The best online Catholic universities represent a range of important benefits to students. These nationally renowned online schools offer a level of flexibility while supporting a value-based degree that is essential for religiously focused career trajectories. Many of the 200 Catholic universities and colleges are part of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU).
The online Catholic master’s degree is not just a good option for Catholic students, either. The Catholic master’s degree online is a viable academic solution for any individual who is looking to save money and achieve a quality educational experience without leaving home. With such a hard-won focus on academic excellence, the online Catholic graduate programs go beyond the religious affiliation or tie-in. They are a viable solution for virtually any student pursuing a master’s degree in their field of major study.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Catholic Online Colleges for Graduate Degrees
To rank the best online Catholic graduate schools, Best Master’s Programs editors researched the many, many Catholic colleges and universities in the US offering online master’s and doctoral degrees. From our initial pool, we ranked schools according to their cost, salary potential, and variety of programs.
1. Saint Joseph’s University
Saint Joseph’s University, a recognized best online Catholic college in Lower Merion and Philadelphia, PA, offers through the university’s four academic divisions more than fifteen graduate degrees that are available entirely online. Online, flexible scheduled degrees offered by one of Pennsylvania’s best Catholic online colleges include academic degrees in business, finance, organizational leadership, criminal justice, cybersecurity/computer science, education, marketing, health administration, and strategic human resource management. St. Joe’s online coursework offers students an immersive digital educational experience that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Saint Joseph’s University was established in 1851. As a Jesuit (Roman Catholic) institution of higher education, St. Joe’s belong to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. More than 8,000 students attend classes at St. Joes. St. Joe’s is recognized as one of the oldest Jesuit university in the nation with an alumni network that exceeds 65,000.
Online Graduate Degrees: 16
2. University of St. Francis
The University of St. Francis is considered a best online Catholic college located in Joliet, Illinois, that offers eight different online academic degrees from the university’s four colleges/schools. In the area of business, online degrees include a bachelor’s completion program, an MBA, and a graduate degree in organizational leadership. The health care college at the University of St. Francis offers online degrees in healthcare administration and an RN to BSN completion course. Online education degrees from USF include a master’s in teaching, a master’s in special education, or a transition to a teaching degree.
The University of St. Francis was founded as a Roman Catholic Church boarding school for girls in 1920 and has celebrated its centennial in 2020. As one of the best Catholic online colleges, the University of St. Francis operates several campuses throughout the country, with the main campus in Joliet home to more than 1,200 students. The motto for the University of St. Francis is Holiness First and Then Learning.
Online Graduate Degrees: 8
3. Duquesne University
The Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit, one of the best Catholic online colleges in Pennsylvania, offers fifteen different programs that are available by the university’s distance learning platform. These graduate programs from the best online Catholic College include degrees from the world of business, education, health science, pharmacy, and nursing. Many of Duquesne University’s master’s degree programs online are offered asynchronously and synchronously. Duquesne, as a recognized military friendly, participates in the military benefits known as the Yellow Ribbon Program, the Montgomery Bill, and the post-911 GI Bill.
Duquesne University (DU) was founded by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in 1911. More than 9,000 students attend classes on Duquesne’s fifty urban acre campus in Pittsburgh. Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit holds the distinction of being the Spiritan university across the globe and the first Catholic institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Online Graduate Degrees: 15
4. Newman University
Newman University is considered one of Kansas’ best Catholic online colleges that offers four graduate programs offered 100% online. As a best online Catholic college, Newman University offers graduate studies in education, business administration, theology, and theological studies. About 99% of first-time students entering Newman University receive some form of financial aid, grants, work-study opportunities, or scholarships. Newman University offers distance learners online personal tutoring. This program is available in several Kansas locations, plus Colorado and Oklahoma.
Newman University was established in 1933 as a junior college exclusively for women by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. Newman University became coeducational in the mid-1960s. More than 1,600 students attend classes offered by the university’s various divisions. Saint Maria De Mattias founded the Adorers of the Blood of Christ of the Roman Catholic Church, but the school is named for JH Cardinal Newman.
Online Graduate Degrees: 4
5. Saint Louis University
Saint Louis University’s School for Professional Studies is recognized as one of the country’s best Catholic online Colleges that offers eleven graduate-level academic degrees that can be completed entirely online. Four of the SLU’s online masters degrees include accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degree programs – cybersecurity, analytics, leadership, and cybersecurity. Non-accelerated graduate degrees offered entirely online by SLU include strategic intelligence, project management, professional studies, leadership, information systems, and analytics. These in-demand degrees offer working learners the opportunity to further their careers and education.
Saint Louis University (SKU) is a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities that was established in 1818. Saint Louis University operates campuses in St. Louis, MO, and in Spain. The school’s student enrollment exceeds 12,500 students. As a best online catholic college, Saint Louis University is the 2nd oldest of each of the Jesuit institutions of higher learning in the nation.
Online Graduate Degrees: 11
6. University of Mary
The University of Mary, as a North Dakota best online Catholic college, offers 32 graduate degrees that completed entirely online. These graduate degrees include bioethics, business (with seven specialties), an MBA degree (with seven specialties), Catholic Studies, Exercise Physiology, Addiction Counseling, Education (with seven specialties), Kinesiology, Music, Nurse Educator, plus several nursing specialties, to name a few. The University of Mary is accredited by NC-SARA – the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.
The University of Mary was established in 1959, which grew from boarding school offered by the Benedictine Sisters. The school’s student enrollment exceeds 3,700 students who study in Bismarck and take advantage of the university’s study abroad programs in Peru and Italy. The University of Mary is considered one of North Dakota’s best Catholic online colleges and the largest institution of higher learning that grants degrees in the state.
Online Graduate Degrees: 32
7. La Salle University
La Salle University offers a variety of online graduate degrees, which is why it is considered one of Pennsylvania’s best Catholic online colleges. La Salle University’s graduate degree offerings include eleven options in the fields of analytics, leadership for nonprofits, business administration, nursing, cybersecurity, technology management instruction, economic crime forensics, and computer information science, among others. La Salle University has received accreditation NC-SARA. For online programs that require field experiences, students must be responsible for managing the clinical rounds or internship.
La Salle University (La Salle) was established by the Brothers of the Christian Schools in 1863. La Salle University’s urban campus in the city of Brotherly Love serves more than 5,100 students and covers more than 100 acres. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia remains affiliated with La Salle University, which is one of the reasons it is considered a best online Catholic College.
Online Graduate Degrees: 11
8. College of Saint Scholastica
The College of Saint Scholastica is regularly recognized by US News among the best Catholic online colleges in the region. The College of Saint Scholastica offers nine graduate online academic degree programs in topics that include project management, applied analytics, two different MBA specializations, chemistry, education, and health informatics and health information. Students enrolled in the College of Saint Scholastica work with a personal advisor to establish an initial degree plan, and to discuss options as students move forward. CSS offers students small class sizes, even for online learning options.
The College of Saint Scholastica was established by the Benedictine Sisters as a convent and school. The college’s campus overlooks Lake Superior and serves more than 3,900 students each year. Even as a best online Catholic College in Minnesota, the College of Saint Scholastica’s humble beginnings started with just six students.
Online Graduate Degrees: 9
9. Lewis University
Lewis University, as a best online Catholic college, offers eleven graduate-level academic degree programs that are available entirely online. Included in Lewis University’s online line-up of master’s degrees is an MS in Aviation, Business Administration, Public Safety, Business Analytics, Organizational leadership, Computer Science, Nursing, Criminal Justice, Information Security, and Data Science. Students enrolled in Lewis University’s online graduate degree programs work at their own pace must keep pace with online assignments. Depending on the program, some degrees require students to sit for proctored exams.
Lewis University is a Lasallian university that was founded in 1932. As a recognized Roman Catholic institution of higher education, Lewis University is ranked among the region’s best Catholic online colleges. More than 4,400 students attend classes on Lewis University’s suburban campus in Illinois. The original founders of Lewis University include the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Online Graduate Degrees: 11
10. Madonna University
Madonna University offers a variety of ten different graduate degrees through the school’s distance learning platform. As a best online Catholic college, Madonna University ‘s online graduate degree options include a Master of Science (MS) in accountancy, human leadership, education leadership, business leadership, and criminal justice intelligence. Additionally, Madonna University offers a Master of Arts (MA) in higher education administration and a master of Public Health.
Madonna University is an institution of higher learning that is administered to by the Felician Sisters. As one of Michigan’s best Catholic online colleges, Madonna University offers classes online in Livonia, Detroit, Clinton, and Orchard Lake, Michigan. More than 3,100 students attend classes studying for the more than 100 academic degrees offered by Madonna University. Madonna University holds the distinction of being one of the larges Franciscan schools in the nation.
Online Graduate Degrees: 10
11. Saint Xavier University
Saint Xavier University is one of Illinois’ best Catholic online colleges offering five online graduate degree programs from which to choose. Each of these online graduate degrees from Saint Xavier University offers several specializations within the degree. The Master of Applied Computer Science offers five concentrations, the Master of Arts (MA) in Education offers two emphases, and the Master of Arts in Teaching offers an elementary education concentration. Additionally, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) provides six concentrations, while the Master of Science in Nursing.
Saint Xavier University (SXU) was established by the Sisters of Mercy as a Roman Catholic institution of higher education in 1846 dedicated to women initially. The original campus of Saint Xavier University perished in the infamous 1871 fire in Chicago. More than 3,700 students attend classes at SXU. Saint Xavier University, as a best online Catholic college,was established less than a decade after the founding of the city of Chicago.
Online Graduate Degrees: 5
12. Brescia University
Brescia University is a best online Catholic college in Owensboro, Kentucky, that offers four masters-level academic degree programs that are available 100% online. Brescia offers an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) that offers international students a curriculum practicum training upon starting. In addition, Brescia University offers a Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Psychology, an MS in Speech Language Pathology, and a Master of Social work. All of Brescia University’s distance learning program options offer working learners the flexibility and convenience of studying for the degree on the student’s own schedule.
Brescia University was founded as a Catholic junior college for women in 1925. AS one of the best Catholic online colleges in Kentucky, the university serves more than 1,100 coeducation students on the rural campus near Maple Mount. The university is named to honor the town when the Saint Angela Merici established the Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph.
Online Graduate Degrees: 4
13. DePaul University
DePaul University offers more than 20 online graduate-level degrees in a variety of subjects and industries. DePaul University offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Accountancy, Business Information Technology, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Data Science, E-commerce, Health Informatics, Human Computer Interactions, Information Systems, Network Engineering, Public Service Management, Sports and fitness, and Taxation. In addition, DePaul University, as a best online Catholic college, DePaul offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Higher Education and Applied Professional Studies. The online courses offered by DePaul are approved or exempt from authorization in every state and DC.
DePaul University was established by the Vincentians in 1898. As one of the best Catholic online colleges in Chicago, DePaul University offers special opportunities to students who are first-generation learners. More than 22,200 students attend classes on DePaul’s urban campuses in Chicago. DePaul was originally named St Vincent’s College as it was established by the Congregation of the Mission.
Online Graduate Degrees: 22
14. Fontbonne University
Fontbonne University is a recognized best online Catholic college located in Missouri. Through Fontbonne University’s distance learning platform, the university offers twelve graduate academic degrees that can be completed 100% online. Among the online graduate programs offered by Fontbonne University, students can select from a master’s in business administration (MBA), with or without an accountancy or business analytics concentration. Additionally, the school offers an MA in Education, Teaching and Special Education, plus an MS in supply chain management, cybersecurity, or instructional design, among others.
Fontbonne University is a Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet university that was founded in 1923 as an all-women’s school. As one of Missouri’s best Catholic online colleges, Fontbonne University serves more than 2,900 students on the school’s urban campus in Clayton, MO. Fontbonne University became a coeducation institution of higher education in the mid-1970s.
Online Graduate Degrees: 12
15. Misericordia University
Misericordia University offers five graduate academic degree programs that can be completed entirely online. This best online Catholic college offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program, plus a Master of Science (MS) in Nursing (MSN) and another MS in Healthcare Analytics. Misericordia University also provides doctoral programs in nursing and occupational therapy through the school’s distance learning platform. Each Misericordia University student is guided through their educational experience with an academic advisor. Misericordia University boasts that the average class size for online students is 18.
In 1924 Misericordia University, an institute of higher education was established by the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Misericordia University is recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s best Catholic online colleges that serves more than 3,000 students on the suburban campus in Dallas, PA. Misericordia University was founded to serve those who were less educated, poor, or sick.
Online Graduate Degrees: 5
16. University of Saint Francis
The University of Saint Francis offers a large variety of master’s level academic degrees that are available 100% online. These graduate degrees from the University of Saint Francis have been recognized by US News and World Report among the best in the country. As a best online Catholic college, the University of Saint Francis offers graduate level degrees in highly in-demand fields like business (MBA), education, organizational leadership, and healthcare administration (MHA).
The University of Saint Francis (USF) was founded as a Roman Catholic institution of higher education and established in 1920. What is now one of Illinois’ best Catholic online colleges, the University of Saint Francis, began as a high school. More than 3,100 students are enrolled in the University of Saint Francis’ campuses throughout the country. This private university is administered by the Congregation of the Third Order of St. Francis.
Online Graduate Degrees: 8
17. Loyola University Chicago
Loyola University Chicago is one of Chicago’s best Catholic online colleges that offers more than twenty online graduate programs across a number of subjects and industries. LUC offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Bioethics, Health Mission Leadership, Social Work, and Public Service Leadership. The School of Nursing offers several graduate level programs in adult-gerontology, healthcare administration, and population-based infection control. Additionally, LUC offers a Master of Public Health and several degrees in pastoral studies and the legal profession.
Loyola University Chicago was established in 18979 as St. Ignatius College. LUC is the flagship campus of the larger Loyola University system and a best online Catholic college. More than 17,100 students attend classes on the school’s lakefront campus. Loyola University was founded by a Jesuit Priest and educator Fr. A Damen.
Online Graduate Degrees: 21
18. Viterbo University
Viterbo University is one of Wisconsin’s best Catholic online colleges offering four master-level academic degree programs that can be completed entirely online. Students interested in nutritional sciences will find the school offers a Master of Science in Nutrition Sciences. The university offers two Master of Arts (MA) degree programs in Education – one of which provides licensure. In addition, Viterbo University offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis on Health Care Leadership that is a 100% online degree program. Viterbo offers students a virtual tour of its programs.
Viterbo University was established in 1890 by the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. As a Franciscan best online Catholic college, Viterbo University offers more than 35 programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, masters, and doctoral levels. More than 2,500 students are enrolled in Viterbo University. The university was originally established as a teacher’s training school for religious educators.
Online Graduate Degrees: 4
19. Alvernia University
Alvernia University offers four graduate degree programs through the university’s distance learning platform that includes an MBA – a Master of Business Administration degree program, a master’s in education, with a concentration in Special Education, and another M.Ed. with a Special Ed Certificate, and a completion program for a post-graduate Doctor of Nurse Practitioner. As a best online Catholic college, Alvernia University offers students an opportunity to earn a graduate degree at their own pace. Alvernia offers other graduate degrees with a blended hybrid delivery for those students in the Reading, PA vicinity.
Alvernia University was founded in 1958 by Franciscan Friars. As one of the best Catholic online colleges, Alvernia University offers more than 35 undergraduate and graduate degrees to its nearly 3,000 students. Alvernia became coeducation with its first residential male students first attending classes in the early 1970s.
Online Graduate Degrees: 4
20. Walsh University
Walsh University is considered among Ohio’s best Catholic online colleges offering five graduate degrees through the school’s digital campus, some of which are accelerated degrees. The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree online with four available concentrations in data analytics, healthcare administration, marketing, and management. The Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree program offers more than nine educational specialty areas. The School of Nursing provides a Master of Science (MS) in the areas of acute care, family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Several programs may require a hybrid delivery of courses.
Walsh University is a Brothers of Christian Instruction university that was established in 1960 in the state of Maine. Walsh University is a best online Catholic college located in North Canton, with one satellite campus in Italy. More than 2,100 students attend classes on Walsh University’s 100+ acre campus studying for the more than 60 academic degrees offered. Walsh University offers study abroad opportunities in Rome, Haiti, Uganda, and Tanzania, among others.
Online Graduate Degrees: 5
21. Saint Leo University Online
Saint Leo University Online offers nearly forty graduate degrees online in a variety of industries and programs that are available 100% online. Saint Leo University is a best online Catholic college with online graduate programs available in theology, business, management, computers, cybersecurity, healthcare, business, education, criminal justice, and human services administration, to name just a few. Saint Leo’s social work graduate programs are available to both full-time and part-time students.
Saint Leo University Online was established in 1889. Saint Leo University is considered to be one of Florida’s best Catholic online colleges serving more than 11,500 students. Saint Leo University holds the distinction of being the first Roman Catholic institution of higher education in Florida. Saint Leo University is affiliated with the Holy Name Monastery and Saint Leo Abbey.
Online Graduate Degrees: 38
22. Saint Ambrose University
Saint Ambrose University is recognized as one of Iowa’s best Catholic online colleges offering five graduate-level degrees that can be completed entirely online. As a best online Catholic college, Saint Ambrose University offers a Master of Criminal Justice degree, and Advanced Standing (MS) degree in Social Work, A Master of Public Health (MPH), a Master of Business Administration (MBA), and a Master of Organizational Leadership. Saint Ambrose offers the opportunity to transfer upwards of nine credit eligible credits, depending on the degree program chosen.
Saint Ambrose University is a private institution of higher learning that was established in 1882 as a seminary. The university’s small-city campus in Davenport is home to more than 3,500 students. The Diocese of Davenport is affiliated with the Saint Ambrose University.
Online Graduate Degrees: 5
23. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is ranked among Minnesota’s best Catholic online colleges and offers fourteen graduate level degree programs that can be completed entirely online. Several of the business graduate degrees offered by this best online Catholic college include account data analytics, organizational leadership, and human resource management. Other graduate degrees available from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota include educational leadership, learning design, social work, cybersecurity, public administration, and public health.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota was established in 1912. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota operates as a Lasallian, Roman Catholic institution of higher learning with multiple academic facilities in several cities, states, and even in Kenya. The school’s student enrollment exceeds 5,800 students. SMUMN is affiliated with the institute of the Brokers of the Christian Schools.
Online Graduate Degrees: 14
24. Barry University
Barry University offers more than 20 graduate degree programs that can be completed entirely online. As one of Florida’s best Catholic online colleges, Barry University offers a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a number of emphases from which to choose. Barry University also offers a number of education-related graduate degree programs through the school’s distance learning platform. Other graduate degrees are available in social work, occupational therapy, emergency management, health care administration, and Public Administration. The nursing graduate degree programs are available in a number of concentrations.
Barry University was established by the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1940. Barry University’s urban campus in Miami Shores covers more than 100 acres and serves more than 8,800 students. This best online Catholic college is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Miami.
Online Graduate Degrees: 22
25. Dominican University
Dominican University is ranked among the best Catholic online colleges in the state of Illinois, offering eight graduate-level academic degree programs that are available 100% online. The programs offered by this best online Catholic college include mediation and conflict, business, information studies, education, nursing, legal/human services, software development, and social work. Students enrolled in Dominican University’s online graduate degree programs collaborate with other members of the cohort and professors, but have the flexibility to study on their own time and at their own pace. Dominican offers students study abroad opportunities in Uganda, Cuba, El Salvador, and Guatemala, among other places.
Dominican University was established in 1901 as a private institution of higher education by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. Dominican University’s River Forest campus covers more than 25 suburban acres and serves nearly 3,000 students. Dominican University was originally established as St. Clara Female academy in 1848.
Online Graduate Degrees: 8
What Do the Best Online Catholic Universities Offer?
The best online Catholic universities offer fully accredited programs of study in Nursing, Engineering, Theology, Social Work, Library and Information Science, Management, and beyond. The online Catholic master’s degree is a great option for continuing students and professionals to further their education while they are still on the job. A Catholic master’s degree online is the opportunity to pursue a value-based degree with flexible responsibilities and academic schedule.
Online Catholic graduate programs are part of private institutions, with coursework that may encourage community involvement and learning. Some of the online Catholic graduate programs are more progressive than others, so it’s important to determine the type of program that will best meet each student needs and personal preference for a faith-based educational experience. Some Catholic colleges or universities require that students take coursework in philosophy or theology as part of the required units toward graduation, while other institutions encourage an array of coursework with no specific focus related to Catholicism or other religiously focused material.
What Makes Catholic Online Education Exceptional?
The best Catholic higher education experiences share many of the key benefits that other online programs feature. The Catholic online education is an attractive option because it allows students to earn the advanced degree while more easily syncing up with the person’s lifestyle and work schedule, but student also look for a high-quality academic experience that will deliver the degree that will mean something for career advancement and success. Here are some of the key benefits that make Catholic education online so exceptional.
Affordability: As private institutions, some Catholic colleges and universities are not expected to be affordable. The online Catholic education lends itself to the most affordable education of its kind.
Networking: The Catholic higher education facilitates professional networking with like-minded individuals with common career focus. This network can be focused on learning and growth, while at the same time facilitating support and encouragement throughout the online courses of study in an inclusive environment.
Transfer Focus: The Catholic online education supports the transfer of credits from other institutions of higher learning to further expedite the progress toward an online degree. The ability to transfer credits from other colleges and universities means that it’s faster and easier to achieve goals for personal and professional development.
Academic Excellence: One goal of a college education is to develop the skills and knowledge in teaching, learning, discovery, and research as well as engagement and service. The main focus of many Catholic colleges and universities is in the Liberal Arts, with coursework designed to support Theological and Philosophical study.
Flexibility: The Catholic education online experience supports flexibility and accessibility for students, so they can learn and earn a degree in their preferred course of study. Students can take classes and earn credits toward their master’s degree from their home-based studies anywhere in the world.
With of the high-quality online Catholic education, student have access to a range of services and support options including technical assistance, career counseling, mentorship resources, study services, and other support services that are designed to assist students in successfully completing their courses of study. The top 10 online Catholic universities include the University of Dallas, Mount Saint Joseph University, Molloy College, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Creighton University, Saint Louis University, Misericordia University, University of Mary, Notre Dame of Maryland University, and University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne.
Can I Get My Master’s Online for Free?
Students have access to free Catholic education online if they know where to look. Students can apply for and receive financial assistance in the form of grants, loans, and scholarships. As a private institution, some Catholic colleges and universities offer specifically focused offerings for free Catholic education online. Other organizations, like Your Catholic Voice Foundation (YCVF) have the stated mission of providing a free, “world class” education for students of all ages.
The edX online learning platform offers courses from Notre Dame University and professors at Christendom College offers free theology classes online. Carefully review the free online course offerings to find out whether the classes are credit or non-credit courses. With diligence, students can find a range of options that can further their course of study without the overwhelming costs.