Founded in 1898, DePaul University is proud of its status as the largest Catholic university in the United States. With about 15,000 undergrads and another 10,000 graduate students, DePaul is also proud to be the nation’s largest university with a primary mission of teaching and service. That means professors are NOT focused on research here, they don’t go on sabbatical to write books; they spend their time focused on their classroom responsibilities.
DePaul University is super-urban! Think NYU but in downtown Chicago. There are two separate campuses; neither the Loop nor the Lincoln Park campus is the ‘main’ campus, and neither is a ‘satellite.’ Students go back and forth easily; it’s a 15 minute train ride, and classes are scheduled with 40 minute breaks between. Both campuses have dining halls, residence halls, academic buildings, and libraries. At some point, most students typically begin to spend more time on the campus where their major is. The Loop campus, home to the colleges of business, communication and computing and digital media, is more vertical, and the Lincoln Park campus is the main home for liberal arts & social sciences, science & health, education, and the theatre and music schools. You can see from the diversity of the colleges that DePaul has a broad spectrum of academic majors; they are well-known for their conservatory-style theatre and music programs.
DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus is walking distance to Lake Michigan, the Chicago Zoo, the famous Second City comedy club, as well as lots of theatres. Students receive discounts on entertainment and small businesses in the neighborhood.
You don’t have to be Catholic to attend – there are lots of non-Catholics and non-practicing students. There is a ‘religious dimensions’ component to DePaul’s liberal arts requirement, but it can be filled by creative writing or yoga course. The overriding feel on this campus, though, is that many students are heavily involved in community service – there are two campus-wide community service days, during which students and faculty work together at 20 different Chicago sites. DePaul University is one of the only colleges that offers community service as a minor.
There’s lots of school spirit here; DePaul fields 13 Division 1 teams in the Big East, with basketball being popular. They have an awesome pep band, according to my tour guide! DePaul has an incredible fitness center, where you can grab a quesadilla in the lobby at The Bean after your workout! There is a Greek system here but only about 10% of students join.
All students are guaranteed housing; 75% of freshmen choose to live on campus. That said, this is an urban environment and there are many housing options. My tour guide Jessica lives with a roommate in an apartment about 25 minutes away and commutes on the El (Chicago’s subway). DePaul offers help to students who want to move to off campus housing.
One important academic tidbit about DePaul is that they’re on the quarter system. All freshmen enroll in either a Discover or Explore Chicago class during their first quarter. These are basically College 101 courses, in which students are introduced to campus resources and learn the lay of the land in Chicago. These courses have very small class sizes, around 12 students, and are a great bonding experience as students begin their DePaul University career.
Admission to DePaul University
DePaul has been test-optional for many years. The admission office will rely heavily on transcripts, specifically math and English courses, for students who don’t submit test scores. All applicants who submit by the November 15 (non-binding) priority deadline are automatically considered for merit scholarships.
DePaul University is perfect for the student who’s seeking a fast-paced educational experience in an urban environment. As with most colleges, it’s all about making sure this is the right fit for what you’re looking for! I visited in spring, 2019, and you can scroll through all of my photos below.