St. Kate’s History of Firsts

Our history goes back to 1905 when the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet founded our university as the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. Named for St. Catherine of Alexandria, a fourth-century Egyptian lay philosopher who suffered martyrdom for her faith, our university got its start as one of the first higher learning institutions established for women.


In 1937, we became the first Catholic college/university in the United States and the third Minnesota institution to be awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization.

In 1964, we launched the first OTA program in the United States. Fifty years later, we expanded our highly respected OTA curriculum to the state of Virginia, making us the first university to offer an Online OTA program that blends online and hands-on curriculum. Today, the program is also available in California and Texas.

In 1986, we became the oldest healthcare educator in Minnesota having merged with St. Mary’s Junior College in Minneapolis. Like our university, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet founded St. Mary’s and opened it as a nursing school in 1887. Today, we operate the Minneapolis location as a coeducational campus that offers associate degree and certificate programs in several healthcare fields.

In 2007, we further strengthened our commitment to healthcare education by opening the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. Through the school, our expert faculty and staff continue to reshape the education of healthcare professionals at all degree levels. Our associate degree occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program serves as a perfect example.

Contact us to learn more about St. Kate’s commitment to healthcare education.

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