In 1884, St. Joseph Academy was founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Housed in a renovated building called “Villa Maria,” few students were able to attend this "country school" located three miles west of downtown Des Moines due to limited public transportation.
Dowling High School for boys was established in 1918 with an enrollment of 90 students on an eight-acre site purchased by Bishop Dowling from the Des Moines College Corporation. Dowling was known as Des Moines Catholic College until 1935 when it was renamed for its late founder.
In 1970, the BVM Sisters agreed to share in the development of the new facility after a community study indicated a co-educational high school was desired by the people of the Des Moines Diocese. Dowling Catholic High School/St. Joseph Educational Center at 1400 Buffalo Road opened in 1972.
Dowling Catholic High School is committed to serving the Greater Des Moines Catholic community and embracing learners of all faiths. In an environment that is faithful, caring and dedicated, Dowling Catholic forms each student to become a Christ-centered leader.