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Luther College

Decorah, IA

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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.


For 2020-2021, the comprehensive fee is $55,720, which includes tuition, room, board, technology fees, and a healthy adn welbeing fee. Computer access from residence hall rooms and a health-service program are also included. Private music lessons are $550 per credit. It is estimated that an additional $1,040 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 years of English, three years of mathematics, three years 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

Address 700 College Drive
Decorah, IA  52101
United States
Contact Mr. Derek Hartl
Associate Vice President and Director of Admissions
Phone: 563-387-1433
Toll Free: 800-458-8437
Fax: 563-387-2159

Majors & Degrees

Biological And Biomedical Sciences Associate Bachelors
Biology/biological Sciences, General Checkmark Checkmark
Infectious Disease And Global Health Checkmark Checkmark
Neuroscience Checkmark Checkmark
Business, Management, Marketing, And Related Support Services Associate Bachelors
Accounting Checkmark Checkmark
Business Administration And Management, General Checkmark Checkmark
Communication, Journalism And Related Programs Associate Bachelors
Speech Communication And Rhetoric Checkmark Checkmark
Computer And Information Sciences And Support Services Associate Bachelors
Computer Science Checkmark Checkmark
Information Science/studies Checkmark Checkmark
Education Associate Bachelors
Elementary Education And Teaching Checkmark Checkmark
Music Teacher Education Checkmark Checkmark
English Language And Literature/Letters Associate Bachelors
English Language And Literature, General Checkmark Checkmark
Foreign Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics Associate Bachelors
French Language And Literature Checkmark Checkmark
German Language And Literature Checkmark Checkmark
Scandinavian Languages, Literatures, And Linguistics Checkmark Checkmark
Spanish Language And Literature Checkmark Checkmark
Health Professions And Related Clinical Sciences Associate Bachelors
Health And Wellness, General Checkmark
International Public Health/international Health Checkmark Checkmark
Registered Nursing/registered Nurse Checkmark Checkmark
History Associate Bachelors
History, General Checkmark Checkmark
Legal Professions And Studies Associate Bachelors
Legal Studies Checkmark Checkmark
Mathematics And Statistics Associate Bachelors
Mathematics And Statistics Checkmark Checkmark
Mathematics, General Checkmark Checkmark
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies Associate Bachelors
Cultural Studies/critical Theory And Analysis Checkmark Checkmark
International/globalization Studies Checkmark Checkmark
Multi-/interdisciplinary Studies, Other Checkmark Checkmark
Natural Resources And Conservation Associate Bachelors
Environmental Studies Checkmark Checkmark
Parks, Recreation, Leisure And Fitness Studies Associate Bachelors
Exercise Science And Kinesiology Checkmark Checkmark
Sports, Kinesiology, And Physical Education/fitness, General Checkmark
Philosophy And Religious Studies Associate Bachelors
Religion/religious Studies Checkmark Checkmark
Physical Sciences Associate Bachelors
Chemistry, General Checkmark Checkmark
Physics, General Checkmark Checkmark
Psychology Associate Bachelors
Psychology, General Checkmark
Research And Experimental Psychology, Other Checkmark Checkmark
Public Administration And Social Service Professions Associate Bachelors
Social Work Checkmark Checkmark
Social Sciences Associate Bachelors
Anthropology, General Checkmark Checkmark
Economics, General Checkmark Checkmark
Political Science And Government, General Checkmark Checkmark
Sociology, General Checkmark Checkmark
Visual And Performing Arts Associate Bachelors
Art/art Studies, General Checkmark Checkmark
Design And Visual Communications, General Checkmark Checkmark
Drama And Dramatics/theatre Arts, General Checkmark Checkmark
Intermedia/multimedia Checkmark Checkmark
Music, General Checkmark Checkmark


Acceptance Rate

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Female Admissions

Females Applied
Females Accepted
Acceptance Rate
Male icon

Male Admissions

Males Applied
Males Accepted
Acceptance Rate


Avg. high school GPA for freshman
Admission Requirements
Required Transcript of high school record
One recommendation
Recommended Interview

Application Deadlines

Type Application Closing Notification Date Rolling Admissions
Other early decision plan Not reported Not reported
Transfer Not reported Not reported Yes

Test Scores Accepted

Test Avg. Score 25th % Info icon 75th % Info icon
SAT Critical Reading 585 510 660
SAT Math 595 540 650
ACT Composite 26 23 29

Tuition & Fees

Money icon


Fees icon


Full-time student fees
Room only

Financial Aid

Avg. Financial Aid Package
Avg. Freshman Financial Aid Package
Avg. International Student Financial Aid Package
Avg. Loan Aid
Avg. Grant Aid
Avg. Scholarship and/or Grant Aid awarded
100% Percentage of students with need who receive financial aid
Avg. Percentage of Financial Need Met
Percentage of Students Who Had Their Need Fully Met

Student Body

Total Undergrad students
International Students
Out-of-state students


Hispanic/Latino 6.58%
Black or African American 2.92%
White or Caucasian 74.91%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0.56%
Asian 1.74%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0.43%
Two or more races 0.87%
Other 0.93%


Male (45.16%)
Female (54.84%)

Campus Life


College-owned housing Yes
Housing requirements Yes
Housing options Co-ed housing
Disabled housing
Men-only housing
Women-only housing
Freshman car parking
% of undergrad students who live in college housing 96%

Student Activities

Student-run campus newspaper Checkmark
Drama/theatre group Checkmark
Student-run radio station Checkmark
Student-run television station Checkmark
Marching band Checkmark
Choral groups Checkmark
Campus events:
Major concerts, Family Weekend and Christmas at Luther Weekend

Student Services

Legal services Checkmark
Health clinic Checkmark
Personal/psychological counseling Checkmark
Women's center Checkmark
International students advisor Checkmark

Student Organizations

Greek fraternities
Greek sororities
Local fraternities Checkmark
Local sororities Checkmark
Alpha Phi Omega
Most popular organizations:
Alpha Phi Omega, college ministries, recreational sports, Student Activities Council and Diversity groups

Campus Security & Safety

24-hour emergency telephone/alarm services Checkmark
24-hour patrols by trained officers Checkmark
Student patrols Checkmark
Late-night transport/escort services Checkmark
Electronically-operated dormitory entrances Checkmark


Male icon

Men's Sports

Sport Intramural Intercollegiate Scholarship
Badminton Checkmark No No
Baseball No Division 3 No
Basketball Checkmark Division 3 No
Cheerleading No Checkmark No
Cross-country Running No Division 3 No
Football No Division 3 No
Golf Checkmark Division 3 No
Indoor Track No No No
Racquetball Checkmark No No
Rugby Checkmark No No
Sand Volleyball Checkmark No No
Soccer Checkmark Division 3 No
Softball Checkmark No No
Swimming And Diving No Division 3 No
Tennis Checkmark Division 3 No
Track And Field Checkmark Division 3 No
Ultimate Frisbee Checkmark Checkmark No
Volleyball Checkmark No No
Wrestling No Division 3 No
Female icon

Women's Sports

Sport Intramural Intercollegiate Scholarship
Badminton Checkmark No No
Baseball No No No
Basketball Checkmark Division 3 No
Cheerleading No Checkmark No
Cross-country Running No Division 3 No
Football No No No
Golf Checkmark Division 3 No
Indoor Track No No No
Racquetball Checkmark No No
Rugby Checkmark No No
Sand Volleyball Checkmark No No
Soccer Checkmark Division 3 No
Softball Checkmark Division 3 No
Swimming And Diving No Division 3 No
Tennis Checkmark Division 3 No
Track And Field Checkmark Division 3 No
Ultimate Frisbee Checkmark Checkmark No
Volleyball Checkmark Division 3 No
Wrestling No No No


Total Faculty
Student-Faculty Ratio
Full-time - 133
Part-time - 47
Male - 88
Female - 92
Update my info
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Luther College
Update my info
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