Jesuit School and a Catholic School

What Is the Difference Between Jesuit School and Catholic School?

Maybe you want to enroll to a religious school and in your research for the best, you’ve heard that there are Jesuit schools and Catholic schools. And now, you’re looking to understand the difference between the two so you can make the right choice. In the next few moments, we will do our best to help you understand the difference between the two and assist you in figuring out what suits you better.


In simple words, a Jesuit school is a school that is run by Jesuits. Now, you might be wondering – who are Jesuits?

Okay, a Jesuit is a Society of Jesus member that has offered himself to the Catholic church and to a life of service to God. The most notable thing about Jesuits is that they focus on emulating the life of Jesus to serve God, thus the term “Jesuit”.

A catholic church, on the other hand, is a somewhat closeminded learning institution operated by the Catholic Church.

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The numbers

The Society of Jesus runs 380 high schools and 190 institutions of higher learning. Apart from the colleges, there are grade schools that are also classified as Jesuit. The Jesuit Schools Network asserts that there are 85 K-12 schools educating around 50000 youths annually.

The Catholic schools, on the other hand, are around 95200 (primary) and 43800 (secondary). And, according to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the church runs around 1861 higher learning institutions.


Some of the most popular Jesuit colleges and universities are:

  • Georgetown University
  • Boston College
  • John Carroll University
  • Gonzaga University

That is to name but a few. For a complete list, go here

The best Catholic colleges and universities include:

  • University of Notre Dame
  • Georgetown University
  • Villanova University
  • Boston College


Jesuit schools are run by Jesuits. Mostly, these schools are colleges and universities, and as at the moment, they are 28 in the US, and 190 in the whole world. The priests of Society of Jesus (there are 16000 male priests across the globe) are committed to spreading the gospel through ministry in teaching, social justice, and other apostolic works.

Catholic schools, are on the other hand, run by the Catholic church. Mostly, Catholic elementary schools are run by local parish communities while Catholic secondary schools are run by an archdiocese, a diocese or a religious institute attached to a Catholic university.

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Religious mandate

Jesuit schools are Catholic in that they’re under the Catholic umbrella, as a more liberal sub-category.

Like liberal arts colleges, Jesuit colleges aim at ensuring the education learners receive has meaning and leaves a positive impact in their lives. That is, they gain life skills and grow into free-thinkers.

According to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Jesuit schooling is based on the liberal arts tradition. The schooling system focuses on imparting important skills such as critical thinking in the learners through rigorous academic standards, high-quality teaching, and scholarships.

But note, Jesuit schools are tied to the Catholic church and are expected to act according to the basic Catholic principles and they’re answerable to the local bishop.

Catholic schools are not as liberal, and this is the main difference between a Jesuit school and a Catholic school. Jesuit schools train their students liberally and encourage critical thinking.

Though they adhere to the basic Catholic principles, they center on training learners to become free thinkers. Catholic schools are not as liberal. They are more closedminded, basing their trainings more deeply in religion.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

     1. Are there prominent Jesuits today?

Yes. The Jesuit movement, or rather the Society of Jesus, was founded by St. Ignatius back in the 16th century. Today, the most well-known Society of Jesus member is Pope Francis.

     2. What does the Jesuit education focus on?

One very unique aspect about Jesuit education is that it’s centered on helping learners discover themselves. It does that by designing personalized education environments where students are encouraged to try discovering their talents with an assortment of classes. That way, students are able to gain mastery of their main subjects while exploring arts, sciences, and humanities.

     3. Do students of Catholic and Jesuit schools have to attend church services?

Normally, these schools encourage their students to deepen their faith, though participation in religious services is not mandatory. You will find most students, even the non-Catholic ones, attending the Sunday mass in their schools.

     4. Do Catholic schools teach religion in the classroom?

Typically, all the undergraduate students are needed to pick a few religious studies courses, like three. As a student, you may, for instance, pick Asian Religious Traditions, Shia Islam, and Environmental Justice (in Catholic Imagination). The sense in it is, the skills you gain in these courses help you in figuring how everyday-issues like economics go about.

     5. Are Catholic schools for Catholics alone?

No. Even though the hugest portion of students in Catholic schools is normally composed of Catholics, there is often a whole lot of learners from non-Catholic or even pagan backgrounds.

Final Verdict

In the US, Catholic schools make up the biggest network of non-public schools. These institutions are typically accredited by both state and independent agencies, and tutors are usually certified.

The students who get enrolled there don’t have to be Catholic. The tuition fees that these students pay along with money obtained from fundraising, constitutes the primary source of funding for these schools.

If you want to be a very smart priest and would like to receive high-quality religious education that inspires you to reason critically, then it’d be better to go to a Jesuit school. What we like most about Jesuit schools is their Jesuit teachers; they’re some of the most intelligent people on earth, we believe. Be warned though – Jesuit studies are known to be tougher than those of other colleges.

On the other hand, if you want to be an ordinary priest and don’t want to go through the troubles of tough studies, then an ordinary Catholic school would be a fine choice. 

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