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.