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Catholic Education Programs

The foundation of the School of Education’s Catholic education programs is based on the Catholic, Jesuit identity of Saint Louis University.

These programs aim to:

  • Continue the Catholic faith through future generations.
  • Create sustainability and equity for a viable future in Catholic schools.
  • Recruit and support change leaders.

The Catholic education programs at SLU embrace three areas of focus: teaching programs, leadership programs and local outreach.  Key programs include:

Teaching Programs

Billiken Teacher Corps

Bus and BTC students

The Billiken Teacher Corps (BTC) is a unique service-learning opportunity for faith-driven college graduates to have a transformative impact in under-resourced Catholic schools in the St. Louis area. For two years, the fellows live in an intentional faith community while teaching full-time and earning their Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree with full tuition remission. As of spring 2021, there are 29 alumni of the BTC program; 93% of these alums are employed in education. Billiken Teacher Corps alums often continue their studies in doctoral education programs at SLU, increasing their impact in the community.


Students sitting at desks

The School of Education offers a unique opportunity through the Chris Collins, S.J., Future Urban Teachers Scholarship. The endowed scholarship provides tuition support to students in the School of Education who commit to teach in an urban school, with first consideration given to students whose passion is to teach in urban Catholic schools. The grant allows us to recruit and enroll a larger and more diverse group of students who wish to serve in our region and support Catholic schools.

Catholic Programs in Educational Leadership

Graduate programs in educational leadership at SLU have a far-reaching impact by serving students in St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Oklahoma City. Specialized master's and doctoral degree programs are offered for lay Catholic school administrators and lay religious educators.

Educational Leadership, M.A.

Student meeting with instructor

The Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Catholic education is designed to prepare students for school-level leadership positions in Catholic schools.

Educational Leadership, Ed.D.

Students sitting at desks

The Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Catholic education is designed to prepare students to become executive-level leaders in Catholic education.

Local Outreach

Access Academies

Teacher and student sitting at desk talking

Access Academies at Saint Louis University propels middle school students in urban Catholic schools who have been historically underserved through high school and on to college and career success. Access provides enrichment programs, counseling in middle and high school, and scholarships for high school. 

Access Academies was founded in 2005 by a small group of St. Louisans convinced that education was the most enduring path out of poverty. Embracing an innovative model emphasizing extended school days, a challenging enrichment curriculum, and hands-on counseling, they started the first academy with 15 students in a single South City middle school. Today, Access partners with three middle schools and 25 private high schools, serving more than 500 students across the St. Louis metropolitan area.

In 2020, Access Academies integrated its successful middle school enrichment and high school and college support programs into Saint Louis University’s School of Education. Doing so strengthened SLU’s connection to students in local Catholic schools and their surrounding neighborhoods, and allowed Access to leverage the School of Education’s expertise.


Teacher and student high five

The School of Education partners with several local Catholic schools and organizations, offering guidance and expertise to these institutions. For example, Ronny O'Dwyer, S.J., the former assistant to the dean for Catholic school initiatives, is the president of De Smet Jesuit High School. This impactful leadership role will enhance the connection between the two St. Louis Jesuit schools.

As a board member of the Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation, Gary Ritter, Ph.D., dean of the School of Education, guides an organization that assists faith-based and private elementary schools in providing quality, affordable and accessible educational opportunities for economically disadvantaged families.

John James, Ed.D., Professor, serves on the executive committee and as chair of the academic affairs committee of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary  Board of Trustees.  He also serves as a member of both the parish pastoral council and the parish finance council of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Webster Groves, Missouri.