Today less than half of its nearly 4,000 students are Catholic, but the St. Mary’s College of California has strong Catholic roots. It was founded in 1863 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in San Francisco. The De La Salle Christian Brothers took over the running of the school in 1868. After a move to Oakland, the college moved to its current campus in the 1920s. Saint Mary’s has always had an emphasis on liberal arts, education and service to others.
Saint Mary’s mission is “to probe deeply the mystery of existence by cultivating the ways of knowing and the arts of thinking.” Like the De La Salle Order, the college promotes volunteerism with a strong emphasis on social justice. About 10 percent of all graduates leave St. Mary’s for a stint in public service, such as the Peace Corps. The college also emphasizes diversity in its student body.
Located 20 minutes from San Francisco, St. Mary’s is truly set apart in the green valley of Moraga, a town of 16,650 people. The 420-acre campus includes 22 residence halls and ‘town houses’. The Central area offers dorms for freshmen. The Canyon area dorms offer suite-style living for sophomores. The townhouses are apartment-like housing for upperclassmen. There are more than 15 academic, sports and entertainment buildings.
Saint Mary’s is divided into four schools: Liberal Arts, Science, Economics & Business Administration, and Education. Liberal Arts is the single biggest school. Of the 43 majors offered, the single most popular major is Business Administration. Other leading majors are Accounting, Communication, Psychology and English. All majors must take four Collegiate Seminar courses in which they read and discuss great books related to their field of study. Some students choose to enroll in the Integral Program, which is a complete four-year program separate from any major, that uses the seminar method for all coursework. The typical year features four classes the first semester, one class during January term, and four classes the second semester. Courses in Catholicism are not required. In addition, graduate courses are offered in business, education, psychology, and fine arts, among others.
The Gaels is the unique name of the St. Mary’s NCAA athletic teams. It refers to the language and heritage of those in Ireland and Scotland. There are seven men’s teams including baseball and golf. There are nine women’s teams including volleyball, softball, lacrosse and rowing. Both men and women compete in basketball, cross country, tennis, and track. Most teams are members of the West Coast Conference.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition at St. Mary’s is expensive, however, 90 percent of its undergraduates receive some financial aid. According to the St. Mary’s website, the average amount of financial aid for undergraduates is $30,000. Please refer to the school’s website for the most up-to-date tuition and financial aid information.
Since 1949, the college has received ongoing accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The application fee is $55. Requirements include a high school transcript, either SAT or ACT scores, a recommendation, and the Common App with an essay and writing supplement. Applicants in 2017 enjoyed a greater than 80 percent chance of acceptance.
For more information, contact admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.O. Box 4800
Moraga, CA 94575