Founded in 1961, DeSales University, originally called Allentown College, is a Catholic institution. They have the #1 physician assistant program in the nation (with the highest board scores), as well as strong programs in health sciences, criminal justice, sports communication and a nationally recognized theatre program. DeSales runs the official Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.
DeSales is also known as a teacher certification “factory” – they produce the fifth largest number of teachers in the country.
DeSales tries to instill a global perspective in their curriculum, incorporating many study abroad opportunities for students, as well as short term service learning and culture learning trips with faculty members. They also offer a heavy component of internships and research for students in the natural sciences, with brand new, state-of-the-art facilities for their physician assistant and other pre-med programs. DeSales has the only gross anatomy lab in the Lehigh Valley. They have strong relationships with area hospitals, giving students many opportunities for real-world experience.
DeSales’ business majors can choose from interesting concentrations in pharmaceutical marketing, international business or sports management, in addition to standard tracks in finance and accounting. Business students can study for a semester in Lyon, France, taking mostly business courses in English, and have the opportunity to earn both a BS and an MBA in four and a half years, with enough credits to get their CPA license. Experiential learning includes internships at local employers (Olympus’ US headquarters is in the Lehigh Valley) as well as a volunteer tax program helping seniors prepare tax returns. DeSales also focuses on ethics in business.
The school of Liberal Arts & Sciences offers English majors tracks in public relations, writing, education and literature; Political science majors can concentrate on national security and pre-law, and Criminal Justice majors can study intelligence (preparing students for work with agencies such as the FBI, CIA etc) and rehabilitation. Psychology majors can focus on clinical/counseling or forensic psychology.
While the campus does look a little dated, with most of the academic buildings and dorms built in the 1960’s, DeSales has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The professors take personal interest in their students. My tour guide Rob is a local student who transferred to DeSales after two years at a community college, and had wonderful things to say about students, faculty and the university as a whole.
DeSales University plays NCAA Division III sports and about 20% of the students are varsity athletes. They do recruit for all varsity sports (they do not have a football team). The athletic facilities are very modern and intramural and club sports are very popular, with almost half of the students participating in some way.