Founded in 1860, Augustana traces its lineage to the Norwegian settlers who established the school as a college and seminary for the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod. Today Augustana (or Augie as students and alumni affectionately call it) is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and is the largest private college in South Dakota. Named for the Confessio Augustana (a founding Lutheran document), Augustana shares its name with Augustana College in Illinois, both founded after a split between the Norwegian and Swedish halves of the church. In 2015 Augustana was elevated to university status.
Though it is now officially a university, Augustana retains the close-knit nature of a small liberal arts college, with an 11:1 student/faculty ratio and class sizes that rarely top 20 students. While most undergraduate students live on-campus, Augustana has invested in online graduate programs to reach South Dakota’s working adults, as well as far-flung rural populations. The numbers add up in Augustana’s favor: an 84% retention rate, 86% four-year graduation rate, and 98% job placement for graduates (besides the 20% who go on to graduate school).
Augustana’s curriculum centers around Christian faith and the liberal arts, while excellence, community, and service are central to the Augustana mission. Besides the honors program, Civitas, Augustana puts a premium on student research, internships, and study abroad, aided by its location in Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s largest city and one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review among the top regional institutions in the Midwest, Augustana’s combination of quality and affordability has also made it known as a best value.
Augustana’s 1900 students come primarily from South Dakota and Minnesota, though in recent years the university has made outreach to international students a higher priority and welcomed around 150 students from 34 different countries. Freshmen are welcomed by the Viking Voyage, a well-designed program of orientations, seminars, and student-led events that acclimate freshmen to the university and makes a major impact on Augustana’s high retention rate.
As a small school, much of student life at Augustana takes place on campus, through many student organizations, activities, and events, including more than 100 student-led clubs. Viking athletics are a core element of student togetherness and alumni loyalty, and in keeping with Augustana’s Lutheran heritage, religious practice and community service are deeply embedded into Augie student life and activities.