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Mission & History


An Overview of Northwest Nazarene University

Established in 1913, Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) is a nonprofit comprehensive Christian university founded upon a liberal arts philosophy of education. The campus is situated on 90 acres in Nampa, the third largest city in Idaho with over 100,000 residents, and is located 18 miles west of Boise, the state capital. NNU maintains a strong, mutually beneficial and positive relationship with the city of Nampa.

History & Campus

The campus, with its 34 buildings, has been carefully planned for maximum use and development. In addition to the Nampa campus, NNU offers face-to-face graduate programs in Idaho Falls (Social Work) and Twin Falls, Idaho (Counseling). Programs offered by the University vary from traditional programs to accelerated delivery adult and professional programs and graduate programs, from face-to-face to fully online programs.

The foundation of Northwest Nazarene University began in 1913 with the creation of an elementary school. In the ensuing two years, high school and college courses were added to the curriculum. In 1915, the first student graduated from high school, and the first college degrees were conferred upon a class of four graduates in 1917. NNU was accredited as a junior college in 1931, and as a four-year college in 1937. Master’s programs were added in the early 1970s. The name of the institution was changed from Northwest Nazarene College to Northwest Nazarene University in 1999, and the university’s first doctoral program was approved in 2011.

Now an accredited, Christian, comprehensive university of the arts, humanities, sciences, and professions, NNU has been educating students for 109 years.


As one of eight regional colleges and universities in the United States affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene, NNU is the university for the Northwest Region, which includes Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and parts of Nevada. Approximately 32% of NNU undergraduate students claim “Nazarene” as their church background and the other 68% belong to a variety of different Christian denominations, other religions, or indicate no religious affiliation. While a majority of undergraduate students come from the Northwest Region, students from 32 states and 19 countries attend NNU. Graduate programs include students from 37 states and 30 countries.


NNU’s fall 2020 enrollment of 1,971 students included 1,250 undergraduate students and 721 graduate students. In addition, continuing education enrolled 8,500 students, concurrent credit enrolled 7,840 and course of study (ministerial credentials) enrolled 144 students for a grand total of 18,455 students served by the University. Over the past three years, undergraduate and graduate enrollment has remained relatively stable with an enrollment average of 1,258 undergraduate students and 714 graduate students.


NNU is primarily a residential campus with 76% of our eligible traditional undergraduate students living in campus housing and many others living in close proximity to the campus. The undergraduate student population is 57% female; the graduate student population is 70% female. Nearly 80% of our undergraduate student population is white, while 9% are Hispanic/Latino.


NNU employs 119 faculty members, including 103 teaching faculty. Of the 103 teaching faculty, 77 (75%) hold the highest degree in their fields. An additional eight faculty members are enrolled in doctoral programs. Currently, 36 (35%) teaching faculty have Full Professor status, 36 (35%) faculty members have Associate Professor status, and 40 (39%) faculty members have Assistant Professor status. Presently, 42 (41%) faculty members are tenured, 55 (53%) are non-tenured tenure-track, and 6 (6%) faculty members are non-tenured track. The student-to-faculty ratio is 16:1 for traditional undergraduate courses, 13:1 for non-traditional adult program courses, and 13:1 for graduate courses.

Academic Colleges

The university consists of seven academic colleges: College of Arts & Humanities; College of Behavioral & Social Sciences; College of Business; College of Education; College of Natural & Applied Sciences; College of Nursing; and College of Theology & Christian Ministries.

Academic Programs

NNU offers programs leading to 16 degrees (AA, BA, BS, BSN, MA, MDiv, MBA, MAcc, MAT, MEd, MS, MSN, MSW, EdS, EdD, and PhD). Undergraduate degrees include 64 majors and 8 co-majors covering 80 areas of study. Graduate degrees include 24 areas of emphasis in six departments: business, counseling, education, nursing, social work, and theology. The Center for Professional Development offers two certificate programs and a variety of non-academic, professional continuing education courses and workshops that qualify for professional development credits and/or continuing education units (CEU), depending on the subject matter. NNU also offers concurrent credit for high school students and an online course of study program for Nazarene ordination.

Rankings & Ratings

Northwest Nazarene University is consistently recognized for its excellent programs, distinguished faculty, and exceptional student outcomes by multiple organizations that independently evaluate the quality of colleges and universities throughout the nation. In 2021, NNU was again named in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Regional Universities in the West colleges rankings and in the Princeton Review’s Best Colleges in the West rankings. Additionally, NNU was recognized by Colleges of Distinction—an organization that assesses colleges and universities on student engagement, quality of teaching, vibrancy of the college community, and successful outcomes of graduates—as a 2020-2021 “College of Distinction,” “Idaho College of Distinction,” and a “Christian College of Distinction.” Further, Niche.com has honored NNU as one of the “Best Christian Colleges in America” and Zippia.com has ranked NNU as #2 in Idaho for “Best Colleges for Jobs” based upon job outcomes for graduates. For those interested in our doctoral education program, Intelligent.com ranked NNU as the #1 program in the nation!