Catholic Identity

The University of San Diego expresses its Catholic identity by witnessing and probing the Christian message as proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church. The university promotes the intellectual exploration of religious faith, recruits persons and develops programs supporting the university’s mission, and cultivates an active faith community. It is committed to the dignity and fullest development of the whole person.

Intellectual Tradition

Intellectual life is central to the identity of a Catholic university.  A distinct feature of the Catholic intellectual tradition is the belief that knowledge achieved through reason, and knowledge attained by faith, are equally valid and compatible. From the earliest beginnings of the Catholic university learning drew not only from the Catholic tradition but also from other faith traditions.  The Catholic tradition has always been enriched by the contributions of other faiths as well as a broad range of philosophies and ways of living.

Some characteristics of a vibrant Catholic intellectual tradition are study of Scripture, particularly as it relates to contemporary life; spirituality as a genuine expression of faith; examination of philosophical ideas, both traditional and innovative; study of classic texts  in order to understand the past;  and exploration of ethical issues and behavior.

The University of San Diego sees itself as heir to this tradition.  Open to free inquiry and enriched by the contributions of many religions and schools of thought, as well as by the culture in which it exists, it welcomes scholars of different traditions. As a Catholic university it is committed to academic freedom in teaching, research and service, and regards this freedom as essential to teaching and to the pursuit of scholarly activities within the academic community. 


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Our Catholic identity gives USD a solid foundation in religious faith, ethical conduct, compassionate service and social justice.

Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic social teaching, the commitment to work for a more just and peaceful society is also central to the University of San Diego as a Catholic university.  The university encourages its faculty, staff and students to be informed of Catholic social principles and to be advocates for greater social justice.

Diversity and Inclusion

As a Catholic university the University of San Diego recognizes and values the dignity of each individual. It seeks to be inclusive, open, welcoming and caring to all who share its mission and belong to its community. To learn more about Diversity and Inclusion, visit the Center for Inclusion and Diversity website.

University of San Diego - Insight - History and Heritage, Mission and Core Values, Catholic Intellectual Tradition Insight: The captivating legacy that inspired USD's founders. (PDF)