What Is a Jesuit School?

In your search for the right school, you may have come across some that are identified as Jesuit. Sounds religious, certainly, but there must be more to them. What are Jesuit schools all about?

In a Nutshell

A Jesuit school is (drumroll, please) a school run by Jesuits. So what is a Jesuit? A Jesuit is a member of an order of Catholic priests founded in 1534 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, and others. They’re known for teaching, for making contributions to science, and for taking a vow of poverty.

In many cases, the term “Jesuit school” is used in reference to one of the universities that belongs to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), which includes 28 schools in the United States. These schools are part of a network of approximately 189 Jesuit institutions of higher learning located around the globe.

Some of the more well-known Jesuit colleges include Georgetown University, Boston College, John Carroll University, and Gonzaga University, to name just a few. (See below for a full list.)

However, it’s not just colleges that are Jesuit — grade schools can be classified as Jesuit as well. In fact, according to the Jesuit Schools Network, there are 85 member K-12 schools that educate approximately 50,000 young men and women yearly

How religious are Jesuit schools?

A Jesuit school is always Catholic, but a Catholic school isn’t always Jesuit.

In other words, Jesuit schools are under the Catholic umbrella, but they’re a sub-category, and they’re typically considered more liberal (at least religiously, if not politically) than other Catholic schools.

Recommended: Why You Might Consider a Catholic School (Even if You’re Not Catholic)

Jesuit colleges, much like liberal arts colleges, aim to ensure that learning has meaning — that students learn life skills and become free thinkers. In fact, according to the AJCU, “a Jesuit education is grounded in the liberal arts tradition with a focus on quality teaching, critical thinking, and rigorous academic standards and scholarship.”

However, Jesuit schools, including colleges, are still tied to the Catholic Church. They’re expected to adhere to basic Catholic principles and answer to the local bishop.

All Catholic schools tend to weave in the value of service to others, and the AJCU says Jesuit schools are no different in this regard. Jesuit schools are “guided by a spirituality that seeks justice,” they write. “Inspired by the tenets of Catholic social teaching and its intellectual and social justice traditions, a Jesuit education places great emphasis on forming ‘women and men for others.’ Students are engaged in a process of exploring the distinctive and constructive ways in which their knowledge and talents will best serve society.”

Ultimately, in the modern era, Jesuit schools — particularly colleges — strike a balance: On one hand, they’re rooted in Catholic tradition. On the other hand, they encourage free thought.

How competitive are Jesuit colleges?

Jesuit colleges vary in how difficult they are to get into, as well as how highly they’re rated. See details below on each of the 28 Jesuit colleges, and click on any of them to get more information.

School Location Niche Grade
Location Chestnut Hill, MA
Niche Grade A+
Location Buffalo, NY
Niche Grade B
Location Worcester, MA
Niche Grade A+
Location Omaha, NE
Niche Grade A-
Location Fairfield, CT
Niche Grade A-
Location New York, NY
Niche Grade A-
Location Washington, D.C.
Niche Grade A+
Location Spokane, WA
Niche Grade A-
Location University Heights, OH
Niche Grade A-
Location Syracuse, NY
Niche Grade B
Location Los Angeles, CA
Niche Grade A
Location Chicago, IL
Niche Grade A-
Location Baltimore, MD
Niche Grade A-
Location New Orleans, LA
Niche Grade A-
Location Milwaukee, WI
Niche Grade A
Location Denver, CO
Niche Grade B+
Location Kansas City, MO
Niche Grade A-
Location Philadelphia, PA
Niche Grade B+
Location St. Louis, MO
Niche Grade A
Location Jersey City, NJ
Niche Grade B-
Location Santa Clara, CA
Niche Grade A
Location Seattle, WA
Niche Grade B+
Location Mobile, AL
Niche Grade B
Location Detroit, MI
Niche Grade B
Location San Francisco, CA
Niche Grade A-
Location Scranton, PA
Niche Grade A-
Location Wheeling, WV
Niche Grade B
Location Cincinnati, OH
Niche Grade A-
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Author: Ali Trachta

Ali is the Content Writer/Editor at Niche.

What Is a Jesuit School?