Brief Description

Pacific Lutheran University is located six miles south of Tacoma, in suburban Parkland, Washington, on a 156-acre woodland campus. PLU offers approximately 2,600 students a unique blend of academically rigorous liberal arts and professional programs. Students develop skills in decision making, analysis, communication and reasoning that prepare them for a lifetime of success – both in their careers and in service to others.

PLU is dedicated to developing ethical, educated, thinking leaders by challenging students to identify and ask questions of meaning and value in their own lives. Students are asked to explore their passions and purpose in life, and to uphold the university’s Lutheran heritage and commitment to academic excellence and academic freedom. PLU fosters in all students a global perspective, including an understanding of the intercultural and intellectual richness of the world and their roles as world citizens.

PLU offers a full range of liberal arts academic programs – such as psychology, history and the natural sciences – anchored by a college of arts and sciences. The university also provides students the opportunity for professional study in business, communication and arts, education, nursing, social work, and physical education. Each of these programs maintains a strong liberal arts emphasis at its core. Master’s degrees are offered in business, education, marriage and family therapy, nursing, and writing.

The university was founded in 1890 by Scandinavian immigrants. Throughout its history, PLU has remained closely affiliated with the Lutheran church and is now a university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

PLU has set out three pathways to academic distinction: global education and service to the world, student-faculty research and creative projects, and helping students discern meaning and purpose in their lives.

Global Focus. Becoming a globally focused university has become a key characteristic of PLU’s academic program. That distinction was publicly recognized in 2009 when PLU became the first university in Washington state – and the first private university on the West Coast – to receive the prestigious Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization. Today, two-thirds of the faculty have international expertise and experience, and nearly 50 percent of all students participate in at least one study-away experience while at PLU.

Student-Faculty Research. Expanded student-faculty research opportunities have enhanced the highly valued educational experience of students and faculty working one-on-one and in small groups to delve deeply into issues critical to disciplines across the curriculum. There are now several endowments for collaborative research: the Kelmer Roe Research Fellowship in the humanities; the Severtson/Forest Foundation Fellowship in the social sciences; as well as Undergraduate Research Funds in the natural sciences, the School of Arts and Communication, the School of Nursing and the Wang Center for Global and Community Engaged Education.

Lives of Service and Vocation. In the language of the Mary Oliver poem from which PLU’s Wild Hope Project gets its name, PLU invites students to ponder, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” “Wild” because so much is possible and unpredictable and the complexities of the world are so great, and “precious” because the life of each individual student vitally matters and is full of promise. Our commitment to improving the quality of reflection on vocation – meaning and purpose – has contributed to PLU being a more intellectually rigorous, developmentally astute, theologically rich, and world-informed environment for students.

Academic terms: PLU follows a 4-1-4 calendar that consists of two 15-week semesters bridged by a four-week January Term. Summer consists of two four-week terms.

Degrees conferred: Undergraduate: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Bachelor of Arts in Education, Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Musical Arts, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. Graduate: Master of Arts in Education; Master of Arts (Marriage and Family Therapy); Master of Business Administration; Master of Science in Marketing Analytics; Master of Science in Nursing; Master of Fine Arts (Creative Writing); Joint Degree MSN/MBA; Doctor of Nursing Practice; Doctor of Education.

Undergraduate Majors: Anthropology, Applied Physics (BS), Art History, Biology (BA, BS), Business (BBA), Chemistry (BA, BS), Chinese Studies, Classical Languages, Classical Studies, Communication (BAC), Communication Studies (BA), Computer Engineering (BS), Computer Science (BA, BS), Earth Science (BA, BS), Economics, Elementary Education (BAE), Engineering Dual-Degree, English, Environmental Studies, Financial Mathematics (BS), French, German, Hispanic Studies, History, Mathematics (BA, BS), Mathematics Education (BS), Music (BA, BME, BMA, BM), Norwegian, Nursing (BSN), Philosophy, Physical Education (BAPE, BSPE), Physics (BA, BS), Political Science, Psychology (BS, BA), Religion, Scandinavian Area Studies, Secondary Education (BAE), Social Work, Sociology and Criminal Justice, Studio Arts (BA, BFA), Theatre (BA, BFA). Complementary Majors (must accompany another major): Global Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies.

Activities: Twelve choral and instrumental ensembles, dance ensemble, theatre, speech and debate, newspaper, radio, television, literary magazine. Seventy-two clubs including community service, religious, environmental, social justice, political, cultural/ethnic, business, non-traditional student, nursing, science, computer and outdoor recreation.

Athletics: NCAA Division III. Women’s intercollegiate sports: Soccer, cross-country, volleyball, basketball, swimming, track and field, crew, golf and softball. Men’s intercollegiate sports: Soccer, football, cross country, basketball, swimming, track and field, baseball, crew, and golf.

Memorial Lectures: Walter C. Schnackenberg Memorial Lecture (history), Heather Koller Memorial Lecture (creative writing or ethics), Bjug Harstad Memorial Lecture (varies).