Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

About us

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC)

Founded in Milan in 1921 by Father Agostino Gemelli, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore is Europe’s most important Catholic university. It is also the only university in Italy operating on a national scale, with campuses in Milan, Piacenza, Cremona, Brescia and Rome, and the “Agostino Gemelli” General Hospital in Rome.
Academic excellence, a commitment to charting research frontiers, and quality services are the strengths of an institution long recognised for its openness to innovation and change.
Università Cattolica holds a place in European tradition as a seat of cultural development; the focus on a comprehensive, unifying learning experience is strong and unique so as to facilitate understanding and interpretation of the complexities of life today. The university’s mission translates into the offer of an education focused on development of the person as a whole.
With a firm basis on these ideals and this commitment Università Cattolica has educated many who have gone on to hold positions of leadership in Italy.
Numbered among the university’s eminent alumni are scholars, politicians, lawyers, economists, educators, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, professionals, journalists, publishers, writers and Church leaders. And there are so many other graduates, some better known than others, who have contributed to building the university’s reputation in Italy and around the world.
Università Cattolica can boast academic excellence, a commitment to scientific research and quality services among its strengths. Steeped in tradition, yet receptive to innovation and change, Cattolica is dedicated to serving the local community, while also remaining active on the national and international front.
40 thousand students, nearly 1,700 professors and researchers and over a thousand people involved in technical and administrative activities.
These are the numbers of Università Cattolica, which primarily express its two key dimensions: education and scientific research.
The training offer is structured in 41 undergraduate programs, 39 graduate programs, 6 single-cycle programms and wide postgraduate offer.

Congregation for Catholic Education


The remote origin of this Congregation of the Apostolic See, in fact,  goes back to the special commissions set up by the Roman Pontiffs for the supervision of the Universities of Rome and studies in the territory of the Papal States. The first commission appears to have been founded by Eugene IV in 1431, the next one by Leo X, with the Apostolic Constitution Dum Suavissimos (5th November 1613), finally, the most successful one, was established by Julius III and with a  short document Dum Attentae Sollecitudinis of 23rd January 1552.
Pope Sixtus V made the first comprehensive reform of the Roman Curia by the Apostolic Constitution Immense Aeterni of 22nd January 1588. He established the Congregatio pro Universitate Studii Romani to supervise the Universities and Colleges of Rome and other distinguished universities, such as Bologna, Paris, Salamanca, Oxford, etc. This Congregation, however, soon lost importance, until it disappeared completely under the pontificate of Clement V (1670-76).

It was Leo XII, with the Apostolic Constitution Quod Divina Sapientia of 28th  August 1824, who established the new Congregatio Studiorum for the Universities and all public and private schools of the Papal States.
Beginning from 1870, following the dissolution of the Papal States, this Congregation began to exert its authority over the Universities and Institutes of French Catholics and then also on Papal institutions based in Rome. With the Apostolic Constitution Sapienti Consilio of 29th June 1908, St. Pius X confirmed the competence of the Congregation Studiorum for Universities.

An important reform was accomplished later by Pope Benedict XV, who, by the Motu Proprio Seminaria Clericorum of 4th November 1915, united the Office for Seminaries, existing at the constitutional Congregation, and the Congregatio Studiorum, so establishing the Congregatio de Seminariis et de Studiorum Universitatibus. In this way, the Congregation was enriched by a new competence concerning seminaries, and this was confirmed by can. 256 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Indeed, this competence was always mentioned as the first and main competence.

It is worthwhile, remembering  - with regard to universities - that Pius XI, in 1931,  rearranged higher ecclesiastical studies, with the Apostolic Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus, expressly reserving to the exclusive competence of the Congregation among the Departments of the Roman Curia for universities and ecclesiastical faculties, stating: "The canonical erection and the supreme direction of any ecclesiastical university and faculties of these studies, even in the places and institutions subject to the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church and Propaganda, as well as any Faculty belonging to any religious family, are reserved to the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities of Studies. "

With the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae of 1968 - with which Paul VI, after the Second Vatican Council, reformed the Roman Curia - the Congregation assumed the name of Sacra Congregatio pro Institutione Catholica and, alongside the authority it already possessed before, for seminaries (first Office) and ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (second office), a third office was set up for Catholic schools.

The new reform of the Roman Curia, realized by John Paul II with the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, 28th June 1988, basically confirmed the competences of the Congregation previously existing. However, the name therein, was changed a few months later by the Pope himself, who restored the old name Congregatio de Institutione Catholica (de Seminariis atque Studiorum Institutis).

On 16th January of 2013, with the Motu proprio Ministorum Institutio, Pope Benedict XVI modified the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, and the jurisdiction over Seminaries which had been held by the Congregation was  transferred to the Congregation for the Clergy. In addition, according to the above-mentioned document, the name of the Dicastery was also changed from Congregatio de Institutione Catholica (de Seminariis atque Studiorum Institutis)"to Congregatio de Institutione Catholica (de Studiorum Institutis).

The Congregation for Catholic Education gives practical expression to the concern of the Apostolic See for the promotion and organization of Catholic education. (Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, Art. 112)

The Dicastery is responsible for:
• all Universities, Faculties, Institutes and Schools of ecclesiastical studies (which have a direct link with the Congregation and form the Holy See’s Higher Education System) or civil (like Catholic Universities, colleges or institutions and associations established for academic purposes) that depend on physical or moral ecclesiastical persons (Bishop, Religious communities);
• all schools and pre-university level educational institutions of any kind (except those that depend on the Congregations for the Oriental Churches and for the Evangelization of Peoples) that depend on Ecclesiastical Authority, that from young people. 

The structure of the Dicastery
The Congregation for Catholic Education currently has two offices that deal with the above mentioned responsibilities:
• the University Office, which deals with matters concerning Catholic Higher Education. Its work includes two areas of expertise.
One area of work concerns the establishment or approval of universities and ecclesiastical institutions over  which it exercises direct authority. It also deals with matters that regard Catholic Universities and that fall under the responsibility of the Holy See.
It also fosters collaboration and mutual help among universities, and assists academic institutions in the fields of its competence.

Another has to do with the recent developments in the world of Higher Education. It concerns the involvement of the Holy See in various international initiatives in this regard, such as the Bologna Process, as well as the ratification of the four regional conventions of UNESCO for recognition of studies and Diplomas.
These involvements on the international level mean that the Congregation now maintains stable relations with international bodies that organize developments. Those developments have meant that the Dicastery has started working on various transparency instruments (such as the National Qualifications Framework, Diploma Supplement, etc.) and promotion of their correct application. In other words, the Dicastery ensures that the commitments undertaken, due to the involvement of the Holy See in various international initiatives in the field of Education, are maintained and fulfilled.

The Schools Office, which deals with matters pertaining to Catholic schools.

International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU)


It was at the initiative of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan, Italy) and of the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen (Nijmegen, Netherlands) that preliminary steps were taken in 1924 to bring together the Catholic universities in a Federation to discuss specific issues of common concern. These endeavours were concretised the following year during a meeting at the Institut Catholique de Paris where 14 universities from the various parts of the world were represented at a first General Assembly. It was only after the Second World War that the Fœderatio Universitatum Catholicarum took off. It was recognised by a Decree of the Holy See in 1948 and by Pope Pius XII in 1949. It became the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) in 1965.

According to its Statutes, the mission of the Federation is to contribute to the building of a more just and humane world in the light of reason and faith with the ferment of the Gospel and the advances of knowledge and its applications. Its aims are to promote a collective reflection on their mission among Catholic higher education and research institutions, to network knowledge and know-how at the service of efficient cooperation between members, to represent the Catholic universities in international organisations and associations and, in line with its institutional priorities, collaborate with them, to contribute to the development of Catholic higher education and to the assertion of its specific character, according to criteria of quality, continuity and autonomy.

The International Federation of Catholic Universities is now made up of 220 universities and institutions of higher education of all continents. They have at their disposal a permanent secretariat tasked with implementing the orientations and policies as set forth by the General Assembly and administrative bodies. IFCU also runs since 1975 a Center for Coordination of Research (CCR) whose mission consists of promoting interuniversity and multidisciplinary research within the framework of international cooperation. Aware of the concerns, interests and expectations of Catholic universities and their respective fields of action, the CCR offers a platform for encounter, debate, production and circulation of knowledge, in order to permanently question the main challenges posed today to human, scientific, social and ecclesial development. 

IFCU members can also join Regional Associations according to their continental distribution. Obvious cultural and geographical sympathies are the basis of the regional groups, which also aim to carry out more efficiently the missions of the Catholic University in the world. 

The founding of FUCE (Federation of European Catholic Universities), which is exclusively made up of IFCU member institutions is an example. Other initiatives exist in Africa with ACUHIAM (Association of Catholic Universities and Higher Institutions of Africa and Madagascar), in Asia with ASEACCU (Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Colleges and Universities), in Latin America with ODUCAL (Organización de las Universidades Católicas de América Latina) but also ACCU (Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities) in North America and the Xavier Board of Higher Education in India. These Regional associations are entirely or partly made up of IFCU member institutions and aim at meeting the specific and more immediate interests of these regions in the spirit of the objectives of the Federation. 

Faculties, departments, institutes or schools of affiliated universities can join the IFCU Sectorial Groups, which aim at pooling common experience and sensibility among specialists of a same discipline or field in order to share various experiences beyond different cultural contexts without erasing these. Discussions around a common theme, the organisation of specific research colloquia, projects and activities, exchange of professors, publications, consultancies, whereby the partners consolidate, develop and share their knowledge and fulfil the academic, ethical and spiritual aims of the Federation by making these concrete and dynamic within the member institutions. 

Philosophers, theologians, educationists, political scientists, psychologists, medical doctors, specialists in social sciences, in family studies, etc. have contributed through these Groups to extend the IFCU family and promote the international scientific impact of the Catholic academics.