Founded in 1917 by the Diocese of Providence and the Dominican Order, Providence College is a small, Roman Catholic institution in Providence, RI. While Providence is not the only Dominican institution in the US, it is the only one administrated by the Dominican Order, and habit-wearing monks are part of Providence College’s unique atmosphere. In the tradition of Thomas Aquinas and the Dominican Order, Providence puts faith and reason at the center of its curriculum, finding a place for the classical liberal arts values, sciences, and contemporary technology. Providence’s dedication to excellence has earned them the top regional liberal arts college ranking for the North, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Most of Providence’s classes are less than 20 students, and a 12:1 student/faculty ratio gives students access to professors for support and mentorship. Providence’s efforts are clearly successful, with a freshman retention rate of an incredible 91% (generally seen as a sign of student support and satisfaction) and a graduation rate of 85%.
The core of Providence’s curriculum is its Development of Western Civilization, a traditional liberal arts curriculum combining literature, science, mathematics, theology, philosophy, and the other basics of classical learning. While Providence offers nearly 50 majors and more than 30 minors, the majority of students major in the liberal arts and business. Recent years have also seen Providence reach out more fully to adult and non traditional students with Professional Studies (including several Master of Education degrees) and Continuing Education opportunities.
Providence is home to almost 4700 students, from across New England and the US (in fact, only 15% of students come from Rhode Island). While Providence was founded as an all-male school, today 57% of the student body is female. 15% of students are first-generation college students, while 16% come from a minority background, demonstrating Providence’s concern in recent years with increasing their diversity and social responsibility, in keeping with Dominican values. The establishment of a diversity office in 2011, and outreach to minority students, has had an impact on Providence’s culture and life.
As a Catholic college, religion is at the center of student life at Providence, from regular mass services to numerous places set aside for quiet prayer and reflection. Providence is a small college in one of the nation’s oldest cities, and student life is very much concentrated on campus, with student clubs, activities, and events, though its urban location in downtown Providence gives students access to the cultural activities of Rhode Island’s capital city. With the Catholic emphasis on ethics, service, and good works, Providence is also broadly engaged in community efforts, from the students to the faculty to the institution.