Catholic, Jesuit Identity

In 1818, Catholic Bishop Louis William DuBourg founded Saint Louis University, the first institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River. Less than a decade later, the Society of Jesus assumed control of the University. Ever since, the Catholic and Jesuit traditions have guided the University to serve a higher purpose and to seek the greater good.

SLU Jesuits

Making the World a Better Place

Saint Louis University follows the Jesuit traditions of educating the whole person — mind, body and spirit — and preparing students to make the world a better place.

At SLU, we encourage asking hard questions and looking beyond easy answers. What does ethical leadership look like in the 21st century? How can we help improve the lives of the incarcerated or underprivileged children in St. Louis? How do we work to end systemic racial inequity?

How does Jesuit Education Work?

SLU doesn’t just talk the talk — we walk the walk. Our undergraduates are encouraged to take a broad range of classes, and every major is founded upon a core curriculum that includes theology and philosophy. But whatever the topic, students learn to defend ideas and to improve upon them, developing the skills to think clearly, argue persuasively and express themselves coherently.

Inspired by the Jesuit call to be men and women for others, at SLU ideas become actions, and serving others is a way of life. More than 80 of SLU’s courses directly integrate service into academic content. Outside of the classroom, students, faculty and staff members devote more than 1.6 millions hours to community service annually, including more than 20,000 hours in one day.

In and out of class, on campus and around the globe, SLU students come to see the future as a wondrous opportunity for growth and good works.

Explore SLU's Mission 

Catholic Faith Tradition

Guided by the Roman Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus, Saint Louis University encourages all students, faculty and staff to discover truth that is accessible by way of both faith and reason.

clocktower fountain
SLU is recognized as one of the country’s top 10 Catholic colleges by Niche, a college rankings website. From our Institute of Catholic Education to our minor in Catholic Studies, we’re committed to Catholic education at all levels.

We offer ample opportunities to worship, participate in the sacraments and grow in faith. The 9 p.m. Sunday Mass at St. Francis Xavier College Church consistently draws more than 800 students each week. Mass is celebrated daily at St. Francis Xavier College Church and throughout the week in residence hall chapels. SLU’s Department of Campus Ministry sponsors retreats, service opportunities and mission trips, as well as groups devoted to faith­-sharing and prayer.

Welcoming All Faiths and Religions

People from every religious identity, practice or tradition are welcome at SLU. Student groups such as the Interfaith Alliance and campus ministry’s affiliate minister program encourage the spirituality of all members of the SLU community.