Honors & awards

Overall excellence | Value | Academics | Christian faith |  Campus |  Athletics

Overall excellence

U.S. News & World Report ranks Northwestern College in a tie for 5th place among 96 Midwestern regional colleges. Rankings are based on academic reputation, retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and alumni giving. NWC is the highest-ranked Iowa college in its category.

Washington Monthly ranks Northwestern 7th among the nation's top baccalaureate colleges, based on the schools’ contributions to the public good in the areas of social mobility, civic engagement and service. Northwestern has been ranked in the top 10 nationally—and been the highest ranked Iowa college in any category—every year.

Forbes.com ranks Northwestern among the top 13% of the nation's colleges and universities. Forbes, which evaluates institutions based on quality of teaching, great career prospects, graduation rates and low levels of student debt, ranked NWC as the 8th-best college in Iowa and 377th overall out of more than 2,800 four-year schools. Only 13 Iowa colleges and universities were chosen as "America's Best Colleges" by Forbes.com.

Princeton Review lists Northwestern among 159 institutions selected for its "Best in the Midwest" designation, based on student opinion. In the survey, our students praised the college's integration of faith and learning, tight-knit community, caring professors, small class sizes, opportunities for involvement, and commitment to diversity.

Northwestern College and the University of Iowa are tied for fifth place in BestColleges.com’s ranking of the best four-year colleges in Iowa. The ranking scores colleges based on acceptance, retention, graduation and enrollment rates, as well as students’ ability to pay their college loans after graduation.



Money magazine includes Northwestern in its list of the 25 Best Private Colleges for Merit Aid, a select group of best-value institutions "where smart students can earn the most financial assistance." Northwestern is the only Iowa college on the top-25 list.

GreatValueColleges.net includes Northwestern in its list of "50 Great Affordable Colleges in the Midwest." The rankings take into consideration a school's quality and affordability. Northwestern is 13th among Midwest private colleges.

Northwestern has been ranked in College Factual’s “Nationwide Best Colleges for the Money” list. The ranking, which is based on the colleges’ total cost compared to their academic quality, lists NWC as 8th out of 131 colleges and universities located in the “Plains State” region, and 34th out of 1,220 colleges nation-wide. Iowa State University is the only school in Iowa to rank higher than NWC.

Christian Universities Online includes Northwestern among its choices as the “50 Best Value Christian Colleges and Universities,” a recognition that considers an institution’s net tuition cost, quality and affordability.



CBSNews.com lists Northwestern 5th in a ranking of "25 Colleges with the Best Professors"—ahead of every Ivy League school and all state universities. The ranking was based on data compiled by Forbes magazine using the website RateMyProfessors.com.

StudyAbroad101.com includes Northwestern’s Romania Semester program in its list of America’s top 10 study abroad programs. The website’s CEO cited the unique nature of the program, which immerses students in the local community and provides them with “a very powerful experience.”

BestCollegeReviews.org ranks Northwestern among 50 American colleges and universities with the best study abroad programs. The website identifies the most desirable study abroad opportunities that are unique to a college or university and provide a personal experience for the student.

20 Northwestern programs are recommended by Rugg’s Recommendations on the Colleges as “quality programs at a quality college”: actuarial science, athletic training, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, ecological science, education, English, history, music, music ministry, philosophy, physics, psychology, public relations, religion, social work, Spanish and theatre.


Christian faith

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll lists Northwestern for the eighth consecutive year among U.S. institutions whose students display exceptional commitment to community service. Last year 546 NWC students were involved in community service in Orange City and around the U.S. Another 430 students were engaged in academic service-learning, putting classroom knowledge into practice by helping area agencies and businesses.

TheBestSchools.org includes Northwestern in its list of "The 15 Best Colleges for Studying the Bible." The only school in Iowa on the list, NWC was among those chosen for their "commitment to sound Christian education, vital campus life, outstanding faculty, academic excellence and … impressive Bible curriculum."



Northwestern’s campus is listed as one of the 50 Most Beautiful Christian Colleges and Universities by Christian Universities Online. NWC is the highest-ranked college in Iowa, at No. 33.

Orange City, home of Northwestern College, is one of the nation’s Top 10 Christian College Towns, according to CollegeandSeminary.com.

Northwestern is ranked as the Safest College Campus in Iowa by Niche.com, based on the cumulative evaluation of key factors including campus crime rate, local crime rate and student reviews.

American School and University magazine selected Northwestern's renovated Rowenhorst Student Center for their "Outstanding Design" showcase. Our student center holds three design awards. Northwestern's 100-acre campus also includes an award-winning chapel and theatre arts center.

For the ninth consecutive year, the Groundwater Foundation has named Northwestern a Groundwater Guardian Green Site in recognition of our care for the environment. NWC is one of only 4 colleges nationwide to receive the designation.



The Red Raiders are ranked seventh among the Best Christian College and University Athletic Programs of 2016 by Christian Universities Online. Scoring was based on the number of varsity teams available; amount of varsity championships won; percentage of enrolled students participating in at least one varsity team; and total revenues from athletic programs.