Questions You Should Ask a Catholic College - Cardinal Newman Society

Questions You Should Ask a Catholic College

If you are interested in a Catholic college that’s not in The Newman Guide, we have prepared a shortened version of our Catholic higher education questionnaire.  It can help you know what questions to ask during phone calls, emails, and campus meetings with admissions officers.  May God bless you in your college search!


What portion of your professors are practicing Catholics?  Do you keep track?  Do you strive to hire faithful Catholic professors?

Are professors required to maintain and strengthen the Catholic identity of the institution?  Must they respect Catholic teaching and comply with Catholic morality in their public actions and statements, both on and off campus?



Is there a department of Catholic theology, distinct from “religious studies” and other disciplines?

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

Do all theology professors have a mandatum as required by Canon Law?  Do they make the Catholic Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity?

Do you require that theology courses be faithful to Scripture, Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium, and also to the principles and methods proper to Catholic theology?

What are the theology courses that are included in the undergraduate core or distribution requirements?


Core Curriculum

What are the courses that every student must take?  What other courses satisfy “distribution requirements”?

Is every undergraduate student required to take one or more courses in which they are taught authentic Catholic doctrine and practice?  What are they?  Can you describe them?


Programs of Study

Does every degree program require formation in Catholic ethics, related to the particular field of study?

Are there regular academic events to address theological questions related to specialized disciplines?


Chaplaincy or Campus Ministry

Does your institution offer Mass on campus at least on Sundays and other days of obligation?

What portion of students attend Sunday Mass during the academic year?  How many attend daily Mass?

Are Masses reverent and in accord with the Church’s liturgical norms and directives?

How many days a week is Confession offered?

What opportunities are there for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?

What other devotions are regularly scheduled for students, such as the Rosary and prayer groups?

Are there  programs to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life?

How many graduates are ordained to the priesthood or have entered religious life?


Residence Life

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

If there are co-ed residence halls, how are students of the opposite sex separated (by wing, floor, or other)?

Are students of the opposite sex permitted to visit students’ bedrooms?  If yes, when?  Must doors be open?

How do you promote chastity in campus residences?

How do you foster sobriety and respond to substance abuse on campus, particularly in campus residences?

Do you have programs to foster Catholic prayer life and spirituality in campus residences?


Student Activities and Services

What are the officially recognized student clubs and activities at your institution that address sexual issues (including birth control, abortion, homosexuality)?

Do you require all student clubs and activities to operate in accord with Catholic teaching?

How do you address student clubs and activities that may conflict with Catholic teaching?

Do you require student services like health care, counseling, and guidance to be faithful to Catholic teaching?


Student Body

What is the percentage of Catholic students?

What percentage of students graduated from a Catholic high school?

What percentage of students were homeschooled?


Institutional Identity

Has your diocesan bishop officially recognized the college as Catholic?

Do your governing documents require compliance with the Vatican’s constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex corde Ecclesiae?

Do you have a written policy regarding speakers and honorees, which at a minimum meets the standards established by the United States bishops in “Catholics in Political Life?”

How do you address student and faculty invitations to speakers and honorees who have publicly opposed or acted contrary to Catholic moral teaching?



Are your trustees required to maintain and strengthen the Catholic identity of your institution?

Are most of your trustees practicing Catholics?

Do the Catholic trustees make the Catholic Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity?

Is your president a practicing Catholic?

Does the president make the Catholic Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity?

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