Too Catholic?

I recognize that there are already a number of threads on the levels of Catholic influence at Boston College, but I feel like everyone has a different view on what “too catholic” means. After doing research and some college tours, I’ve found that Seattle University, Georgetown, and LMU are all examples of Catholic schools that I would feel comfortable at. On the other hand, Notre Dame and Providence College are examples of schools that have too much of a religious influence for me to feel comfortable there. As a non-Christian, where do you all think Boston College falls on the spectrum of these Catholic schools?

I do not want to come across as having a bias against Catholics, but I just don’t want to be a central part of the college that I attend.

The Catholic presence at BC is less than at Notre Dame, more than at Georgetown in my opinion.

If you know anything about the school, how would you compare Providence College with BC?

Not familiar with PC.

Why are you interested in considering Catholic colleges if “too Catholic” is a concern? There are lots of other good choices. Not trying to be challenging to you; it just would be helpful to know to answer the question.

It might be helpful if you define “too Catholic”. I know several former BC and PC students, but I don’t really know what to respond to.

If the school is otherwise a good fit for you, I wouldn’t worry about it. Just as I wouldn’t worry about Brandeis being “too Jewish”. A great educational opportunity is a great opportunity regardless.

I just do not want religion to be a big part of my college experience, but if it is a minor presence on the campus I do not take issue with it. Meanwhile, if it is one of the defining characteristics of the school and the experience it offers, I do not think it is the ideal school for me. The reason I’m considering BC is because the size, location, and programs are all things that I am looking for in a college, and I know that BC has a strong academic reputation. Since it has so many positives for me, I don’t want to accidentally take BC off of my list if the religious component is less of a big deal than I think it is.

D20 (BC '24)toured BC, PC and Villanova. After touring PC and Villanova she dropped these school from her list, saying they felt too religious. After touring BC it rose to the top of her list. The culture of service at BC felt stronger to her than the religious aspect of the school. Of course this is just one student’s perspective. (We are catholic, but not super religious.)

Maybe look at the percentage of Catholic students at each school as one barometer? I imagine you can google that information.

You also might want to google the core curriculum at BC. As it is a Jesuit college I imagine you will need to take some theology and philosophy coursework.

According to my Google search, Boston College, Seattle U, Georgetown and LMU are Jesuit. Notre Dame and Providence College are Catholic. Even though Jesuits are Catholic, there is a difference both “technically” (as in the official affiliation of the college) and culturally. In general, Catholic schools (and even more so, Christian schools) have a stronger religious presence than Jesuit schools. ND in particular has some rules for students that are based in the tenets of the faith, called Parietals, regarding opposite sex guests.

It sounds like you are OK with the feel of Jesuit schools and not Catholic schools, which makes sense. The Jesuit culture overall is more a philosophy of service and education than pushing a certain religious faith, and the religious presence or pressure on a spectrum will be the lowest at Jesuit schools than at a Catholic or Christian school.

For reference, I’m a Catholic and a fan of Jesuit schools. I’ve visited several Jesuit schools including Georgetown, and, long ago, ND. My D attends a Jesuit school (LMU) even though she is not a practicing Catholic and did not want a religious feel to her school. She does appreciate, and enjoy, the Jesuit culture. Aside from its focus on service, education, and “Cura Personalis” (meaning ‘whole person’), Jesuit culture is also typically very accepting of all faiths (or no faith) and somewhat liberal.

From what I know, the Jesuit schools will have some religion OR ethics classes in their core curriculum, so check that out. It can be ANY religion or, as I mentioned, ethics (I believe GT offers ‘Do Dogs Go to Heaven?)’ There will be a chapel on campus, but you will not be required to go in there or to attend any services. You may see religious symbols around campus (such as the obvious, a Christmas tree, and/or crucifixes) and perhaps see some of the Jesuit brothers around campus. In my research and experience, you will not be pressured in any way to practice any religion. Your fellow students will be a varied mix of all faiths, no faith, some may practice, many do not. If you WANT to partake, it will be there, but you will not be pressured to.

I went to to PC and had many friends that went to BC so I visited there often . Also grew up about 15 minutes away from BC. I know lots of kids attending both schools currently. I would not say PC is any more religious than BC. Both have clergy on campus, both have theology requirements, and both are into service. Both will have masses on campus and many attend but just as many (if not more) do not attend. I honestly didn’t even know the religion of most of my classmates from PC, most were pretty apathetic, even the Catholic ones like me. Both schools have lots of kids that like to party but also work hard. PC did have pretty strict rules about single sex dorms and visitors of the opposite sex but not sure if those have been lifted over time.

Yes to both courses, but note, Philosophy is not religion or religious. It is a popular major at many secular and public schools (and great for pre-law, btw). The theology core can be completed with comparative religion coursework, which is more history/writing/critical thinking than is it Catholicism. When my D attended BC, her theology course was taught by a Professor who was Jewish. They compared/contrasted all of the world’s major religions. PL is strong at BC and bcos of students’ exposure to it thru Core, PL has become an extremely popular double major (~15% of A&S grads).

OP: there are quite a few non-Catholic students on campus who thrive during their four years. The Jesuit educational philosophy is much more than going to mass – it’s service to others. If you believe in service, BC can be a great choice.

But yes, more than half of the students are Catholic. That said, the joke by the Prez is that many only attend mass twice in 4 years (when the parents are on campus): initial convocation and graduation!

There are plenty of Jesuits and other religious at BC. Someone posted here on CC that they didn’t like the feel of BC because there were so many Religious seen walking around campus. Gee, it’s almost like they own the place (they DO!). There are about 150 priests with BC as their assignment, either staff, faculty, or students. There are also additional Religious around campus as nuns, priests, brothers attend school there.

I think some people are surprised just how much religion is incorporated into daily life. There are more than just a few crosses and statues around the place. The administration, the health care system (and insurance), the calendar incorporate the Catholic beliefs. If you can go with the flow, they are happy to have you and you will get a great education. There are beautiful buildings on campus, and they definitely ‘religious themed’ with stained glass windows and crosses.

But if you don’t like it, go to BU or MIT or Harvard.

I do find it curious that you don’t want a religious presence, but you’ve looked at BC, Georgetown, Providence, Notre Dame. It seems you DO want a religious school.

I do find it curious that you don’t want a religious presence, but you’ve looked at BC, Georgetown, Providence, Notre Dame. It seems you DO want a religious school.


I was just using Georgetown and Notre Dame as reference points for how much religious influence I am comfortable with a college having. I brought up PC because my college counselor thought it might be a good safety school, but when I researched it I decided it wouldn’t be a fit. I am looking at BC because I know that it has strong academics, I like the location, and I like the size. I don’t want to rule it out if my concerns about religion aren’t a big deal, which is why I posted this in the first place.

Thanks for clarifying. 40 courses are required for graduation, 2 in Theology. As Blue Bayou articulated very well, these can be taught from a variety of perspectives. You choose. I think it’s more that the religious stuff is there for those who want it but easy to ignore if you don’t.

It’s hard to know what is too much because that varies from person to person. But if you want to go to school in Boston at a university with excellent academics, and with schools from A&S to Business, Education, and Nursing, this is a great choice. It’s in a great neighborhood with easy access downtown. Smaller than BU and Northeastern but a little bigger than the other well known Boston campuses.

I think that the Catholic piece shows up most in the lack of diversity - 75+% white, 5-6% each for Asians, African Americans, and Latinos. A lot of upper middle class suburban white kids.

I think that BC fits into a niche, regardless of religion. Harvard and MIT are impossible to get into. BU is bigger and has less of a campus feel. There are a lot of things to like about BC that have nothing to do with religion and are otherwise hard to find otherwise in Boston. It has excellent academics and more of a focus on undergraduate education than a lot of research universities.

If you have to ask then it probably is too Catholic for you. Religion is similar to political persuasion, a school that has a religion of liberalism or conservatism will be disagreeable to a person of the opposite view. It sounds like Catholicism is that way for you so you will be better off going to a school that does not have a religious leaning.

Middle/upper class kids, sure. 15% Pell grantees

But your race/ethnicity numbers are off per ipeds:

58% white
10% Asian (and this number has been increasing btw)
11% Hispanic
4% Black
3% multiple race

For comparison, the US is 72% white, 4% Asian

I teach at a Jesuit and I’m not even baptized so I guess I don’t consider Jesuit colleges “churchy”. I agree that Jesuit is more focused on service learning and helping out others. They take a more holistic approach to learning and to people overall. Many of the priests and such on my campus are teaching. I agree that they are open to all faiths and are passionate about learning in general. I’ve worked with several priests and didn’t even realize they were priests honestly.

I live in providence and my d22 attends BC. Service to others especially the poor and vulnerable is a big Jesuit tradition at bc. Especially around clubs.

One of the larger student events last year was an organized effort to take all of the seats during a prolife event where prochoice students would silently sit in the crowd. Totally ok by admin and other students. Polite but spoke their mind.

I’m not promoting anything but showed the ability to speak views without regard to pushback. IMHO

Largest student group on campus are the young democrats. And most popular retreat is Kairos. Definitely a Jesuit and spiritual weekend. So there is a nice mix. Students are more into sports school and social life like anywhere else.

There’s also 1000 international students primarily from China and South Korea.

I agree with tomsr. A little bit more pronounced than Georgetown. Less so than nd. It’s there if you want it. Or it can mean little.

PC is a Dominican order. Just different. But you can have a secular experience too. Great little campus and fun town. It’s just an overall smaller feel and perhaps that may make it feel that way to you. Like holy cross.

But they all will be pretty much the same. Most guys I know who went to either were more worried about a Sunday morning hangover than getting to mass. Although I’m only speaking from my perspective.

Both are correct. But good catch nonetheless.

My numbers were from the US Dept of Education. Checking back, the most recent year the site I used provided was 2017-18. The numbers you provided are from the more recent 2018-19 year. I don’t know why the numbers varied so much from one year to the next.

The annual numbers are available on the BC website, going back half a dozen years or so.