PLU seeks to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care – for other people, for their communities, and for the earth.
The Faculty of Pacific Lutheran University establishes the educational philosophy that shapes and supports the curriculum and programs of study. This philosophy is reflected in statements of educational goals, objectives and principles. Of particular significance to all students are statements about learning objectives, general education and writing throughout the curriculum.
Pacific Lutheran University was founded in 1890 by a group of mostly Norwegian Lutherans from the Puget Sound area. They were led by the Reverend Bjug Harstad, who became PLU’s first president. In naming the university, these pioneers recognized the important role that a Lutheran educational institution on the Western frontier of America could play in the emerging future of the region. They wanted the institution to help immigrants adjust to their new land and find jobs, but they also wanted it to produce graduates who would serve church and community. Education—and educating for service—was a venerated part of the Scandinavian traditions from which these pioneers came.
Although founded as a university, the institution functioned primarily as an academy until 1918, when it closed for two years. It reopened as the two-year Pacific Lutheran College, after merging with Columbia College, previously located in Everett. Further consolidations occurred when Spokane College merged with PLC in 1929. Four-year baccalaureate degrees were first offered in education in 1939 and in the liberal arts in 1942. The institution was reorganized as a university in 1960, reclaiming its original name. It presently includes a College of Arts and Sciences; professional schools of Arts and Communication, Business, Education and Movement Studies, and Nursing; and both graduate and continuing education programs.
PLU has been closely and productively affiliated with the Lutheran church throughout its history. It is now a university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), owned by the more than six hundred congregations of Region 1 of the ELCA.
Many influences and individuals have combined to shape PLU and its regional, national, and increasingly international reputation for teaching, service, and scholarship. A dedicated faculty and staff have been extremely important factors. The school has enjoyed a strong musical tradition from the beginning, as well as noteworthy alumni achievements in public school teaching and administration, university teaching and scholarship, the pastoral ministry, the health sciences and healing arts, and business. At PLU the liberal arts and professional education are closely integrated and collaborative in their educational philosophies, activities, and aspirations.
Pacific Lutheran University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Accreditation of an institution of higher education by NWCCU indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality evaluated through a peer review process. An accredited college or university is one which has available the necessary resources to achieve its stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, is substantially doing so, and gives reasonable evidence that it will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.
Accreditation by the NWCCU is not partial but applies to the institution as a whole. As such, it is not a guarantee of every course or program offered, or the competence of individual graduates. Rather, it provides reasonable assurance about the quality of opportunities available to students who attend the institution.
Inquiries regarding PLU’s accreditation status by NWCCU should be directed to the NWCCU accreditation liaison officer at PLU. Individuals may contact:
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
8060 165TH Ave NE, Suite 100
Redmond, WA 98052
In addition, the following programs hold specialized accreditations and approvals:
Business: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
Computer Engineering (B.S.): Accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET
Computer Science (B.S.): Accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET
Education: National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education
Marriage and Family Therapy: Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Music: National Association of Schools of Music
Nursing: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission
Physical Education, B.A.P.E. Degree: National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education
Social Work: Council on Social Work Education
Any current or prospective student may, upon request directed to the President’s Office, review a copy of the documents pertaining to the university’s various accreditations and approvals.
Chemistry: (including certified Biochemistry and Chemical Physics Options) – American Chemical Society
To view information on Enrollment, Retention of First-Year Students and Faculty, go to: