Aquinas at a Glance

Mission Statement

Impelled by the Catholic faith and the Dominican mission, Aquinas Institute of Theology educates men and women to preach, to teach, to minister, and to lead.

Who We Are

Aquinas Institute of Theology is a Roman Catholic graduate school located in a former factory in Midtown St. Louis, Missouri. We are a Dominican-sponsored school partnering with the Jesuit-run Saint Louis University.  It’s a cozy relationship and great for students, who enjoy a close-knit community of about 200 women and men, along with the benefits of a big University in our backyard. Aquinas Institute gives students intimate liturgies and the occasional potluck lunch. Saint Louis University offers a fitness center, student center, University library and the opportunity to cross-register for classes.

Our students are seminarians, recent university graduates, retirees, accountants and soccer moms. Most students are Catholic, although several come from other faith traditions. Their presence enriches the conversation.

Aquinas Institute is a place where students know faculty members by their first names. Mixed into their graduate-level theological studies are midday prayer services and a weekly Mass during which faculty members preach, sing in the choir, or listen to student reflections. Groups gather in the lounge for lunch, where conversation bounces from movies to the magisterium.

What We Do

We offer a doctoral degree, masters degrees, and certificates that prepare students to preach, to teach, to minister, and to lead. We also edify those who seek a greater understanding of themselves or their faith tradition. Our graduates become prison ministers, priests, parish life coordinators, hospital chaplains, theology teachers, canon lawyers, and directors of Catholic agencies.

While we are loyal to Church teachings, we are not satisfied with the short answers. We strive to grasp the deeper meanings of our rich faith tradition and apply them to 21st-century questions.

Why We Do It

The Catholic Church is changing. As fewer vowed religious are able to sustain health care and education ministries, we must acknowledge that their successors will be different, and we must educate those successors so they understand the breadth and depth of the ministries they assume.

As fewer priests are able to meet needs of their parish communities, we must work to prepare and train the lay ministers who will counsel the grieving, minister to the sick, and comfort the lonely. And we must do it in a model in which the ordained, the vowed and the laity work together to enhance one another’s gifts.

We do it because our students tell us that their studies here make their lives richer. We do it because our faith tradition calls us to be active participants in the life of the Church.

Where We Are

We are located next to the campus of Saint Louis University, which is in Midtown St. Louis. Students are within walking distance of the Fox Theater and a bike ride away from beautiful Forest Park or the trendy Central West End neighborhood.


1900 - The Dominican Order decides not to expand the House of Studies in Washington, D.C., founding a new House of Studies in River Forest, Illinois.

1912 - The Master General of the Dominican Order makes the House of Studies a Studium Generale. He also formally establishes the Central Province of St. Albert the Great, and the school is intended primarily to prepare the province’s members for priesthood. The Studium Generale operates from 1939 to 1951.

1923 - The Studium faculty moves to the campus of the Dominican College of St. Rose of Lima in Dubuque, Iowa, and experiences a period of rapid change.

1956 - The two Dominican colleges, St. Rose of Lima and the Studium Generale, are incorporated as one, the Aquinas Institute of Philosophy and Theology.

1964 - Aquinas Institute is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

1965 - The Association of Theological Schools of Iowa is formed, the first ecumenical consortium established in the country.

1967 - The first women students begin their studies.

1968 - Aquinas Institute becomes one of the first five Catholic schools to enter the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and to be accredited by it.

1981 - Aquinas Institute of Theology moves to St. Louis, Missouri, where it enters into a "Cooperative Project for Theological Education" with Saint Louis University, on whose campus it resides. During that time, the school inaugurates the Great Preacher Award (awarded to an outstanding homilist in the St. Louis area), the Catherine of Siena Excellence in Ministry Award (awarded to a layman who has contributed through ministerial work), and the annual Aquinas Lecture (given by leading theologians on current topics in theology). The Dubuque campus is sold to Emmaus Bible College.

2005 - The school moves again, this time to a former factory in Midtown St. Louis, built in 1903 to house the Standard Adding Machine Company, which prospered with the invention of a 10-key adding machine. The renovation of the building was part of a larger urban renovation project which includes residential and commercial space.