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The Catholic University of Applied Sciences North Rhine-Westphalia (katho) focuses on quality education, practical training, applied research and knowledge transfer while seeking to instil a Christian sense of character and personality in its students. With campuses in Aachen, Cologne, Muenster and Paderborn it is today Germany’s largest church-sponsored private university with state certification. Its roots go back to the Catholic professional schools for social work of the early 20th century, institutions which were initiated by courageous and highly educated women who were in search of informed answers to the social cleavages brought about by advancing industrialisation.

The university was founded in 1971 by the five Catholic dioceses of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has a public mission to contribute to the academic education of social workers, theologians (and health scientists since the early 1990s) and is refinanced in large part by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. We offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, training students in social services, health science and practical theology.

The current challenges for institutions of higher education are a development opportunity for katho. In addition to our traditional academic programmes, we pursue research projects in each of our disciplines and maintain our own research institutes. Our master’s graduates have the opportunity to engage in one of our projects as scientific colloborators. This way they can gain an insight into an inspiring enviroment which helps them to prepare for their PhD. We also offer a variety of postgraduate and further education courses. Furthermore, we run a network of transfer for social innovation, based on a joint project with the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Rhineland-Westphalia-Lippe.

katho‘s regional dispersion supports the presence of Catholic higher education throughout the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It helps us to maintain close contact with the local enviroment and social institutions in order to reflect the specific needs on site appropriately. Being held together as one university gives us the chance to produce synergetic effects in all our fields of activity and to contribute to the solution of global problems – a target which one campus alone could not address.


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