With all the years and effort you’ve expended on homeschooling, do you really want to attend a public college that reinforces the negative values that made you turn to homeschooling in the first place? Homeschoolers are not immune to the corrosive effects of secular higher education. Homeschooling means going against the current tide in education, and the following colleges follow the same philosophy. These are not just private schools but intensely independent schools, refusing to conform to prevailing cultural currents. For instance, some schools on the list refuse to accept federal funding. And while certain Catholic schools are Catholic in name only, having embraced secular ideals (political correctness, theological liberalism, etc.), the Catholic schools on this list all take their Catholicism seriously. Each one of them has been endorsed by The Cardinal Newman Society for their commitment to a faithful Catholic education.
1. Ave Maria University – Ave Maria, Florida
Founded by Tom Monaghan, the retired owner of Domino’s Pizza, Ave Maria University (AMU) attempts to faithfully inculcate the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church while providing a top-notch classical liberal arts education. Looking to Saint Thomas Aquinas for inspiration, AMU strives in its courses of study to advance human culture by promoting dialogue between faith and reason. Homeschool students and parents alike love Ave Maria because the college supports the same values of Faith, Family, Academics, Sports, Arts and Service that were instilled at home, with the same commitment to the healthy integration of the Catholic faith into every facet of students’ lives. The pro-family culture on campus is welcoming, and it’s not uncommon for siblings to attend the university side by side or one after another. A university spokesman stated, “nearly 30% of our students homeschooled through high school. Many of our most successful students come from a home education background.” The application process for homeschooled students is the same as for any other applicant and AMU offers the same scholarships and financial aid opportunities as well. In addition, Ave Maria University offers generous scholarships for Catholic homeschool students from Michigan to attend AMU in Florida. (Ave Maria University shares its history with the former Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which was founded in 1998 and closed in 2007.) The AMU campus is located at the center of a master-planned community near Naples, Florida, and the university’s massive cathedral-like chapel aka “The Oratory” serves as the local parish for both residents and students.
2. Benedictine College – Atchison, Kansas
Heir to 1500 years of Benedictine dedication to learning, Benedictine College is a private Catholic liberal arts university sponsored by the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey and the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. Its mission as a Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts, residential college is to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship in which the riches of the Catholic faith are celebrated throughout the campus. The distinctively Benedictine approach to education culminates in graduates who are committed to living their lives “so that in all things God may be glorified.” The campus community helps Benedictine students to grow as students and as individuals. With a homeschool population of 11%, Benedictine College understands the needs of home educated students. According to their website, the Benedictine family allows students to have a second “home” through small class sizes, a 15-1 student faculty ratio, no courses taught by teaching assistants, a thriving faith life, and endless student life activities. To assist homeschoolers in navigating the college admission process, Benedictine College created “The Catholic Homeschool Student & Parent Guide to Preparing for College Admission.”
3. Catholic Distance University – Charles Town, West Virginia
Catholic Distance University (CDU) was established in 1983 under the leadership of Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, founding bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, West Virginia. He believed that families should be able to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic faith in the warmth, security, and convenience of home, setting an example of the importance of learning more about faith throughout life. A Global Catholic University, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission authorized CDU to operate as a degree-granting institution of higher education in West Virginia. For more than 30 years, CDU has been at the forefront of Catholic education with its unique mission as a non-residential online university reaching people wherever there is a connection to the Internet.
CDU is truly a learner-centered institution that makes lifelong learning in the Catholic faith not only a goal, but a reality for thousands of Catholic adults worldwide who are earning accredited degrees, certificates, and diplomas without leaving the comfort of home. CDU offers theology courses and online interactive seminars in Catholic doctrine, moral theology, sacraments, scripture, spirituality, bioethics, mariology, liturgy, catechetics, laity, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. CDU also offers humanities courses in classical languages (Latin and Greek), history, philosophy, English grammar and composition. The college offers an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts with a Concentration in Catholic Studies; a Bachelor of Arts in Theology; a Master of Arts in Theology; a Master of Arts in Educational Ministry; and a Catechetical Diploma as well as Continuing Education, graduate, undergraduate, and noncredit certificates.
4. Christendom College – Front Royal, Virginia
Christendom College, located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, is a Catholic liberal arts college committed to both academic and moral excellence. Christendom offers a time-tested and rigorous education that develops the student’s intellect in such a powerful way that he or she graduates with the ability to master any subject—no matter how complex the vocational calling. At Christendom, the curriculum and committed faculty are complemented by a culture of unmatched personal attention, helping each student discern and develop his academic and vocational goals. The college seeks to help parents in their roles of primary educators and works hard to not only keep bad things out of the campus culture, but to provide a good Catholic culture in its place. Christendom does not accept federal funding (except for the Yellow Ribbon GI Bill), to protect its freedom to teach the Catholic faith without hindrance. Homeschoolers are encouraged to apply; in fact, according to Thomas McFadden, Director of Admissions, “Homeschoolers do very well at Christendom College. Each year approximately 50% of the incoming class comes to us from a homeschool background.” Christendom recognizes accredited Catholic homeschooling programs such as Kolbe Academy, Mother of Divine Grace, Our Lady of the Rosary, and Seton Home Study. Homeschooled students who are not enrolled in one of the approved homeschool programs should provide documentation of completed course work. Homeschool transcript forms are available from the college and may be downloaded here.
5. Franciscan University of Steubenville – Steubenville, Ohio
The Franciscan University of Steubenville (aka Franciscan Steubenville or simply Franciscan) is one of the most well-known, well-respected, faithfully Catholic institutions in the world. If you are serious about the Catholic tradition, affirming the unity of faith and knowledge, and committed to papal and magisterial teachings, then Franciscan University of Steubenville is for you. Academically excellent and passionately Catholic, Franciscan University prepares men and women to make a difference and be leaders in the Church and the world. The most popular majors include theology and catechetics, but the range of course offerings is wide. The Core Curriculum – based on Western intellectual tradition, Franciscan educational heritage, and Catholic mission – purposefully exposes students to the fundamental knowledge, critical authors, scientific findings and processes, and diverse learning experiences they need to become well-educated Catholics and citizens of the world. The Franciscan University of Steubenville encourages homeschooled students to apply for admission. Homeschool applicants must meet the regular criteria for high school seniors and provide:
- SAT or ACT score report;
- Evidence of participation in an approved homeschool program, OR
- Documentation showing which courses fulfill the University’s high school course requirements. Transcripts may be submitted in either of two ways:
6. John Paul the Great Catholic University – Escondido, California
John Paul the Great Catholic University (JPCatholic) was founded in 2003 under the name “New Catholic University.” JPCatholic offers an outstanding education; a substantial curriculum; small classes; faculty who are both dedicated teachers and accomplished in industry; a supportive campus environment; and a network of accomplished and enthusiastic mentors. It also offers something more – the intimacy and flexibility of a small college combined with a strong commitment to Catholic orthodoxy. JPCatholic uses the tagline “The Catholic University for Creative Arts and Business Innovation,” and its motto is “Impacting Culture for Christ.” JPCatholic’s academic programs include a BS in Communication Media, BS in Business, BA in Humanities, and MBA in Film Producing. Students may also pursue a double major, double emphasis, or minor. Minors include: Business, Creative Writing, Screenwriting, Humanities, Philosophy, and Theology.
In addition to being named one of “21 Catholic colleges and universities which most faithfully live their Catholic identity” by the Newman Society, John Paul the Great Catholic University placed at #12 on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Regional Colleges West in both 2018 and 2019. The university actively seeks a mix of students who have a variety of interests, talents, and goals. The admissions evaluation will examine your academic background including the relative strength of your high school program, your performance in your courses, and your standardized test scores. In 2016, JPCatholic became the third university in America to adopt the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative to the SAT and ACT. The college also considers your application essay, letters of recommendation, and your activities in school, church and community. A strong commitment to Jesus Christ is weighed heavily in making an admission decision. Download a homeschool transcript template.
7. Thomas Aquinas College – Santa Paula, California
Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) is a four-year Catholic liberal arts college nestled in a quiet valley among the foothills of Los Padres National Forest, about 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles, California. TAC is unique in that Socratic discussions and Great Books are used in place of lectures and textbooks. TAC offers no majors or minors, and only has one degree program: Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. Nevertheless, TAC students acquire a broad and integrated education, and they excel in a wide array of studies and careers. Homeschoolers feel very welcomed and accepted at TAC. Approximately 30 percent (nearly one-third) of their 350 students come from home schools. Homeschool admission is based on essays, transcripts (if you don’t use a specific curriculum, include a list of courses and books read), letters of reference, and SAT or ACT scores. Homeschooled applicants may request that a parent write one recommendation as the primary educator, unless another teacher’s recommendation is available.
Rebekah Hall, a former Homeschooling Teen columnist and current TAC student, told us: “What attracted me was the fact that they have a completely different outlook on what education really is; instead of preparing you for one particular career path, they believe that education is about making you wiser and more whole, preparing you for life in general so that you can handle whatever it throws at you. That’s one reason why they don’t have majors; the other is that they believe that each subject is interconnected with the others, so that you can’t separate them without losing something important. Also, (and this was the most appealing to me personally) they don’t lecture you: each class is done by a discussion method where each class has the original text of the subject they’re studying (i.e. math is Euclid, philosophy is Aristotle, history is Herodotus, etc.) and a teacher to guide the discussion.”
8. University of Dallas – Irving, Texas
The University of Dallas (UD) is a private Catholic university located in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. UD is dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom, truth, and virtue as the proper and primary goal of an education. With a nationally-recognized 60-credit-hour core curriculum rooted in the Great Books as its cornerstone, the university offers students a life-transforming opportunity to learn from the greatest thinkers and authors of Western civilization while also enabling them to pursue their areas of interest through a specific major. Homeschool student Halley Chavey wrote, “I was homeschooled K-12 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I came to visit UD when I was a senior in high school and found the community to be exceptionally welcoming, especially during my overnight stay on campus. Throughout my time at UD I have met many other homeschooled students, and I have been supported by them and the rest of the student body – a peer group which forms a strong community of students pushing one another to achieve more academically, spiritually, and personally.… I have so many professors to thank for my success during my time at UD. They work very hard to ensure that students are succeeding, while at the same time always setting the bar very high academically. They quickly establish a personal relationship with their students, and some professors who taught me freshman year still remember my first name even now, three years later.”
9. University of Mary – Bismarck, North Dakota
The University of Mary (abbreviated UMary or simply Mary) is a private Catholic and Benedictine university near Bismarck, North Dakota. Established in 1959, the university is the largest degree-granting institution in Bismarck, and the only private Catholic university in North Dakota. UMary has campuses in Rome and Peru, and also operates academic programs at satellite locations in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Kansas, and Arizona. The University of Mary was recognized as a College of Distinction (2017–2018), the only such institution in North Dakota. At about half the average tuition of American private colleges or universities, Mary is also one of the most affordable private universities in the nation. A wide selection of accredited undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered at the main campus in Bismarck, as well as via online programs. In the Benedictine tradition, UMary emphasizes the values of service and community in every facet of education, and students are enriched by opportunities to give back. The university welcomes students of all faiths from all over the world, including many homeschoolers. The University of Mary’s homeschool application process has been specifically tailored to the unique characteristics of a home education. Find specific instructions for homeschooled students here.
10. Wyoming Catholic College – Lander, Wyoming
Wyoming Catholic College (WCC) is a private Catholic liberal arts college in picturesque Lander, Wyoming. The historic mountain town of Lander is an example of safe, friendly, small-town America at its best. WCC is the only private four-year institution of higher education in the state, and it is one of the newest colleges in the United States. WCC admitted its first class in 2007 and graduated them in the spring of 2011. The town’s sole Catholic church and accompanying facilities are used as its campus. WCC’s curriculum was designed to give students a general liberal arts education through a study of Great Books. The Wilderness, or “God’s first book,” is the first subject of study. Before beginning the school year, all freshmen go on a three week backpacking course in the Rocky Mountains, where they immerse themselves in the beauty of the created world. The school’s Outdoor Leadership Program teaches leadership and decision-making skills all while aiming to help the students grow in the Cardinal Virtues. In addition, students enjoy the cowboy culture of the American West and learn to ride horses on a ranch. Because it offers a four-year, integrated, Great Books curriculum, WCC has no majors, minors, specialized degrees or graduate programs; it awards graduating students the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts.
Wyoming Catholic College takes no federal aid money, but their tuition is almost 40% less than the average private college, and 86% of students receive merit- and/or need-based aid. In addition to an admissions essay, homeschooled applicants must submit information, signed by a parent, about the curricular materials they used, listing the subjects, major texts, and grades. WCC was the second college in the nation to accept the Classic Learning Test (CLT) as an alternative to the SAT and ACT for college admissions. The college is also noted for its Technology Policy of no televisions on campus, limited dorm internet access, and no cell phones or handheld devices. The campus culture creates a unique quiet setting where students learn how to be present to one another, learn the slow patient habits of a contemplative mind, and learn to pray. Students can still have laptops for writing papers, and the college has public computers available.
For more information about Catholic colleges, see: The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.