University of Mary Ranked #1 Hidden Gem in 2024 by College Raptor

Students on Campus studying

BISMARCK, ND — The University of Mary is the No. 1 ranked Hidden Gem school among all North Dakota colleges and universities and amidst the top 51 in all the US — including Washington D.C. — by College Raptor, one of America’s leading online planning resources. College Raptor ranked the private, Catholic, university in Bismarck among thousands of schools with fewer than 5,000 applications, fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students, and an acceptance rate above 10 percent. 

According to College Raptor, colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) for the most recently available enrollment year.  

College Raptor’s Hidden Gem College Rankings puts a spotlight on amazing schools in the US that you may not have heard of before,” said the College Raptor website. “When we talk about hidden gems, they all have three things in common: they are accessible; they are good schools; they are ‘hidden’ from the standpoint that they don’t get as many applications like a Harvard would. As a result, hidden gems tend to be smaller schools that are less likely to be known, especially outside their local area or state. For students who would love to attend a smaller college with outstanding programs, these can be top options.” 

This No. 1 ranking comes on the heels of the University of Mary’s recent announcement of overall record enrollment and its largest freshman class in 2023. Vice President for Public Affairs Rachael Brash says being a “hidden gem” is not a big surprise given the university’s great value, steady growth and expansion, and record enrollment.    

“It is always an honor and humbling to receive top ranking,” added Brash. “The secret is getting out about our high-quality programs at the University of Mary as a private Christian, Catholic, Benedictine university that welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds at an affordable price. Our student body hails from 20 different countries and all 50 states where they converge upon the idyllic Bismarck-Mandan community to be able to enjoy our 89 miles of recreational trails, 30 scenic parks, and six golf courses. For the adventuresome spirit, we offer wildlife and hunting clubs, downhill skiing and snowboarding during the winter, and kayaking, canoeing, and fishing during warmer months. The appeal of the spectacular views from the bluffs that overlook the Missouri River Valley, is obvious, not only to all of us, but Lewis and Clark who also traversed these parts over two centuries ago in 1804.” 

The University of Mary welcomed approximately 3,850 students and 568 freshmen — both records — to start the 2023 fall semester. 

Anyone who wishes to learn more about the University of Mary can do so at or by contacting an admissions representative at, or by calling (701) 355-8030. The University of Mary is one of only 15 Recommended Cardinal Newman Society Residential Colleges and Universities in the US. 

About the University of Mary: True to its motto “lumen vitae”—The Light of Life—the University of Mary offers education for the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs and graduate programs animated by moral courage and leadership in chosen professions and service to the community. A private, co-educational Catholic institution, the University of Mary welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.

A Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution founded in 1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers nearly 60 bachelor’s, 18 master’s, and five doctoral programs—in Business Administration, Education, Nursing Practice, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. The 20-sport Athletic Department adheres to its Greatness Through Virtue mission under the governance of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), and the USA College Clay Target League. With more than 3,800 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Montana, Arizona, Rome, Italy, as well as vibrant online offerings.

Explore Topics