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As distance learning morphs into a norm rather than a trend, online Catholic schools also grow in popularity and establish credibility. The best online Catholic colleges offer flexible learning while advocating faith-based programs essential to every faith-centered student and professional.
Since many online Catholic schools advocate a multi-faceted nature of learning and teaching, students will immerse themselves in a unique learning experience. The holistic academic process will cultivate students”’ spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical nourishment, developing all aspects of happiness, health, and fulfillment. Although online Catholic schools are more inclined toward faith-based traditions and doctrines, there are no mandatory religious affiliations to enroll in most Catholic schools.
Catholic students planning to pursue an academic program online must carefully select the online Catholic school that matches their spiritual, professional, and academic aspirations!
If you’re taking this road toward earning your degree, make these 20 best online Catholic colleges your starting point! Our list highlights the benefits of attending these online academic institutions and attempts to address any misconceptions about traditional, faith-based schools.
20 Best Online Catholic Schools
Established in 1891, the Washington-based Seattle University is a Jesuit Catholic institution of higher learning. It is one of the country’s 28 Jesuit universities and home to eight colleges and schools with 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students. With a rich Jesuit Catholic heritage, Seattle University offers one-stop-shop learning resources for anyone interested to learn more about its Jesuit traditions, including the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture, Center for Jesuit Education, and School of Theology and Ministry.
Seattle University offers six online academic programs for students seeking non-traditional ways of learning. Depending on students’ credentials, they can enroll in the online:
- Master of Business Administration,
- MS in Business Analytics,
- Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management,
- English Language Learners Endorsement Academy,
- Special Education Endorsement Academy,
- or the Crime Analysis Certificate Program.
Each program includes comprehensive student support services, including resources that advocate academic and professional growth, communities of support, and physical, emotional, and spiritual support. The university offers a student-centered, holistic online learning experience, with an interactive online seminar featuring the new student orientation before the first course.
Headquartered in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, DeSales University has transformed from “the college in the cornfields” into one of the best online Catholic schools in the U.S. The university provides students with transformative learning aligned with the Gospel grounded in the heritage and values of Catholic higher education and St.Francis de Sales.
With a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, DeSales University offers a variety of online academic programs in:
- supply chain management,
- information technology,
- business administration,
- and accounting.
Students can complete their coursework via synchronous, asynchronous, or a combination of both learning options, providing them with the flexibility to complete their degrees anytime, anywhere. They can access their course and study materials, interact with their colleagues, and collaborate with instructors through Blackboard Learn.
Apart from the undergraduate and certificate online programs, DeSales also offers the Data Analytics track that can be integrated into students’ Adult Studies programs. The university exclusively offers online courses that are mandatory prerequisites for health-related professional programs at many schools. These prerequisite courses can be completed at DeSales even if students attend a program at a different academic institution.
With more than 400 years of Jesuit education and legacy, Georgetown University is the U.S.’s oldest Jesuit and Catholic university, making it one of the best online Catholic schools in the nation. Since 1789, the university has offered students a world-class learning experience that emphasizes the education and training of students through immersion of different beliefs, cultures, and faiths.
Non-traditional learners can choose among various online academic programs offered at Georgetown University. The majority of online programs are offered at the university’s:
- Graduate School of Arts & Sciences,
- School of Continuing Studies,
- School of Nursing & Health Studies,
- Georgetown Law,
- and McDonough School of Business.
Students will have the option to pursue their academic program either full-time or part-time. Each program adheres to a competency-based curriculum, allowing students to demonstrate what they’ve already known instead of focusing on what they’re expected to retain. Integrated with Jesuit values and traditions, each course will prepare students to act, reflect, and respond with intention.
Run by the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, Brescia University was formerly known as Mount Saint Joseph Junior College for Women. Today, Brescia University is one of the best online Catholic universities, home to 1,000 undergraduate and graduate learners. Like many Catholic schools, Brescia University has a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio that provides students with more personalized support and an exclusive learning experience.
Since 2016, distance learners completing an online undergraduate program at BUonline enjoyed a tuition freeze. Through BUonline, non-traditional students and busy professionals will have an alternative learning platform that offers affordability, flexibility, and convenience for completing their degrees. Brescia offers these online degree programs:
- five associates,
- seven baccalaureates,
- five graduates,
- and one certificate program, with each program highlighting:
- academic rigor,
- and affordability.
Most BUonline courses have an accelerated, 8-week format that enables distance learners to complete their degrees efficiently and quickly.
Apart from the 100% online academic programs, BUonline has a variety of online general education courses. These courses will be a convenient alternative to on-campus general education courses, reducing scheduling gaps and conflicts. With online general education courses, students will have the option to complete their foundational knowledge in any major.
Catholic Theological Union, a member of the Association of Theological Schools, is one of Chicago’s best online Catholic schools. The institution has partnerships with DePaul University and the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Students completing online programs at CTU will enjoy comprehensive support from online-certified professors and advisors. Once enrolled in a particular academic program, the school offers a series of free learning resources and online modules with tutorials to get students started. Students will receive personalized support from professors and academic advisors as they progress in their coursework. All learning tools and resources are accessible 24/7, including’s theological library.
Some of the online degree programs offered at CTU include:
- Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies
- Master of Arts in Ministry
- Masters in Hispanic Theology and Ministry
- Certificate in Hispanic Theology and Ministry
- Certificate in Pastoral Studies
The school also offers 100% online Continuing Education courses throughout the academic year.
Operating for at least a century now, The College of St. Scholastica is an independent, private school with different headquarters around Minnesota. Since 1912, the academic institution has been educating and preparing students for their mission and life purpose, advocating the Catholic Benedictine traditions and values.
Driven by state-of-the-art innovations in learning, The College of St. Scholastica offers a variety of online undergrad and grad programs. Most of the academic online degree programs offered are in:
- and information technology.
Distance learners join their professors and colleagues in CSS’ comprehensive audio and video conferencing. They also access many learning tools and resources for more collaborative learning, including chat rooms, polls, whiteboards, and recording sessions.
The College of St. Scholastica offers a one-of-a-kind Undecided/Open Major program, an online program ideal for students who haven’t yet committed themselves to a particular field of study. The Open Major program offers an opportunity to explore a diverse range of majors or career pathways while strengthening students” liberal arts knowledge.
Ohio Dominican University, a Catholic liberal arts institution, was founded by the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs in 1911. Guided by the Dominican motto ” to contemplate truth and share with others the fruits of this contemplation, “ ODU prepares and educates students committed to professional, spiritual, and intellectual growth.
ODU offers a variety of online associate, bachelor’s, master’s degrees and certificate programs specializing in business, management, and theology. Apart from high-quality programs, the university offers one of the lowest tuition fees in Central Ohio. On the contrary, the university also invests in professional development for teachers. It provides educators with relevant and accredited courses to help them get updated with the latest teaching developments while renewing their licenses.
Formerly known as St. Ignatius College, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870. It is one of the best online Catholic schools based in Chicago and is part of the largest Catholic universities in the country. Considered a Jesuit Catholic university, Loyola University Chicago is a steward of the distinct Ignatian legacy and Catholic tradition.
Since 1998, LUC has continued its growing list of online academic programs, consisting of eight adult degree programs, 38 certificate programs, and 35 graduate programs. Each program has a set of learner-centered courses that advocate supporting learning experiences. LUC’s online programs are healthcare, information technology, management, law, theology, and education.
At Loyola University Chicago, online students can expect to have the same high-quality programs and procedures as on-campus, traditional learners. Distance learners will utilize various technologies, including Zoom and Sakai. The university’s online Learning Portfolio platform, Digication, consists of a digital collection of students’ academic experiences, reflections, and projects. Students will also have access to many academic support services and student support services from LUC, including the:
- University Libraries,
- Career Services,
- Tutoring & Writing Centers,
- and Academic Advising & Support Services.
Dominican College is a New York-based Catholic school that provides students with the academic environment to foster life-long commitments and cultivate meaningful bonds. It is one of the rare groups of colleges to be honored as a College of Distinction, making it one of the best online Catholic schools in the U.S. Apart from this distinction, Dominican College has also been recognized as a Military Friendly School for advocating the best practices in support of military students” education.
The school offers six 100% online academic programs, namely the following:
- R.N. To BSN
- Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
While Dominican College has 25% lower tuition fees for all its online programs, students can save more on tuition if they have a total transfer credit of up to 90 credits. With tuition deferment programs, distance learners who have union or employer reimbursements can defer tuition payments until the completion of the semester. Students will only submit their completed online application, $35 application fee, GPA of 2.0 or higher, and official transcripts to be considered through a simplified enrollment process.
Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Lewis University is a coeducational, dynamic Catholic university inspired by the Lasallian and Catholic traditions. The university caters to more than 6,000 traditional and non-traditional students with academic programs for professional and liberal studies with a values-centered curriculum.
Lewis University has more than 15 online academic programs in:
- criminal justice,
- computer science,
- and aviation.
Distance learners will access their course materials, complete their assignments, participate in weekly discussions, and find their calendars and syllabus through Blackboard. While each online course is unique, students are expected to log on frequently to complete a set of coursework. Although all courses are taught 100% online, some courses will require students to attend placement tests or proctored exams on-campus. Students study at their own pace and meet weekly deadlines. Due dates and timelines for each coursework are included in the syllabus.
Founded in 1927, Edgewood College is one of Wisconsin’s best online Catholic schools. The school is a Catholic academic institution in the Dominican tradition. The Madison-based Catholic college offers a smaller class size, providing distance learners with a high level of support and attention from faculty. All online instructors at Edgewood College participate in a 7-week online certification program, preparing them to develop meaningful and collaborative online learning experiences for students. The school actively incorporates a lifelong search for truth, service, and ethical leadership in all online courses with a values-based education.
Through Edgewood College Online, students can enroll in one of the license or degree programs in nursing, education, and business. Although courses are 100% online, students will also have the option to complete them in person or combine online and in-person learning.
Edgewood College is fully accredited and offers high-quality courses, making the school a proud member of Quality Matters (T.M.). Apart from recognitions and accreditations, the school is also a participant of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).
Located in Colorado, Regis University is the only Jesuit Catholic university in the Rocky Mountain West. The university offers innovative, values-based education with nationally-recognized academic programs that integrate career-specific training. It has been recognized as a College of Distinction, making it one of the best online Catholic schools worth pursuing.
Regis University offers a variety of learning opportunities for working professionals and non-traditional students. The university has more than 70 online academic programs in:
- business & management,
- engineering & math,
- computer & information sciences,
- and arts, humanities & social sciences disciplines.
Most online programs have 8-week terms, allowing students to complete their degrees or certificates at their own pace and schedule. Adult learners will have the opportunity to enjoy employer discounts to save on tuition, with preferred tuition rates for students who are paraprofessionals, licensed educators, and employees of any organization with partnerships at Regis University.
Spring Hill College was founded by Michael Portier in 1830 and is considered the oldest institution of higher learning and the 5th oldest Catholic school in the country. With a Jesuit-educated legacy, Spring Hill College has a renowned, holistic approach to higher education, focusing on personal growth and sparking a passion for knowledge. The College prides itself as one of the most affordable private colleges in the U.S.
Spring Hill College offers a variety of award-winning online academic programs taught by experienced faculty. Distance learners can participate in smaller class sizes with a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio allowing them to have personalized support from their professors. The school highlights immersive and innovative learning experiences for students in different learning methods, including simulation technology, learning assessments, interactive exercises, and videos.
Spring Hill College has several online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels and offered in different fields of study, including theology, nursing, liberal arts, I.T., healthcare, and business. Apart from academic programs, Spring Hill College has partnered with MindEdge, providing students with the opportunity to upskill, learn new sets of skills, and earn professional credits. Learning categories include Agile, Creativity & Innovation, Emerging Technologies, Emergency Management, and Project Management. All courses are self-paced.
A list of the best online Catholic school wouldn’t be complete without Saint Leo University. Founded by the Order of Saint Benedict of Florida in 1889, the university is the oldest Catholic university in Florida and is one of the top academic institutions in Central Florida. Saint Leo University is one of the pioneers of online learning in the U.S., grounded in its 130-year tradition of academic excellence and influenced by the Catholic core values and legacies.
The university offers a diverse range of online academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Most online degree programs at Saint Leo include social work, arts & sciences, social science, creative writing & English, religion & theology, human services, and instructional design. Distance learners can supplement their online learning programs with the university’s comprehensive WorldWide Student Services. It consists of the Student Life, Career Services, and Student Advising services. Through the Student Life service, distance learners can get involved and become a member of any of the online clubs and associations.
Another best online Catholic school based in New York is Molloy College. The school provides students with values-centered education, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. Molloy College takes pride in offering the same high-quality online academic programs as its traditional programs, benefiting students through holistic academic support and services, affordable tuition, and expert instructors. The school has also been approved by New York state to participate and be a member of NC-SARA.
Molloy College’s online bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies allows students to choose two concentrations from any of the following fields of study:
- Business Management
- Criminal Justice
- Health Service Leadership
- Professional Communications
Students can also pursue an online program in nursing and healthcare leadership. Students can pursue post-baccalaureate, master’s, post-master’s certificates, and doctorates in finance, healthcare, marketing, or management. Although doctorate programs are offered 100% online, students must complete a 1-week residency during summer on-campus.
Located in San Antonio, the University of the Incarnate Word is the largest Catholic university in Texas. The university is also the first academic institution to provide higher education for women in the south and central Texas, ranking as one of the best online Catholic schools for graduating Hispanic students with their academic degrees.
The university offers several academic programs via distance learning through UIW Online, with some programs offered in different languages. One of the most popular multilingual programs offered at UIW is the Master of Business Administration, with the option to pursue in Turkish or Spanish language. The majority of online programs at UIW are in business, education, medicine & health, and social sciences.
Regis College is home to more than 3,400 undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate students. It is a private, non-profit Catholic university founded in 1927. With a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, distance learners can choose among the various academic programs that can be completed 100% online. The school offers several undergraduate and graduate academic programs within its four major schools: the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Health Sciences, the Richard and Sheila Young School of Nursing, and the School of Business and Communication.
Apart from its online programs, Regis College also offers a variety of Fast Track programs for students wanting to save money and time by earning their degrees sooner. The school offers four different pathways, namely the following:
- 3-YeaBachelor’s Degree
- Accelerated B.S. in Nursing for Non-Nursing College Graduates
- Accelerated B.S. to M.S. in Nursing for Non-Nursing College Graduates
- CombineBachelor’s/Master’s Degree
Villanova University is another popular option for students seeking some of the best online Catholic schools in Pennsylvania and the U.S. It is the only Augustinian Catholic university in the country, highlighting closely connected academic communities with expert faculty, holistic academic support, and a personalized approach to learning.
Students can pursue any of the 64 undergraduate, graduate, and online certificates and minors. Each degree may be completed part-time or full-time. Villanova’s online academic programs are offered in its College of Professional Studies, School of Law, College of Nursing, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and School of Business.
Merrimack College is one of the fastest-growing Catholic institutions in the heart of Massachusetts. Established in 1947, Merrimack was founded by order of St. Augustine. The school has over 100 career-centered undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, delivered by expert faculty passionate about students’ academic success.
Merrimack College has 11 online degree programs in education, accounting, and business management. Both professionals and adult learners can also pursue online licensure and graduate certificates offered by Merrimack College. Distance learners can participate in Experiential Education, allowing them to immerse and strengthen their knowledge and skills through fellowships, practicums, study abroad programs, service learning, co-ops and internships, and student-faculty research initiatives.
Walsh University is an Ohio-based independent Catholic university with a plethora of accelerated degree programs for non-traditional students and adult learners. The university offers several baccalaureate programs in business, communication, healthcare, and information technology. Students can also have the opportunity to build their own major by pursuing the Interdisciplinary Studies program, with three areas of concentration to be completed. Given that it is one of the best online Catholic schools, Walsh University offers unique programs that are rarely completed through distance learning programs. The university has a 100% online 2+2 B.S. Professional Aviation program accredited by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Students can also pursue licensure, endorsements, and advanced degrees online at Walsh University by completing any of the graduate & professional development programs. These programs are in counseling, computer science, education, business, nursing, and health sciences.
Pros and Cons of Attending An Online Catholic Schools
If faith is a crucial factor in your academic venture, pursuing a degree in one of the best online Catholic schools is likely the best choice. However, some students are wary of enrolling in online Catholic schools due to the stigma associated with them!
Decide whether it’s worth pursuing an academic degree at Catholic colleges by looking at these pros and cons:
- The quality and type of culture and academic program will not negate or clash with the faith-based values and traditions students have grown accustomed to.
- Attending online Catholic schools will help students meet and connect with like-minded colleagues who share the same faith and beliefs.
- Virtue and morality are integrated into the curriculum of academic online programs.
- Community works, immersions, outreach programs, and other faith-based services are prevalent as part of extracurricular activities.
- Online Catholic schools have smaller class sizes
- Online Catholic schools can be more expensive than public, secular academic institutions.
- Some students will have parents with heavy involvement in their academics.
- Although smaller class sizes have benefits, some students find it challenging to interact with their colleagues since it’s harder to find friends.
- Given that these schools have faith-based traditions, some students find it hard to adapt to certain values and beliefs.
- Some online Catholic schools are more rigid compared to secular academic institutions.
Benefits of Online Catholic Schools
Online Catholic colleges and universities offer students instrumental opportunities to have a more meaningful relationship with God, strengthen their self-awareness, establish communities, hone their skills and passion, and expand their knowledge.
Here are a few reasons online Catholic schools can be beneficial to student’s education:
Emphasis on Values and Traditions
Completing a degree from a Catholic school will develop students’ overall well-being. Students are taught and trained to become their best selves, developing their talents and skills and transforming them into a vocation that will positively impact society. Graduates will portray strong moral convictions, spiritual maturity, solid academic core, and have the innate desire to be civically engaged.
With faith-based values and service-oriented learning in many Catholic schools, online students are more committed to service as professionals, tolerant of diverse perspectives and opinions, and develop intellectual aptitudes. Many online Catholic colleges advocate character development, cultivating students with ethical values to guide them in their academic and professional decision-making.
A Sense of Community
Since having a sense of community is a priority among many Catholic colleges, it becomes an integral part of learning and experience. Student performance, engagement, and faculty commitment are higher in Catholic colleges and universities since they operate as communities instead of bureaucratic policies and ways of learning.
Every school-sponsored activity highlights parochial communities. Both students and parents can participate in different activities where connections are made, friendships are celebrated, and a sense of belongingness is highlighted through good stewardship and faith. Each activity or event is preceded by affirmation of communities and prayers.
Commitment to Academic Excellence
Catholic schools foster academic excellence and learning experience in all aspects. Most of these schools have smaller class sizes, providing students with a more conducive, up-to-date, and personalized learning experience. They ensure that every academic program and curriculum adhere to societal changes, including technological innovations. Apart from integrating digital learning, online Catholic schools will teach students the collective responsibility of applying knowledge to make a positive impact.
Competitive and recreational athletics are crucial to well-rounded studies in Catholic colleges. These institutions highlight the importance of creative expression through dance, music, theater, visual art, and sports.
Learning & Teaching Advantage
Since Catholic schools have multi-faceted approaches to learning, they have more effective and comprehensive teaching methods. Students will benefit from a holistic learning experience that strengthens their spiritual, emotional, social, and mental well-being. Apart from the traditional way of learning, online Catholic colleges boost students’ morale by creating lifelong commitments, honing talents, and celebrating academic milestones while loving and serving God daily.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an online Catholic school?
Online Catholic colleges are academic institutions that advocate the mission of the Roman Catholic Church, including its economic and religious ties. To educate online students, nurture future leaders, and promote intellectual progress, many of them include religious studies as part of the core requirements in their academic programs. Apart from theology and doctrine, community engagements, service works, and international humanitarian programs are offered to promote academic and personal growth among students.
Can I pursue my degree in a Catholic school even if I am not a Catholic?
Although Catholicism is a major role in the cultural and societal aspects of student communities in online Catholic schools, non-Catholic students can still enroll in their preferred academic program. While some Catholic schools have stronger religious foundations, most have diverse and inclusive enrollment policies, welcoming students regardless of backgrounds and beliefs. While some administrative and academic requirements are different from secular settings, most online Catholic schools have the mission to provide high-quality education to their students.
On the contrary, some Catholic colleges have a reputation for having largely Catholic student communities, including the University of Notre Dame, with more than 70% of students being Catholics. Other academic institutions have student communities consisting of diverse religious backgrounds and beliefs. However, other Catholic schools like Jesuit academic institutions are more inclined to secular practices. They advocate academic settings beyond the dogmatic practices of more conservative online Catholic colleges.
Why should I consider getting a degree from online Catholic colleges?
They provide non-traditional Catholic students with smart and economical alternatives for completing their academic programs with faith-based practices. They promote a sense of community, tradition, and structure similar to traditional schools while embracing the benefits of distance learning.
Students learn from a faith-based curriculum, immerse themselves in a community of like-minded students, follow flexible schedules, and participate in civic engagements. Although online Catholic schools offer the same quality of education as any traditional, secular programs, the best ones integrate their academic programs with the Catholic faith.
What makes online Catholic schools exceptional?
Online Catholic colleges equip students with the essential skills and knowledge to succeed in their academic and professional life, with programs structured around the Roman Catholic teachings. Students connect with their colleagues and educators who share their same beliefs and traditions in a flexible method.
Through an online degree from a Catholic university, graduates gain the fundamental knowledge to become intellectually and spiritually better. These schools aim to produce future professionals and leaders who understand compassion, leadership, and service to God and the community.
What is the difference between online Catholic schools and online secular schools?
Cost is one of the most significant differences between an online Catholic college and an online secular school. Private Catholic colleges and universities impose higher tuition expenses and miscellaneous fees. Meanwhile, secular public schools are more affordable.
Catholic schools also develop and implement regulations, rules, and policies aligned with Catholic teaching. On the contrary, private and public secular colleges and universities maintain secular academic settings for online students regardless of academic backgrounds, beliefs, and race.
Online Catholic and secular schools also differ in the fundamental values they teach their students. Secular institutions operate on standardized principles, including academic excellence and global stewardship. On the other hand, Catholic schools adhere to the teachings and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
It’s worth noting, however, that Catholic colleges do not necessarily force the faith on non-Catholic students. The idea is to advocate the Catholic faith above other beliefs or religions.
Pursuing academic degrees from online Catholic colleges is a one-of-a-kind, meaningful learning experience since it emphasizes more than just academics. Nurturing students’ spirit, body, and mind is crucial for a fulfilling, balanced, and happy life. These schools allow students to strengthen their faith, deepen their relationship with God, create a sense of community, explore their strengths and weaknesses, and expand their skills and knowledge in one academic setting.