Notre Dame de Namur University is a school that benefits from location, nestled in Belmont, California on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay area on one side and Silicon Valley on the other. With such generous fonts of resources, internships, and culture available in your own backyard, it’s no wonder that Notre Dame de Namur has succeeded so highly in the area (it is the only four year accredited university in the county).
Founded in 1851 in San Jose by the Sisters of Notre Dame (moving down the coast from their mission schools in Oregon), it was chartered a decade later in 1868 and became the first school in California to bestow Bachelor degrees to women. Growing until it was too big for its current location, it moved to the 50 acre Belmont campus in 1923.
Notre Dame de Namur educates with a vision, looking to “integrate community engagement into high quality academic programs”, providing an environment where “community engagement and the values of social justice and global peace are integral to the learning experience”. This organic idea of education, one where the student is trained to serve the community as an educated and ethically trained professional has led to the creation of many undergraduate and graduate programs (though no distance learning as of yet), as well as certifications and accelerated/evening programs to provide as wide an educational net as possible.
Currently fielding a student body of 1600 students from around the world and at home (though it is a primarily residential school, 22 states and 24 countries are represented in the student body), Notre Dame de Namur offers around 21 undergraduate majors, a fifth year credential program for educators (ending in California state teaching certification), and graduate programs for those seeking their Master’s or graduate certificates. Programs are organized under three schools (Arts/Sciences, Business/Management, and Education/Leadership) and follow a traditional fall/spring/summer semester schedule.
Though there is no distance learning component at the university, they do have an online course management system allowing you to register and create schedules online. That and online resources are about the extent though.
Undergrads tend towards education, though there is a decided peak in the sciences and they have a recognized music/fine art program with numerous opportunities for performance throughout the year and access to intensive workshops like their Broadway by the Bay (experiential learning with a local theater troupe in an intensive six week “internship”). Graduates degrees are offered in everything from their MA in Music Performance to an Art Therapy MA, as well as traditional Master’s programs in Education and Psychology.
Adult learners can take accelerated/evening courses at NDNU in either a more traditional 15 week semester or halving it in the accelerated program, both ending with the same education and accredited degree. Currently offering a Psychology or Computer/Information Sciences degree to evening learners, and another three options for accelerated evening students, there are also generous transfer guidelines for credit, especially in state.
The undercurrent to all is giving back, though, and community programs like Community Based Learning and Community Based Research allow a symbiosis between students and their surroundings. Through utilizing what’s in the area, students work to give back simultaneously, which has been at the core of Notre Dame de Namur’s educational mission since its beginning and is still alive today.