Thirteen of the nation's more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities can be found in the state of California. They represent schools administered by a variety of orders, from the Jesuit University of San Francisco to the University of Sacramento run by the Legionnaries of Christ. The state's four major cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento each have at least one Catholic college.

San Francisco and Oakland

The San Francisco Bay Area has the largest concentration of Catholic colleges and universities in California. San Francisco itself is home to the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco ( as well as Notre Dame de Namur University (, both offering a variety of degrees. Across the Bay in Oakland and Berkeley can be found St. Mary's College of California ( and Holy Names University ( The Franciscan, Dominican and Jesuit theological schools are located in Berkeley; the Jesuit Santa Clara University ( is in nearby San Jose, while the Dominican University of California's ( campus can be found in San Rafael.

Los Angeles

The Jesuit Loyola Marymount University (, the West Coast's largest Catholic institution at over 9,000 students, is in Los Angeles. Marymount College (, formerly a two-year institution, is now offering bachelor's degrees to its approximately 800 students. Mount St. Mary's College (, run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, educates approximately 2,000 undergraduates; 95 percent of its incoming classes are women and 70 percent come from minority families. Close to Los Angeles in Santa Paula is Thomas Aquinas College (, a small liberal arts school that teaches a specific classics-based curriculum.

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San Diego

San Diego is home to two Catholic universities: the University of San Diego, which educates almost 8,000 students in more than 60 undergraduate and postgraduate areas of study; and John Paul the Great Catholic University (, which was founded in 2003 and offers bachelor's degrees in communications and business to approximately 150 students. Both schools are independently affiliated Catholic schools without ties to a specific order.


The Legionaries of Christ founded the University of Sacramento ( in 2005 with plans to move the campus to a more permanent location in the outskirts of Sacramento county in the near future. It currently offers a master of arts degree in theology as well as a collection of certificates on Catholic catechism.

About the Author

Chris Burke began writing professionally in 2007. In addition to writing for student-run literary journals in college, he has authored content for The George Washington University, as well as the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Burke holds a Bachelor of Arts in international affairs and is pursuing a law degree from Columbia University.