What Is UST Most Known For?

As the fourth-largest city in the country, with more than 40 colleges and universities in the area, Houston is recognized for excellence in higher education. With so many academic choices, prospective students often ask us what UST is known for, what sets the University of St. Thomas apart, what makes UST one of the top universities in Texas.

Check out this University of St. Thomas campus walking guide, where 365 Things To Do in Houston recognized UST as a scenic city gem worth visiting!

Students gather near the Chapel of St. Basil on the University of St. Thomas - Houston campus

Students gather on the academic mall near the Chapel of St. Basil, a shining landmark of the UST campus and Montrose neighborhood.

For those of us who know and love UST, there’s no other university like it. Here are just a few of the reasons the University of St. Thomas has earned such a shining reputation as an institution for higher learning and one of the best colleges in Texas:

Houston’s Catholic University

Driving or strolling through the picturesque Montrose neighborhood down West Alabama Street, you can’t miss the gold dome and cross gleaming in the sun atop the Chapel of St. Basil. This Northern star on campus is a Houston landmark and symbol of the Catholic values that define the University of St. Thomas.

The tent-like flap opening of the Chapel of St. Basil signifies an open invitation for all to visit – University of St. Thomas - Houston

The tent-like flap opening of the Chapel of St. Basil signifies an open invitation for all to visit.

The only Catholic university in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the University of St. Thomas is among just 29 U.S. Catholic colleges and universities recommended by the Cardinal Newman Society. While UST welcomes students of all faiths, about half are Catholic. With the mission to educate leaders of faith and character, we aim to instill within you the values of our founders, the Basilian Fathers: goodness, discipline and knowledge.

Four of our first 10 faculty members were Basilian Fathers. The Basilians, a congregation founded in France in 1822, had been working in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston since 1900, when they established the College of St. Thomas, now St. Thomas High School. Led by the first president of the University, Father Vincent J. Guinan, and first vice president, Father Wilfrid Dwyer, the Basilian Fathers shaped the initial curriculum, a broad program in liberal studies intended to serve as a solid basis upon which to build students’ lives and careers in the community.

The principles we strive to embody and impart create an exceptionally friendly, supportive atmosphere on campus. At the University of St. Thomas, students, faculty and staff treat one another like family, and everyone’s opinions are heard and respected. While we have many remarkable qualities, this spirit of kindness is one of the most powerful.

Dialogue Between Faith and Reason

At the University of St. Thomas, we believe that faith and reason are closely intertwined. Orientation of the chapel at one end of the academic mall and the library at the other represents the dialogue between faith and reason, an idea that the University’s namesake Saint Thomas Aquinas, widely influential Italian priest and philosopher, explored in depth in his writings.

Likewise, our liberal arts and sciences curricula are closely intertwined. All UST students, even those studying math, science or business, complete a core liberal arts curriculum that includes theology and philosophy classes, in which they develop critical thinking and writing skills. Many of our graduates say this foundational curriculum helped them become more well-rounded professionally and excel in their careers.

Through the ages, the Catholic Church has supported the sciences, teaching that science and the Christian faith are not at odds. Countless UST alumni are serving as ethical leaders across a range of STEM professions in biology, chemistry, physics, math, engineering and nursing. As science advances, we challenge our students to debate and arrive at their own understanding of what science and technology can do and should do.

At UST, we marry reason with faith. Reason keeps us pragmatic about preparing you for medical school, law school and the professional world. We understand that you need to be competitive in a complex world that operates on an international scale. Beyond these practical concerns, our study of faith at the University of St. Thomas seeks to answer larger questions.

We don’t worry about you getting a good job. We do worry about you getting the right job, a job that is meaningful to you, that is of service to a higher power, a greater good, a job that is bigger in purpose than any individual purpose can ever be. We hope to support you in finding a job that’s a perfect match to your skillsets, that taps into your talents so you can maximize your capacity to do good. When your alarm clock rings early in the morning for the next few decades of your life, and you look ahead to what the day will bring, we hope you will feel fulfilled in your vocation.

Successful Outcomes

The primary indicator that UST is among the best colleges in Texas is the amazing success of our students. The UST website is filled with individual success stories from students and alumni. Here are a few highlights of general trends for all graduates:

  • The average first-year salary for UST graduates is $52,914.
  • Each year, at least 80% of UST pre-law students are accepted into law school.
  • More than 95% of School of Education certified graduates find a job in an educational setting or are accepted to grad school.
  • 95% of pre-med students who interview for medical school are accepted.

Fun Activities on Campus

Successful students know how important it is to balance work and play. The UST campus offers dozens of fun events and activities where you can unwind and enjoy your college experience.

Students come together annually to celebrate at the chili cook-off, Spring Formal, Italian Festival, Halloween party called Neewollah (Halloween spelled backwards) and St. Augustine’s Oktoberfest. Area residents join us to sample ethnic foods and entertainment at the International Festival.

Take part in the President’s Day of Service to give back in this community volunteer event. Make new friends and develop leadership skills by participating in one of the many clubs on campus. From the Health Awareness Club to the Math Club, you’re sure to find a good fit for your interests.

Diversity Among Students

Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country, and our campus reflects that diversity. At the University of St. Thomas, you’ll find the full spectrum of students, from various backgrounds, of all ages and pursuing myriad study and career goals. UST is a Hispanic Serving Institution. About half our students are Hispanic and about 70% are ethnically diverse.

An ethnically diverse group of students walk and talk on the University of St. Thomas – Houston campus

The University of St. Thomas student body reflects the rich diversity of Houston. About half of UST students are Hispanic, and about 70% are ethnically diverse.

Prime Location and Serene Environment

Among top universities in Texas, it’s hard to beat UST’s prime location. Conveniently located in the vibrant Montrose neighborhood, the University of St. Thomas is just minutes from Downtown, the Texas Medical Center, the Museum District and seemingly endless hot spots and world-class attractions like The Menil Collection, Hermann Park and the Houston Zoo.

Aerial view of the University of St. Thomas – Houston, located in the beautiful Montrose neighborhood

The Montrose neighborhood is known as Houston’s Arts District, and it also features beautiful homes, award-winning restaurants and cafés and unique shops.

Though the University sits in the middle of a bustling city, the small campus is a peaceful sanctuary, the perfect place for you to focus on gaining knowledge and preparing for the future. Many students consider campus a home away from home, returning to visit faculty and staff even years after graduating.

Our desirable location also means that after you graduate, you have the benefit of tapping into a strong network of employer connections. The University of St. Thomas is well-regarded by major Houston employers as one of the top universities in Houston, and our graduates go on to work for some of the best organizations in the city and beyond, including Texas Medical Center, MD Anderson, IBM, Southwest Airlines and many more.

Top-Tier Private Education and Plentiful Opportunities

The Princeton Review, U.S News & World Report and the Newman Guide are just a few organizations that have rated the University of St. Thomas as one of the best universities in the West.

With an average undergraduate class size of 16, you’ll love the personal attention you get from professors, and the many opportunities for mentoring and research. Well-regarded for their teaching excellence, UST’s professors are committed to supporting you in achieving your specific goals. When alumni reflect on their education, they frequently cite the excellence of their professors as a standout benefit of attending UST.

Interior of the Center for Science and Health Professions at the University of St. Thomas - Houston

During the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Center for Science and Health Professions, STEM students wrote down their hopes and dreams. These notes were placed into the soil of the building’s foundation.

An exciting recent addition to campus is the new 103,000-square-foot Center for Science and Health Professions. This world-class facility features a grand atrium, student common areas on each floor, coffee bar, student seminar rooms, state-of-the-art classrooms and teaching and research laboratories specific to various STEM disciplines, including nursing, biology and chemistry.

Architectural Gems

Built in 1912 and today serving as the executive office of the University of St. Thomas, the Link-Lee House was originally the residence of financier and former mayor of Orange, Texas, John Wiley Link. This historic home was sold to the University of St. Thomas in 1946 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. With intricate brickwork, terra cotta embellishments and a clay tile roof, this American neoclassical mansion is a prominent building on campus.

The Link-Lee House, today the executive office of the University of St. Thomas-Houston, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

The Link-Lee House, today the executive office of the University of St. Thomas, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

Hughes House, built in 1918, is the former home of American businessman and aviator Howard Hughes. The University of St. Thomas purchased the property in 1952, and today it houses the Theology Department.

Interior of the Chapel of St. Basil on the University of St. Thomas – Houston campus, with all the interior light coming from above

During the day, all the interior light in the Chapel of St. Basil comes from above, giving the space a reflective, ethereal mood.

With its gold dome rooftop shining in the sun, the most striking building on campus is the Chapel of St. Basil. Designed by architect Philip Johnson and constructed in 1997, the building is composed of three basic geometric forms. The cube includes the main seating area; the dome rises above the cube; and the granite plane bisects the cube, allowing light into the chapel and giving the sense that the dome is an opening to the heavens. During the day, only natural light from above lights the interior. The chapel is open to the public for daily Mass.

We hope you now have a better understanding of what makes the University of St. Thomas such an exceptional university.

If you have any questions about studying at UST, contact a Freshman Admissions Counselor or Transfer Admissions Counselor today!

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