Luther College - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Luther College
"Luther College is a quietly excellent institution with a long and distinguished track record...

Luther College

Decorah, Iowa

Luther’s education speaks for itself. Students have ample opportunities to conduct research with faculty members, to participate in an extensive study abroad program, engage in internships, and contribute to highly successful athletic teams and music ensembles.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
2,337 undergraduate students
99% of undergrad students are full time
45% male — 55% female
66% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
182 full-time faculty
62 part-time faculty
12 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Highly residential: 84% of students live on campus.

School Location

Decorah, Iowa—major cities like Des Moines, the Twin Cities, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison are within driving distance.

Retention Fall 2015

85% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

77% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 6%
Hispanic/Latino 4%
Black or African American 2%
White 84%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 2%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 2%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 0%


NCAA Division III, Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. 19 varsity sports (10 men’s: baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, wrestling; nine women’s: basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball), three club sports for both men and women, and 50 intramural programs.

Academic Programs

Academic Majors:

Accounting, Africana Studies*, Anthropology, Art*, Athletic Training, Biblical Languages, Biology*, Business (Management), Chemistry*, Classics*, Communication Studies*, Computer Science*, Economics*, Education (Elementary and Secondary), English*, Environmental Studies*, French*, German*, Health*, History*, International Studies*, Management, Mathematics*, Mathematics/Statistics, Music* (Church Music, Conducting, Education, Keyboarding, Management, Performance, Theory/Composition), Nursing, Philosophy*, Physical Education*, Physics*, Political Science, Psychology*, Religion*, Russian Studies*, Scandinavian Studies*, Social Work, Sociology*, Spanish*, Theatre/Dance*, Women’s and Gender Studies*

*Both major and minor offered

Pre-professional and special programs:

Art Management, International Management, Predentistry, Preengineering, Prelaw, Premedicine, Preoptometry, Prepharmacy, Prephysical Therapy, Preveterinary Medicine, Sports Management.

More Distinctions

  • Listed in U.S. News and World Report top 100 national liberal arts colleges.

  • One of Princeton Review's "America's Best Value Colleges".

  • Included in Teagle Foundation's "Baker's Dozen" of the Nation's High Achieving Liberal Arts Colleges.

  • Forbes' 2011 Best Colleges List

  • One of 280 Phi Beta Kappa institutions nationwide

Students have a multitude of opportunities to experience something new. Education is a hands-on activity at Luther…

interest meets opportunity

Luther College offers more than sixty majors, pre-professional programs, and certificate programs. The most popular are biology, education, psychology, music, and business-related fields such as business administration/management, economics, and accounting.

a well rounded curriculum for all

Through the Paideia Program, all LC students are required to take three interdisciplinary courses: a common two-semester sequence for first-year students and a variety of one-semester courses from which juniors and seniors may choose. Paideia is ancient Greek for “education,” implying both formal and informal learning, and the LC Paideia courses include common readings, lectures, and small group discussions that encourage strong bonds between students and their professors.

study abroad

LC students take full advantage of off-campus and experiential learning opportunities. Education majors may observe in actual classrooms as first-year students, while more advanced students can observe school settings at international locations. With over twenty programs around the world in countries such as Guatemala, China, Japan, Australia, and Norway, about 75% of all LC students study abroad at least once, either for a full academic year, a semester, or a January term. All foreign language majors are required to take part in an intensive language immersion program for at least one semester abroad.


Internships arranged by the LC Career Center are readily available to students in the Upper Midwest as well as across the country and around the globe. Luther’s Washington Semester has placed interns in high-profile locations such as the Smithsonian Institution, the White House, and the United States Senate.

The academic program is designed to ensure that students make the most of their time at Luther and are able to transition to a meaningful rewarding life after graduation…

A great education from beginning to end

LC’s low student-to-faculty ratio of twelve-to-one means that classes are small, and professors provide students with extra assistance and guidance. More than 90% of the faculty live within five miles of campus and are involved in many college activities, making themselves accessible to students.

great facilities

In the sciences, LC has new, sophisticated technology, enhancing the quality of LC’s science education and laboratory capacity. The Center for the Arts is an interdisciplinary building, bringing together the disciplines of music, theatre/dance, and the visual arts. Its substantial rehearsal and studio space, along with a black-box theatre, allows LC students to pursue a wide variety of artistic endeavors.

academic support

LC’s Student Academic Support Center (SASC) offers a myriad of services to students, providing them with tools to reach graduation. The services offered include tutoring, learning-skills workshops, and supervised study group sessions.

sticking to its roots

As a college founded by Norwegian settlers, LC honors its history by offering a Scandinavian studies major. Part of the modern languages and literature department, the Scandinavian studies major gives students the opportunity to learn the Norwegian language while studying Scandinavian culture, history, and economics.

A beautiful campus is just the beginning

A beautiful campus designed by one of the nation’s greatest landscape architects inspires a thriving community where students make use of great facilities and participate in over 140 organizations and activities. LC embraces diversity and challenges its students to learn in community, discern their callings, and serve the common good with distinction. Students, faculty, and staff work together for the development of a living and learning environment that encourages caring relationships and an understanding of the wholeness of life.

a scenic view

LC is located in Decorah, Iowa, in the bluff country, thirty-five miles west of the Mississippi River and fifteen miles south of the Minnesota border. The Upper Iowa River, the only river in Iowa that meets the criteria for wild and scenic river designation, runs through LC’s 1,000-acre campus. Decorah is home to the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum and is known for its well-preserved, representative examples of Midwest architecture from as early as the 1850s.

diverse students

The college seeks diversity in its students’ upbringing and origin. Luther’s 2,500 undergraduate students are from thirty-seven states with 32% students from Iowa, 6% from other countries, and 22% who are first-generation college students. Roughly 87% of LC students live on campus. Students regularly attend events sponsored by the Student Activities Council or Performing Arts Committee, participate in intercollegiate athletics and/or music ensembles, or seek involvement in one or more of over 140 recognized organizations.


LC has ten traditional residence halls as well as an apartment-style building for upper-level students, married students, and some faculty. Some residence halls include wellness and quiet floors as options.


LC students are environmentally conscious. LC’s new environmental studies major has raised awareness about and brought attention to environmental issues on campus, leading to the planting of gardens on campus that provide fresh produce for the dining halls.

healthcare for the community

Expressing interest in the local community beyond the campus, LC students, faculty, and staff started a free clinic to meet the need for low-cost healthcare in the area. The clinic provides unique opportunities for pre-med, nursing, and language students to serve and learn at the same time.

Students have a great opportunity to throw caution to the wind and try something new…

lead a life of purpose

Because of Luther’s emphasis on both study abroad and service, a high number of LC graduates become Peace Corps volunteers. Of Luther graduates, 20-25% go directly to graduate school, and 78% are employed in a field related to their major within eight months of graduation. Students say their degree from the college provided the flexibility for them to learn an appreciation for diversity, effective communication techniques, and the invaluable skills of critical thinking and strong writing.

learning doesn't end with a degree

The college encourages lifelong learning through its annual summer learning program, Lutherlag. Intended for LC alumni, friends, and family, it is a week of courses that include numerous outdoor and evening activities. There is also an alumni tours program, offering travel opportunities for LC alumni several times a year to destinations such as Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Norway.


Admissions Fall 2015

3,896 Total Applicants 
2,606 Total Admissions 
624 Total Freshman Enrollment

66.89% of applicants admitted

Freshman Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 495 625
SAT Math 475 640
SAT Writing 480 610
ACT Composite 23 29
ACT Math 22 28
ACT English 22 30
ACT Writing    




Tuition $38,940
Fees $250
Total $39,190
Room and Board (on campus) $7,920
Room Only $3,570
Board Only $4,350
Estimated Total On Campus $47,110


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

100% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
75% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded student loan aid

$24,650 Average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid awarded
$8,343 Average amount of student loan aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates

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