Catholic University of America

Located in Washington, D.C., Catholic University of America is a private college and the only higher learning institution established by the U.S. Catholic Bishops. Founded in 1887 as a graduate school and research center, CUA soon grew into a comprehensive university and now offers 72 undergraduate degrees.

As a pontifical university of the Catholic Church, CUA aims to foster an understanding of Christianity within an educational context. Currently, CUA is the only U.S. university to have been visited by two popes. It’s also one of only two universities to have been visited by a pontiff.

But CUA’s strong alignment with the Catholic Church is not one meant to exclude potential students who aren’t Catholic. The campus has over 6,000 students from all 50 states and around the world, and welcomes students of all religious beliefs. Approximately 84% of undergraduate students and 59% of graduate students self-identify as Catholic, while the remainder of students identify with other faiths or none.

CUA’s curriculum emphasizes the liberal arts, professional education, and personal development, and all undergrads take liberal arts courses in addition to courses in their major fields of study. Because of its origins as a graduate school, CUA prides itself on its faculty members’ and students’ original research. It also emphasizes the importance of undergraduate research, and offers research opportunities to undergrads of all majors.

Of course it’s not all work and no play at this school. CUA has more than 80 student organizations as well as campus-produced musicals and performances, opportunities for individual leadership developments, and community service projects. Annual events include numerous dances, formal balls, ski trips, and weeklong Homecoming celebrations. The university also publishes an independent weekly newspaper and a literary magazine.

Community service is especially important at CUA. In 2011, in honor of the university’s upcoming 125th anniversary, students, staff, faculty, and alumni set out to complete 125,000 hours of community service in just under a year. At the end of the challenge, more than 350,000 community service hours were recorded, earning CUA the highest federal recognition an institution can receive on The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Located in the residential community of Brookland in Northeast Washington, CUA’s neighborhood is known as “Little Rome” because of the high number of Catholic institutions in the area. The tree-lined campus combines both Romanesque and modern designs, and surrounds the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, a prominent Roman Rite Catholic basilica. The U.S. Environmental Agency and the Princeton Review have both touted the university’s campus as one of the most environmentally responsible. The university purchases 30% of its electricity from green sources and its most recently constructed buildings are all LEED-compliant.

If community service, environmental responsibility, and a beautiful campus in the middle of a bustling city sound like traits you’d love in a college campus, CUA is definitely worth looking into. For more information:

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