Thomas Aquinas College

  • Thomas Aquinas College

    Santa Paula, CA
    Northfield, MA

  • Thomas Aquinas College

    Santa Paula, CA
    Northfield, MA

  • Thomas Aquinas College

    Santa Paula, CA
    Northfield, MA

  • Thomas Aquinas College

    Santa Paula, CA
    Northfield, MA

  • Thomas Aquinas College

    Santa Paula, CA
    Northfield, MA


Undergrads – CA campus
58 Undergrads – MA campus


Catholic Faculty


Catholic Students in California Campus

New England Campus: 100% Catholic Students


On-campus students in single-sex dorms


Founded in 1971, Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) was the first in a wave of new Catholic colleges born from the crisis of Catholic identity in American Catholic higher education. Although TAC’s success has encouraged the emergence of other faithful Catholic colleges, including some that share its emphasis on the Great Books, TAC still has the distinction of being the only Catholic college in America that teaches exclusively from these classic works of Western civilization.

TAC’s California campus is located six miles from the small town of Santa Paula, Calif., about an hour northwest of Los Angeles. In the fall of 2019, it will open a second campus in Western Massachusetts in the town of Northfield.

On both campuses, TAC is fully committed to its Catholic identity, its Great Books approach, and a discussion-style class format utilizing Socratic dialogue. There are no departments, no majors, no textbooks, and no lectures. All students progress through the same curriculum and receive the same degree: a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts, with roughly the equivalent of a double major in theology and philosophy, and a minor in mathematics.

Despite its small size, the College has been lauded in both secular and Catholic rankings. TAC’s California campus has a national student body that comes from 40 states and several countries, and approximately 30 percent of its alumni go on to graduate and professional schools. Typically, between 15 and 20 percent of new students have already attended other universities.

TAC was founded by lay Catholics and continues to be led by a lay board of governors. Dr. Michael McLean was appointed president in October 2009, after 31 years of service on the faculty. He has served as tutor, assistant dean of student affairs, vice president for development, and academic dean.

“The Catholicity of the College is manifested in the curriculum, the choice of texts, the study of St. Thomas, and the strong devotional life here,” says President McLean. The College also believes it important to reject taxpayer support and regulations and therefore does not accept direct government funding. “Every seriously Catholic college trying to maintain its fidelity to the Church has to be vigilant about threats from the contemporary culture and government,” explains Dr. McLean.

Tuition, room and board, and books cost students $32,450 in 2017-2018, well below the average for private colleges in California. The College’s students participate in federal and state aid programs, and generous financial aid packages are available. Student debt is normally limited to no more than $18,000 over four years.


The Great Books curriculum remains largely unchanged since TAC’s founding and is structured around six disciplines: literature, language, mathematics, laboratory, philosophy, and theology. Many of the traditional classical writers are represented, including Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Galileo, Shakespeare, Newton, Tolstoy, Dostoyevski, Einstein, the Federalist Papers, and the debates of Lincoln and Douglas in 1858.

Students read a significant amount of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and in the senior year, they study six landmark papal encyclicals of St. Pius X, Leo XIII, Pius XI, Pius XII, and St. John Paul II.

“We take the teaching authority of the Church very seriously,” says Dr. McLean. “We pursue a single academic curriculum in a chronological order. It’s done with a distinct ordination to Catholic philosophy and theology, and the study of St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophical and theological works, in obedience to the urging of the Magisterium.”

The program is straightforward: All students take required classes each year. There are no electives and no classes that provide “vocational” training. No transfers are accepted, and there are no study-abroad programs to distract from the College’s focus.

The circumscribed curriculum causes pre-medical students to need additional coursework before attending medical school. However, any student interested in a broad educational focus can thrive.

The rigor in mathematics and laboratory science is unusual for most liberal arts institutions, with four years required in both subjects. It is one reason TAC tends not to describe itself as a liberal arts college, but rather one that offers a “liberal” or “classical” education.

Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors participate in biannual evaluations with professors in a process known as the “Don Rags,” named after a similar system used by Oxford University “dons” or professors. Grades mostly come from class participation.

For non-students the dean’s office publishes a journal, The Aquinas Review, “in the hope of maintaining and enlarging a community of learners that extends beyond the confines” of the TAC campus.

The College has an impressive faculty of “tutors”: well-rounded academics who engage students in Socratic dialogue in small classes and must be able to teach in the array of disciplines. The curriculum and the faculty’s wide familiarity with it promote a degree of commonality.

New tutors make the Profession of Faith and take the Oath of Fidelity at the College’s convocation ceremony. Of 40 teaching faculty, only one is non-Catholic and is exempted from teaching theology. Tutors who teach theology have the mandatum. Tutors for the school’s second campus in Western Massachusetts have been chosen from among the seasoned faculty members on the California campus.

On the California campus, St. Bernardine of Siena Library houses approximately 65,000 books and includes a humidity-controlled Rare Books Room that features works such as an illuminated Book of Hours (circa 1480), rare Hittite seals (circa 1200 B.C.), religious and decorative carvings in ivory, and pages from early manuscripts of the Bible dating from 1121.

On the New England campus, the College’s library is housed in a three-level building overlooking the lower campus and Connecticut River Valley. It houses a carefully curated collection built by the head librarian at the California campus and sent to New England. In addition to having a computer room, there is a 250-seat auditorium located at one end of the library. A favorite reading spot is the library tower, with seating by windows offering a 360-degree view of the campus grounds and the Valley.

At classes, Mass, weekday meals, and formal events, modesty is emphasized in the dress code. This means slacks, collared shirts, and closed shoes for men and dresses or skirts and tops for women.

The TAC environment is stimulating but not intimidating. It is intellectual, yet relaxed and personal as well. Most of the tutors and chaplains eat lunch with the students.


On the California campus, there are four Masses celebrated daily by four non-teaching chaplains: a Dominican, a Jesuit, a Norbertine, and a Diocesan priest. There are also two Masses on Saturdays and three on Sundays. The Masses are enhanced by student participation in a choir that also presents concerts, and by a Gregorian chant ensemble. Confession is available before and after each Mass. The first Mass of each day is offered in the Extraordinary Form; the others are in Latin in the Ordinary Form.

The California campus’ Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity was dedicated in 2009. The Romanesque-style chapel includes a 135-foot bell tower. It also has an eight-foot statue of Our Lady as the Woman of the Apocalypse on top and a limestone cornerstone blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square.

The chapel is the result of 12 years of hard effort by the late President Thomas Dillon, who died in a car crash just weeks after it was dedicated. He attended to every detail of the planning and construction and visited artists’ workshops throughout Europe.

This new chapel enhances an already vibrant spiritual program. Adoration occurs every First Friday, beginning after the 5 p.m. Thursday Mass and continuing until the Friday 5 p.m. Mass. A daily Holy Hour and Benediction take place at 5:30 p.m. The Rosary is recited and evening prayer generally occurs each night before curfew begins in the residence halls.  A Legion of Mary group leads campus processions and evangelizes door-to-door in town encouraging people to attend Mass.

On the New England campus, the chapel was built in 1909 for Protestant worship. Its traditional architecture and design made it relatively easy to convert for Catholic worship. The Chapel will be rededicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help in August 2019 by Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski.

The College presently employs one chaplain on the New England campus, Fr. Greg Markey. Fr. Markey, a diocesan priest from the diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, lives on the campus year-round. In addition to offering Mass twice daily in the College’s chapel and hearing confessions before and after each Mass, Fr. Markey is available to the students at any time for spiritual direction.

About 11 percent of TAC alumni have entered religious life, including 72 graduates ordained to the priesthood and 44 professed religious. At least 11 TAC graduates are monks at Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma. Others have entered the Norbertines, the Legionaries of Christ, the Archdiocese of Denver, and the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. One has served two terms as the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.


On the California campus, TAC students are housed in six residence halls, three for men and three for women. Each room accommodates two students. There is no visitation at any time in opposite-sex residences. Men and women can gather anywhere else on campus, including St. Joseph Commons, the oldest building and the hub for student activity that houses the cafeteria as well as in St. Cecilia Concert and Lecture Hall that houses a coffee shop and game room.

The College offers weekend movies, but there is only one television set on campus, in the chaplain’s residence. Chastity is encouraged. Drinking and drugs are no problem at TAC, although there appear to be a number of students who smoke cigarettes.

There is a curfew on weeknights and a later one on weekends. Students who violate curfew either receive an hour of service or they are confined to campus.

A small bookstore on campus carries predominantly the great books studied in the program, along with some supplemental reading material. There is also a varied selection of used books for sale.

For routine medical attention, the College has a part-time nurse and a part-time licensed therapist. Ten minutes from campus is Santa Paula Hospital, a 49-bed facility, and there are three medical centers within a 20-minute drive.

On the New England campus, some residence halls on the beautiful, historic campus of more than 100 acres, are ready for men and women, while others are still being renovated. The rules of residence will be the same as those on the California campus.

The College’s Gould Hall will be used as the campus dining room and common area.  The College is located in the Connecticut River Valley, which is a destination location for skiing and summer vacations.

An emergency medical facility is just down the street from the campus, and the nearest full-service hospital is located in Brattleboro, VT – about a 15-minute drive from the campus.


“Because the College’s program is so academically demanding, student activities here differ from other colleges,” said Chris Decaen, assistant dean for student affairs.

Student-led activities include a student run journal, language study groups, dramatic groups, various choral and instrumental groups, Schubertiade recitals, a business club, and a hiking club.  Other activities include events such as a Shakespearian play read-alongs, student talent shows, and a banquet and formal dance.

The College has an active pro-life group, TACers for Life. The group prays at an abortion business in Ventura. About two-thirds of the student body attends the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco each January.

There are also non-curriculum book discussions, a Wednesday dance group, and four formal dances per year.

Students have other social service opportunities as well. An annual food drive takes place at Christmas, and there are frequent blood drives on campus. Some students participate in prison ministry; others have volunteered for Santa Paula’s annual Clean Up Day.

TAC has no formal athletic teams. Rather, the activities director schedules intramural events in softball, soccer, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, rugby, or flag football. Intramural sports are also expected on the New England campus, which boasts a gym that includes a heated indoor pool, exercise rooms, climbing wall, and basketball courts. Outside the gymnasium there are two athletic fields and a softball field.

In California, surfers take advantage of the beach (approximately 20 minutes away), and hikers take advantage of the surrounding Los Padres National Forest. A student group maintains and cleans trails. Popular student outings include trips to the Getty Museum, the Hollywood Bowl, and Santa Barbara.

In New England, the college is situated just a couple minutes from the Connecticut River, which provides opportunities for activities like kayaking and fishing. Additionally, there are trails for hiking and cross-country skiing which start just off campus.

The College’s California campus is located six miles from Santa Paula, which has about 30,441 people. Many of the town’s stores, restaurants, and activities reflect the predominantly Hispanic population and the rural nature of Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles.

The College’s New England campus is located in the small town of Northfield, which has about 3,000 people.  It is located about two hours from Boston and about three hours from New York City.  The town of Northfield offers some local restaurants and coffee shops that are about a twenty-minute walk from campus.

Bottom Line

Thomas Aquinas College stands alone as the only Catholic college that exclusively teaches from the Great Books, with an impressive intellectual rigor that is matched by a commitment to orthodox Catholicism.

There is a certain sense of ongoing immersion in a special adventure at TAC that can last a lifetime—and beyond. “We work hard to attract the right kind of students… who have the intellectual capacity and the willingness to work hard,” explains President McLean. “They don’t have to be geniuses, but they do need to have a serious interest in reading and discussing Great Books.”

That type of student may not be typical, but for anyone who thinks they have what it takes, a TAC education has much to offer.  And TAC’s graduates have much to offer the Church and future employers who value critical thinking, analytical reasoning, strong communications skills, and an ethical sense.

Questions & Answers

Each year, the Newman Society asks the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide to answer the following questions. Below you will find the responses that we received directly from Thomas Aquinas College.

Is your institution accredited by at least one regional or national education association? (Yes/No)


Please identify each accreditor and indicate whether it is approved by the U.S. Department of Education:

Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Please cite evidence of student or alumni accomplishment, such as graduation rate, graduate school placement, job placement, awards, etc.

On average, the six-year graduation rate is 84%.

As noted by USA Today/College Factual in their 2015-16 rankings, most Thomas Aquinas students graduate in 4.1 years; nationally, the average is closer to five or six years.

Graduates are accepted to a wide variety of prestigious graduate and professional schools including Boston College, Columbia University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Stanford University, and University of Notre Dame.

2 graduates are recipients of the Pontifical Prize of the Academies.

A number of graduates are Rhodes and Fulbright scholarship recipients.

U.S. News ranks Thomas Aquinas College #2 in the nation for alumni giving; the giving rate is more than quadruple the national average, reflecting a high degree of alumni satisfaction.

Please identify any notable public recognition of your institution’s academic quality in the last three years, such as rankings, awards, etc.

In its 400 Best College Values for 2019, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked Thomas Aquinas College as No. 1 among some 1,200 American colleges and universities.

In the 2020 edition of its  Best 385 Colleges, The Princeton Review ranked Thomas Aquinas College 94 for academics, 92 for quality of life, and 99 for financial aid. (In this scoring system, 99 is the best possible score.)

In its “What Will They Learn?” study of over 1,000 colleges nationwide, ACTA gave TAC an “A” grade for its core curriculum; further, TAC was among only 7 colleges in the country to receive a perfect grade for requiring study in all 7 core disciplines.

U.S. News ranked 35 among the country’s national liberal arts colleges  and No. 1 in the country for the highest proportion of classes under 20 students (100 percent) and the lowest proportion of classes with more than 50 students (0 percent).

Without neglecting difficult topics and ideas, how does your institution avoid leading students into serious error and spiritual harm through blasphemous, dissident, or heretical material in the bookstore, library, lectures, and course content?

This question touches on a fundamental principle of Thomas Aquinas College’s pedagogy: We learn best when we take into account different and opposing arguments. Our patron and model, St. Thomas Aquinas, took this principle so much to heart that he began to address every issue by first developing strong arguments opposed to the correct answer.

By reading the great books — that is, the most influential and profound works, for good or for ill, of our civilization — the College’s students are presented with vigorous and sometimes conflicting arguments about the greatest questions. Works that stray far from Catholic orthodoxy, by authors such as Marx, Hegel, Rousseau, and Kant, can be found in our classrooms, in our bookstore, and in our libraries.

These authors matter because they have had a large effect on the world in both its thinking and the unfolding events of history. Without understanding their works it is very difficult to understand the world around us, or even ourselves as children of the modern world. It is important that our students not shy away from these ideas but rather take them head on, reading and savoring the authors’ words, carefully examining the merits of their claims and arguments. Doing so puts our students in in a better position to make an understanding judgment.

We trust that sober and careful reason is not lightly led astray, especially when it is bolstered by the blessing of faith. Thus class does not begin with the tutor instructing the students that the author in question is badly mistaken. Rather, we examine the author’s arguments and words in the context of a serious discussion and with the Faith as a guiding light.

 How are the insights of the Catholic faith integrated throughout the curriculum and course content in all subject areas?

At Thomas Aquinas College, the Catholic faith is more than a mere adornment on an otherwise secular education. The intellectual tradition and moral teachings of the Catholic Church infuse the whole life of the College, illuminating all learning as well as the community within which learning takes place. The entire curriculum is ordered toward theology: It begins with the study of nature, builds to the study of man, and culminates in the study of the highest object of man’s contemplation — our Triune God.

Although founded nearly two decades before Pope John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Thomas Aquinas College has always sought to operate in accordance with the principles that this encyclical elucidates. Thus the College requires every member of the teaching faculty who teaches theology to request the mandatum from our local ordinary, and that all of the tutors make a Profession of Faith and an Oath of Fidelity.

How does the institution’s academic program form students in love and knowledge of God, for sainthood?

Because the College’s curriculum is ordered to the study of theology, its very design allows students come to know God better, from which it follows that they can then love Him more deeply and serve him more faithfully. To know, love, and serve — this is, to paraphrase the Baltimore Catechism, the very reason for which God has created us, the ways by which we will be happy in this world and — as saints — in the world to come.

How does the institution’s academic program prepare students for the renewal of culture in the light of Christ?

Conversation is the lifeblood of the Thomas Aquinas College education. In the classroom, no more than 20 students sit around a table with their peers and with a faculty tutor as a guide, and together they grapple with the greatest works of Western civilization. Ideas are proposed, rebutted, and defended, until, through discussion and critical argumentation, the class discerns the meaning of a given text and, more important, its veracity or error. The truth is found by way of the conversation.

After four years of this pedagogy, Thomas Aquinas College graduates are expert conversationalists. They have learned how to disagree while remaining civil, how to explain complex theological concepts, how to defend a hard teaching, and how to identify not only the error but also the kernel of truth in any flawed argument. They leave with a deep faith and heightened faculties of reason — what Pope St. John Paul II called “the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth” — and thus have both the passion and the ability to share their faith with others.

What is the median SAT and ACT of your most recently admitted class? (Note that some colleges may not require one or both scores from all students) 

SAT: California: 1270 / New England: 1290


What is the median H.S. GPA of your most recently admitted class?

California: 3.92 / New England: 3.89

Additional Academic Quality information, clarification or description (optional)

Thomas Aquinas College is unique among American colleges and universities. It offers a single academic program: an integrated, non-elective curriculum rooted in the Western, Catholic intellectual tradition. The greatest books in that tradition, both ancient and modern, replace textbooks; careful inquiry in small tutorials, seminars, and laboratories replaces lectures. The curriculum challenges students and faculty alike to disciplined scholarship in the arts and sciences — indispensable for critical judgment and genuine wisdom.

It also provides a strong Catholic liturgical and sacramental environment conducive to spiritual growth, with rules of residence that support the good moral order appropriate for the pursuit of truth.

Are more than half of the current members of your faculty practicing Catholics? (Yes/No)


Approximately what percentage of your current faculty members are practicing Catholics?


Are members of your faculty officially informed of their responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic identity of the institution? (Yes/No)


How are faculty members informed of this responsibility?

It is part of the hiring process and reaffirmed when they take the Catholic Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity.

Are members of your teaching faculty required, as a condition of employment, to be faithful to the magisterium of the Catholic Church in all teaching activities? (Yes/No)


Are members of your teaching faculty required, as a condition of employment, to conform to Catholic moral teaching in their public actions and statements both on and off campus?


Do all Catholic faculty members make the Catholic Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity? (Yes/No)


Please identify key undergraduate faculty members who are noted experts in their field, have produced important publications, have leadership roles in academic associations, etc. and briefly describe such accomplishments (optional):

Dr. Christopher Decaen — Editor, The Aquinas Review

Dr. David Appleby – Specialist in Medieval History and Editor of On the Shoulders of Giants (Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies, Toronto, 2015)

Dr. Michael Augros – Author of Who Designed the Designer? (Ignatius Press, 2015) and The Immortal in You: How Human Nature Is More Than Science Can Say (Ignatius Press, 2017)

Dr. Andrew Seeley — Executive Director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education

Additional faculty information, clarification, or description (optional):

Our teaching faculty members carry a relatively heavy load and must be able to teach outside of their field of specialization, ideally across our curriculum.

Does the institution have a department of Catholic theology, distinct from “religious studies” and other disciplines?

No. We have no departments at all. But theology is required all four years and is the ordering principle of our entire curriculum.

Are courses in Catholic theology clearly identified and distinguished from other courses dealing with religion?

See above.

Does every faculty member in the theological disciplines have the mandatum (or the “canonical mission” for ecclesiastical faculties) approved by the appropriate Church authority, as required by Canon Law? (Yes/No)


Do all faculty in the theological disciplines make the Catholic Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity? (Yes/No)


Does your institution require that all theology courses be taught in a manner faithful to Scripture, Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium, and also to the principles and methods proper to Catholic theology? (Yes/No)


Please identify the theology courses that are included in the undergraduate core or distribution requirements and the professors who routinely teach those courses:

Sacred Scripture (2 Semesters)

The Fathers of the Church (2 Semesters)

Principal Doctrines and Mysteries of the Faith — studied chiefly through the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. (4 Semesters)

All theology courses are taught by Catholic members of the teaching faculty who hold a mandatum.

Please describe the place of Catholic theology in your institution’s undergraduate curriculum and how it is distinct from other institutions.

It is the ordering principle of our entire curriculum, the discipline to which all the others are ordered.

Please identify any course that every undergraduate student must take:

All students are required to take all the courses.

Please identity the courses that students may choose from in order to satisfy common curriculum distribution requirements:


How many credits are required for graduation and what percent are from core / distribution courses?

146 credits   100%

Is every undergraduate student required to take one or more courses in which they are taught authentic Catholic doctrine and practice? (Yes/No)


If yes, please describe them generally and note how many courses are required?

See above. Theology is required every semester, for a total of 8 semesters.

Is every undergraduate student required to take one or more interdisciplinary courses relating theology or philosophy with other disciplines? (Yes/No)


Number of Majors: 


List the major, minor and special program areas that students may choose for specialization while pursuing an undergraduate degree:


What are the three most popular majors or specialty disciplines for undergraduate students, and about what percentage of undergraduate students specialize in these disciplines?


Does each undergraduate degree program require Catholic ethical formation related to the student’s major field(s) of study? (Yes/No)


Does your institution regularly provide academic events to address theological questions related to specialized disciplines? (Yes/No – if yes, please describe)

Yes. Our Friday Night Lecture and Concert Series includes lectures on theological questions.

Does your institution require cooperation among faculty in different disciplines in teaching, research, and other academic activities? (Yes/No – if yes, please describe)

Yes. The faculty is required to be able to teach across the entire curriculum. To facilitate this, the College has a number of programs/processes that engage tutors with one another:

  • Archon meetings: More senior tutors (professors) meet with less senior tutors teaching a given course to provide direction on key themes and issues to be covered by the students.
  • Tutor Pairings: In key philosophy and theology courses, new tutors are usually paired with senior tutors who serve as guides and models.
  • Summer Tutor Program: For five weeks each summer, more senior tutors guide classes for less senior tutors typically in the philosophy of Aristotle and the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. In recent years there have also been courses on quantum mechanics, Latin pedagogy, and evolution.

The entire faculty considers and approves alterations to the curriculum.

Does the institution have one or more priest chaplains on campus for the Sacraments and spiritual direction? (Yes/No)

Yes, there are four fulltime priest chaplains on the California campus and one on the smaller New England campus.

On average, how many hours per week is a priest chaplain on campus and available to students?

A chaplain is available at all hours.

Please describe the priests who minister to students and celebrate the Sacraments on campus.

Biographies of our chaplains can be found at

Does the local bishop (or other competent ecclesiastical authority) select or approve the appointment of your priest chaplain(s)? (Yes/No)


Does the institution have one or more campus ministers on campus (lay or religious, but not priests) who are available to students for spiritual direction? (Yes/No)

No, our priest chaplains offer spiritual direction to all students who request it.

Please describe the campus ministers who are not priests.


Does your institution offer Mass to students at least on Sundays and other days of obligation? (Yes/No)


On average, about what percentage of undergraduate students attend Sunday Mass (including the Saturday vigil Mass) during the academic year? 


Does your institution offer daily Mass to students? (Yes/No)


On average, about how many undergraduate students attend daily Mass during the academic year?


Does your institution offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass to students? (Yes/No – if yes, when and how often?)

Yes. It is offered daily in California and on most days in New England. See the schedule at

Are all of the Masses celebrated on campus reverent and in accord with liturgical norms and directives? (Yes/No)

Yes. The Ordinary form is offered in English and Latin, and the Extraordinary form in Latin.

Please list the schedule of Masses, noting the following for each Mass: the day and time, the Form or Rite of the Mass, and the style of music, if any (chant, traditional, contemporary, etc.):

OF = Ordinary Form

EF = Extraordinary Form


7:15 am (EF) — Chant

9:00 am (OF) — Polyphony and chant

11:30 am (OF) — occasionally polyphony/chant

Monday – Thursday
7:00 am (EF), 11:30 am (OF), 5:00 pm (OF), 10:00 pm (OF)

7:00 am (EF), 11:30 am (OF), 5:00 pm (OF)

7:15 am (EF), 11:30 am (OF)


8:00 am (EF) — Chant

11:00 am (OF) —polyphony/chant

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
7:00 am (EF), 11:00 am (OF)

Tuesday, Thursday
7:00 am (OF), 11:00 am (EF)


8:00 am (alternates on a weekly basis between OF and EF)

Does your institution offer Confession on campus at least weekly? (Yes/No)


List the schedule for Confession by day and time:

Before and after every Mass and on request, any time

Does your institution offer Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at least weekly? (Yes/No)


List the schedule for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by day and time:

After the last Mass on Sundays (12:30 – 2:00 p.m.)

Before the Last Mass on Saturdays (10:30 — 11:30 a.m.

After the 5:00 pm Mass Monday-Friday (5:30 — 6:30 p.m.)

Please identify regularly scheduled devotions on campus for students such as the Rosary and prayer groups:

Rosary prayed nightly

Compline nightly

Nightly consecration to the Sacred Heart said in each dorm at curfew, 11:00 p.m.

24-hour Adoration on First Friday

Legion of Mary praesidia meets regularly

Does your institution offer retreat programs available to all Catholic students at least annually? (Yes/No)


Please describe any formal programs to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life:

Our chaplains schedule vocation talks throughout the year given by representatives of dioceses and religious orders across the country.

In addition, chaplains schedule discernment evenings throughout the year for those considering a vocation to the priesthood and/or religious life.

If your institution has formal vocation programs, about how many students participate in them each year?

~100 students

Are you aware of any graduates from your institution (not including seminary students, if any) who are ordained to the priesthood or have entered religious life? Please describe.

Yes. There are 73 ordained alumni of TAC and 44 religious sisters and brothers who are TAC alumni.

Does your institution limit religious services and activities on campus (not including private prayer and devotions) to faithfully Catholic activities? (Yes/No)


Please describe options for students to reside on and off campus:

All students live in single-sex dormitories on campus unless granted special permission; all married students live off campus.

What percentage of students reside in housing offered by your institution?


Does your institution offer only single-sex residence halls? (Yes/No)


What percentage of students living on campus live in single-sex residence halls?


If your institution offers co-ed residence halls, how are students of the opposite sex separated?


When are students of the opposite sex permitted to visit common areas of residence halls?


Are students of the opposite sex ever permitted to visit students’ bedrooms? (Not including irregular “open house” events, once or twice a semester.) (Yes/No – if yes, when?)


If students of the opposite sex are visiting students’ bedrooms, does your institution require that doors are fully open and lights on? Please describe.


How does your institution foster sobriety and respond to substance abuse on campus, particularly in campus residences?

Alcohol is only allowed to those of age at supervised events on campus. It is not allowed to be consumed in the residence halls or any other parts of the campus at any time for any reason. Marijuana and all illegal drugs are not allowed at any time.

How does your institution foster a student living environment that promotes and supports chastity, particularly in campus residences?

Residence Halls are always off limits to the opposite sex. True chastity is promoted on campus at all sorts of events and venues, from the pulpit to the informal dorm talks, and encouraged by a dress code that promotes modesty.

How does your institution foster Catholic prayer life and spirituality in campus residences?

Evening Prayer in every dorm every night. All students are invited and most attend.

Please identify and briefly describe officially recognized student clubs and activities at your institution that…

…foster spiritual development:

Spiritual Direction is available from four chaplains throughout the year.

…engage in corporal works of mercy:

Pro-Life group prays weekly

Legion of Mary visits nursing home weekly

Group of students who 1) Teach CCD at a local parish and 2) Run the local youth group at another parish

Canned food drives

…address sexual issues (including birth control, abortion, homosexuality):

A campus therapist, five resident chaplains, Resident Directors/Assistants and the Assistant Dean are all available to students for some level of counsel respective to their station.

…address issues of social concern:

Two student Activity Directors, two student Sports Activity Directors, student prefects, Resident Assistants/Directors, and Assistant Deans on each campus work together to address social concerns and facilitate a healthy community life.

…address particular academic interests:

The Dean, an instructional committee, and the teaching faculty work together to address particular academic interests. Each student is given an academic advisor for the time he or she is enrolled. Extracurricular academics are largely student driven, but many professors lead extra seminars and discussions.

…address particular cultural interests:

There is a great love and appreciation for music at TAC. There is a College Choir and student-run choir.

There is also a board member sponsored series of art museum outings to local venues (e.g., The Getty, The Huntington, the Norton Simon Museums)

…provide opportunities for athletic pursuits:

There are two student Athletics Directors who work with the Assistant Dean on each campus to provide intramural sports to the student body.

…please list all student clubs not listed in the above categories:

A political club (The Tocqueville Political Society), a drama club (The St. Genesius Players), a math club, several student choirs (e.g., Chrysostomos), the Barber Shop Quartet, orchestral ensembles  Business Club, the Pro-life Group, the Third Order Dominicans, Opus Dei Circle, language clubs (Greek, French, Spanish)

If applicable, in which athletic Division and Conference does your institution compete? (Please specify NCAA, NAIA, etc. as well as Division level.)


What athletic teams are offered for men and women?


How do you help develop the mind, body, and soul of student-athletes?

There is a robust program of intramural sports on both campuses, and both campuses have easy access to nearby wilderness and hiking areas. New England has a beautiful gymnasium with a recently refurbished indoor pool, and construction will soon begin on a California gymnasium as well.

Does your institution require all student clubs and activities, including those listed above, to operate in accord with Catholic teaching? (Yes/No)


How does your institution address student clubs and activities that may conflict with Catholic teaching?

We have not had to deal with this, but should it arise, we would countenance only those in accord with Catholic teaching.

Does your institution require student services like health care, counseling and guidance to conform to Catholic ethical and moral teaching and directives? (Yes/No)


How does your institution restrict student access to obscene and pornographic material, including computer and network access, the library, and the bookstore?

Internet access is limited and only available in a few public areas, such as the library and student mail room, and the College network uses filtering software to block inappropriate content. The use of cell phones or cellular service to access the Internet is prohibited except for a limited number of approved apps.

Additional Student Activities information, clarification, or description (optional):

We do not encourage student clubs and activities that do not relate directly to our studies. Our program is rigorous and requires a great deal of the students’ attention. The activities that we do promote are those that provide the students with healthy breaks from their academic activities, that is, they are expected to be “re-creative,” so that when done, students are able to return their attention to their studies. Our belief is that by giving students a solid intellectual formation in a contemplative environment, they will be prepared to engage in more active endeavors after their graduation, if they choose to pursue them.

Has your institution’s diocesan bishop (or other competent ecclesiastical authority) officially recognized the institution as Catholic? (Yes/No)


Do your institution’s governing documents include or reference the General Norms and Particular (United States) Norms of Ex Corde Ecclesiae? (Yes/No)

Our founding and governing document preceded Ex Corde Ecclesiae by 20 years, yet there is a high degree of similarity between the two.

Do your institution’s governing documents or institutional policies require conformity to the General Norms and Particular (United States) Norms of Ex Corde Ecclesiae? (Yes/No)


What is your institution’s mission statement?

Our mission statement is A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education, our founding and governing document.

Does your institution have a written policy prohibiting awards, honors, or speaking platforms for individuals or organizations that defy, by public action or statement, fundamental Catholic moral principles including the sacredness and dignity of human life and the sanctity of marriage? (See United States bishops, “Catholics in Political Life.”)(Yes/No)

We do not have a written policy, but we give a platform only to those Catholics who fully embrace the teachings of the Church.

Please give or explain your campus speaker and honoree policy in light of Catholic moral teaching:

The campus only honors guests who uphold Catholic moral teaching.

Describe the makeup of your institution’s undergraduate student body with regard to sex, religion, home state/country and type of high school (public, private, homeschool):

Total number of undergraduates: 439

Male: 51% Female: 49%

Catholic: 97% Other Christian: 1%
Other 1%

Number of states represented: 40
Top three states: CA, AZ, WI
Students from top three states: 46%

Catholic HS: 31% Homeschool: 50%
Private HS: 5% Public HS: 12%

Most up-to-date information provided by the College.

Editor’s Note: Campus safety and security information for most colleges is available via the U.S. Department of Education website here.

Are prospective and current members of your institution’s governing board(s) informed of their responsibility for maintaining and strengthening the Catholic identity of your institution? (Yes/No)


Are more than half of the current members of your institution’s governing board(s) practicing Catholics? (Yes/No)

Yes. All are practicing Catholics.

Do Catholic members of your institution’s governing board(s) make the Catholic Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity? (Yes/No)


Is your institution’s president a practicing Catholic? (Yes/No)


Does your institution’s president make the Catholic Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity? (Yes/No)


Additional Leadership information, clarification, or description (optional):

Prospective members of our Board of Governors are asked to read our lengthy founding and governing document (found here on our website: and will only be given further consideration for membership on the Board if they embrace the views stated in that document.

A Message from the President

Dear Parents and Prospective Students:

Thomas Aquinas College is unique among American colleges and universities.  We hold with confidence that the human mind is capable of knowing the truth about reality, that living according to the truth is necessary for happiness, and that truth is best comprehended through the harmonious work of faith and reason.  We understand the intellectual virtues to be essential to the life of reason, and we consider the cultivation of those virtues to be the primary work of student and teacher.

The College has operated a campus in Southern California since 1971. In the fall of 2019, it will open a second campus in New England, in the town of Northfield in Western Massachusetts. On both campuses, the College offers a single academic program: an integrated, non-elective curriculum rooted in the Western, Catholic intellectual tradition.  The greatest books in that tradition, both ancient and modern, replace textbooks; careful inquiry in small tutorials, seminars, and laboratories replaces lectures.  The curriculum challenges students and faculty alike to disciplined scholarship in the arts and sciences — indispensable for critical judgment and genuine wisdom.

Thomas Aquinas College also provides a strong Catholic liturgical and sacramental environment conducive to spiritual growth while its rules of residence support the good moral order appropriate for those engaged in the pursuit of truth.

Please visit our website at to learn more about our unique program of genuine Catholic liberal education.

Sincerely yours,

Michael F. McLean, Ph.D.

Visit Campus

Get in touch with Thomas Aquinas College to schedule your campus visit:


10,000 Ojai Road
Santa Paula, CA 93060

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