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Clarke University

About Clarke University

Our progressive present comes from a storied past. In 1843, Irish woman Mary Frances Clarke journeyed into pioneer territory and formed a congregation of religious women, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

With a belief in changing hearts and minds, Clarke University was born.

Clarke University is a liberal arts and sciences university focused on progressing with the times. Humble beginnings have developed into over 40 undergraduate and 5 graduate programs, including a best-in-class adult education program.

We are an institution guided by steadfast principles. We believe one-on-one learning is the ratio for future scholars and laureates. We understand that without proper connections, a quality education is moot. We recognize that easy access to our educators is what sets us apart.

It is more than a pledge. It is a progressive framework that has guided us for more than one-and-a-half centuries.

Quick Facts

Clarke University is a Catholic, co-educational, liberal arts institution. Founded in 1843 by Mary Frances Clarke, foundress of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), it is the only BVM university in the United States.

Clarke University's 55-acre campus sits on a bluff in a quiet residential area overlooking the city of Dubuque, Iowa (population 60,000) and the Mississippi River.

Clarke's fall 2010 total enrollment was 1,255 students. The average ACT score of the 2010 freshman class was 23 and the average high school grade-point-average was 3.33.

According to a placement survey of 2008 graduates of Clarke, 99 percent of those responding reported being employed or continuing their education.

Student/Faculty Ratio: 11:1

The Clarke Crusaders compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and are a member of the Midwest Classic Conference. Intercollegiate teams include MEN'S and WOMEN'S bowling, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, track and field, and volleyball; as well as MEN'S baseball and WOMEN'S softball. Clarke also offers a spirit team (cheer and dance) and a wide variety of intramural sports.

Clarke confers the Associate of Arts (A.A.), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Master of Arts in Education (M.A.E.), Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.), and Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.).

For the 2009-2010 academic year, undergraduate tuition is $22,800, student fees are $720, and the average cost for room and board is $6,840. Tuition for the TimeSaver Program is $534 per credit hour. Graduate tuition is $602 per credit hour for MSN, MBA and MAE during the fall and spring semesters. Tuition for year five of the physical therapy program is $23,192 and year six is $22,706. Graduate tuition may vary during summer sessions.

Financial Assistance 
During the 2008-2009 academic year, approximately 98 percent of Clarke’s full-time, day-time students received financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid as soon as possible after January 1.

Renewable, merit-based scholarships include Presidential scholarships, Clarke grants, alumni/sibling discounts, and competitive fine arts and departmental awards. Apply for admission early to be considered for Clarke scholarships.

Clarke is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, the National Association of Schools of Music, The National League for Nursing, the Council on Social Work Education, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs in association with the Joint Review Committee on Athletic Training.

Clarke University is consistently recognized for excellence in education. Clarke was recently named to the "Colleges of Distinction" guidebook, recognizing the university for strength in what the book calls the four pillars of a solid undergraduate education: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant communities and successful outcomes. Clarke was also named a "Best Midwestern College" by the Princeton Review.

Clarke University does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, or handicap in its educational programs, admissions policies, employment practices, financial aid, athletics, or other university-administered programs. Clarke University complies with all pertinent state and federal regulations concerning affirmative action, non-discrimination, and equal employment opportunity.

Mission & History

St. Joseph's Academy

Clarke University has moved into the 21st century with an impressive tradition of excellence in education. Established in 1843, Clarke is named for an Irish woman, Mary Frances Clarke, who founded a congregation of religious women, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs). When the community arrived in the river town of Dubuque in 1843, it was pioneer territory; though the city has changed radically in succeeding years, its vibrancy and Mississippi river beauty continue.

The antecedent institution of Clarke University, St. Mary’s Academy, was established in 1843 by BVM sisters, three years before Iowa became a state. After occupying several locations in its early years, the school was re-named Mount St. Joseph Academy and moved permanently in 1881 to its present location. The academy became Mt. St. Joseph College, a liberal arts institution, in 1901 and was chartered by the State of Iowa in 1910. First accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1918, the institution was named Clarke College in 1928 and in 2010 became Clarke University.

In 1884, Mary Frances Clarke wrote to her community of sisters, almost all of whom were teachers: “Let us…keep our schools progressive with the times in which we live…In teaching, we must…endeavor to make [students] think.” These directives of over a century ago have continued to inspire a faculty and staff of dedicated women and men to offer a challenging and growth-producing education to all Clarke students.

Academic excellence has persisted as a goal in a variety of new programs and degrees that have been developed over the years. Graduate studies were added in 1964 and evening programs for non-traditional students began in 1968. In 1979, the university became a co-educational institution, admitting both women and men in full-time undergraduate programs.

History - after fireOn May 17, 1984, a devastating fire destroyed four historic campus buildings.  Undaunted by the disaster, students hung a banner the next day proclaiming “Clarke Lives!” This spirit sustained the campus community through a period of vigorous rebuilding. In October 1986, a dedication was held for a new library, music performance hall, chapel, bookstore, administrative offices, and central atrium, which now constitute the core of the campus. In more recent years additional buildings were added to accommodate a growing student population: a recreation and sports complex in 1994; a student apartment building in 1998; and the Student Activity Center in 2000.

Throughout its growth and change, Clarke University has been “progressive with the times.” As new programs have developed, Clarke has continued to challenge and support students, who are the heart of the institution, in their intellectual and personal growth. In an institution known for its long tradition of excellence in education, students, faculty, and staff work together to maintain and strengthen that heritage.


Clarke University is recognized for providing a high level, challenging academic experience. We pride ourselves on being a Catholic, liberal arts, university. Our faculty will provide you with solid theoretical frameworks and practical learning experiences. We will take you from the textbook to the real world.

Your learning and your success is our focus. Learning and personal growth will take place within the classroom, through internships, and many other opportunities. We invite you take advantage of our academic programs and join our alums as a leader in your chosen field.

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