Northwestern College, Minnesota

“No more charming spot could have been chosen for a school of the retreat of a scholar….an environment that provides the mind with the greatest relaxation from the rigors of the school room and the athletic field and do much to increase the happiness and culture of the students.” (Quoted in the Northwestern College Historic Preservation Plan, May 2006)

Northwestern College is a private Christian liberal arts college located in Roseville, Minnesota, just 15 minutes from the downtown area of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The bucolic 107-acre campus is situated in the Arden Hills area on the wooded shore of Lake Johanna, which is a popular spot for picnicking, swimming, boating, and fishing. The college actually has its own private island accessible by a tree-lined path and a wooden bridge. The picturesque lakeside setting juxtaposed with the college’s historic architecture provides an inspiring learning environment on one of the most beautiful campuses in the Midwest.


The core buildings at Northwestern College were constructed between 1921 and 1923 with red brick facing, limestone details, and clay tile roofs in the Romanesque style of northern Italy. At the heart of campus, the four-story Nazareth Hall serves as the primary academic and administrative center. The building used to house a young men’s preparatory seminary, a secluded retreat from the tensions and temptations of the city. The defining features of its architecture – stained glass, sculpture, and other artwork – provide an ideal backdrop for Biblical faith and learning. The adjacent Nazareth Chapel with its classic marble columns, high arched ceiling, and stained glass windows is a spectacular architectural gem.

Northwestern College was founded in 1902 by Dr. William Bell Riley, well-known pastor and evangelist, as Northwestern Bible and Missionary Training School. Dr. Riley served as the school’s president until 1947. Northwestern’s second president, Rev. Billy Graham, helped the school to gain national prominence. The college temporarily closed in 1966 for restructuring and relocation. The first campus was in the Loring Park area of Minneapolis; the college re-opened in 1972 at its current location and began an expansion program to accommodate a growing student population. Recognizing the historical significance of the campus, the style and aesthetics of the new buildings were modeled after the original architecture.


Northwestern is the only non-denominational Christian private college in the state of Minnesota. Its mission statement reads: “Northwestern College exists to provide Christ-centered higher education equipping students to grow intellectually and spiritually, to serve effectively in their professions, and to give God-honoring leadership in the home, church, community and world.” A mandatory daily chapel program features local, national, and international speakers. One of the unique features of Northwestern is the double major program: students are required to earn a minor in Bible by taking 30 credits of Bible classes in addition to the major of their choice.

For traditional undergraduate students, Northwestern offers 55 bachelor’s degrees. Areas of study include: education, music, art, design, animation, theatre, business, finance, marketing, public relations, English, communication, journalism, mathematics, history, biology, biochemistry, health, kinesiology, environmental science, engineering sciences, nursing, criminal justice, psychology, philosophy, broadcasting/electronic media, intercultural studies, Spanish, interdisciplinary studies, Biblical studies, and Christian ministries. (See for a complete list.)

For off-campus students, Northwestern offers four online undergraduate programs in two areas of study: Biblical Studies and Global Studies. Students can also earn college credit by taking individual online courses. There are more than 50 online courses to choose from, including several that have received “Course of the Year” awards from the Association of Christian Distance Education. Judging is based on instructional design, curriculum, media/materials, and learner support. (See

A biology degree from Northwestern can prepare students for entry into dental, medical, pharmacy, chiropractic, and veterinary schools. The college also has a cooperative dual-degree program with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology. In this program, students complete three years of study (on average) at Northwestern in either applied mathematics or engineering sciences. Students then transfer to the University of Minnesota to complete the requirements for a focused engineering degree.

Student Life

Most students at Northwestern come from Minnesota and the Midwestern United States. Some students also come from other states and countries. Northwestern currently has a total enrollment of over 3,000 students in their undergraduate and graduate programs. This includes 1,739 traditional undergraduate students, 1,297 students enrolled in other undergraduate programs, and 181 graduate students. The average undergraduate class size is 22, and the overall average student to faculty ratio is 14:1. (It varies from freshman year to senior year, as students move from required core curriculum to courses that are specific to their majors.)

With the on-campus option, you will join other traditional students who benefit from small classes, a strong sense of community, a smoke-free / alcohol-free campus, and meaningful interaction with professors in and out of the classroom. The college provides opportunities for students to participate on short-term missions teams, both locally and internationally, in addition to many other student activities in athletics, music, drama, student government, student newspaper, and more. The campus also houses the KTIS and KTIS-FM radio stations, broadcasting contemporary Christian music and programming to the Twin Cities area.

Northwestern College offers 16 different competitive sports as well as intramurals throughout the year. Intramural sports include basketball, broomball, flag football, softball, and volleyball. Intercollegiate athletic sports include football, baseball, softball, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor/outdoor track, and men’s and women’s tennis. The Northwestern Eagles belong to NCAA-Division III, and are members of the National Christian College Athletic Association.

The Totino Fine Arts Center on campus houses the departments of Art and Graphic Design, Music and Theatre. The Denler Art Gallery, music rooms, and the Pasty Miller Studio Theatre give students the opportunity to practice their artistic talent and enjoy the work of fellow students. Music groups include the nationally renowned College Choir and Symphony Orchestra as well as Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorale, and numerous chamber ensembles. A music minor is available to those who want to study music but have other educational goals. The Music Department is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

Homeschool Admissions

The Office of Admissions at Northwestern College understands the needs of homeschooled learners and will help guide you through the application process. Approximately 10 percent of their traditional undergraduate students were homeschooled. Northwestern is a rather selective college. Admissions are based on a number of factors, including but not limited to: transcripts, ACT/SAT scores, essays, and overall GPA. Recommended high school curriculum includes: 4 years of English, 3 years of math, 3 years of natural science, 3 years of social science, and 2 years of foreign language. Prospective students who demonstrate potential to positively influence the Northwestern College community through character, depth, abilities or background will be shown preference in the admission process. Applicants also have to read and sign the DOCC (Declaration of Christian Community) statement included in the application.

If you are a homeschooled student, you will need to provide the Office of Admissions with a list of courses taken during your high school years, with corresponding grades. They also want a signed “diploma” with your date of graduation, stating that you have met all of the requirements for high school graduation. High school students taking college coursework must request official college transcripts from each institution attended. ACT/SAT scores and a high school transcript are NOT required if you have at least 6 college credits applicable to your desired degree program at Northwestern. Incoming students who earned college credit during high school (e.g., CLEP, AP, IB, PSEO) and have their credits transferred to Northwestern will still be classified as freshmen.

Attention High School Students!

Did you know that hundreds of Minnesota homeschool students take courses at Northwestern College as their junior or senior year curriculum? Through the state-funded Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, Minnesota high school juniors and seniors can complete high school requirements by taking college courses, and get a head start on their degree. Northwestern’s PSEO courses are offered in a convenient online format, so you don’t have to attend classes on campus. This flexible program allows you to schedule study times around other activities. All you need is a computer that can accommodate streaming media and a desire to learn. By planning ahead, you may be able to complete up to two years of college before your high school graduation!

Northwestern also offers an Early College program for high school juniors and seniors in any state or country, at a reduced cost per credit hour. Early College courses are offered through an online format which allows you to complete your work in a home setting that best fits your schedule. Michelle Ulland, the Early College Admissions Counselor, stated: “Our online options work very well for home school students because they can complete the courses right at home and have them count for high school and college credit! Over half of our Early College students are homeschooled and have been able to save thousands of dollars on their college education!” When you complete your course, full college credit will be applied to your academic record at Northwestern College. These credits may be used to complete a degree at Northwestern or may be transferred to another educational institution.

Homeschooled students are always welcome on the Northwestern campus! Please contact the college for more information or to schedule a visit. – Official website. – Virtual campus tour. – Historic campus architecture. – Early college program. – Northwestern College Historic Preservation Plan.

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