2021-2022 Catalog

Welcome to Holy Names University


Mission Statement

Holy Names University, founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, is rooted in Catholic intellectual and spiritual traditions. A rigorous and inclusive intellectual community, HNU is committed to continuous improvement and provides professional and liberal arts undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The University empowers a diverse student body to think critically and imaginatively, to understand and employ various modes of knowledge, to communicate clearly and persuasively, to pursue leadership opportunities, and to promote the common good.

Vision Statement

Holy Names University strives to be a leader in innovative experiential learning committed to inclusivity and collaboration and dedicated to a more just and equitable world for everyone.


    Holy Names University has offered a broad and challenging education to a diverse student body since its founding in 1868.

    Classes are small, enabling students and faculty to work closely together in the learning process. Interaction among faculty and students extends beyond the classroom into informal discussions, forums, and social gatherings, all of which foster a free exchange of ideas. The atmosphere of the University aims at helping students develop their intellectual potential so they enjoy full and satisfying lives. Holy Names achieves this aim by promoting self-reliance, creativity, and critical thinking in all of its educational programs.

    The student body at Holy Names University reflects the ethnically diverse Bay Area in which the University is located. In the classroom and in extracurricular activities, students of diverse nationalities and cultures learn in practice as well as theory what it means to be a citizen of the world. No one nationality or ethnic culture claims a majority at Holy Names. Opportunities and resources are open to every student in exciting and challenging ways.

    The University’s student body represents age as well as cultural diversity. A key aspect of Holy Names is its tradition of offering a strong curriculum taught within innovative schedules and programs that serve the needs of adult learners. For working adults, a number of undergraduate and Master’s programs are offered in an accelerated program on weekends and weekday evenings. The University has initiated and sustains a number of innovative programs such as the Raskob Learning Institute for children and adults with learning disabilities, the Kodály music education program, and the Core Program in Integrative Studies Across Cultures.

    Committed as it is to the Catholic tradition, Holy Names University fosters its students’ religious faith in their pursuit of learning and service. Students are encouraged to respect diversity, have a sense of their own values, and recognize the service of others as a privilege. The University has a welcoming atmosphere for learners of any faith tradition.

    The University is proud of its rich heritage of offering ladders of mobility for generations of its students and takes seriously its responsibility to prepare students for the world of work. As a complement to classroom study, students incorporate internships, independent studies, and seminars into their programs. Through cooperative arrangements with East Bay colleges and universities, students may take concurrent courses at other institutions to enrich their programs and experiences.

    All degrees of the University are accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. The Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits the RN/BSN, LVN/BSN, and MSN nursing programs.


    Holy Names University is located on 60 wooded acres in the Oakland hills. Its site provides a breathtaking view of Oakland and the San Francisco Bay. Nestled among the hills, the campus provides a quiet, safe, and extremely beautiful study atmosphere. At the same time, students are within easy reach of a variety of cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities within the Bay Area.

    Students have ready access to libraries, museums, theaters, concerts, neighboring campuses, sports arenas, and centers for recreation and social opportunities. Numbered among the artistic and intellectual organizations available to students are the San Francisco and Oakland Ballets, the San Francisco Symphony, the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the San Francisco Opera, the Oakland Museum, the De Young Museum of San Francisco, the Lawrence Hall of Science, the Berkeley Repertory Theater, and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. Convenient day-long or weekend trips may be made to Yosemite National Park, the Sierra Gold Country, Lake Tahoe, Monterey Bay and Carmel, and to the Napa Valley and Sonoma County wineries. Parks surrounding the campus offer numerous opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, or bicycling.

    The Bay Area’s climate reflects its coastal location. The winter months are temperate, fall and spring offer sunny and clear days, and the summers provide foggy early mornings and sunny, breezy afternoons. Any time of year is perfect for work or leisure.

    The campus is accessible to the freeway system, to bus lines, and to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Two international airports, Oakland and San Francisco, are approximately twenty and forty-five minutes, respectively, by car from campus.


    Pioneering Educators

    Holy Names University was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a religious congregation of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1868, six members of this teaching order came to Oakland from Montreal, Canada, to establish a school for girls on the shores of Lake Merritt.

    On arrival, May 10, the weary but excited travelers were greeted with great warmth and provided with a snack which included strawberries and cream—an exotic treat at this time of year for the Sisters from Canada. Each year, the religious faculty and staff members continue to commemorate Holy Names’ beginnings in California by serving strawberries to the University community when they celebrate Founders’ Day.

    By 1880, the school, staffed by the Sisters and known as the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, had flourished to the point where the State of California empowered it to grant higher degrees. The primary purpose at the outset was to qualify teachers for schools under the jurisdiction of the Holy Names Community. Today, Holy Names University remains under the sponsorship of the Sisters of the Holy Names.

    Expanding Opportunities

    1908 The name of the institution was changed to Convent and College of the Holy Names.
    1916 Secular students were admitted to college-level classes for the first time, and the Alumnae Office was opened with its new constitution decreeing that the annual meeting should coincide with Founders’ Day, May 10.
    1917 Holy Names Junior College was formally inaugurated.
    1925 The senior college opened.
    1930 The first College of the Holy Names’ teacher candidates were credentialed by the State of California.
    1949 Holy Names became one of the charter members of WSCUC, the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
    1955 The coeducational Graduate Division was formally established.
    1957 The entire College moved from Lake Merritt to the new campus on Mountain Boulevard.
    1960 Raskob Learning Institute opened.
    1969 The Kodály Music Education Program was founded.
    1971 The College name changed to Holy Names College; the College became totally coeducational.
    1977 An interdisciplinary, team-taught program in Humanistic Studies (HMST) became the cornerstone of the undergraduate curriculum.
    1987 The Writing Across the Curriculum program was adopted to ensure that development in writing was a component of all undergraduate programs.
    1994 The Valley Center for Performing Arts opened, providing the campus and the Oakland community with a state-of-the-art facility.
    1997 The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program began offering classes.
    1999 The HMST Program was renamed Integrative Studies Across Cultures (ISAC)
    2004 The name of the institution was changed to Holy Names University.
    2006 Renovation of the science facilities and all classrooms on the second floor of Brennan Hall was completed.
    2007 Fiftieth anniversary of the move to the Mountain Boulevard campus.
    2009 Renovation of the first floor of Brennan Hall was completed.
    2016 The University was accepted for Full Membership in NCAA Division II.
    2018 The remembrance of the 150th anniversary of the Sisters' arrival in California and the founding of the University were celebrated.


    The faculty of Holy Names University, highly prepared professionally with appropriate degrees and credentials, do far more than give lectures, advise students, correct papers, attend professional meetings, do research, and write scholarly papers for publication. They are also uniquely responsible for setting the academic atmosphere of learning and scholarship shared with one another and with their students.

    A distinctive hallmark of the University is the personal interest in the well-being of each student by the professors. Holy Names’ faculty stimulate their students to move in directions that students may not have considered. Faculty take time, through academic advising and through informal and formal meetings before and after class hours, to assist students in their orientation to college life. As students adjust to the rigors and challenges within each of their subjects, the roles of their teachers include mentor, scholar, and researcher—roles that faculty members joyfully share with their students. Students interact with their instructors in career planning, athletic events, drama productions, music performances, art shows, computer laboratories, science laboratories, as well as in lectures, seminars, tutorials, independent studies, research, field work, and internships.

    Academic Principles and Outcomes

    The academic programs of Holy Names University express the University Mission through a commitment to:

    • excellence in the liberal arts as a foundation for careers, citizenship, and an enriched life;
    • creative, effective teaching using small classes and individual attention to students;
    • disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to learning and the application of learning;
    • fostering personal development, intellectual and practical skills, the increase of knowledge and understanding, and the capacity to make ethical decisions;
    • promoting a greater awareness of core values within the Judeo-Christian heritage and other religious traditions;
    • serving the academic needs and interests of a diverse student body;
    • sustaining a multicultural environment that celebrates diversity and affirms differences while building community;
    • providing links to the larger community through study, campus activities, and internships; and
    • supporting both individual achievement and the ideal of service.

    Holy Names graduates are expected to have interacted with the learning community of Holy Names University in a collaborative, hospitable, open manner to creatively begin their journey to develop values and skills in the University’s four Learning Outcomes:

    Learn: Learn the insights and methods of the academic fields and traditions we study in order to better understand the world and the challenges we face.

    • HNU graduates will be able to define systematic, rigorous, and critical inquiry practices of academic traditions in their chosen field of study

    Apply: Apply the insights and methods of these academic disciplines and traditions to help create a more just, sustainable, and environmentally friendly world.

    • HNU graduates will demonstrate acquisition of expertise in their chosen field of study and interpretation of cultural and ethical perspectives.

    Lead: Lead by assuming active and effective roles in creating a more just world as a member of a diverse learning community that promotes cross-cultural competence, and collaborative problem-solving.

    • HNU graduates will be able to proactively engage diverse inter-professional stakeholders in order to facilitate common understanding.

    Grow: Grow as persons and members of a community of continuous learners committed to understanding and promoting the common good of our ever-changing world, its peoples, and its cultures.

    • HNU graduates will be able to generate, promote, and commit to life-long learning.