Honors & awards

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

Overall excellence

U.S. News & World Report ranks Northwestern College in a tie for 6th place among 80 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 lists Northwestern 25th among the nation's top baccalaureate colleges, based on the schools′ contributions to the public good in the areas of social mobility, service and research. Northwestern has been included among the nation′s top colleges by Washington Monthly every year since the magazine began ranking baccalaureate colleges in 2010.

Forbes.com ranks Northwestern among the top 14% 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 393rd 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 156 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.



Money magazine includes Northwestern in its listing of the nation's best-value colleges. The rankings are based on educational quality, affordability and alumni success.

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 16th out of 129 colleges and universities located in the “Plains State” region, and 65th out of 1,208 colleges nationwide.

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.

Northwestern’ online Master of Education degree program is ranked 2nd among the nation’s Top Low-Cost Online Master’s Programs by BestMastersDegrees.com.

Northwestern’s online Master of Education degree program is ranked 3rd on a list of the nation’s 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s of Educational Leadership and Administrative Degrees by AffordableSchools.net.



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.

22 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 and worship leadership, nursing, philosophy, physics, psychology, public relations, religion, social work, sociology, Spanish and theatre.

Northwestern’s nursing program is ranked in the nation’s top 10%, as well as 35th out of 50 in the Plains region, by Nursing Schools Almanac, which evaluated each institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, the breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success—particularly on the national licensure exam. NWC is one of only seven Iowa schools that made the list and the only one on the western side of the state.

Online-Accounting-Degrees.net ranks Northwestern 18th in its list of the top 40 best-value actuarial science degree programs in the U.S. NWC is one of two and the highest-ranked Christian college on the list, which rated programs based on their graduation rate, quality of curriculum, student appeal and net price.

Northwestern is included among the top 10 economics programs in the state of Iowa by the career website Zippia.com. The ranking compared institutions based on career results of alumni, the percentage of students majoring in economics, and factors such as graduation rates, average cost of attendance and average amount of debt.


Christian faith

Northwestern is ranked 16th among the "50 Best Christian Colleges and Universities" in Christian Universities Online's 2017 listing. The ranking highlights intentionally Christian institutions that excel in personal attention to students, financial aid, and overall student satisfaction. Northwestern is the highest-rated college in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll lists Northwestern for the 9th consecutive year among U.S. institutions whose students display exceptional commitment to community service. Last year 1,070 NWC students were involved in community service in Orange City and around the U.S., while 566 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 7th 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.

Northwestern’s athletics program also received recognition from TheologyDegrees.org, which included NWC among its  top 50 Christian College Athletic Programs for 2016. The Raiders were ranked 32nd in a list created by comparing the number of varsity teams, opportunities for women athletes, percentage of students involved in intercollegiate athletics, and athletic revenues. The website also noted Northwestern’s nine national championships and strong athletic facilities.