About PLU

Pacific Lutheran University

PLU seeks to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care—for other people, for their communities and for the Earth.

Founded in 1890 by Norwegian pioneers, PLU is an exemplar of the New American University—integrating the liberal arts, professional studies and civic engagement—in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. With distinctive international programs and close student-faculty research opportunities, PLU seeks to educate its 3,300 students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care—for other people, for their communities and for the Earth. The distinctive tradition of Lutheran higher education helps students from all faiths and backgrounds discern their life’s vocation through coursework, mentorship and internships at world-class Puget Sound-area businesses and institutions. Located in the Parkland neighborhood of Tacoma, Washington, PLU is set in a region that also offers vast opportunities for outdoor recreation, culture and sports.

To support students and faculty as they explore life’s big questions and engage in fulfilling and meaningful work, the university established the Wild Hope Center for Vocation through a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment. A distinctively hopeful exploration, the search for vocation that faculty and students undertake together endures even in the face of the untamed and unpredictable nature of the world in which we live.

The first American university to have Study Away classes on all seven continents simultaneously, PLU is also the first private university on the West Coast to receive the prestigious Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization. An honoree on President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, PLU hosts an Emmy Award-winning MediaLab; a MacArthur Award-winning detachment of Army ROTC; an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning public radio station, KPLU; and more than 100 clubs and activities, including 19 varsity athletic teams in the Northwest Conference of NCAA Division III.

The university consistently ranks among the top 15 in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Universities in the West and recently was named second in the West for Best Colleges for Veterans. It also ranks in the top 4 percent of Master’s universities nationwide by Washington Monthly College Guide. The university has produced 100 Fulbright Scholars since 1975, and ranks third in the nation among small colleges and universities for the number of Peace Corps volunteers it produces.
PLU is noted for its commitment to diversity, justice and sustainability. For its record on sustainability, the university was recognized with a Gold Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

And for more than 30 years, PLU has been internationally known for its Holocaust Studies program, which now includes the Kurt Mayer Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies, the annual Powell-Heller Holocaust Education Conference and, beginning in Fall 2014, PLU will be one of only a handful of universities nationwide that offer a minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Another of the hallmarks of PLU is its nationally acclaimed School of Arts and Communication. Recent alumni are performing and creating on Broadway (Next to Normal), TV (Glee, The Mentalist, NCIS:LA) and film (The Lord of the Rings), as well as on stages and concert halls around the world (Metropolitan Opera), and at news and media organizations throughout the region. The recently renovated, $20-million Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the premier performing arts center in the South Puget Sound region.

The university offers 44 majors and 54 minors as well as graduate and professional programs in business administration, creative writing, education, finance, marketing research, marriage and family therapy and nursing.