Northland College - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Northland College
Northland College is a private liberal arts college committed to environmental sustainability.

Northland College

Ashland, Wisconsin

Environmental awareness lies in the heart of Northland College. Founded in 1892, the College integrates its mission of sustainability into the curriculum, providing a liberal arts education that inspires students to make a difference in whatever field they pursue. This small, private College is boiling with big, world-changing ideas.


Northland rests on the northern tip of Ashland, Wisconsin, surrounded by acres of forest and bordered by the Lake Superior lakefront. Embracing the natural world, Northland students and faculty make the most of their many outdoor opportunities. It is with the influence of such a goal-oriented College that Northland students continue to succeed and chase their dreams long after graduating.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
518 undergraduate students
99% of undergrad students are full time
51% male — 49% female
53% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
53 full-time faculty
8 part-time faculty
9 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
95% of first year students live on campus
74% 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 X
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


70% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)


58% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 2%
Hispanic/Latino 6%
Black or African American 1%
White 83%
American Indian or Alaska Native 2%
Asian 0%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 2%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 4%

More Distinctions

  • Northland is a founding member of the Eco League, a consortium of six liberal arts colleges with a focus on the environment or sustainability, which allows students the opportunity to study in multiple ecosystems.

  • Northland is listed in the Princeton Review Guide to Green Schools, Great Value Colleges “Colleges for Nature Lovers” and was one of Five Great Schools for Sustainability.

Study Abroad

Whether during the academic year or summer intercession, students can benefit from one of Northland College’s life-changing study abroad programs. Wherever they go, every student has the chance to continue their specific fields of study at universities across the globe. Kansai Gaidai University in Japan is a melting pot of culture, as it hosts over one hundred colleges from around the world for international education. Programs are also offered in places such as Costa Rica, East Africa, and the Middle East through the Center for Ecological Living and Learning, a nonprofit educational organization that encourages students to collaborate and plan new environmental initiatives.

As part of the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA), Northland collaborates with over twenty other institutions to share and build relationships with students through a network of international organizations. Working with colleges in places such as Italy, Norway, and Ecuador, Northland confidently sends off its students to take on valuable, experiential internships through its once-in-a-lifetime abroad programs.

Off-Campus Learning

Ringing true with Northland’s love for the natural world, the College partners with environmentally focused education organizations so that students may pursue their studies while also immersing themselves in the great outdoors. Many academic adventures await any student wanting to deepen their knowledge in the most hands-on approach possible, including a three-week wilderness expedition to study navigation or a paddling trip in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota for an ecology-based literature course.


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

May Term

With its unique term structure, Northland College makes it easy for driven students to take full advantage of as many academic opportunities as they please. The 4-4-1 academic year is comprised of two four-month semesters in the fall and winter as well as a shorter, one-month session in May. The longer sessions are structured similarly to the traditional semester format, while the May Term gives students a single month to concentrate on one particular learning opportunity.  

At many colleges and universities, students who choose to work in internships or study abroad must do so during the semester, piling up supplemental yet valuable experiences alongside their schoolwork. Northland’s May Term, however, lets students choose to spend an extra month focusing on one subject. This spring session may be short, but its concentrated nature ensures that anyone taking on an internship, study abroad trip, or seminar series will get a comprehensive experience of their extended learning.

General Education

The phrase “general education requirements” is nothing to be afraid of. General education courses at Northland are designed to connect the dots between many disciplines, propel students beyond what they think they know, and push them to analyze and tackle real-world problems related to food, water, climate, conflict, and more. Northland’s general education is an active, multidisciplinary, and solutions-oriented education.

Northland offers two general education pathways that are modeled to focus on topics regarding the Lake Superior region or sustainable agriculture:

  • Students enrolled in the “Superior Connections” program take courses that dive directly into the interwoven economic, environmental, and cultural facets of the Lake Superior watershed. Students in the program also spend a month circumnavigating the Lake by car, canoe, and on foot, picking up new insights about the region as they go.
  • “Growing Connections” allows participants a comprehensive look at the history, theories, and practices of sustainable agriculture. These students work closely with faculty and regional farmers in classrooms, labs, and fields to develop their understanding of human food systems and ecological health.


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


Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 42 49 39 7 0 0 0 137


Northland College’s school-wide mission of sustainability encourages students to practice environmental consciousness on a daily basis. Everyone at Northland is exposed to the beneficial effects that sustainable living can have on the livelihood of humans and animals alike, the economy, and the future health of the environment. While the ELA core curriculum helps students develop an understanding of environmental conservation, the College’s initiatives employ real action for the wellbeing of the Ashland environment.

As an institution, Northland strives to create an environment that minimally affects the surrounding ecosystem. Many buildings on campus, including a number of residence halls, incorporate solar panels to generate electricity. 80% of the food on campus is locally sourced, and the College’s compost bins collect and recycle nearly thirty thousand pounds of food waste every year.

Northland students are just as committed to sustainability as the administrators who provide the green campus facilities. The Student Environmental Council leads a variety of sustainability initiatives that encourage participation among the entire student body.

Northland College Student Association

A committee of students dedicated to the livelihood of their peers, the Northland College Student Association (NCSA) governs and aids the extracurricular clubs on campus. It organizes funding and events for a variety of student organizations, ensuring that every student’s interests outside of academics are generously catered to. A wide selection of extracurricular activities awaits students who are looking to make meaningful friendships. These clubs cover all the bases, including multiculturalism, the fine arts, outdoor exploration, and much more.

Themed Housing

Theme Communities allow Northland students to live with purpose twenty-four hours a day. Every year, groups of students are encouraged to band together and apply to live in the same residence with a focus on a central theme. Themed housing allows like-minded students to live with their closest friends, all while raising campus awareness of issues important to them. Through a year of theme-specific outreach and education organizations, students in Theme Communities make a positive impact on the Northland campus and the world alike.


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

Senior Capstone

Every Northland student finishes off their college career with a final capstone or thesis course. A senior capstone synthesizes four years of knowledge into a single project. These courses stretch students to exemplify their mastery of a topic and their ability to think at an advanced level. With courses dedicated to capstone development, seniors are guaranteed the time and resources to create something to be proud of.


The Office of Applied Learning aims to set students up with internships that best benefit their academic and future career goals. Whether their area of study, each student is ensured a hands-on experience to hone their skills, build their professional network, and prepare them for life beyond college. The Office faculty are available to help students explore and discover new career opportunities, pairing them with field experiences that best supports their growth.  

Alumni Success

Northland students are prepared to change the world. Not only does the ELA core curriculum provide a foundation for students’ objective-driven futures, but the available major and minor academic programs also build students to be proficient in whatever field they pursue. 90% of recent Northland graduates report employment or enrollment in graduate school, highlighting the excellent education that the College aims to supply.


Admissions Fall 2015

852 Total Applicants
487 Total Admissions
128 Total Freshmen Enrollment

57.16% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Rigor of secondary school record

Class rank
Academic GPA
Standardized test scores
Application Essay

Extracurricular activities
Character/personal qualities
First generation
Alumni/ae relation
Volunteer work
Work experience
Level of applicant’s interest

Freshmen Profile FALL 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading    
SAT Math    
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 21 28
ACT Math 19 26
ACT English 20 27
ACT Writing    


Net Price Calculator 


Tuition $31,980
Fees $1,452
Total $33,432
Room and Board (on campus) $8,485
Estimated Total On Campus $41,917


Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-2016 estimated

$36,524 First year students
$22,372 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-2016 estimated

84% on average, the percentage of need that was met
22% of financial need students that had need fully met

$22,372 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$4,868 Average need-based loan