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Northland College
Northland College is an environmental liberal arts college that creates global change-makers who will...

Northland College

Ashland, Wisconsin

Located on the shore of Lake Superior, amid the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, three tribal communities, a vibrant farming community, and a post-industrial small city, Northland researchers and students have access to an unparalleled living laboratory.


The College takes advantage of its unique location with a focus on place-based learning, continually renewing its educational programs to address the challenges of modern times while still maintaining the fundamentals of the liberal arts.


In the last decade, Northland has developed one of the first sustainable community development undergraduate programs in the country; created the Center for Rural Communities with a polling laboratory to provide science and guidance to rural cities, agencies, and government; launched the Indigenous Cultures Center, the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation, the Hulings Rice Food Center; and reimagined the forty-year-old Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute.


These learning centers altogether enhance the student experience by enabling them to explore, understand, and advocate for effective solutions to complex climate and social justice problems.



Student Profile

602 undergraduate students
99% of undergrad students are full time
47% male — 53% female
50% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

49 full-time faculty
20 part-time faculty
11 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

88% of first year students live on campus
68% of all students live on campus

“Small towns are fertile ground for experimentation. That’s why Northland College is in a great location to study.” – Brian Tochterman, urban historian and assistant professor of sustainable community development.

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


73% of students began in Fall 2016 and returned in Fall 2017 (full-time, first-time freshmen)


64% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 4%
Hispanic/Latino 5%
Black or African American 2%
White 76%
American Indian or Alaska Native 2%
Asian 1%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 3%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 7%

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research is enhanced by the kinds of benefits that a smaller college can offer. Not only do Northland students have access to faculty, but they are easily able to collaborate on an advanced research project. Faculty choose to work at Northland because they love the College’s neighborhood, mission, and most importantly, students. Together, the Northland community is growing to learn more about the region and the world as a whole.

Through senior capstone projects, classroom experiences, internships, work study, and paid research positions, students dive into research related to such topics as freshwater issues, rural communities, local foods, biology, botany, forestry, natural resources, and the geosciences.

Many have published their findings in scientific journals and presented their work at professional conferences across the country, giving them a leg up for graduate school and their careers.

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.

Whether during the academic year or summer intersession, students can benefit from one of Northland College’s life-changing study abroad programs. 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.

“I really loved the small college population, the student-to-staff ratio, and the rural character of Ashland. I also received a generous academic scholarship to help offset the cost of tuition.” – Helen Pent Jenkins, Class of 2008

Activities offered

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


The Northland community lives out its sustainability-focused mission on a daily basis. Everyone on campus considers how their own actions will advance sustainability in all of its forms: health, community, culture, environment, energy, and economy. It’s from a full-spectrum point of view that they seek to understand, develop, and respond to the school’s institutional goals.

Going green is a part of everything students do at Northland: how they live, what they learn, and the ways they contribute.

Northland offers over 40 academic programs, each combining a distinct liberal arts education with critical “green skills” that today’s employers and graduate schools are looking for.

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 studies.


Northland is a founding member of the EcoLeague, a consortium of six colleges and universities that share missions based on environmental responsibility and social change. The EcoLeague gives students the opportunity to spend a semester at a different school so they can experience a diverse range of terrains, cultures, and ways of thinking.

All EcoLeague colleges stress experiential education, basing global perspectives on a sense of place so that students are prepared to take on real-world challenges when they graduate and create sustainable communities wherever they choose to work. The EcoLeague is also open to faculty exchanges and summer field experiences.


Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 44 60 38 12 0 0 0 154


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.

School Location

Ashland, Wisconsin, a community of just over 8,000 people, is tucked along the south shore of Lake Superior and is just minutes away from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and a million acres of national forest.

Campus is an easy walk to downtown Ashland where students often hang out at the Black Cat Coffeehouse, the Bay Theater, or the food co-op and farmer’s market.

Whether a student is into hiking, kayaking, biking, skiing, fishing, hunting, or even dog sledding, Northland is in a prime location. The Northland Outpost even has a wide range of rental gear, which means that anyone can try their hand at all sorts of outdoor activities.


Athletics at Northland allows students the flexibility to excel in the classroom while competing in sports at the collegiate level. The College is happy to support students both physically and mentally through its investments in the classroom and on the field.

Northland College is an NCAA Division III school and members of the UMAC and NCHA conferences.

Women’s Sports: Basketball; Cross Country; Golf; Hockey; Soccer; Softball; Volleyball
Men’s Sports: Baseball; Basketball; Cross Country; Golf;Hockey; Lacrosse; Soccer

“I ultimately chose Northland because I knew from having talked with counselors and students on the phone that Northland was a place where one could easily experience education. I was told about the Outdoor Orientation, courses, and an amazing student body combined with great teachers (and coaches)… I knew that the one way to describe the people here was ‘passionate.’” – Alec Z. Drachenberg, student

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.

“We work really hard to help students transfer the learning experience they have here to any community, any environment, anywhere in the globe they might want to work. That’s an incredibly important part of experiential education.” – Stacy Craig, alumna and coordinator of applied learning


Admissions Fall 2017

61% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2018-19 Admission

Rolling admission? Yes

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Class rank
Academic GPA

Rigor of secondary school record
Standardized test scores
Character/personal qualities
First generation

Extracurricular activities
Volunteer work
Work experience

Freshman Profile

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing    
SAT Math    
SAT Writing    
SAT Essay    
ACT Composite 20 26
ACT Math 19 25
ACT English 20 26
ACT Writing    



Tuition $33,640
Fees $1,517
Total $35,157
Room and Board (on campus) $8,886
Estimated Total On Campus $44,043