Thomas Aquinas College, in Santa Paula, California, was established in 1968 in response to what its founders felt was a decline in Catholic higher education. Seeking to return to the values and practices of a traditional liberal education, Thomas Aquinas College adopted a “great books” curriculum that it maintains to this day. Students all follow the same course of study; there are no majors and minors, and even traditional classroom lectures are eschewed in favor of seminars, tutorials, and laboratories guided by tutors. The College is small, with 370 students, and is highly rated for the quality of its classroom experience, its strong Catholic identity, and student happiness.
Thomas Aquinas is guided by its founding document, A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education, which outlines a vision for Catholic higher education in the spirit of “faith seeking understanding.” The College is guided by a commitment “to pass on the great intellectual patrimony of our civilization and the wisdom of the Church’s greatest thinkers, and to do so in complete fidelity to the Church and her Magisterium.”
Located 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the college is set on a 131-acre campus in the foothills of the Topatopa Mountains, bordering the Los Padres National Forest. The campus is close to the small cities of Santa Paula and Ojai and 15 miles from Ventura. The idyllic setting, with its Mission-style architecture, centuries-old trees, gardens, ponds, and grottoes, is meant to be a place of “respite, not isolation.” All unmarried students live on campus in single-sex dormitories, and meals are shared in a single commons. The centerpiece of the college is the Chapel, dedicated in 2009.
The most distinctive feature of Thomas Aquinas College is its great books curriculum. All students follow the same curriculum throughout their four years, which encompasses the study of literature, philosophy, language (Latin and English), music, natural science (physics, biology, and chemistry), and mathematics (through calculus). All students write a senior thesis drawn from study in any one of these areas. Rather than textbooks, students read and engage with great classical texts–works by Homer, Descartes, Thomas Aquinas, Shakespeare, Newton, and others–as guides in their pursuit of truth and in a course of study understood as the pursuit of truth. The college awards the Bachelor of Arts degree.
Intramural sports, including flag football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, and tennis are available throughout the year.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Annual tuition is average at around $25,000 and does not tend to increase from year to year, while room and board is also reasonable. The cost of books and supplies is included and there are no additional fees. The college makes an effort to meet the demonstrated financial need of all accepted applicants; aid is available in the form of service scholarships (work-study), grants, loans, and national and state scholarships. The college does not accept direct government funding, though students can qualify for federal and state grants and loans. Over 80% of students receive some form of financial assistance. Please refer to the school’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Thomas Aquinas College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the American Academy for Liberal Education.
The college operates on a rolling admissions system, which means that any student who has completed the junior year of high school may apply at any time during the year. Applications are considered as soon as they are received. Students must have earned a high school diploma by the time they matriculate.
For more information about admission to Thomas Aquinas College contact the Admissions Office directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-634-9797. Campus visits are strongly encouraged.