The College of Saint Benedict was founded in 1913 by the Sisters of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, but the sisters had been hard at work in the area long before. The nuns of Saint Benedict’s came to the Minnesota frontier from Pennsylvania in 1857 and began establishing schools, churches, and missions to provide for the needs of the settlers, many of them German immigrants. The College grew out of the older Saint Benedict’s Academy, and while it is the world’s only Benedictine women’s college, CSB has a unique relationship with the neighboring Saint John’s University, a Catholic men’s college. Students share resources and attend coed classes through both institutions. CSB is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation.
The College of Saint Benedict is dedicated to empowering young women with knowledge, professional skills, and spiritual wisdom to become active agents for social justice and service. With the influence of the sisters and the fundamental values of the Benedictine tradition, CSB uses the classical liberal arts as its guide to holistic learning, emphasizing the unity of mind, body, and soul. CSB’s excellence is well represented by its ranking as one of the top 10 Catholic colleges in the nation, and U.S. News has named CSB an up-and-coming liberal arts college on the national level.
The College of Saint Benedict’s unusual partnership with Saint John’s University means that students at CSB get access to the intellectual and academic resources of two top-tier liberal arts college. CSB and SJU began partnering in 1955, and beginning in 1961 the two institutions reconciled the curriculum and consolidated their student bodies; students attend coeducational classes at both campuses. The colleges share a 12:1 student:faculty ratio, and joint faculty mentor students at both. However, each institution has its own unique campus life and character.
Student life at the College of Saint Benedict is much like life at other traditional liberal arts colleges. More than 80% of students live on campus, building a vibrant, close-knit community of more than 2000 students, many of whom take part in the 85+ student-led clubs and organizations. Music is extremely important to student life, as more than half of the student population are members of one of the many choirs, orchestra, jazz ensemble, and other musical groups.
With the influence of the sisters, who live and teach at CSB, community service is a deeply held responsibility for students at the college. The Student Development division holds events, activities, and groups to help the young women of CSB grow and learn about themselves and their community, from intercultural events to campus ministry. That commitment was underscored by a massive $10 million anonymous gift to build a Center for Ethical Leadership in Action, which will be housed at CSB and engage students and faculty in projects and research dedicated to the good of humanity.