History & Mission

Steeped in a tradition of academic rigor and social justice, Saint Joseph’s has been challenging students to lead engaged lives for more than 170 years. We believe in honoring our past while focusing on the future. Today we prepare students to lead successful lives of meaning and impact in a complex, fast-changing world.

Mission Statement

As Philadelphia’s Jesuit Catholic University, Saint Joseph’s provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. We prepare students for personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship. Striving to be an inclusive and diverse community that educates and cares for the whole person, we encourage and model lifelong commitment to thinking critically, making ethical decisions, pursuing social justice and finding God in all things.

Key Moments In Our History

  • 1851: Saint Joseph’s opens its doors with some 30 young men attending classes next to Old Saint Joseph’s Church in Old City, Philadelphia.
  • 1927: Saint Joseph’s moves to Hawk Hill, Philadelphia and opens the first building on the City Avenue campus.
  • 1970: The University welcomes full-time female students.
  • 2008: The 38-acre James J. Maguire ’58 campus is added to Saint Joseph’s in the suburbs on the Main Line.
  • 2010: Ground breaks on the John R. Post ’60 Academic Center and the John and Maryanne Hennings Post Learning Commons. The project brings new, collaborative learning environments, with a three-story addition to the Drexel Library.
  • 2015: Pope Francis makes a surprise trip to Hawk Hill, blessing the Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time sculpture and greeting community members.
  • 2017: In July, the University announces the receipt of a $50 million gift from James J. Maguire ’58 and his wife, Frances — the single largest gift in the University’s history.
  • 2022: Saint Joseph’s merges with University of the Sciences and expands to a new University City location.
  • 2024: Saint Joseph's merges with Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences to provide in-demand program offerings in nursing and allied health. 


St. Ignatius statue on campus.

Founded by the Jesuits

Throughout the world, the Jesuits are known for their achievements in education, service and the sciences — and their revolutionary spirit. The order has started schools and colleges throughout the world, in many cases bringing educational opportunity to urban areas.

There are only 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, and we are one of them.

Whole-person Education

Founded in Philadelphia in 1851, Saint Joseph's University embraces the Jesuit educational model. This means that we recognize you are a multidimensional individual — not just a student — who needs the freedom and encouragement to grow mentally, spiritually, personally and creatively. It means we will invite you to be both reflective and active — in the classroom and in the community. We will support you. We will challenge you. We will guide you on the path to seeking the greater good, living your purpose and finding God in all things.

Learn more about Jesuit Education

A good God wants you and me and all of us who make Saint Joseph’s our place of belonging to be caught up in the spirit that empowers us to ask good and hard questions."

daniel joyce

Daniel R. J. Joyce, S.J. '88

Executive Director of Mission Programs

One of the main things I learned is that diversity is a treasure. Our experiences of Catholicism are so different and yet we find a tremendous sense of unity, which has to be developed and cherished."

Julia Oseka at the Vatican

Julia Osęka ’25

physics and theology double major