The only Catholic university in North Dakota, the University of Mary was founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation, a monastic order dedicated to the Rule of Saint Benedict, which emphasizes community service and individual spiritual growth. Originally a women’s college specializing in just nursing and teaching, UM became co-educational within a decade and rapidly expanded over the next four decades into the largest and most prestigious university in Bismarck, North Dakota’s capital and second-largest city. UM is widely ranked as one of the best regional institutions and best values in the Midwest.
Academic ProgramsUniversity of Mary initially only offered degrees in nursing and teaching, the traditional, familiar roles for educated women in the 1950s, but today UM offers more than 60 undergraduate degrees, 14 master’s degrees, and 3 doctoral degrees, in areas ranging from business and accounting to computer science and pre-professional programs (like law, medicine, and dentistry). With one of the lowest tuition rates of any private Catholic university in the nation, UM has long been considered a best value, with a traditional liberal-arts foundation enriched by Benedictine values of individual excellence, commitment to community, and spiritual growth.
Since the 1980s, when UM began offering master’s degrees, the university has become known throughout the Northern Plains region as one of the best choices for working adult students, with outreach through multiple extension campuses and, in the 21st century, online. UM’s mission since the turn of the century has been “America’s Leadership University,” and that mission remains true for adult programs as for traditional undergraduates. There is little doubt that it works; between national rankings and a 98% job or graduate school placement rate within six months of graduation, UM graduates get somewhere.
Student LifeUniversity of Mary’s student body is just over 3000, half of which are graduate students and non-traditional, working adults, thanks to UM’s outreach efforts. More than 40 states and 24 foreign countries are represented in the student body. Faith and community service are significant parts of student life at the university, and while students are not required to be Catholic, religious practice and activity is highly encouraged whatever the student’s faith. In addition to 30 student organizations and activities, official events are part of building a community of trust and bonds, which students often describe as fellowship.
The UM Marauders – whose mascot is a colorful pirate – compete in 15 NCAA Divission II sports, both men and women, as part of the Northern Sun Conference. For active students, UM’s location in Bismarck puts it in close proximity to the Missouri River, a favorite location for kayaking and boating, while the city is criss-crossed with long hiking and biking trails that are also a favorite with students. North Dakota is a state for the great outdoors, and the landscape is part of student life at University of Mary.