but some students enjoy the community they find there, especially if they attended a religious high school. Indeed, we work with many students who attended Strake Jesuit, one of the best private high schools in the Houston area, and these students can see the benefits the education provides.

We hope that this overview has given you a deeper look into these schools, and given you more options to consider on your own college admissions journey. We know applying to college can be difficult, no matter where you are applying. If you want help on your own admissions journey, and want to hear how we can assist you, schedule a free consultation today. We’ve helped students get into all of the schools in this article, and are always happy to hear from you.

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