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Elementary and Secondary Education

The St. Joseph Public School District has a mission of providing quality education for about 12,000 students enrolled in three high schools, four middle schools, and 16 elementary schools.

The school district is AAA District Accredited, with close to 55 percent of the teachers possessing master’s degrees. The system is proud of its teacher-pupil ratio of 1 to 20, and equally proud to have the strongest and most sophisticated technology program in the state through a fiber-optic network running through each school in the district.

The district’s broad and demanding curriculum features advanced placement, honors-level classes, dual credit courses, and articulated classes that help develop award-winning students.

Residents can choose from a number of quality parochial/private grade schools and high schools. The city’s four-year Catholic high school. Bishop LeBlond, is a Diocesan comprehensive school founded in 1960 by the Benedictine Sisters of Atchison, Kan. Three Catholic elementary schools offer programs for students in preschool through eighth grade.

St. Joseph Christian School serves St. Joseph with a curriculum based on the biblical truth found in Jesus Christ. The non-denominational school serves  pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

Additional independent schools and academies are located in St. Joseph, representing more than five religious denominations.


emPowerU is a facility sponsored by the Heartland Foundation that benefits students from around the region. The curriculum and experimental learning program bring schools and communities together involving middle school youth in democratic learning and engagement around authentic community challenges. Young people develop civic skills and attitudes so they can see themselves as valued and active citizens.

Higher Education

Missouri Western State University (MWSU) occupies a 744-acre campus on the east side of St. Joseph. MWSU offers certificates, associate degrees, four-year baccalaureate programs and a number of master’s degree programs, including those in Applied Science, Applied Science in Assessment, Applied Arts in Integrated Media and Applied Arts in Written Communication.

MWSU has an enrollment of more than 6,000 students, a staff of 700 members, and contemporary and recreational facilities complemented by a beautifully landscaped campus.

Established by an act of the General Assembly in 1965, the university has its roots in the eighth-oldest junior college in the nation, St. Joseph Junior College (SJJC). SJJC was established in 1915.

Today, MWSU enjoys an expanded enrollment and strong support from the local community, which visited campus more in 2010 when the Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp arrived.

MWSU continues to serve both the needs of traditional students who enter after their graduation from high school and older students who are seeking opportunities to continue their education or develop their talents. MWSU has been designated the official applied learning institution of higher education in Missouri, which means more than 90 percent of students enjoy a real world experience beyond the classroom through either through internships or research opportunities.

This mix of the student body provides an exciting and dynamic learning environment. It affords all MWSU students the opportunity to learn from one another. It brings life to the classroom and challenge to the faculty. Above all, it provides students with a special experience intended to expand horizons and provide rich career opportunities.

The Western Institute at MWSU is home to many community outreach programs and services. A new initiative will result in more than 100 different credit courses being available online. Other programs and services include Community Arts — with a growing partnership with the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, college credit courses in high schools, graduate and undergraduate courses at satellite sites, a literacy program, workforce development and community events requiring space rental and catering.

American College of Technology offers students in the United States, and all over the world, online technical education leading to a career in business or technology. An online university based in St. Joseph, it offers 12 areas of study, including associate degrees in computer programming and system design; web development and Internet technology; information systems; criminal justice; business administration and more. Technical diplomas and certificate programs are available in many of the same areas.

Area Colleges and Universities

Northwest Missouri State University (NWMSU), located 45 miles north of St. Joseph in Maryville, is a four-year regional university offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees. With an enrollment of more than 7,200, NWMSU has distinguished itself among American universities.

NWMSU offers graduate classes from its St. Joseph location in the Historic Green Acres building in the northeast part of the city. Advanced degree courses are available in school counseling, educational leadership and business administration.

Benedictine College, 20 miles southwest of St. Joseph in Atchison, Kan., is a four-year residential. Catholic, co-educational college that provides an outstanding liberal arts education for students of all backgrounds and faiths. One unique aspect of Benedictine College is the opportunity for students to collaborate with their professors on significant research projects. Benedictine’s ethnically diverse undergraduate student population, with more than 1,300 students, includes students from 37 states and 20 foreign countries. Benedictine, which has a 110-acre campus, offers numerous undergraduate majors, an executive master’s degree in business administration, and a masters degree in educational administration.