Franciscan University of Steubenville

  • Franciscan University of Steubenville

    Steubenville, Ohio

  • Franciscan University of Steubenville

    Steubenville, Ohio

  • Franciscan University of Steubenville

    Steubenville, Ohio

  • Franciscan University of Steubenville

    Steubenville, Ohio

  • Franciscan University of Steubenville

    Steubenville, Ohio




Catholic Faculty


Catholic Students


On-campus students in single-sex dorms


Franciscan University was founded in 1946 at the urging of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, which turned to the Third Order Regular of St. Francis to teach returning war veterans. The University’s ownership and the responsibility for its Catholic identity rest with the Franciscan community based in Loretto, Pennsylvania.

The University is located 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on a hill overlooking Steubenville, a small, industrial city with a population of about 19,000. For many Catholics, the term “Steubenville” has come to represent the University, rather than the city. The 2,158 students are 99 percent Catholic, hailing from 50 states and 11 countries.

Franciscan University provides an abundance of opportunities for both academic and spiritual growth, and the role of the friars is at the core of both. Sixteen Franciscan friars serve students through spiritual direction, teaching, chaplaincy, or providing Sacramental needs. Since May 2019, the University’s 7th president is Father David Pivonka, TOR, a popular evangelist and author of several books including Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus and Breath of God.

Fr. Pivonka has praised the “outstanding education” and “life-changing spiritual formation” he received at Franciscan University as a part of the “dynamic, Catholic intellectual and faith community.”  Over the years, he has served in a variety of positions at the University, including vice president for mission and planning and director of the University’s popular “household” system.

A largely lay board of 25 trustees reports to the Order. Traditionally, the minister provincial of the province is chairman of the board. Seven other members of the board are also Franciscans.

The University offers majors in mostly typical liberal arts fields, as well as three religious-oriented majors in humanities and Catholic culture, catechetics, and theology. It boasts the largest number of students majoring in theology and catechetics of any Catholic university in the United States, and so too the largest number of students majoring in philosophy.

Franciscan’s tuition rate is lower than the average for private institutions in Ohio. The undergraduate cost for tuition, room, and board for 2017-2018 is $34,670.


Franciscan University undergraduates complete an integrated liberal arts core curriculum of 45 credits for B.A. majors and 42 credits for B.S. students, based on the Western intellectual tradition, the Franciscan educational heritage, and the Catholic mission of the University.  The core includes six philosophy and theology courses for B.A. students, and five philosophy and theology courses for B.S. students.

Students can choose from more than 70 programs, including 40 majors. More than 35 minors are offered, including exercise science, human life studies, Franciscan studies, and Greek and Latin.

Franciscan also offers majors including catechetics, education, biology, business (with six programs of study), nursing, communication arts, psychology, and a concentration in bioethics for its Master’s in Philosophy. Five of the majors are reserved for associate degree candidates. There also are pre-professional programs including medical fields. Students can pursue an eight-seminar or 32-credit honors program that relies on the Great Books of Western Civilization and the Catholic intellectual tradition. 

A new online program, Franciscan Fast Track, enables high school students to get a head start on their college degree with courses in theology, philosophy, biology, and other subjects. In addition to an online MBA and an online Masters of Science in Education, Franciscan now offers an online Master of Arts in Theology and Christian Ministry, and an online Masters of Arts in Catechetics and Evangelization, with courses taught by renowned full-time faculty members including Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Alan Schreck, Dr. John Bergsma, Dr. Bob Rice, and Sister M. Johanna Paruch, FSGM, PhD. 

There also is an impressive study-abroad experience for undergraduates. Approximately 175 students per semester, most in their sophomore year, study for one semester at a former Carthusian monastery in the Alpine town of Gaming, Austria. Coursework is four days a week, allowing students to travel throughout Europe. A 10-day Rome-Assisi trip and a 10-day break are built into the experience. Approximately 50 percent of all graduates participate in this program.  There are also several other study-abroad opportunities, including a semester at Oxford. 

Ninety-four percent of the faculty is Catholic. Theology department faculty members and all new campus ministers take an Oath of Fidelity. 


The most prominent building on the 235-acre campus is Christ the King Chapel, a 44-year-old modern-looking structure noted for a large steel cross atop its roof.

Twenty Masses are celebrated each week at Franciscan University. Daily Masses are held Monday through Friday at 6:30 a.m., 12:05 p.m., and 4:45 p.m. and attract more than 700 students each day. All four Sunday Masses are filled to capacity.

The Masses are reverent and range from contemporary style, which includes some more modern music, to a weekly Mass in the Extraordinary Form.  Eight priests hear confessions five times a week. The Rosary and other devotions are prayed daily. Each semester, students sign up for perpetual adoration, which is offered 24/7 in the Portiuncula Chapel during the school year. On Tuesdays, students gather for Praise and Worship and prayer. There are monthly Festivals of Praise and frequent retreats, including silent ones, throughout the school year. Solemn vespers and Benediction are held in the chapel on most Sunday evening for students.

The University offers a Priestly Discernment Program that helps about 34 men discern vocations. An annual Vocations Awareness Day showcases nearly 60 religious orders and dioceses. There are days of discernment for women who might consider religious life as well.

There are also a Marian Grotto, outdoor Stations of the Cross, and a life-sized creche. The campus has Eucharistic chapels in every residence hall.

The Tomb of the Unborn Child is a unique memorial with an eternal flame that pays tribute to aborted babies and reflects the University’s strong pro-life commitment. About 750 students attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., each January.


More than 70 percent of the undergraduates live on campus. Franciscan has a three-year residency requirement. There are 10 single-sex residence halls and a nearby apartment complex that houses men and women. Residence halls mix lower and upper classmen together. Each residence hall has a director to ensure that the hall’s activities conform to the University’s policies and guidelines.

David Schmiesing, vice president for student life, said, “Franciscan University’s residence life program, centered around household life and the presence of students from all undergraduate classes in each residence hall, is uniquely designed to promote the integration of faith and reason in students’ lives and the promotion of Christian maturity.”

Wireless Internet access is available in the student center, the library, and other places on campus. Student wireless access on campus is filtered. The student cafeteria is not equipped with wireless access in order to foster conversation between students.

Students may visit in residence hall common areas until 1:00 a.m. Opposite-sex visitation in student rooms (Open House) is restricted to Fridays and Saturdays from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Doors must remain open when someone has a guest of the opposite sex in their room. A defined and enforced code of conduct and modesty is encouraged, but there is no dress code at the University.

Students of age are allowed to have alcohol in their rooms, but not in the presence of minors. While some drinking problems have been reported, most occur off-campus. The campus is safe; reported crimes are infrequent and usually minor, like petty theft.

Students often congregate in the J.C. Williams Center, the active student center located near the middle of campus. The center includes a lounge, a Pub, Cupertino’s Café and Bakery, student mailboxes, a bookstore, meeting rooms, and an art gallery.

A health center staffed by a nurse practitioner treats routine matters. Trinity Health Systems operates a hospital and walk-in clinic in Steubenville. There are a number of larger hospitals in nearby Pittsburgh.

Four hotels are located near campus. A variety of restaurants, a mall, and other retail businesses are located slightly farther away. Franciscan Square, located across the street from the University, is a new commercial development with three eateries anchored by the Best Western Plus Inn and Suites at Franciscan Square.

The city of Steubenville is an old industrial town that has seen better days. The downtown is rather dilapidated and has a higher than average crime index, but it is undergoing a revitalization through the efforts of local alumni and citizens with street festivals, concerts, and new businesses opening.

Downtown Steubenville is known for its 25 large art murals, and Pittsburgh has a wide variety of sports, cultural, and entertainment opportunities. The Pittsburgh International Airport is a half-hour away.


Students can participate in more than four dozen organizations and student-led programs, including an unusual number of groups engaged in spiritual and Catholic outreach efforts. These include Latinos for Christ, Byzantine Club, Mary’s Meals, Mercy Through Mary Club, Voice of the Martyrs Club, and the Knights of Columbus.

The Students for Life club is very active. In addition to participating in the annual March for Life, they have a weekly prayer ministry outside a Pittsburgh abortion clinic, train sidewalk counselors, and host prominent speakers.

Other groups include Excite, which sponsors entertainment and social events, an outdoor club, Irish dance club, music theatre troups, equestrian club, student government, and the weekly student newspaper, The Troubadour.

Students participate in community outreach programs such as Works of Mercy, which organizes outreach to nearby food kitchens, nursing homes, youth centers, and homeless shelters. SENT teams (Student Evangelization Network Teams) travel to local parishes throughout the semester to conduct retreats for high school students.

Missions of Peace sponsors international mission trips during breaks to places such as Belize, Jamaica, Honduras, and Ecuador. Domestic mission trips include Chicago, Fargo, Florida, New Mexico, New York, and Steubenville.

A unique aspect of the University is the “faith household” system. Three or more students can come together in an all male or female households to support each other spiritually, academically, and in other ways under the guidance of an advisor. Nearly 900 students are involved in a household.

In addition to a wide variety of campus activities, households sponsor their own events

Homecoming provides the opportunity for the St. Francis Festival on campus. The chaplain blesses animals, and some students dress in medieval period costumes. An evening service commemorates the death of St. Francis.

The athletics program intentionally integrates faith and sports. The intercollegiate athletic program includes 17 Division III NCAA teams, an intercollegiate rugby team, and five intramural sports that attract hundreds of student participants. Most head coaches are Catholic, and all support the University’s unique mission.

Bottom Line

There’s no place quite like Franciscan University of Steubenville, and its students’ enthusiasm for serving God both during and after their college years is most refreshing and exciting.

Few institutions share Franciscan University’s reputation for strong Catholic identity, including a powerful
witness to the pro-life cause and evangelization, which penetrates everything the institution does. Still a center for charismatic Catholic worship, the University today embraces other orthodox approaches to Catholic spirituality and attracts a diverse population of students, albeit nearly all of them Catholic.

Catholic families will find in Franciscan University a thoroughly Catholic environment that prepares servants of God for every walk of life, while offering a solid education and vibrant campus life.

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 Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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:

Franciscan University has held continuous regional accreditation since 1960, first as the College of Steubenville. The University’s most recent accreditation was reaffirmed in 2014-15 by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and the next full review will occur in 2025. Franciscan University participates in the HLC’s Open Pathway for accreditation, a privilege afforded only to those institutions with a long-standing positive review from the commission. The Open Pathway includes submitting an Assurance Review, which consists of Franciscan’s responses to HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation complete with an evidence file and a comprehensive evaluation visit by peer reviewers from other HLC institutions. Franciscan is authorized by the state of Ohio Department of Higher Education. The following organizations have also accredited various University departments: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE); Council on Social Work Education (CSWE); Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP); International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE); and the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). All specialized accreditors are approved by the Department of Education or are members of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

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

From information obtained on 86 percent of the Class of 2018, 92 percent of these graduates were employed, in graduate school, or serving the Church within one year of graduation.

Franciscan’s four-year graduation rate of 68 percent is much higher than the national average of 53 percent.

Recent examples of student success:

The 153 students in Franciscan University’s Center for Leadership program continue to distinguish themselves: One senior leadership student, an education major, established an internship program for Franciscan students to teach English at the Catholic University of Ukraine. During the summer of 2017, over a dozen students spent two months teaching and building relationship centered around their shared Catholic faith. Other leadership capstone projects focused on promoting authentic masculinity, Franciscan spirituality, increasing awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians, and witnessing to the sanctity of marriage and the family at a gathering of youth from around the world at the UN’s World Youth Alliance.

Through the Franciscan Institute for Science and Health, biology and chemistry majors conduct research as undergraduates that puts them on par with graduate students at other universities. This includes internships at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; summer research internships to combat neglected diseases of the poor, including tuberculosis, at AbbVie, Inc., labs, a global biopharmaceutical company; and research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy. On campus, students assist in research on epilepsy and use adult stem cells to address disorders such as osteoarthritis. All told, 70 percent of biology students are involved with research projects on or off campus.

Each year, more than 575 students participate in domestic and foreign mission trips, some serving as team leaders, giving them invaluable leadership and evangelistic experience.

In a recent year, 125 students in many majors completed internships, 85 of them for class credit.

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

Since 1998, U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” guide has ranked Franciscan University in the elite “top tier” of Midwestern universities. In the 2020 edition, Franciscan was ranked 17th out of 165 Midwest universities. Each year since 2011, Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine has ranked Franciscan in its top 50 “best values” in private higher education in the nation for “high-quality academics as well as affordable costs.”

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?

Franciscan University’s Academic Freedom Policy is grounded in St. John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, his encyclical Veritas Splendor, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In part, the policy states, Since “the exercise of freedom does not imply the right to say or do anything” (Catechism 1740),  an instructor is not free to jeopardize the moral formation of his/her students by placing them in situations in which moral danger is certain or highly probable (while recognizing an appropriate degree of student maturity as adult learners) or to engage in activity that is illegal, unethical, contrary to Catholic morals, contrary to University policy, detrimental to student overall well-being, or harmful to the common good of the University. Any content that might be deemed morally or psychologically problematic should be discussed and evaluated with the instructor’s chair and/or dean before being used in the classroom.

The policy further states, As a faithful Catholic institution, Franciscan University of Steubenville insists that instructors, in the exercise of their professional tasks as teachers and researchers, respect the institution’s religious commitment and abide by the norms and guidelines of our mission statement and our values as a Catholic university.

The Franciscan University Bookstore and the St. John Paul II Library follow internal guidelines to provide materials and gifts of sound Catholic doctrine and consult with professors and priests for their theological opinions when necessary. The library’s Collection Development Policy guides the selection of materials that meet rigorous academic standards, provide factual and well-documented information, and support the mission of Franciscan University.

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

The only reliable way to guarantee that the Catholic faith is “integrated throughout the curriculum and course content” is to be exceptionally careful with who joins your faculty.  To be considered for a faculty position, every candidate must write a statement as to how he or she will help fulfill and advance our mission, including our academic excellence and our passionately Catholic nature. Currently, every search committee that narrows down the list of applicants and interviews them includes at least four senior faculty members, the dean of the school, and a friar (typically the vice president for Franciscan Life).  Additionally, the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), reads the mission statement and other materials for every candidate the search committee wishes to bring to campus before approving a visit.  When those approved for a campus interview arrive, the VPAA attends their lecture and conducts an individual interview at which they discuss the mission of the University.  During the interview, applicants are reminded that they must endorse the mission of the University, and that the requirement that they may not contradict it is not limited to the classroom.  If Franciscan is not certain of a candidate’s commitment to our Catholic mission, the department is asked to search again.

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

Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio, which addresses the relationship between faith and reason, is a defining document of our University. Faculty across all academic disciplines are free to draw out certain connections between the various disciplines and a life of holy service to God.  Because we believe that God is the source and origin of the whole created order and the source of all truth, the faith informs how our biologists teach on the origin of human life, how our social work professors form students to serve the poor, how our philosophers approach ethics, how our business professors approach corporate management, how our literature teachers analyze a great epic, and so on. Our students have abundant opportunities to see and experience how any given academic course of study and its respective profession can be ordered to the love of God and so advance him or her in the life of holiness.

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

Two things are necessary for the renewal of the culture in the light of Christ. First, students must have an evangelical spirit. They must be convinced and convicted with the love of Christ for others. The renewal of the culture demands missionaries. We cultivate and nourish this spirit primarily through Student Life, Chapel Ministries, and the whole structure that supports the academic life of the students, but our faculty also lead by example, engaging in the renewal of culture themselves in their personal lives and in their professional writing, speaking, consulting, and research.

But the renewal of the culture also requires knowledge: knowledge of the secular disciplines that form the front lines of the culture; knowledge of the culture of death, its intellectual sources and its ways of proceeding; knowledge of the truth that opposes the culture of death and liberates those under its power.  Our academic programs provide this knowledge and equip our students to be successful in their chosen vocations and to become Christian agents of change who can help renew the culture.

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) 


ACT: 25

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


Additional Academic Quality information, clarification or description (optional)

Franciscan was included in the inaugural and subsequent editions of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, in the most recent editions of Barron’s Best Buys in College Education, and FORBES list of America’s Top Colleges, ranking in the top 10 percent of 4,706 degree-granting institutions.

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?

All candidates for faculty positions are required to address the University’s mission statement as part of the application process. If selected as a finalist, this is further addressed in interviews conducted by the vice president of Academic Affairs and other members of the hiring committee. As a condition of employment, all faculty members must adhere to the directives in the Faculty Handbook that pertain to the University’s Catholic identity and mission.

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)

No. Franciscan University of Steubenville follows the Church’s guidance on this. A directive issued in 1989 by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith required only those directly connected with teaching Catholic doctrine on faith and morals to profess their adherence to the teaching authority of the Church. That year, Franciscan University became the first Catholic university in the United States to administer the Oath of Fidelity to its theology faculty. Every year since, new theologians, priests, pastoral ministers, members of the Board of Trustees and other appropriate personnel at Franciscan University have taken the oath. In subsequent years, other academic departments, including the philosophy, sacred music, and education departments, asked to take the oath, even though their faculty are not required to do so by the Church, and in 2019, during the Mass at the start of the spring  semester, the entire University faculty present was invited to take the Oath of Fidelity.

In addition, all Franciscan University theology professors sign a mandatum, a formal agreement between a theologian and bishop, promising to adhere to Church teachings.

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. John Crosby, Professor of Philosophy, author of several books, dozens of articles, and founding director of the MA Philosophy Program

Dr. Robert Doyle, Professor of History, Fulbright Scholar, University of Munich, Germany (1993)

Dr. Scott Hahn, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, world-renowned speaker and author, co-author, or editor of over 50 academic and popular published works on theology translated into more than 20 languages; founder and president, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Dr. Anne Hendershott, Professor of Sociology, and author of several books, including The Politics of Abortion, and most recently Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops Is Revitalizing the Catholic Church. Hendershott regularly provides opinion pieces in a number of major news outlets.

Dr. Daniel Kempton, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Professor of Political Science, Fulbright Scholar, Tver State University, Russia (2008); Pew Fellow, Harvard University (1993); Fulbright Scholar, Rhodes University, South Africa (1992)

Dr. Patrick Lee, Professor of Philosohy and director of the Franciscan University Center for Bioethics, author of several books, dozens of scholarly articles, and champion of a Catholic philosophical approach to bioethical issues

Dr. David Schaefer, Professor of Communication Arts, Fulbright Scholar, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2004), co-editor of Bollywood and Globalization: The Global Power of Popular Hindi Cinema

Dr. Sarah Wear, Associate Professor of Classics, author of a book and over a dozen articles, and rising star in neoplatonic studies

Dr. Petroc Willey, Professor of Catechetics, Consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization in Rome; for more than twenty years served as editor of The Sower, a journal for catechetical leaders; also hosted the EWTN catechetical series, Handing on the Faith

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

Other notable faculty:

Dr. Eugene Gan, Associate Professor of Multi-Media and Communication Arts, author, Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media, and many papers including two for the Pontifical Council on Social Communications

Dr. Edward Kovach, Professor of Computer Science, Fulbright Scholar, Pázmány Péter University, Hungary (2004)

Dr. Dan Kuebler, Professor of Biology, research on seizure activity published in Brain Research; working with Franciscan associate professor Dr. Jeff Rohde, a Harvard-educated chemist, on drugs to reduce seizure activity; National Catholic Register contributor on bioethical issues

Dr. Jeffrey Rohde, Associate Professor and Chair of the Chemistry Department, and Director of the Engineering Dual Degree Program. Dr. Rohde has pioneered innovative student research on ways to address rare and neglected diseases and is one of the founding members of the university’s Franciscan Institute for Science and Health.

Dr. Alan Schreck, Professor of Theology, author of many essays, and Catholic and Christian and nearly a dozen other books on theology; in 2008 one of 15 scholars nationwide to receive a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for research on St. Francis in Assisi, Italy

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


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


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:

All BA and nearly all BS students take Foundations of Catholicism, The Word of God: Scripture and Tradition, and Christian Moral Principles to ensure a common college-level understanding of orthodox Catholic doctrine and practice. Faculty who regularly teach these courses include: Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Regis Martin, Fr. Donald Frinsko, TOR, Dr. Alan Schreck, Dr. Kevin Miller, Dr. John Bergsma, Dr. Donald Asci, Dr. Michael Sirilla, Dr. Stephen Hildebrand, Dr. Jacob Wood, and others.

In addition to this course, theology majors, men in the Priestly Discernment Program, and some others take Principles of Biblical Study I & II, focusing on the Old and New Testaments and introducing biblical interpretation, taught by Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. John Bergsma, Dr. Andrew Minto, Dr. Stephen Miletic, and others. Other courses many students take include: Francis and the Franciscan Tradition, Mariology taught by Dr. Mark Miravalle, as well as Theology of the Body taught by Dr. Donald Asci and others.

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

The study of Catholic theology has a preeminent position in Franciscan University’s core curriculum.  Students are formed through three required courses in the fundamentals of Catholic doctrine and systematic theology, in Sacred Scripture, and in the principles of moral theology.  These courses are taught by outstanding professors, each of whom is required to take the Oath of Fidelity and receive a mandatum.  Moreover, the Theology Department is the largest department on campus and serves more undergraduate majors than any other department at the university—in fact, no other Catholic university has as many theology majors as does Franciscan University.  It is the very nature of a Franciscan perspective on human inquiry that theology takes a primary role in enabling students to appreciate the ways in which all disciplines point back to God, and this principle is alive and well at Franciscan University. Fidelity to the magisterium, innovative scholarship, and outstanding instruction are the hallmarks of Franciscan University’s theologians.  By means of these gifts Franciscan University’s theologians faithfully communicate Catholic theology to our students and shape in them those habits of mind and heart that facilitate a lifetime of ongoing conversion.

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

While nine credits of theology are required of all BA students (and a minimum of six by all BS students), extra theology courses are taken by many students. With consistently more than 550 majors enrolled each year, Franciscan University is home to the largest undergraduate theology/catechetics program in the U.S.

Please identify any course that every undergraduate student must take:

The 45-credit-hour core for BA students and the 42-credit-hour core for BS students requires: Foundations of Catholicism, Christian Moral Principles, The Word of God, Foundations of Ethics, Philosophy of the Human Person, and Metaphysics, Epic and the Person and/or Lyric and Dramatic Voices, and Macroeconomics and/or a mathematics course.

BS students take 5 of the 6 Theology and Philosophy courses, 3 of the 6 English credits, and both Macroeconomics and a mathematics course, whereas all BA students take all theology and philosophy core classes, both the literature core, and either Macroeconomics or a mathematics course. The Franciscan contribution to the Catholic tradition is integrated into some of the core classes.

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

In addition to the common courses specified above, students take: 3 credits in history (History of Civilization I or II, Medieval World, Renaissance and Reformation, or French Revolution and 19th-Century Europe); 3 credits in fine arts (Survey of Sacred and Religious Music, Theatre and the Catholic Imagination, or Catholic Traditions in Visual Arts); 6 credits in natural science (classes include Survey of Biological Sciences, Human Biology, Introduction to Environmental Science, Human Embryology, Tropical Marine Biology, General Botany, General Zoology, Survey of Physical Science, General Physics I and II, Introduction to Chemistry I and II, Physical Anthropology, Introduction to Physiological Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology I and II); 3 credits in social science (classes include Foundations of Politics and Government, General Psychology, Psychology and Human Development I and II, Cultural Anthropology, Mass Media, Catholic Worldview of Media, U.S. History II, International Politics, Survey of American Law I and II, Christianity and Society, and Introductory Sociology), and 3 credits in American founding principles (classes include History of the U.S. I, and American National Government).

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

124 credits    36% for BA students, 34% for BS students

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?

Our core curriculum includes three theology courses including: Foundations of Catholicism, Word of God: Scripture and Tradition, and Christian Moral Principles, all taught according to orthodox Catholic doctrine and practice.  Bachelor of Arts students take all three of these courses.  Bachelor of Science students take two to three of these courses.

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

No.  It is the proper function of the intellectual virtues cultivated in the core courses to enable students to make those interdisciplinary connections.

Additional core curriculum information, clarification, or description (optional):

In 2012, Franciscan University approved a new core curriculum, which is an integrated core curriculum based on the Western intellectual tradition and the Franciscan character of education and in accord with the Catholic mission of the University. This approval represents the completion of a rigorous deliberative process undertaken by faculty and major administrators, which was guided by the University’s mission and Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

Number of Majors: 


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

Majors (Bachelor Degree Programs) Accounting, Anthropology, Art, Biochemistry, Biology, British and American Literature, Business (4+1 MBA), Catechetics, Chemistry, Classics, Communication Arts, Computer Information Science, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Digital Broadcasting and Production, Economics, Education (4+1 MS in Education), Engineering, English, Finance, French, German, History, Human Development and Family Studies, Humanities and Catholic Culture, International Business, Journalism, Management, Marketing, Mathematical Science, Multimedia, Music (Sacred Music), Nursing, Philosophy (4+1 MA in Philosophy), Political Science, Psychology-Clinical (4+1 MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling), Psychology-Experimental, Social Work, Sociology, Spanish, Theatre, Theology (4+1 MA in Theology), Western and World Literature, Writing, Youth Ministry.

Minor Programs: Criminology, Exercise Science, Film Studies, Franciscan Studies, Greek, Human Life Studies, Latin-Classical, Latin-Ecclesiastical, Legal Studies, Narrative Arts, Neuroscience, Music Ministry, and minors in 45 major programs above.

Priestly Discernment Program: Preparation for major seminary.

Great Books Honors Program: Based on the close reading and vigorous discussion of a Great Books of Western Civilization curriculum, Franciscan’s Honors Program challenges students to analyze complex issues and develop insight into the human experience.

Pre-Professional Programs: Pre-Chiropractic, Pre-Dentistry, Pre-Engineering, Pre-Med, Pre-Law, Pre-Optometry, Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Physician’s Assistant, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Veterinary.

Accelerated Programs: 4+1 MA in Theology, 4+1 MBA, 4+1 MA in Philosophy, 4 +1 BA Psychology/MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, 4 + 1 MS in Education, 3+4 Doctor of Pharmacy, 3+3 Juris Doctorate, Canon Law Track, RN-to-BSN.

Associate Degree Programs: Accounting; Business Administration; Child Development; General Studies; Philosophy; Theology.

Master’s Degree Programs:  Business Administration (Master of Business Administration), Catechetics and Evangelization (Master of Arts), Catholic Leadership (Master of Catholic Leadership), Clinical Mental Health Counseling (Master of Arts), Education (Master of Science), Educational Administration (Master of Science), Nursing (Master of Science), Philosophy (Master of Arts), Theological Science (Master of Theological Science), Theological Studies (Master of Arts), Theology and Christian Ministry (Master of Arts).

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

Theology, 19%

Business (six programs of study), 13%

Nursing and Education (tied), 11%

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. The Theology Department, Center for Leadership, Catechetical Institute, Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, the Friday Academic Lecture Series, and many other academic and student life programs bring dozens of noted Catholic theologians and prominent speakers to campus each year. Past speakers include Dr. Paul Vitz, Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, Dr. Deborah Savage, recently retired Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia, Dr. Peter Kreeft, Fr. Peter Cameron, OP, George Weigel, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Bishop Arthur Serratelli, and Raymond Cardinal Burke. In addition, the Science and Faith, Society of Catholic Social Scientists, Media and Faith, Bioethics, and Christian Philosophy Conferences also allow students to engage theological and cultural questions with world-renowned scholars. Events have included: A fall 2016 symposium on Pope Francis’ Vision for the Renewal of the Church, a colloquium on St. Junipero Serra, a symposium on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical, a symposium on Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and a discussion on marriage and divorce with Raymond Cardinal Burke. The Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life brings faithful Catholic scholarship to bear on the most pressing ethical issues of the day through professors who write for popular and scholarly publications and by hosting conferences. Many other speakers sponsored by academic disciplines or student clubs also bring the Catholic perspective to today’s biggest issues.

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

No. It is not the case that, strictly speaking, this is a contractual requirement of our faculty generally.  However, there are a variety of ways in which the university encourages interdisciplinary activities.  We have many faculty in one department who will teach a course or two in another department.  Many different departments provide professors for the honors program.  We also host interdisciplinary conferences and symposia in which faculty from a variety of disciplines participate. For example, in Spring 2016 Franciscan hosted an inter-disciplinary symposium on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. Finally, we have a Center for Teaching and Learning that facilitates interdepartmental conversations on pedagogy.

Additional programs of study information, clarification, or description:

Austrian Study Abroad Program: After their freshman year, all Franciscan students have the opportunity to study for a semester in the Austrian Program. They live and study in a beautifully restored 14th-century Carthusian monastery and take classes taught in English by Franciscan’s professors. More:

Center for Leadership: This four-year program prepares young Catholics to serve their country and the Church in business, politics, media, education, health care, and every occupation proper to Christian laity. Students are exposed to lectures, readings, discussion, mentorship, and experiential learning while they continue their degree and receive competitive scholarships based on their participation.

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

Yes. Sixteen priests, Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular, Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, reside at Holy Spirit Friary on the Franciscan University campus and administer the sacraments and provide spiritual direction.

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

Four friars serve full-time, 40-hours a week or more, in student ministry positions of University chaplain, vice president of Franciscan Life, Counseling Services, and director of the Priestly Discernment Program.  In addition to teaching and administrative duties, 12 priests administer the sacraments, provide spiritual direction, and are available to students in their roles as assistant University chaplain, sports team chaplains, advisors of a Faith Household, residence hall chaplains, mission trip advisors, Student Life pastoral assistants, and other ministries.

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

The Franciscan friars who oversee Franciscan University seek to further the work of St. Francis of Assisi “who unreservedly followed the crucified and risen Christ and the Gospel preaching repentance and conversion for the salvation of all.” Their primary Franciscan value is metanoia—ongoing conversion, which they constantly preach and model to the students in their roles as chaplains, ministers of the sacraments, administrators, and teachers.

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

The University Chaplain is appointed by the TOR priest serving as president of Franciscan University. The chaplain is always a member of the Franciscan TORs and takes the Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium. The position of chaplain is recognized by the Diocese of Steubenville.

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)


Please describe the campus ministers who are not priests.

In addition to 16 priests, Franciscan usually has four FOCUS ministers who serve as campus ministers, and sisters from these religious orders: the Franciscan Sisters TOR of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother, the Daughters of Holy Mary of the Heart of Jesus, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, and Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. There is also a lay staff of campus ministers that includes a director of Missionary Outreach who coordinates spring and summer mission trips, Austria campus mission trips, local “Works of Mercy” during the school year, and SENT retreat ministry), a coordinator of Faith Households (50 small faith-sharing groups), and a director of Evangelization (Born in the Spirit Retreats, men’s ministry, women’s ministry).

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?

Approximately 700 attend on campus; others attend daily Mass off campus at nearby parishes.

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

Yes, the Extraordinary Form Mass is offered one Sunday per month, with the Sacred Music Program providing the music through the Schola Cantorum Franciscana ensemble.

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


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.):

Mo 6:30 a.m., 12:05 p.m., 4:45 p.m.

Tu 6:30 a.m., 12:05 p.m., 4:45 p.m.

We 6:30 a.m., 12:05 p.m., 4:45 p.m.

Th 6:30 a.m., 12:05 p.m., 4:45 p.m.

Fr 6:30 a.m., 12:05 p.m., 4:45 p.m.

Sa pro-life Mass at 6:30 a.m., Saturday Mass at 11:00 a.m.

Su 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m.

Most Masses are celebrated in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. There is no music at the 6:30 a.m. Mass; music at the other Masses varies from traditional to contemporary and is led by student musicians. There is one sung High Mass per month at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. The music (chant and sacred polyphony) is provided by the Schola Cantorum Franciscana, an ensemble of the Sacred Music Program. A Spanish Mass is offered monthly on Thursdays at 4:45 p.m.

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


List the schedule for Confession by day and time:

Mo 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Tu 3:30-4:30 p.m.

We 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Fr 10:45-11:45 a.m.

Sat: 10:00 – 11:15 a.m.

Or by Appointment

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

Yes, 24-hour adoration during the fall and spring semesters.

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

The Portiuncula Chapel has 24/7 Eucharistic Adoration each semester. By the generosity of the Vatican Office of the Apostolic Penitentiary, visitors to the Port can receive plenary indulgences on any of five different occasions through the year.

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

Community Rosary, Monday-Friday, 11:00 a.m; Liturgy of the Hours, 7:15 a.m. weekdays, Sundays, 7:00 p.m.; Sung Vespers; Morning Prayer, weekdays; Divine Mercy Chaplet, 3:00 p.m. weekdays; Akathist (Byzantine ritual) biweekly, Monday, 6:00 p.m.; Spanish devotion, weekly; All-Campus Holy Hour with Divine Mercy Chaplet, 3:00 p.m., first Friday of each month. Weekly Praise and Worship, Tuesday evenings at 9:00 p.m.;  Festival of Praise monthly, Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

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

Yes, many retreats are offered each semester by Chapel Ministry, the Office of Evangelization, and other campus groups. In addition, Faith Households and NCAA teams sponsor annual retreats for their members.

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

About 40 men per year participate in the Priestly Discernment Program. Daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic Adoration, small-group sharing, formation conferences, and apostolic and liturgical ministries all help these men grow as brothers and servants of God’s people as they discern our Lord’s call. Men who complete the philosophy and theology course work are eligible to receive a Priestly Discernment Program Certificate, which assures bishops, religious superiors, and vocations directors that the student has received the formation required for major seminary.

The annual Religious Vocations Awareness Fair, always well-attended by students, draws more than 70 representatives from diocesan vocations offices and religious orders. While there is no formal vocation program for women, Mary, Spouse of the Spirit Household organizes monthly Holy Hours and discernment days for those considering a religious vocation.

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


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.

Since 2004, more than 115 Franciscan graduates who discerned and prepared for the priesthood through the University’s Priestly Discernment Program have entered seminary or a religious order.

Three Franciscan graduates currently serve as bishops, including Bishop Michael Gielen, who was ordained auxiliary bishop of Aukland, New Zealand in 2020; other alumni can be found in just about every area of Church ministry.

Harder to track are the number of priestly vocations of men who attended Franciscan University but were not enrolled in a formal discernment program. A recent survey found that more than 400 Franciscan graduates currently serve the Church in the priesthood. All told, Franciscan has sent more than 700 alums into the world who have become bishops, priests, and religious brothers and sisters.

One religious community, the Franciscan Sisters, TOR, of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother, was founded in 1988 by Franciscan University graduates and today its 36 members include many Franciscan graduates. Many other women who attended Franciscan University have entered a wide range of religious communities.

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


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

Campus Ministry volunteers:

Over 300 students volunteer in campus ministry as ushers, servers, music ministry, sacristans, extraordinary ministers of holy communion, sacred art, Martha and Mary Ministry, and other roles.

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

Students may live in residence halls or apartments on campus. Students may secure their own housing off campus if they meet age and credit requirements, or if they are local commuters living with their parents.

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?

100% of students living on-campus live in single-sex residence halls or single-sex apartments.

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?

Visitation hours with the opposite sex in residence hall lounges, common rooms, and kitchens are: Main Lounges: Sun-Thurs, 8:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m.; Fri-Sat, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m.; All Other Common Areas: Sun-Thurs, 12:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.; Fri-Sat, 12:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m. Visiting outside these specified hours or inside a student room behind a closed door is considered a violation of the Student Code.

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?)

Yes. Students of the opposite sex may visit student dorm rooms during Open House hours, which are held from 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. on Sundays.

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

Doors must be propped open when a member of the opposite sex is visiting during Open House hours.

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

Through preaching, retreats, household life, programs, and personal witness, the University strives to foster a culture of ongoing conversion that encourages students to grow in virtue, holiness, and Christian maturity with respect to alcohol. For example, the New Student Formation series includes issues related to sobriety and substance abuse. Campus Counseling Services, mentoring, and referrals to AA groups are also available for those struggling with problem drinking.

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

The residence life culture supports Christian moral behavior. Through preaching, retreats, household life, programs, and personal witness, the University strives to foster a culture of ongoing conversion that encourages students to grow in virtue, holiness, and Christian maturity with respect to sexuality. Residence hall visitation policies support chaste habits and decisions.

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

In addition to a wealth of campus-wide programming, Residence Life staff and households sponsor dozens of spiritual programs in the residence halls each year. Masses are held twice each month in each residence hall. Each residence hall also has a Eucharistic Chapel available for personal prayer.

Additional Residence Life information, clarification, or description (optional):

Over 50 faith households operate in the residence halls. Households are groups of men or women who choose to support each other in their academic and spiritual lives. Open to students of all ages and academic majors, households form the social and spiritual fabric of residence life at Franciscan University. Priests and religious sisters serve in the residence halls as chaplains and pastoral ministers, providing sacramental ministry, spiritual direction, and pastoral care.

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

…foster spiritual development:

Growing in faith and love for Jesus Christ and the Church is an integral part of education at Franciscan University.  The presence of the Franciscan friars and sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance (TOR) contributes to the unique character of campus life and spirituality. The University’s Office of Evangelization undertakes an ambitious program of evangelization events and serves as a resource for other campus-based groups focused on spiritual development.  The Festivals of Praise, held monthly, are student-initiated and student-led gatherings for those open to the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit through song, exhortation, and inspirational sharing. Households are Spirit-empowered, Christ-led groups of three or more Franciscan University students who seek to do the will of the Father in their lives. About 50 households operate on campus. These communities desire to help members grow in body, mind, and spirit through mutual support and accountability in the ongoing conversion process exemplified in the life of St. Francis.

SENT Ministry is an outreach of Franciscan University which promotes the Gospel of Jesus Christ through retreat ministry.  Students train to give weekend retreats, youth rallies, and Confirmation day retreats each semester as part of the SENT team.  Several student-founded, student-led organizations have a particular spiritual or liturgical focus, including the Byzantine Club, Militia Immaculata, and Voice of the Martyrs Club.

…engage in corporal works of mercy:

Works of Mercy, an outreach of Franciscan University, enables students to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the hungry, sick, imprisoned, homeless, and strangers in the Ohio Valley and nearby Pittsburgh.  Through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, students actively participate in caring for those in need.  Through the Nursing Home Ministry students spend time listening, sharing, praying, and developing personal relationships with the residents of several area nursing facilities.  Students bring the love of Jesus Christ to needy and homeless people through a variety of ministries, including outreach to the homeless in Steubenville and Pittsburgh as well as providing meals through the Urban Mission’s Unity Kitchen.  The sick and needy are served through the Friendship Room, Men’s Mission House and Street Evangelization, prison ministry, Unity Kitchen, and other outreaches.  Other ministry programs are focused on assisting youth through the local Boys and Girls Clubs, Music in Our Schools Program, and the Urban Mission’s Children’s Ministry and Youth Group. Mary’s Meals FUS supports international efforts to set up school feeding projects in communities where poverty and hunger are prevalent.

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

Talks coordinated by the University’s Student Life Office address a range of issues including sexuality, dating, and marriage. The series is rooted in the University’s commitment to promote the moral, spiritual, and religious values of its students and includes presentations on related teachings of the Catholic Church. The Gift of Human Sexuality Symposium is a series of presentations that tackle contemporary sexuality issues such as the hook-up culture, counterfeit love, pornography, and same-sex attraction. The popular series enriches students’ understanding of the Catholic principles that uphold the goods of marriage, family, and sexual integrity. Students for Life, the University’s largest student-run organization, promotes a greater respect for the dignity of all human life, from the moment of conception to natural death. Members are dedicated to prayer, offer education in schools and parishes, conduct weekly peaceful prayer vigils at area abortion clinics, support local crisis pregnancy centers, and participate in the annual March for Life.

…address issues of social concern:

Several student organizations have a particular focus on social concerns, including those previously mentioned in regard to their dedication to upholding the sanctity of all human life, marriage, and the family as well as promotion of sexual integrity. The Knights of Columbus student chapter is committed to fostering charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism.  Others promote student awareness of injustices throughout the world, and work toward their resolution in a manner consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Missions of Peace, a student outreach of Franciscan University, sponsors domestic and international mission trips organized, planned, and funded by the students themselves.  Students generously share their time and talent while on mission through various service outreaches—youth ministries, chastity presentations, prayer services, home improvement projects, village ministries, medical outreaches, and other apostolic endeavors. Among domestic trips are those to large metropolitan locations including The Bronx and Chicago as well as those to rural American Indian populations. Foreign missions are undertaken to Jamaica, Ecuador, and Honduras, among others.

…address particular academic interests:

Academic departments sponsor numerous student-led clubs providing opportunities for students to further their education beyond the classroom through meetings, on-campus activities, off-campus events, and real-life applications coinciding with their academic pursuits. Students are involved in over 14 such groups including the Chemistry Club, Chi Sigma Iota (Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program), Chiron Society (Education Dept.), Christian Students in Free Enterprise (Business Dept.), Christopher Dawson Society (Humanities and Catholic Culture Dept.), Debate Club (English Dept.), Gemelli Society (Psychology Dept.), Graduate Counseling Association (Graduate Counseling Dept.) Instruments of Peace (Social Work Dept.), Political Science Association, Student Council for Exceptional Children (Education Dept.), Sigma Tau Delta (Education Dept.), and The Troubadour Student Newspaper (Communication Arts Dept.).

…address particular cultural interests:

Over a dozen student-led organizations provide opportunities for members and others to pursue their cultural interests and employ their talents. Among them several have a unique ethnic focus including German and Latino groups.  Others are centered on dance, including the Irish Dancers club, the fine arts, animation, board games, comedy, drama, literature, music, or film. One student group is specifically engaged in the promotion of unity among Christians by means of private and common prayer, personal dialogue, fellowship, service, and education, with particular emphasis on ecumenism among other colleges, according to the vision of the Catholic Church.

…provide opportunities for athletic pursuits:

Franciscan University fields 18 Baron varsity teams and is a member of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC), NCAA Division III for men’s and women’s basketball, track and field, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, cross country, baseball, women’s swimming and diving, volleyball, softball, and golf. The rugby team is in the Three Rivers Rugby Conference.

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

American Red Cross, Anime Club, Baron Pep Band, Board Game Club, Byzantine Club, Chemistry Club, Chesterton Society, Christian Students in Free Enterprise, Christopher Dawson Society, Engineering Club, Faith, Family and Smash Brothers Club, Fr. Michael Scanlan Scholarship Society, Filipinos for Christ, French Club, Gadfly, German Club, Hounds of the Lord: Dominican Spirituality Group, Intercollegiate Defense of Equality and Solidarity, International Coffee Club, Instruments of Peace, Irish Dancers, Juventutem Club, Knitting Nook, Life Runners, Mary’s Meals, Mercy through Mary Club, Militia Immaculata Musical Theatre Troupe, Outdoors Club, Philosophy Club, Political Science Association, Pre‐Medicine Club, Pre-Physical Therapy Club, Psi Chi Honor Society, Pun Intended, Rock Climbing Club, ROTC, St. Justin Martyr Debate Club, St. Vitus Social Dance Club, Sigma Tau Delta, Student Creative Arts Network, Student Government, Student Leadership Association, Veritas Society, Voice of the Martyrs Club, Young Americans for Freedom.

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

Franciscan University is a member of the  NCAA Division III and competes in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC). The rugby team competes in the National Small College Rugby Organzation and plays in the 3 Rivers Rugby Conference.

What athletic teams are offered for men and women?

Franciscan fields 18 Baron varsity teams; men—basketball, cross country, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, tennis, track & field, and baseball; women—basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, golf, and volleyball.

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

Franciscan’s thriving intramural program, which includes flag football, volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, basketball, and futsal, allows many students who are not on an NCAA team to participate in competitive sports at levels that match their interests and abilities.

Franciscan intercollegiate athletics is guided by the motto: Faith. Virtue. Knowledge. Self Control. Student-athletes are formed spiritually, emotionally, and physically in many ways. In addition to a chaplain who oversees all Baron athletic programs, most teams have their own chaplain and participate in a retreat at the start of the school year. Every team prays together before the game, most  also attend Mass as a team on game days, and it is a long-standing tradition for all Baron teams to invite the opposing team to pray with them following the game. While driving to away games, the teams pray the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and other prayers.

Franciscan University has embraced a philosophy that a well-rounded athletics program including intercollegiate, intramural, and recreational sports as well as wellness programming, should be offered as a part of its educational mission.  Toward that end, the University partners with SportsLeader, a Catholic virtue-based formation program that charges each varsity coach to be involved in the spiritual growth of their student-athletes. The program incorporates the four pillars of virtue, mentoring, ceremony, and Catholic identity.

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?

If a student club or activity conflicts with Catholic teaching, the responsible students and the club itself are subject to disciplinary action. Serious or repeated conflicts with Catholic teaching would result in the deactivation of the club.

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?

Through a firewall “URL filtering” feature that is constantly maintained and updated, Information Technology Services enforces an Acceptable Use Policy that prohibits accessing obscene and pornographic materials. Library patrons must adhere to the same Acceptable Use Policy. All Bookstore materials adhere to the mission of Franciscan University and the teachings of the Catholic Church as found in the Catechism.

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

Student leadership development is fostered through over 100 student clubs, households, and organizations. A Student Leadership Conference is hosted on campus each January to teach and inspire student leadership. The Center for Leadership sponsors campus speakers and provides co-curricular formation for select students that fosters virtues, imparts knowledge, and cultivates practical skills necessary for effective, lifelong Christian leadership.

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)


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?

Complete Mission Statement:

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)


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

The president of Franciscan University reserves the right to deny approval for any guest speaker to make a presentation on campus whose appearance or remarks, in the judgment of the president or his designee, would compromise the University’s mission or “promote propositions and values contrary to Catholic teaching” (Franciscan University Mission III.A.3.).

Additional Institutional Identity information, clarification, or description (optional):

Mission Summary

Our mission as a Franciscan and Catholic university that embraces the call to dynamic orthodoxy is to educate, to evangelize, and to send forth joyful disciples.


To become the leading instrument for worldwide renewal at the service of the Catholic Church.

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: 2,242 (including online)

Male: 41% Female: 59%

Catholic: 99% Other Christian: 1%

Number of states represented: 50

Top three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, California

Students from top three states: 38%

Catholic HS: 34%  Homeschool: 19%

Private HS: 10%  Public HS:  37%

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

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

Franciscan students come from all 50 states and 18 foreign countries. The top 10 states are: Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, Texas, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, and Connecticut.

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. The by-laws state 100 percent of our members must be 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)

Yes. In addition, members of the Board of Trustees took the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity in 2016. New trustees are invited to take the oath and profession, which are administered at a Mass at the start of each school year.

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

The Board of Trustees is comprised of 25 members and chaired by the Franciscan TOR Minister Provincial. At least six other members must be TOR Franciscan Friars with the balance being lay Catholics, or other religious or priests.

A Message from the President

Peace and Blessings!

The day I stepped foot on the campus of Franciscan University of Steubenville as a young college student, I never imagined I would one day become its seventh president. My journey to Franciscan University is just one example of how life-changing Franciscan University can be!

As you read the Cardinal Newman Society profile about Franciscan University, you will learn of the many ways Franciscan is academically excellent and passionately Catholic. This mission is something we don’t take lightly. Be it rigorous study of Christian ethics in a business class or a walk down Constitution Avenue with Franciscan students at the March for Life, our 70-plus academic programs and student life activities are ultimately designed to help you develop your God-given gifts and talents and lead you closer to Jesus Christ as well as preparing you to be at the service of the Catholic Church.  Whether you’re called to be a lawyer, nurse, teacher, or entrepreneur, or you are still uncertain of your future career, all Catholics are called to build up the Church and minister to the Body of Christ. Franciscan is committed to forming you for such a calling.

I invite you to come for a visit and experience for yourself the Christ-centered joy that permeates our campus. Sit in on a class in the academic program you hope to major in, or in a core curriculum course in theology, philosophy, art, history, human biology, science, psychology, or others. Go to our 12:05 p.m. Mass. Watch our Baron athletes in action. Spend the night as our guest in a residence hall, and discover what it’s like to take part in the daily rhythm of a faithful Catholic university.

As you look for the school that is the right fit for you, I urge you to add one more thing to your discernment: time in prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. There, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and show you his path for this next phase of your life.

Know that my Franciscan brothers and I are praying for you, and if this is the right community for you, we will gladly welcome you to Franciscan University!


Father Dave Pivonka, TOR
President, Franciscan University of Steubenville

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