Buena Vista University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Buena Vista University
Buena Vista University is dedicated to transforming students to succeed in both the academic...

Buena Vista University

Storm Lake, Iowa

Buena Vista University is dedicated to transforming students to succeed in both the academic and professional worlds through a groundbreaking, interdisciplinary liberal arts education.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
864 undergraduate students
99% of undergrad students are full time
48% male — 52% female
28% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
76 full-time faculty
30 part-time faculty
10 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
99% of first year students live on campus
90% of all students live on campus

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices 

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences X
Learning Communities  
Writing-Intensive Courses X
Collaborative Assignments and Projects X
Undergraduate Research X
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning X
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X

Retention Fall 2015

78% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)


50.18% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 8%
Hispanic/Latino 7%
Black or African American 2%
White 74%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 2%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 3%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 4%

Academic Programs

Business: Accounting, Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, Financial Decision Making, Human Resource Management, Management, Marketing, Sport Management, Data Analytics

Education: Education Studies, Elementary Education (K-6), Physical Education and Coaching (K-12), Secondary Education, Special Education

Secondary Education Certifications: Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Communications, Computer Science/Mathematics, English, Health, History, Journalism, Language Arts, Mathematics, Music K-12, Music—Instrumental and Vocal, Physical Education, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Science, Social Science, Sociology, Spanish, Special Education

Teaching Endorsements: Coaching Authorization K-12, Middle School 5-8, Pre-Kindergarten/Kindergarten, Reading 5-12, Reading K-8, Special Education (Instructional Strategist I: Mid/Moderate K-8, Instructional Strategist I: Mild/Moderate 5-12), Teaching English as a Second Language

Science: Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science (Information Technology, Mathematics, Systems), Corporate Math, Data Analytics, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Physics

Pre-Health Programs: Allied Health Sciences, Chiropractic Medicine, Dentistry, Medical Technology, Medicine, Optometry, Osteopathy, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Pre-Mortuary Science, Veterinary Medicine

Pre-Professional Programs: Pre-Engineering, Pre-Law Communication and Arts: Animation, Art, Arts Management, Communication Studies, Digital Media (Audio, Business, Communication, Design, Digital Media Programming, Journalism, Performance, Video, Web), English, Graphic Design, Music (Instrumental and Vocal), Music Production, Pre-Art Therapy, Scientific Illustration, Spanish, Theatre

Social Sciences: Criminology and Criminal Justice, History, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, Strategic Public Relations

Athletic Training and Human Performance: Athletic Training, Exercise Science, Human Performance

Study Abroad

There are few better ways to express one’s intellectual curiosity than by going on an academic adventure to a brand-new part of the world. Through Buena Vista’s study abroad program, students are able to travel to their choice of one of twenty countries across six continents. Regardless of their majors, these students are bound to discover something new and valuable, complementing their studies with global perspectives.

While abroad, students are able to take first-rate classes, participate in internships, enact meaningful service projects, and even student teach. Buena Vista’s Study Abroad Coordinators work individually with each student in order to place them in the best possible program to fit their goals.

January Interim

Every spring semester, BVU students have an entire month to delve deeply into a topic of study during the University’s January Interim program. Throughout the Interim, students have the chance to travel across the country or around the world for a month-long intensive to have an educational experience unlike any other.

Students are also able to stay on campus, taking highly involved courses that immerse them into a single subject. The January Interim is the perfect opportunity for BVU students to focus intensely on a single area of study, all while working very closely with their professors.

Honors and Dean’s Fellows

Students who excel academically do not go unrecognized. Through the Honors Program and Dean’s Fellowship Program, BVU’s most tenacious students are rewarded for their hard work with both academic and financial advantages such as grant funding for research projects, exclusive courses, and priority course selection. Honors students form close relationships with their professors as they conduct research that spans across multiple semesters. Dean’s Fellows students are also honored with travel stipends and funds to pay for graduate school entrance exams and application fees. Students with these honors are often invited to exclusive events both on and off campus, reaping the benefits of their academic achievement with all the best intellectual opportunities.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries X
Choral groups X
Concert band X
Dance X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band X
Literary magazine  X 
Marching band  
Model UN  
Music ensembles X
Musical theater X
Pep band  
Radio station X
Student government X
Student newspaper X
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra  
Television station X

First-Year Experience

In order to help students transition smoothly into the college lifestyle, BVU enrolls first-year students into University Seminar, a semester-long course that familiarizes students to both college-level coursework as well as their new peers. University Seminar directs its course materials around globally focused topics. BVU highly values a broad, worldly perspective, and so every student kicks off their time on campus with an engaging curriculum that introduces them to the University’s standards. Easing into the rigor of college-level coursework, students complement their orientation experience with peer-building activities as well as a summer reading project. The shared exposure to new friends and new assignments makes each new BVU student feel more at home with others who understand them.

University Seminar ensures a solid foundation for future academic success. With the help of one-on-one advising, as well as upperclassmen who serve as peer mentors, students always have someone to turn to for both educational and social guidance.

Core Curriculum

Structured around the University’s three “Signature Skills”—problem solving, integrative learning, and effective communication—BVU’s general education program gives its students a well-rounded education that covers a whole range of disciplines. The general education’s “Foundations” and “Explorations” requirements encourages students to stretch out of their comfort zones, taking courses in mathematics, communication, the humanities, fine arts, science, business, and social sciences so that they may be prepared for any challenge that life may bring them. All academic careers conclude with a general education capstone, a final course that assesses students’ abilities to approach a subject from interdisciplinary perspectives.

The Center for Academic Excellence

The Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) offers support to any student who may need it. With free tutoring and study-skills help, CAE staff work individually with students to supplement their academic experience. Whether students need additional support or want to utilize extra resources, CAE is the go-to spot for academic assistance.

Common Core

Arts/fine arts X
Computer literacy  
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages  
Humanities X
Mathematics X
Sciences (biological or physical) X
Social science X


Other: Oral Communications
***History and Computer Literacy are also offered, but not required 

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 113 85 72 14 1 2 0 287

Storm Lake, Iowa

Located along the shores of the gorgeous Storm Lake, Buena Vista University welcomes its students into a safe, comfortable campus environment that is full of outlets for fun, adventure, and inspiration. Storm Lake can double as a spot for peaceful reflection as well as a site for incredibly fun outdoor recreation. BVU provides students with paddleboards, canoes, bikes, and more for all the adventure they crave.

In addition to the beautiful natural atmosphere of Storm Lake, students can get their fill of recreation through the small yet bustling town right next to campus. Places to shop, eat, and hang out are certainly not limited.

Student Activities

Three out of every four students are involved in some number of student organizations at Buena Vista University. Regardless of one’s extracurricular interests, each student is bound to find the community of friends that make BVU home. Studies show that the sense of fulfillment that students gain from recreational involvement encourages them to work harder and be more successful in their coursework. Through the many clubs that focus on such topics as activism, service, leadership, the arts, and athletics, every student is guaranteed a personally satisfying life at BVU.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

Coed dorms X
Men’s dorms  
Women’s dorms  
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students  
Special housing for disabled students X
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing X
Other housing options  


The center for Career and Personal Development aims to provide students a strong foundation for postgraduate success. Its staff are full of resources and connections to set students up with meaningful, hands-on opportunities that build résumé experience and improve their professional proficiency. Students in every major can work with a staff member to connect their academic interests to internships that may take place during the academic year, the summer, or the annual January Interim.

Four Steps to Success

The center for Career and Personal Development divides its steps toward success by splitting up priorities throughout students’ four years at BVU. In the first year, students may work with the center in order to clarify their interests, goals, and choice of major. Sophomore year is dedicated to exploration, as students are encouraged to search near and far for all the relevant career opportunities they may want to pursue. Beginning the third year, students start to focus and hone in on their career goals, participating in internships and solidifying their job prospects in their desired area of expertise. And, finally, throughout their senior year, students may work with Career and Personal Develop to begin their job or graduate school applications as well as participate in service programs that exemplify their leadership capabilities.

Service Learning

Leadership comes naturally in the hearts of those who serve. Buena Vista University’s Civic Engagement office connects students to a range of opportunities to direct their compassion toward service projects that benefit both the Storm Lake community and beyond. Throughout the annual Buenafication Day, classes are canceled in order to give everyone on campus the chance to improve living conditions on campus or by cleaning public areas throughout the town. Additionally, BVU’s Student MOVE (Mobilizing Outreach & Volunteer Efforts) provides all the resources every student group needs to get service started within their group memberships. The leaders of Student MOVE help coordinate ways for individual clubs to pull in their friends for life-changing service.



1,372 Total Applicants
934 Total Admissions
223 Total Freshmen Enrollment

68.08% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes


Very Important
Class rank
Academic GPA
Standardized test scores

Extracurricular activities
Character/personal qualities

Rigor of secondary school record
Application Essay
Alumni/ae relation
Volunteer work
Work experience

Freshmen Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading    
SAT Math    
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 19 24
ACT Math 18 24
ACT English 19 24
ACT Writing    





Tuition $32,210
Room and Board (on campus) $9,304
Estimated Total On Campus $41,514

Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-16 estimated

$29,351 First year students
$21,958 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-16 estimated

83% on average, the percentage of need that was met
23% of financial need students that had need fully met

$21,958 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$5,333 Average need-based loan