Higher Education Holistic Impact Report (HIR)

Jason King, Ph.D., Beirne Director and Chair, Center for Catholic Studies at St. Mary’s University

Purpose of the Study

Drawing from the belief in the transformative power of higher education and the notion that conversations around its benefits have been too narrow, the Center for Catholic Studies, in partnership with YouGov, designed a study to delve deeper into the non-financial benefits of higher education by addressing two key objectives:

  • Beyond Financial Gain: To explore and highlight the intrinsic value of education that extends beyond mere economic outcomes.
  • Influencing Life’s Compass: To understand how a holistic approach to education influences graduates’ core values, directs their purpose in life, and enhances their overall well-being and fulfillment.

As Catholic colleges and universities focus on holistic education, the study compared 1,000 graduates from Catholic institutions and universities to 1,000 graduates from secular ones to explore the benefits of higher education beyond monetary measures.

Study Overview

Working with YouGov, leveraging their expertise in data collection and analysis to obtain reliable insights, the Center for Catholic Studies surveyed 2,000 adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher — 1,000 from Catholic colleges and universities and 1,000 from secular colleges and universities. The goal was to compare differences in life outcomes from the graduates of these two types of institutions.


  • Life is close to ideal: +10%
  • Clear sense of direction: +9%
  • Lifelong search for purpose: +14%
  • Seeking significance: +17%
  • Searching for meaning: +15%
  • Social fulfillment: +15%
  • Community fulfillment: +13%
  • Civic engagement: +9%
  • Morality in decision-making: +19%
  • Alignment of goals and values: +9%

For more details of the survey, please see the slide deck, Catholic News Agency story and press release below.

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