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 2,053 students from 39 states and more than 70 countries. Twenty-five percent of the students are from Iowa; 79% 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, theatre 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 theatre 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 interfaith worship opportunities. 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 newly resurfaced (2017) state-of-the-art tennis courts, a newly installed blue football field, 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 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 8000 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, biblical languages, biology, business (management), chemistry, classics, communication studies, computer science, data science, economics, education, English, environmental studies, exercise physiology, French, German, health and fitness promotion, history, international studies, management, mathematics, mathematics/statistics, music, neuroscience, Nordic studies, nursing, philosophy, physics, political science, psychology, religion, social work, sociology, Spanish, theatre, visual communication, and women and gender studies. Preprofessional preparation is offered in dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, ministry, and veterinary medicine.

Academic Programs

Luther operates on a 4-1-4 academic calendar. The first semester runs from September to December, followed by a three-week January Term and the second semester, which runs from February to May. Two four-week summer sessions are offered in June and July. All students must complete at least 128 semester hours of credit, which includes 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 two general fields of inquiry: inquiry in depth and inquiry across the liberal arts. Before graduating, students are required to bring together all they have learned in two culminating experiences: senior project (one course); and Paideia 450 (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 credit 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 20 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 Academic Programs International (API), the Institute for Study Abroad-Butler University, the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), International Studies Abroad (ISA), and the School for International Training (SIT), among others.

Academic Facilities

  • The 1,000-acre campus includes the Preus Library, housing over 340,000 volumes, 180,000 electronic books, 29,000 online journals, 590 print journals, and the college art collection. The library offers the largest computer lab on campus, individual and group study rooms, and a Japanese rock garden on the lower level that symbolizes movement across waves of the Midwestern prairie.
  • Modern, well-equipped laboratories in Valders Hall of Science are supplemented by several other science-teaching facilities on campus: a planetarium, a greenhouse, an herbarium, a live-animal center, a human anatomy laboratory, a natural history museum, and a psychology sleep laboratory. Sampson Hoffland, a dynamic 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.
  • 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 Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, one of the finest ethnic museums in the country, provides an invaluable resource for museum and Scandinavian studies.
  • 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. 
  • 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 Campus Ministries, 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 theatre, dance, and the arts.


For 2018-19, the comprehensive fee is $51,750, which includes tuition, room, board, technology fees, and admission to college-supported concerts, lectures, and other events. Computer access from residence hall rooms and a health-service program are also included. Private music lessons are $510 per semester. It is estimated that an additional $1,000 is adequate for books.

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 160 full-time faculty members; 96% hold a Ph.D., first professional, or other terminal degree. The student-faculty member ratio is 11:1.

Student Government

Luther students share in the governance of the college through Student Senate. This group consists of twenty-seven student representatives elected each spring, with the addition of three first-year representatives elected in the fall. Student Senate serves as a liaison between Luther students and the administration, and represents the student body on a variety of issues. Apart from Student Senate, a select group of Luther students are chosen each year to represent student concerns through 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 54% 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, a personal statement/essay, and a transcript of previous academic work are required for admission. On-campus meetings with an admissions representative are recommended but not required.


International students must meet a different set of requirements. If interested in learning more about this process, please contact the Center for Global Learning at

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

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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