Luther College

Luther College

Decorah, IA
student ratio
total students
Tuition Cost $41,950 | $41,950
in-state | out-of-state
Average Financial Aid Package $35,397
Not Reported
fall application deadline
acceptance rate
Moderately Difficult
admission difficulty
Average test scores for all first-year students that were accepted and enrolled.
sat math
sat reading
sat writing
act composite


The College

Luther College, founded in 1861 by Norwegian immigrants, is a four-year residential liberal arts college of the Lutheran church (ELCA). The college is an academic community of faith and learning where students of promise from all beliefs and backgrounds have the freedom to learn, to express themselves, to perform, to compete, and to grow. Located in Decorah, Iowa, the college is home to 2500 students from 37 states and more than 50 countries. Thirty-one percent of the students are from Iowa; 86% come from the four-state area of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Each year, over 140 international students choose to study at Luther. In keeping with its liberal arts tradition, the college requires students to develop a depth of knowledge in their chosen majors and a breadth of knowledge through exposure to a wide range of subjects and intellectual approaches (general requirements). Learning at Luther is about engagement: faculty members who are passionate in their teaching and scholarship, students who are active and involved, and a college community characterized by personal attention, hands-on experiences, academic challenge, and community support. At Luther, all students become immersed in the liberal arts through the college's common year-long course for first-year students called Paideia. The course, which is uncommon in its approach, helps train students' minds and develop their research and writing skills as they explore human cultures and history. In addition, Luther offers a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and departmental honor societies, evidence of the quality of teaching and learning on campus. At Luther, students are encouraged to seek out connections between their lives in the classroom and their lives outside the classroom. The college provides a stimulating cultural and educational atmosphere by bringing distinguished public figures, theater groups, musicians, and educators to the campus. Cocurricular activities are an important part of college life. The college sponsors six choirs, three orchestras, three bands, two jazz bands, and a full theater and dance program. Numerous student organizations and societies provide ample opportunities for student involvement in meaningful activities. As a community of faith, students can participate in chapel, weekly Sunday worship, outreach teams, and midweek Eucharist. Nineteen intercollegiate sports are offered. Men may participate in ten sports: baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and wrestling. Women compete in nine intercollegiate sports: basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Club sports include Ultimate (Frisbee), rugby, and women's lacrosse. Seventy percent of the student body is involved in an extensive intramural and recreational sports program. Available for recreational use and for the physical education program are twelve outdoor tennis courts, an eight-lane polyurethane 400-meter track, numerous cross-country running and ski trails, and 15 acres of intramural fields. The well-equipped Regents Center houses a new state-of-the-art swimming and diving complex (2013), three racquetball courts, four hardwood basketball courts, a wrestling complex, and a 3,000-seat gymnasium. A sports forum accommodates a six-lane, 200-meter indoor track; 6 indoor tennis courts; locker rooms; and athletic training facilities. The Legends Fitness for Life Center provides the latest fitness equipment and a 30-foot-high rock-climbing wall.


The college is located in Decorah, a city of 8500 people in the scenic bluff country of northeast Iowa. The Upper Iowa River, which runs through the campus, is designated as a National Scenic and Recreational River. Rich in Scandinavian heritage, Decorah is a popular recreation area, providing opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, camping, hiking, cycling, and spelunking. Three airports are located within a 75-mile radius of Decorah: in Rochester, Minnesota; Waterloo, Iowa; and La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Majors and Degrees

Luther College grants the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree and offers majors in accounting, Africana studies, anthropology, art, athletic training, biblical languages, biology, business (management), chemistry, classics, communication studies, computer science, dance, economics, education (elementary and secondary), English, environmental studies, French, German, health and fitness promotion, health education (teaching), history, intermedia arts, international studies, management, mathematics, mathematics/statistics, music, nursing, philosophy, physical education - exercise physiology, physical education - teaching, physics, political science, psychology, religion, Russian studies, Scandinavian studies, social work, sociology, Spanish, theater, and women's and gender studies. Preprofessional preparation is offered in dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, seminary, and veterinary medicine.

Academic Programs

Luther operates on a 4-1-4 academic calendar. The 1st semester runs from September to December, followed by a three-week January Term and the 2nd semester, which runs from February to May. Two four-week summer sessions are offered in June and July. All students must complete at least 30 regular courses and two January-term courses in order to graduate from Luther. Other requirements for graduation include four common foundational courses: Paideia (two courses); foreign language (usually one or two courses); religion (two courses, one of which must be in biblical studies); and wellness (two single credit courses). In addition to a focused area of study (the major, which usually requires eight to ten courses), Luther requires all students to take courses in three general fields of inquiry: the natural world (two courses); human behavior (two courses); and human expression (two courses). Before graduating, students are required to bring together all they have learned in two culminating experiences: senior project (one course); and Paideia II (one course). Luther students also develop the perspectives and skills they will use in their lives as citizens and professionals equipped for distinguished service. Advanced placement and credit by examination are available. A qualified student may develop an interdisciplinary major with a faculty adviser.

Off-Campus Programs

Luther connects students with global issues and helps them engage with the larger world. That's why the college is consistently ranked among the top ten baccalaureate colleges in the nation for the number of students studying abroad prior to graduation. Luther's off-campus programs not only span the globe, but also offer in-depth and immersive study in a wide variety of subjects. Students may participate in programs during fall and spring semesters, the January Term, and summer sessions. Luther's signature off-campus programs include: an academic year program in Nottingham, England; a semester program in Sliema, Malta; a semester program in Münster, Germany; and a semester program in Coldigioco, Italy. In addition, Luther is part of a 13-college consortium, which runs a successful Washington Semester in Washington, D.C. Students also have options for urban study at several centers in Chicago. Each January Term, between 300-400 Luther students study on 20-25 faculty-led domestic and international programs. Many students appreciate the flexibility of these shorter off-campus experiences; other students use January Term programs as springboards to longer immersion experiences. Finally, Luther students have a wide variety of off-campus options through Luther-affiliated programs, such as those sponsored by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, Institute for Study Abroad-Butler University, the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), and International Studies Abroad (ISA), among others.

Academic Facilities

The 1,000-acre campus includes the Preus Library, housing 330,000 volumes, 800 print periodicals, 63,000 electronic books, and the college art collection. The library offers five online indexes and ten commercial online services and provides access to more than 480 other libraries. Modern, well-equipped laboratories in Valders Hall of Science are supplemented by several other science-teaching facilities on campus: a planetarium, a greenhouse, a herbarium, a live-animal center, a human anatomy laboratory, a natural history museum, and a psychology sleep laboratory. Sampson Hoffland, a dynamic new 58,000-square-foot science and research center, was completed in fall 2008. The science facilities also include an extensive field study area and two electron microscopes. Within easy walking distance of the campus, the field study area offers an ideal setting for studies in aquatic biology, ecology, and field biology. Five ponds, two reestablished prairies, marshes, wooded areas, and agricultural lands are available for classwork and independent study. The college has fiber-based and wireless campus networks connecting a variety of PC and Macintosh computers (in several environments) to shared computing resources and to the Internet. More than 400 microcomputers and terminals are available for student use throughout the campus. Luther College maintains radio station KWLC-AM, and the college's affiliate station, KLSE-FM, is part of the Minnesota Public Radio network. Luther also maintains the largest archaeological research center in Iowa. The Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, one of the finest ethnic museums in the country, provides an invaluable resource for museum and Scandinavian studies. The foreign language departments maintain a 25-station electronic classroom, and the psychology department houses a 20-station IBM interactive computer network. The economics and business, mathematics, and computer science departments are located in the impressive F. W. Olin Building. Among the facility's technological wonders is the Luther Round Table Room, where students experience simultaneous decision making via a computer network. The award-winning Jenson-Noble Hall of Music contains state-of-the-art computer facilities, a recording studio, and four pipe organs: 23-stop/34-rank and 42-stop/61-rank tracker organs for practice and performing and two Schlicker practice organs of eight and five ranks, respectively. Jenson Hall of Music also contains 32,000 square feet of classrooms, studios, practice rooms, and rehearsal rooms for keyboard, vocal, and instrumental music. The Center for Faith and Life (CFL) houses a 42-stop/62-rank organ in the 1,600-seat auditorium for the performing arts. The CFL also houses the offices of the campus ministry, a 24-hour meditation chapel, a 200-seat recital hall, and one of four campus art galleries. The Center for the Arts serves as the home for theater, dance, and the arts.


For 2013-14, the comprehensive fee is $43,940, which includes tuition, facilities fees, room, board, subscription to student publications, and admission to college-supported concerts, lectures, and other events. A room telephone, cable TV, computer access from residence hall rooms, and a health-service program are also included. Private music lessons are $425 per semester. It is estimated that an additional $3000 is adequate for books, clothing, entertainment, and other personal expenses.

Financial Aid

More than 98% of all Luther students receive financial aid in the form of grants, such as the Federal Pell Grant; scholarships from Luther and other sources; loans; and jobs on campus. Luther awards Founders, President's, and Dean's Scholarships to those demonstrating superior academic achievement. The amount of aid given is determined by the college's analysis of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The priority deadline for a financial aid application is March 1.


There are 178 full-time faculty members; 96% hold a Ph.D., first professional, or other terminal degree. The student-faculty member ratio is 12:1.

Student Government

Students share in the governance of the college and participate in social and cultural programming. They have full membership on most college committees, majority representation in the Community Assembly, and nonvoting representation on the Board of Regents.

Admission Requirements

Admission is selective. An applicant must be a graduate of an accredited high school and have completed at least four units of English, three units of mathematics, three units of social science, and two units of natural science. It is strongly recommended that the applicant have at least two years of a foreign language. Over 60% of entering students rank in the top quarter of their high school class. Transfer students may enroll at the beginning of the fall or spring semester or the January term.

Application and Information

An application, SAT or ACT scores, an educator's reference, and a transcript of previous academic work are required for admission. On-campus interviews are recommended but not required.

For more information about Luther, students should contact:

Admissions Office
Luther College
700 College Drive
Decorah, Iowa 52101-1042

Phone: 563-387-1287
800-458-8437 (toll-free)
Fax: 563-387-2159

E-mail: (admissions) (financial aid) (international)
Web site: 

Location & Contact

700 College Drive
Decorah, IA 52101

Mr.Derek Hartl

Associate Vice President and Director of Admissions

Phone: 563-387-1433
Fax: 563-387-2159

Request More Info
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Majors & Degrees

Degrees Offered
  • Area and ethnic studies
    • African American/Black Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Women's Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Biological/life sciences
    • Biology/Biological Sciences
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Neuroscience
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Business/marketing
    • Accounting
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Business Administration and Management
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Management Information Systems
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Communication/Journalism
    • Speech Communication and Rhetoric
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Computer and information sciences
    • Computer Science
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Information Science/Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Education
    • Elementary Education
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • English
    • English
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Foreign languages and literature
    • Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Languages
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Classics and Classical Languages
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • French
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • German
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Russian
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Scandinavian Languages
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Spanish
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Health professions and related sciences
    • Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • History
    • History
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Interdisciplinary studies
    • International/Global Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies Related
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Mathematics and statistics
    • Mathematics
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Mathematics and Statistics
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Natural resources/environmental science
    • Environmental Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Parks and recreation
    • Health and Physical Education/Fitness
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Philosophy and religious studies
    • Philosophy
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Religious Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Physical sciences
    • Chemistry
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Physics
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Psychology
    • Psychology
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Public administration and social services
    • Social Work
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Social sciences
    • Anthropology
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Economics
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Political Science and Government
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Sociology
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Visual and performing arts
    • Art
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Dramatic/Theater Arts
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Intermedia/Multimedia
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Music
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.


65% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied4,288
    • Accepted2,791
    • Acceptance Rate65%
    • Enrolled2,053
    • Female Applicants2,378
    • Females Accepted1,600
    • Female Acceptance Rate67%
    • Male Applicants1,910
    • Males Accepted1,191
    • Male Acceptance Rate62%
  • Applying
    • Required for All Essay or personal statement
      Transcript of high school record
      Letter(s) of recommendation
    • Required for Some
    • Average high school GPA for first-year freshman3.71
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Application Closing Notification Date Rolling Admissions
    • Fall freshmen Not Reported
    • Out-of-state Fall freshmen Not Reported
    • Early decision plan Not Reported
    • Other early decision plan Not Reported
    • Transfer Not Reported
  • Test Scores Accepted
    • Test Average School Accepted 25th Percentile* 75th Percentile*
    • SAT Critical Reading 575 503 640
    • SAT Math 594 520 665
    • SAT Writing
    • ACT Composite 26 23 28
    • * 25th and 75th percentile is the score that 25/75 percent of students score at or below.

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition
    • In-state tuition *$41,950
    • Out-of-state tuition *$41,950
    • In-district tuitionN/A
    • * Tuition costs are based on a full academic year typically extending from September to June.
  • Fees
    • Full-time student fees$340
    • Room and board *$9,460
    • Room only *$4,420
    • * Room and board charges vary according to board plan selected (i.e., 12-meal plan, 19-meal plan, etc.) and student level (freshman, sophomore, etc.)
  • Other Payment Considerations
    • Guaranteed tuition plan offeredNo
    • Tuition pre-payment planNo
    • Tuition payment plans offeredInstallments
    • Student groups that qualify for full or partial waiver of tuitionEmployees or children of employees

Financial Aid

    • Average Financial Aid Package:$35,397
    • Average Freshman Financial Aid Package:$38,605
    • Average International Student Financial Aid Package:$33,473
    • Average Loan Aid:$7,319
    • Average Grant Aid:$21,053
    • Average Scholarship and/or Grant Aid Awarded:$27,778
    • Percentage of Students with Need who Receive Financial Aid:100%
    • Average Percentage of Financial Need Met: 89%
    • Percentage of Students Who Had Their Need Fully Met: 38%

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Undergraduate Students2,053
    • Male Student Percentage45%
    • Female Student Percentage55%
  • Race/Ethnicity
    • Hispanic/Latino4.72%
    • Black or African American1.9%
    • White or Caucasian81.2%
    • American Indian or Alaska Native.39%
    • Asian1.36%
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.15%
    • Two or more races2.24%
    • Unknown or International Student.19%
  • Other Student Statistics
    • International Breakout7.84% representing 74 other countries
    • Out-of-state Students70.8% out-of-state student

Campus Life

  • Housing
    • College-owned housing available Yes
    • Housing Requirements None
    • Housing options Coed housing , Special housing for disabled
    • Percentage of undergraduate students who live in college-owned housing 93%
  • Student Activities
    • Student-run campus newspaper Yes
    • Drama / theater group Yes
    • Student-run radio station Yes
    • Student-run television station No
    • Marching band No
    • Choral groups Yes
  • Student Services
    • Legal services No
    • Health clinic Yes
    • Personal / psychological counseling Yes
    • Women's center Yes
  • Student Organizations
    • Greek fraternities No
    • Greek sororities No
    • Local fraternities Yes
    • Local sororities Yes
    • Other organizations Yes
    • Most popular organizations Alpha Phi Omega, college ministries, recreational sports, Student Activities Council, Diversity groups
  • Campus Security and Safety
    • 24-hour emergency telephone / alarm services Yes
    • 24-hour patrols by trained officers Yes
    • Students patrols Not Reported
    • Late-night transport / escort services Yes
    • Electronically-operated dormitory entrances Yes
    • Other Not Reported


Member of the: NCAA Division III
  • Men's Sports
    • Sport Intramural Intercollegiate Scholarship
    • Archery Yes No No
    • Badminton Yes No No
    • Baseball No Division 3 No
    • Basketball Yes Division 3 No
    • Bowling Yes No No
    • Cross-country running No Division 3 No
    • Football Yes Division 3 No
    • Golf Yes Division 3 No
    • Lacrosse No No No
    • Racquetball Yes No No
    • Rugby Yes No No
    • Soccer Yes Division 3 No
    • Softball Yes No No
    • Swimming No Division 3 No
    • Table Tennis Yes No No
    • Tennis Yes Division 3 No
    • Track Yes Division 3 No
    • Ultimate Frisbee Yes Division C No
    • Volleyball Yes No No
    • Wrestling No Division 3 No
  • Women's Sports
    • Sport Intramural Intercollegiate Scholarship
    • Archery Yes No No
    • Badminton Yes No No
    • Baseball No No No
    • Basketball Yes Division 3 No
    • Bowling Yes No No
    • Cross-country running No Division 3 No
    • Football Yes No No
    • Golf Yes Division 3 No
    • Lacrosse Yes No No
    • Racquetball Yes No No
    • Rugby Yes No No
    • Soccer Yes Division 3 No
    • Softball Yes Division 3 No
    • Swimming No Division 3 No
    • Table Tennis Yes No No
    • Tennis Yes Division 3 No
    • Track Yes Division 3 No
    • Ultimate Frisbee Yes Division C No
    • Volleyball Yes Division 3 No
    • Wrestling No No No


  • Faculty Breakdown
    • Total Faculty208
    • Full-time Percentage81%
    • Part-time Percentage19%
    • Female Percentage50%
    • Male Percentage50%
    • Student:Faculty Ratio11:1 or 2,027 students to 181 faculty



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