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.

Pacific Lutheran University purposefully integrates the liberal arts, professional studies  and civic engagement in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. With distinctive international programs and close student-faculty research opportunities, PLU helps its 3,300 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.

Founded in 1890 by Norwegian pioneers, PLU continues the distinctive tradition of Lutheran higher education through its commitment to the advancement of knowledge, thoughtful inquiry and questioning, the preparation of citizens in service to the world and to its ongoing reform. 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. 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 20 in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Universities in the West and recently was named fourth 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.

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).  PLU seeks out students from every possible background—all religions, all races, all socioeconomic groups, all sexual orientations—from all over the world. For the 2015-16 academic year, 35 percent of incoming first-year students are the first generation in their families to attend college; 33 percent self-identify as students of color; and 20 percent are Pell Grant-eligible.

And for more than 40 years, PLU has been internationally known for its Holocaust Studies program, which now includes the Kurt Mayer Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies and the annual Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education. In Fall 2014, PLU became one of only a handful of universities nationwide to 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, in TV and film, as well as on stages and concert halls around the world, and at news and media organizations nationwide. 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.


PLU teams have won 11 national championships and a total of 227 Northwest Conference titles since 1966.  Individually, 46 Lute student-athletes have captured national championships, and more than 400 student-athletes have been named to All-America teams. PLU student-athletes also excel academically, earning 10 NCAA post-graduate scholarships and numerous Academic All-America selections. In 1996, PLU earned the NAIA Sears Directors’ Cup, which recognizes the nation’s top overall athletic program.

In the 2015-16 academic year:

  • The PLU women’s swimming team claimed its third consecutive Northwest Conference championship after winning 12 events, including sweeping all five women’s relay events.
  • The women’s rowing team captured its first NWC championship and the varsity 8+ boat went undefeated in NWC races.
  • 70.4 percent of PLU student athletes have a GPA higher than 3.0.
  • 78 student-athlete Lutes earned all-conference recognition throughout the year and 38 student athletes were honored with Northwest Conference Student Athletes of the Week recognition.
  • The PLU baseball team returned to the NCAA regional playoffs for the second consecutive season having captured the NWC Tournament championship.