This article will compare and contrast two Catholic universities located on the East Coast of the United States – Bellarmine University and Fairfield University. Both schools have a liberal arts focus and were founded in the mid-20th century. Though the two institutions share some similarities, they also have key differences that prospective students should consider when deciding between Fairfield and Bellarmine. This guide looks at various factors like academics, campus life, admissions standards, and affordability to provide an overview of each university. While Bellarmine is located in Kentucky and Fairfield in Connecticut, both offer a traditional college campus environment. Read on to learn more about the history, student experiences, and rankings of these two private Catholic schools. Whether you’re looking for strong academic programs, Division I sports, or a lively social atmosphere, this comparison aims to help you determine if Bellarmine or Fairfield is the best fit.
Bellarmine University is a private Catholic university in Louisville, Kentucky. It was founded in 1950 by Archbishop John A. Floersh and named after Cardinal Robert Bellarmine. The university was established on the former grounds of Our Lady of Mercy Academy, which closed in 1949. It originally opened with an enrollment of 125 students.
In 1968, Bellarmine merged with Ursuline College, an all-women’s school established in 1922. This allowed Bellarmine to begin admitting women. Bellarmine continued expanding with the addition of new colleges and buildings over the next several decades. Some key milestones include becoming a university in 2000 and moving to NCAA Division I athletics in 2005. Today, Bellarmine enrolls over 4,000 students across its undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.
Fairfield University is a private Jesuit university in Fairfield, Connecticut. It was founded in 1942 by the Society of Jesus with an inaugural class of 303 students. In the aftermath of World War II, the Jesuits sought to establish a new college that would promote service, social consciousness, and leadership. The university was built on the former estate of brewery magnate Matilda Joslyn Gage.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Fairfield saw rapid growth in enrollment, faculty, and facilities. The first school of business was established in 1953. In 1970, the university began admitting women to its College of Arts and Sciences, becoming fully coeducational. Today, Fairfield enrolls around 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students across its five schools and colleges. The university has developed national recognition for its academic programs, Division I athletics, and picturesque campus.
Bellarmine University is located in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky and sits along the Ohio River. Bellarmine’s campus sits in a residential area about 5 miles east of downtown Louisville. The city of Louisville offers Bellarmine students urban amenities alongside suburban neighborhood charm.
Fairfield University is situated in the coastal town of Fairfield, Connecticut. Fairfield is located in Fairfield County, about 50 miles northeast of New York City. The town has a population of around 60,000 residents. Fairfield University’s 200-acre campus sits atop a hill overlooking the Long Island Sound. The seaside location provides Fairfield students with access to beaches as well as proximity to New York City.
Bellarmine University and Fairfield University are both private Catholic institutions that offer high-quality academics and small class sizes.
Bellarmine University has over 50 majors and minors across many fields like nursing, business, arts and sciences. The student to faculty ratio is 12:1 which allows for close student-teacher collaboration. Bellarmine is regionally accredited and known for their strong science, healthcare, education and business programs. The Bellarmine nursing program is highly respected.
Fairfield University offers over 40 majors and minors with popular choices being business, communications, nursing and psychology. The student to faculty ratio is an intimate 11:1. Fairfield has a regional accreditation and its business school has received AACSB accreditation. Fairfield is especially recognized for its Dolan School of Business. The university provides excellent preparation for careers or graduate studies after college.
Both Bellarmine University and Fairfield University have strong academic reputations with small class sizes that enable personalized attention and mentoring. Students receive a rigorous and engaging education at both universities.
Bellarmine University and Fairfield University both offer vibrant campus communities with many opportunities for students to get involved outside of the classroom.
Bellarmine’s beautiful campus in Louisville, Kentucky has over 100 clubs and organizations for students to join. Popular options include student government, performing arts groups, cultural organizations, honor societies, and faith-based clubs. Intramural and club sports are also popular, with teams for activities like ultimate frisbee, rugby, lacrosse, and quidditch.
Bellarmine has 20 Division II athletic teams competing in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Bellarmine Knights have won over 40 national championships, including recent titles in basketball, cross country, soccer, and swimming. Basketball and lacrosse are especially popular spectator sports on campus.
On-campus housing options include traditional dorms, suite-style units, and apartment-style living. Around 60% of undergraduates live on campus. Residence halls often host social activities to help students make friends and get involved.
At Fairfield University in Connecticut, there are over 100 clubs and organizations in areas like student government, performing arts, activism, recreation, and faith. Greek life is also popular, with about 20% of students joining one of the school’s fraternities or sororities.
The Fairfield Stags compete at the NCAA Division I level in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Popular varsity sports include basketball, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, and tennis. Intramural sports and fitness classes are also offered to promote student wellness.
Fairfield has both traditional dorms and apartment-style housing for upperclassmen. Around 90% of undergraduates live on campus all four years. Residence halls foster community through social events, peer mentors, and living-learning communities.
<&> Bellarmine University and Fairfield University are moderately selective private universities with competitive admissions.
Bellarmine has an acceptance rate of 74% and received over 4,700 applications in 2021. The middle 50% ACT composite score range for admitted students is 22-27, while the middle 50% SAT score range is 1070-1260. Bellarmine requires applicants to submit test scores, high school transcripts, an essay, and letters of recommendation.
Fairfield University admits about 52% of applicants and received over 12,600 applications in 2021. The middle 50% SAT score range for admitted students is 1160-1310 and 25-30 for the ACT composite. Fairfield requires an application, high school transcript, essay, recommendation letters, and SAT/ACT test scores. The acceptance rate is lower at Fairfield, while average test scores are slightly higher compared to Bellarmine.
Both schools conduct holistic review of applications and have comprehensive requirements. Fairfield receives substantially more applications than Bellarmine, resulting in a lower admission rate. While test scores provide a benchmark, both evaluate applicants as a whole. The schools offer quality academics and student life experiences for admitted students.
Cost & Financial Aid
Bellarmine University and Fairfield University are both private, Catholic universities located in the United States. Here is an overview of the cost of attendance and financial aid options at each school:
- Tuition and Fees: For the 2021-2022 academic year, tuition and fees at Bellarmine University were $44,430 for full-time undergraduate students.
- Average Financial Aid Package: The average financial aid package for full-time beginning undergraduate students in 2019-2020 was $29,538, covering tuition, fees, room, board and books. Over 90% of Bellarmine students receive some form of financial assistance.
- Scholarships: Bellarmine offers a variety of merit-based scholarships for incoming students based on GPA and test scores. Scholarships range from $5,000 per year to full-tuition. Competitive scholarships are also available for specific programs and majors. Need-based grants and federal student loans are offered based on the FAFSA application.
- Tuition and Fees: For the 2021-2022 academic year, tuition and fees at Fairfield University were $53,880. Additional costs include housing, dining, books, and other expenses.
- Average Financial Aid Package: The average financial aid package for full-time beginning undergraduate students in 2019-2020 was $35,989, which includes scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. Over 90% of Fairfield students receive some form of financial assistance.
- Scholarships: Fairfield offers merit-based scholarships ranging from $5,000 to full-tuition for incoming freshmen, based on academic achievement. Competitive scholarships are also available for specific programs. Need-based grants, loans, and work-study are provided based on financial need determined by the FAFSA.
Bellarmine University and Fairfield University both have strong outcomes for their graduates.
Bellarmine has an overall graduation rate of around 60%, with some programs like nursing having graduation rates over 90%. Career outcomes are positive, with 95% of graduates being employed or in graduate school within 6 months of graduation. Many Bellarmine graduates go on to careers in healthcare, business, education and more. The school has many partnerships with local employers like Norton Healthcare, GE Appliances and Brown-Forman that provide good job opportunities for graduates.
Fairfield University has an overall 4-year graduation rate of 82%. Students report high satisfaction with career preparation services, and within 6 months after graduation 95% of graduates are employed or in graduate school. Popular industries for Fairfield grads include business, healthcare, education, finance and communications. Fairfield has a strong network of over 40,000 alumni that supports graduating students with mentoring and job opportunities. The school also partners with major companies like Deloitte, PwC and EY for recruitment.
Overall, both Bellarmine and Fairfield deliver positive outcomes for their students in terms of graduation rates, career preparation and graduate school placement after completing their degrees. Students gain the skills and experiences needed to transition successfully to careers or further education.
At the national level, both Bellarmine University and Fairfield University are consistently ranked among the best colleges and universities in the country. However, based on various publications and metrics, Bellarmine tends to rank slightly higher overall.
In the 2022 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges, Bellarmine was ranked #35 in Regional Universities South, while Fairfield came in at #64 in Regional Universities North. Bellarmine was also named one of U.S. News’ Best Value Schools, indicating an excellent balance of academic quality and cost.
Other major publications like Forbes and The Princeton Review have rated Bellarmine and Fairfield similarly. In Forbes’ 2022 Top Colleges list, Bellarmine ranked #162 nationally while Fairfield was #276. The Princeton Review’s 2022 edition named Bellarmine one of the Best Southeastern Colleges, with Fairfield earning a spot among The Best Northeastern Colleges.
So while both are strong institutions that rank well, Bellarmine appears to have a slight edge when it comes to national college rankings. Its higher placement, especially in the critical U.S. News rankings, gives it more prestige. But students must look beyond the rankings alone to find the best personal fit.
Bellarmine University and Fairfield University are both excellent choices for students looking for a private Catholic university experience. However, there are some key differences between the two that may make one a better fit depending on a student’s needs and preferences.
Bellarmine, located in Louisville, KY, is the smaller and more intimate option with around 3,700 students enrolled. Its academics are centered around liberal arts and professional programs. Fairfield, located in coastal Connecticut, is a bit larger with around 5,000 students. It offers a wider array of academic programs across arts & sciences, engineering, nursing, health sciences, and business.
In terms of campus life, Bellarmine features Division II athletics and a classic campus environment. Fairfield offers Division I athletics and is located right near the beach. For a big sports fan or someone who wants easy access to the ocean, Fairfield may be more appealing.
Bellarmine tends to be a bit more affordable, with average annual costs around $40,000. Fairfield is more expensive at over $60,000 per year on average. However, both offer generous financial aid and scholarship opportunities that can reduce the sticker price.
Ultimately, Bellarmine may appeal more to students seeking small classes and a tightly-knit college community. Fairfield offers greater academic breadth and proximity to a major city. By considering their academic interests, extracurricular priorities, and financial needs, students can determine if one of these distinguished Catholic universities is the right fit.