The University is organized into 12 faculties and 7 postgraduate schools. Cattolica provides undergraduate courses (Bachelor's degree, which corresponds to Italian Laurea Triennale), graduate courses (Master's degree, which corresponds to Laurea Magistrale, and specializing master) and PhD programs (Dottorati di ricerca). In addition to these, the University runs several double degree programs with other institutions throughout the world. Degrees are offered both in Italian and in English.
UCSC has been granted five stars by QS Stars, a global university rating system, in the following fields: employability, teaching, facilities and engagement. The 2017 QS World University Rankings by subject ranked the Faculty of Law 80th in the world.
Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic serves as the teaching hospital for the medical school of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and owes its name to the university founder, the Franciscan friar, physician and psychologist Agostino Gemelli.
The embryonic project of a Catholic university began around 1870, guided by representatives of various Catholic cultural currents. In September 1918, when the First world war was ending, Giuseppe Toniolo, before dying, recommended to Father Agostino Gemelli and his staff to found the University, saying: "I will not see the end of the war, but you, when it is finished, do it, found the Università Cattolica".
In 1919 Father Agostino Gemelli, Ludovico Necchi, Francesco Olgiati, Armida Barelli, and Ernesto Lombardo founded the Istituto Giuseppe Toniolo di Studi Superiori. On June 24, 1920, the Institute was legally recognized with a decree signed by the Minister of Education, Benedetto Croce; at the same time, Pope Benedict XV officially recognized the University's ecclesiastical status.