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Frequently Asked Questions


What can a graduate do with a liberal arts degree?
Because students at Thomas Aquinas College receive a truly liberal education, they leave campus well-versed in the skills necessary to learn and thrive in any profession or endeavor. Roughly a third of the College’s alumni go on to graduate or professional school. Graduates flourish in most every discipline or career imaginable, from education and law, to medicine and business, to architecture and technology. To find out more about what a liberally educated student can do, just read about our alumni.

What standardized-test scores do applicants need to be admitted to the College?

The College accepts the SAT, ACT, and/or the Classic Learning Test (CLT). There are no absolute thresholds that either guarantee or preclude admission, however the following guidelines may be helpful in preparing your application.

  • SAT: For SAT tests taken prior to May 2016, applicants’ test scores have generally ranged from 510-800 in Math and from 570-800 in Critical Reading. Most successful applicants’ scores were above 550 in Math and above 600 in Critical Reading. For the new SAT, offered for the first time in May 2016, the College Board has published a concordance. The College plans to use this concordance as an aid in evaluating these scores.
  • ACT: Successful applicants generally score above 20-22 in Math and above 23-24 in English; scores in or below those ranges can be cause for concern.
  • CLT*: In 2016 the College adopted the Classic Learning Test (CLT), and will accept scores from the CLT in lieu of SAT or ACT scores. CLT publishes a concordance which the College plans to use as an aid in evaluating scores.

*For California residents only: To be eligible for the Cal Grant, the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) requires students with transcripts from non-accredited and/or independent homeschools to submit either an SAT or ACT score in lieu of a GPA by March 2 of the year in which the student plans to enroll. CSAC does not accept the CLT in lieu of a GPA. The College requires that financial aid applicants who are California residents apply for the Cal Grant as a part of a complete financial aid application.

What is the College looking for in its application essays?

The purpose of the application essays is to assist the Admissions Committee in getting to know applicants personally and academically, and to determine whether they are a good fit for Thomas Aquinas College. The first essay, for example, helps to establish that an applicant understands the nature of the College and is prepared for the demands of its unique curriculum and pedagogy. Meanwhile, the essay about a book chosen by the applicant enables the Committee to see how a student would likely read a book within the College’s curriculum. In both instances, the Committee is not so much looking for brilliance or originality as it is for answers that are thoughtful, well-organized, and to the point.

Does Thomas Aquinas College accept credits from other colleges or universities?

While many students at Thomas Aquinas College have attended college and/or earned credits elsewhere, because the curriculum here is fully integrated and builds sequentially, credits from other institutions are nontransferable.

Why does the College not offer majors and minors?

Thomas Aquinas College’s four-year, classical curriculum is wholly integrated. The classes that make it up thus reference and reinforce one another, across disciplines, enabling students to develop an ever-greater understanding of nature, man, and God. Because this integration is essential to the degree the College offers, a B.A. in liberal arts, all students take the same set of courses.

Upon completing the degree, the College’s students have undertaken four years of coursework in philosophy, theology, math, science, and seminar (where modern philosophy, history, literature, and other works are studied). They have also studied two years of language and one year of music. Thomas Aquinas College is the only College in the United States to require study in all seven major academic disciplines, as outlined by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

Is the application process different for home-schooled students?

No, although home-schooled applicants may choose to request that a parent write one recommendation as the primary educator, unless another teacher’s recommendation is available.

Does the College offer financial aid or merit scholarships?

Financial Aid is available on the basis of need. For more information, see here. The College does not offer merit scholarships, but does accept outside scholarship funds.

Where do the College’s students come from?

Thomas Aquinas College students come from all over the United States and abroad. Roughly 35 percent hail from California, and 40 percent from states east of the Rocky Mountains.

Can non-Catholics attend the College?

Yes, and they are warmly welcomed. In fact, some 5 to 10 percent of Thomas Aquinas College students are not of the Catholic faith. All students who enroll at the College, however, must understand that both the College’s curriculum and community life are animated by fidelity with Rome and the teaching Church.

Do all the students live in the residence halls?

Yes, with the sole exception of married students. The College’s intellectual life is essentially bound up with its community life, and is all the richer for it.

Are all the residence halls single-sex?

Yes, and they remain off-limits to members of the opposite sex at all times.

What do students do outside of class?

Athletics, theater, music, and hiking are among the most popular activities, but there are many, many others as well. To learn more, see Beyond the Classroom.

Does the College have a sports program?

Because academics are paramount, the College does not engage in the demands of intercollegiate athletics. It does, however, offer an intramural sports program that is highly popular.

Why does the College call its professors “tutors?”

Classes at Thomas Aquinas College are conducted by way of the Discussion Method. There are no lectures, no didactic discourses, no simple memorization of others’ conclusions. Instead, students propose, rebut, and defend ideas until — through discussion and critical argumentation — the class discerns the meaning of a text and, more important, its veracity or error.

As such, it is not the role of the Thomas Aquinas College faculty to “profess.” Their function is both more modest and more demanding: They gently guide classroom conversations through skillful questioning, so that students can diligently work their way toward the truth. The tutors do not offer their own opinions and theories, but help bring to light those of the greatest thinkers and authors of Western civilization — the true “teachers” in the College’s unique curriculum.

Because there are never more than 20 students in a class at Thomas Aquinas College, members of the teaching faculty can tailor these discussions to the needs of each group. They thus serve as a sort of personal guide in the pursuit of wisdom — “tutors” in the truest sense of the word.

What sort of medical care is available on campus?

A part-time, on-campus nurse provides minor medical care. A College courier service can also bring students, free of charge, to off-campus doctor’s appointments during daily scheduled courier runs, or to nearby Santa Paula Hospital for emergency and/or major medical treatment.

Why are there no Open Houses on the College’s calendar?

Because the “house” here is always open! While the College does occasionally hold formal Open Houses, visiting the campus while classes are in session is truly the best way for prospective students to get to know the College from the inside. The Admissions Office is glad to arrange visits so that prospective students can sit in on a broad spectrum of classes, meet and get to know the students, and stay overnight in the residence halls — all at the time that fits best with their own schedules. Call now at 800-634-9797, or request a visit online.

Admissions FAQ 2016e
Rev. John Marie Bingham

“The culture at the College, the community was very formative for me. I saw joyful people living their Catholic faith, doing it to the best of their ability, and not being ashamed of it.”

– Rev. John Marie Bingham, O.P. (’00)

Parochial Vicar, Saint Dominic’s Parish, Benicia, Calif

“May God bless Thomas Aquinas College for its excellent performance as a Catholic college since its foundation in 1971, a college where parents can send their children and be sure that this college is maintaining the best ideals of our faith and is giving not only information but formation.”

– Francis Cardinal Arinze

Prefect Emeritus

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments