Saint Anselm College, a Catholic liberal arts college, was founded in 1889 by the request of the Bishop of Manchester in New Hampshire; monks from the St. Mary’s Abbey in Newark, NJ, a German order, came to establish the college in an effort to sooth religious tensions between the French Canadian and Irish Catholics who lived in the region. Saint Anselm’s first students were enrolled in a six-year classical education dedicated to philosophy and theology, and the college had its own farm, worked by students, to remain self-sufficient and avoid dependence on the community. Instead, Saint Anselm’s Benedictine heritage has made it a key part of life in southern New Hampshire, and today Saint Anselm College ranks as a top-tier national liberal arts college in U.S. News & World Report, and a top 50 regional institution by Forbes.
Academic ProgramsWhile Saint Anselm’s first students followed a 6-year classics program, today’s Saint Anselm is a traditional, 4-year liberal arts college, taking all students through a common foundation of humanities and sciences. Saint Anselm’s 2-year liberal arts core is called the Conversatio (Latin for “way of life,” traditionally used in reference to monastic life), and in addition to conventional freshman and sophomore courses, all Saint Anselm students are required to take three courses in philosophy, and three courses in theology, harkening back to the college’s earliest curriculum. These required courses include Ethics and “Nature and the Human Person,” reflecting Saint Anselm College’s Benedictine heritage and focus on service and community.
The liberal arts foundation of Saint Anselm’s curriculum is designed to give all students a base of critical thought, problem-solving, and cultural awareness to make for stronger professionals in all fields and disciplines. With an 11:1 student:faculty ratio and classes smaller than 18 students, student support is central at Saint Anselm, with strong mentorship and community building. Students can choose from a wide variety of majors and pre-professional programs, from business and education to nursing and the sciences; the Honors Program is a model of the type. Saint Anselm is known for its academic rigor, and has publicly opposed grade inflation in higher education.
Student LifeWith its Catholic, Benedictine institution, Saint Anselm is recognized for its intensive concern for community service and engagement, having been named a College with a Conscience by the Princeton Review, and earned the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement classification. Student life is often devoted to service through the Meelia Center for Community Service and service learning programs. Saint Anselm is also known for its political activity and influence. With New Hampshire holding the first presidential primary of election season, the state is a key location for presidential candidates, and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, at Saint Anselm College, is a required stop for every primary candidate.
Saint Anselm, like other colleges, also has a vibrant student life revolving around dozens of student-led organizations and clubs, from the Abbey Players (a drama group) to Ultimate Frisbee. Groups include religious and cultural clubs, recreation and sports, arts and culture, and professional development organizations. The Saint Anselm Hawks compete in numerous NCAA Division II sports, but Saint Anselm is known locally as the hockey school, with top-ranked, championship-winning men’s and women’s hockey teams.