The mission of Catholic International University is to communicate the mind and heart of the Church in support of the New Evangelization. In pursuit of Truth, the university educates learners globally through personal and relational online programs in Catholic theology and faith development, liberal arts, science, and technology, to foster faith, leadership, and service for the Church and the world.


The Catholic Church has been operating universities for a thousand years and was involved in education for a thousand years before that. When John Paul II issued the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae (15 August 1990), he restated the tradition and experience of the Church as it relates to Catholic universities.

He explained the role of faith in the working of the faculty, staff, and students. He also set down how research and teaching are illuminated by faith. The university is an intellectual community, but it is intellectual in a uniquely Catholic way because it respects the truth. As Pope Benedict XVI said, “Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human, capable of directing the will along the path of freedom” (cf. Spe Salvi, 23).

Faith nourishes and guides the Catholic university and makes it a genuine intellectual community. Catholic International University takes Ex Corde Ecclesiae as its guiding light.


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Founder of Catholic school system in the U.S.

St. Paul
The First Distance Educator

A Catholic university shares that Gaudium de Veritate, so precious to St. Augustine, which is that joy of searching for, discovering and communicating truth in every field of knowledge.

Pope St. John Paul II

The motto of Catholic International is Gaudium de Veritate

Joy From the Truth

Catholic International University through its academic programs, its expertise in distance education, and its commitment to a strong learning community, fosters an encounter with the living God in Jesus Christ who is the “way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6)

In his Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope Saint John Paul II stated that, “[a Catholic university] shares that Gaudium de Veritate, so precious to St. Augustine, which is that joy of searching for, discovering, and communicating truth in every field of knowledge.” (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 1)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminded Catholic educators, “First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.” (cf. Spe Salvi 4). (Address, Catholic University of America, April 17, 2008)

Pope Francis described the goal of Catholic education, “To prepare hearts, that the Lord might manifest Himself…” (Address: Vatican Global Education Conference, November 21, 2015)

Catholic International University with a singular focus of Theology and Religious Education in the modality of distance education is guided by the Apostolic Constitution of Pope St. John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, “Born from the Heart of the Church”.  In addition to the University’s motto, vision, and institutional principles, our institutional outcomes also reflect the “Mission of Service of a Catholic University” as described in the Apostolic Constitution (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 30).

In the words of the Holy Father, “The basic mission of a University is a continuous quest for truth through its research, and the preservation and communication of knowledge for the good of society. A Catholic University participates in this mission with its own specific characteristics and purposes” (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 30).

Catholic International University’s Institutional goals are valued traits cultivated within the Catholic International learning community that serve as desired goals across all degree and non-degree programs:

  • Lifelong Formation
  • Faith Development
  • Theological Understanding for Life and Ministry
  • Communication for Community
  • Collaboration for the Common Good

The students will:

  1. –value lifelong formation for service and leadership in the Church and Society. To this end Catholic International is committed to a comprehensive curriculum that enriches every academic level by promoting the integral growth of its students and providing an awareness of the richness of Gospel principles and the living Tradition of the Church.  Lifelong formation instills a capacity for promoting an understanding of the lay vocation and equips Church leaders to give witness to the faith in the world (cf. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 20). (Lifelong Formation)
  2. –encounter the living word of God in a manner that is profound and life-changing, and that deepens faith working through love, preparing them for active participation in the life of the Church” (ECE, 41). To this end Catholic International University offers theological and religious education programs and courses that promote the integration of knowledge across the theological disciplines based on the dialogue between faith and reason and leading to the unity of all truth (cf. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 17). (Faith Development)
  3. –pursue the study of the various theological disciplines so as to become truly competent in the specific sectors in which they will devote themselves to the service of society and of the Church, and, at the same time, be prepared to give the witness of their faith to the world. (cf. Ex Corde Ecclesiae #20) To this end, Catholic International University teaches Catholic theology in a manner faithful to Scripture, Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium that provides an intellectual encounter with changeless truths and strengthens the critical understanding of Gospel principles which enrich the meaning of human life and ministry and shed light on questions in contemporary culture. (cf. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 20) (Theological Understanding for Life and Ministry)
  4.  –articulate Church teaching and doctrine with clarity and insight that foster an experience of the communion of the Church and a spirit of missionary evangelization for the transformation of the culture (cf. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 48). To this end Catholic International University promotes the formation of authentic human community animated by the spirit of Christ, a common dedication to the truth and vision of the human person, offering theological education in a faith-context that forms men and women capable of rational and critical judgment (cf. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 21, 49). Technology, specifically distance education, is the means by which the University community is developed and sustained. (Communication for Community)
  5. –demonstrate intellectual and collaborative skills that foster leadership for the common good and which equip them to integrate faith with life and actively participate in the pastoral ministry of the Church. To this end Catholic International University’s programs and courses foster a fruitful dialogue between the Gospel and culture that is open to Revelation and transcendence (cf. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 43).  (Collaboration for the Common Good)

To assess its primary mission, Catholic International is committed to ongoing assessment and evaluation of its academic programs. This assessment and evaluation process is directed by the Assessment Committee (AC) and assists the faculty and staff in addressing the alignment of institutional outcomes with degree program goals, department (concentration) objectives, and course syllabi. The AC also develops assessment instruments, rubrics, and juried assessment tools and provides data analyses for administration and faculty review that lead to institutional improvement. In addition, the Board of Trustees annually engages in the assessment of its effectiveness in guiding the University to fulfill its mission.

  1. Guided by the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Catholic International University’s curriculum faithfully transmits the teachings of the Catholic Church, promotes the authentic renewal of the Second Vatican Council, and illuminates recent papal documents in support of the New Evangelization.
  2. Catholic International University provides accredited education that reflects a commitment to academic excellence. This includes qualified faculty, a sound curriculum, and systematic academic programs, including graduate, undergraduate, degree and certificate programs that enhance professional careers and foster lifelong learning.
  3. Catholic International University uses distance education to provide universal access to its educational programs and services through the Internet. Digital communication enables Catholic International to accommodate learners in their various unique circumstances.
  4. Catholic International University serves the Catholic Church’s mission of the New Evangelization through partnerships with dioceses and organizations, and uses current research to inform program development and support the educational goals and needs of the faithful, especially the underserved.
  5. Catholic International University fosters a vibrant learning community among students, faculty, alumni, and staff through its interactive online campus and academic programs that deepen the encounter with the living God in communion with the Church.

Catholic International University fosters an encounter with the living God in Jesus Christ who is the “way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6)


The seal of Catholic International University combines elements from the arms of Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, Catholic International’s founder, with symbols that represent our patron saints and our universal reach through online learning.

The three collegiate colors are red, blue, and black signifying: red for the Holy Spirit, source of wisdom and Truth; blue for Mary, seat of wisdom; and black for the ascetical discipline necessary for growth in wisdom and understanding of Truth.

The right side of the shield is from Bishop Welsh’s coat of arms. The arrowheads are adapted from the Welsh family coat of arms.  The chevron with an arrowhead signifies the Bishop’s patron, St. Thomas the Apostle.  The crowned humilitas is taken from the coat of arms of St. Charles Borromeo, the seminary where Bishop Welsh served as rector.

The book and sword are symbolic of our two patron saints: the sword for St. Paul, the Church’s first distance educator, and the book for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of the Catholic school system in the United States. Printed on the pages of the book are the words Ex Corde Ecclesiae – the Apostolic Constitution issued by Blessed Pope John Paul II that guides Catholic International as an intellectual community and Catholic university.

Catholic International’s commitment to providing accessible education is symbolized by the globe. Through our online campus, our students and faculty come together to create a global learning community dedicated to the search for Truth and love of knowledge for the glory of God.

Beneath the seal lies the motto of the university, Gaudium de Veritate – Joy from the Truth, a phrase from Saint Augustine, expressing the spirit of the university.


Catholic International University was established in 1983 under the leadership of Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, founding bishop of the Diocese of Arlington. At the time, Bishop Welsh also served as North American Chairman of the Pontifical Council for the Family and believed that families should be able to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic faith in the warmth, security, and convenience of home, giving an example to children of the importance of learning more about our faith throughout life.

Bishop Welsh was deeply committed to Catholic education and to the education of lay people whose distinct vocation in the world was clearly articulated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Bishop Welsh worked tirelessly in the Diocese of Arlington and later as the Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania, to provide opportunities for education and spiritual growth. Not only did Bishop Welsh believe that distance education was an innovative approach to adult religious education, but the Holy See in November 1983 praised Catholic International for carrying out the mandate of Christ to “Teach all Nations” using new methods and approaches and approved Catholic International as a Pontifical Institute with the authority to award the Pontifical Diploma, later known as the Catechetical Diploma. This was the first time that the Diploma was awarded exclusively through correspondence education.

In 2004, St. John Paul II reminded a group of American bishops, “It is of utmost importance, therefore, that the Church’s institutions be genuinely Catholic: Catholic in their self-understanding and Catholic in their identity.” Catholic International’s Catholic identity has been at the heart of all we do since our founding, as articulated by St. John Paul II in his  Apostolic Constitution On Catholic Universities, or in Latin, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (meaning “from the heart of the Church).

Catholic International’s Board has always included bishops and priests along with a majority of lay people and religious committed to the mission of Catholic International. The Bishop has ultimate authority over Catholic International’s curriculum.

For 40 years, Catholic International has educated thousands of students worldwide through high-quality programs steeped in the Catholic intellectual tradition that not only prepare them for professional success but also nurture a love for Jesus Christ. Catholic International fosters a strong, vibrant global learning community. Our faculty and staff are strongly committed to the mission of Catholic International and to fostering a life-changing encounter with the living Word of God, Jesus Christ.

  • Catholic International’s curriculum faithfully transmits the teachings of the Catholic Church following the principles of Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
  • Catholic International is listed as an approved, degree-granting institution of Catholic higher education in the United States by the USCCB.
  • Catholic International is a member of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, an organization committed to strengthening its members’ Catholic mission and to fostering collaboration among Catholic colleges and universities.
  • Catholic International is the only fully online university recommended by the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization committed to promoting and defending faithful Catholic education.