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The Degree Program at Thomas Aquinas College

Thomas Aquinas College appears in our ranking of 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the West.

Thomas Aquinas College is one of the nation’s most unique colleges because it only offers one degree program: a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. The program requires that students take and pass 146 semester hours of work. Each semester includes 16 weeks of teaching and instruction followed by a final examination that tests students on the knowledge they gained in that course. They will take 28 units of math, 24 units of philosophy, 12 units of language and 24 units of theology classes. The program also includes other courses in natural science and music.

The college’s curriculum focuses heavily on the Great Books, which are classic books written during ancient times through the modern age. Some of the titles on that list include Odyssey, The Imitation of Christ, The Way of the World, Crime and Punishment, and Moby Dick. Though students do not need to read every book on this list, they will read and discuss a good portion of those titles in their classes.

Another aspect of the program is seminar learning. The college assigns students to seminar classes in their freshman years and allows them to pick other classes later on. They will need to take 24 semester hours of seminar classes. Each class puts students in a small group and asks them to work together and do assignments as a group. The idea is that students can learn more through collaborative partnerships.

The Thomas Aquinas College degree program includes a senior thesis too. Designed to help students develop stronger independent thinking skills, it awards them two credits for their work. They only begin the thesis work during the last semester of their senior years. Students can work with their advisors to narrow down their research focuses and to complete the final project.

About Thomas Aquinas College

Thomas Aquinas College is a private university affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Established in 1971, it opened with one campus in Santa Paula, California. The success of that campus led to the college opening a second in Northfield, Massachusetts. That second campus began accepting students in 2018. Though the college is private and has a religious affiliation, it does not accept any money from the government or the Church. It does let student use government aid to pay some of their costs though. It offers a liberal arts program that features classes designed to let students study one area at a time and later learn how that subject connects to others. Students also have the chance to attend lecture series and other special events, including concert performances.

Students typically take classes in six different subjects during their freshman, sophomore and junior years. During their senior years, they study five subjects and work on a thesis. The area they study will include politics, theology, philosophy, metaphysics and literature. Students can join a number of different clubs such as the College Choir and compete in multiple intramural sports. Also known as TAC, the college offers on-campus housing for unmarried students and has some residence halls a short walk from its campus for married students. The six dormitories are separated for male and female students.

Thomas Aquinas College Accreditation Details

Students who cannot afford to pay the total cost of attendance at TAC out of their own pockets can use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and get some financial aid. They can use the FAFSA because the college has regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This is also the accreditation needed for students who want to transfer from any other college. TAC also has accreditation from the American Academy for Library Education (AALE).

Thomas Aquinas College Application Requirements

TAC encourages self-motivated learners to apply and looks for students who love reading and are independent thinkers. The college offers a high school summer program that allows future students to spend a semester on either campus over the summer and take some classes. They earn credit that they can transfer to TAC later or to another college. Students have until June 30 to apply, but they need to pick between attending the New England or California campuses. The college also allows students to switch between those campuses if there is space available by that deadline.

A rolling admissions policy means that students can apply at the beginning or the end of their senior years in high school. TAC will also accept applications from high school juniors. Students will need to use the college’s online application and submit an unofficial transcript. A final transcript is required of accepted students that show they finished a high school diploma and that they maintained consistently high grades. Students will also need to sign a form that shows they will either pay back their student loans or that they agree to work out a payment plan with the college. TAC has a health and registration form that students must fill out too and has different forms available for each campus.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The direct costs charged by the college come to $25,600 each year. Students also pay $8,800 a year for room and board. Though TAC does not charge any fees, it does recommend that students plan for other costs, including any pocket money they might need and the cost of getting to and from the campus. At the beginning of each semester, the college will hand out textbooks to students for each of their classes. Students only need to purchase books if they lose the copies given to them. TAC provides students with free textbooks each semester.

Cal grants are college scholarships that go to students who show need on the FAFSA and are California residents. Students can use those scholarships in combination with any military benefits they receive, Pell grants and both unsubsidized and subsidized student loans. TAC accepts donations from alumni and others that it used to create a foundation that awards students scholarships. A service scholarship provides students with $5,780 that they can put towards their room and board costs in exchange for working 13 hours a week over 35 weeks. Other institutional scholarships can cover a student’s tuition. Thomas Aquinas College financial aid packages can cover most of the costs of its Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts program.