Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University (NAU) is a public research university based in Flagstaff, Arizona.[8] It was founded in 1899 as the final public university established in the Arizona Territory, 13 years before Arizona was admitted to the USA as the 48th state.

Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University seal.svg
TypePublic research university
Established1899; 123 years ago (1899)[1]
Parent institution
Arizona Board of Regents
Academic affiliation
Endowment$203.7 million (2020)[2]
PresidentJosé Luis Cruz Rivera[3]
ProvostKaren Pugliesi (Interim)[4]
Academic staff
1,151 (full time)[5]
Location, ,
United States

Coordinates: 35°11′17″N 111°39′11″W / 35.188°N 111.653°W / 35.188; -111.653
CampusSmall city
707.62 acres (2.8636 km2)
ColorsBlue and gold[7]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I
MascotLouie the Lumberjack
Northern Arizona University primary logo.png

A member of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, NAU is one of the three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.[9] As of fall 2021, 28,718 students were enrolled at NAU with 21,248 at the Flagstaff campus.[10] The university is divided into eight colleges offering about 130 undergraduate degrees, 100 graduate programs, and various academic certificates. Students can take classes and conduct research at more than 20 statewide locations, including the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

The university is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity" and ranked No. 191 in the National Science Foundation (NSF) national research rankings for fiscal year 2019.[11] It is ranked No. 57 nationally among the most innovative schools in the 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges Ranking.[12] NAU's astronomy faculty co-discovered several astronomical bodies, such as Eris, Sedna, and are major participants in the search for the hypothetical Planet Nine, with the university being a primary institution of the Lowell Observatory.[13]

The NAU Lumberjacks compete in the NCAA Division I, primarily as part of the Big Sky Conference and have won several national championships, notably in cross country running. At an elevation of 6,950 feet (2,120 m) above sea level, the school's athletic facilities are used by Olympic and professional athletes worldwide for prestige high altitude training.[14]


Initially named the Northern Arizona Normal School, the institution opened on September 11, 1899, with 23 students, two faculty members—one, Almon Nicholas Taylor, who was also the school president—and "two copies of Webster's International Dictionary bound in sheepskin" as teaching resources.[15] The first graduating class, in 1901, consisted of four women who received credentials to teach in the Arizona Territory. In 1925, the Arizona State Legislature allowed the school, which was then called the Northern Arizona State Teachers College (ASTC), to grant bachelor of education degrees. In 1929, the school became Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff.[16]

The Teacher Training School (now Blome Building) in 1922

Also in 1929, the Great Depression struck the nation, and the ASTC found new meaning in community outreach. Rather than collapsing, the school endured through the depression. In fact, Grady Gammage, the school president at the time, described higher education as "a 'depression industry' that fared well in hard times." Despite financial difficulties, enrollment increased from 321 students to 535 students between 1930 and 1940, and graduate work was introduced in 1937.[17]

ASTC provided an education during economically trying times, often creating jobs to help students afford their education; they worked in the school-owned dairy farm, in the campus kitchen and dining hall, and as newspaper deliverers. The self-sufficiency of the college helped conserve monetary resources, and it was a major contributor to the local economy of the surrounding Flagstaff community, injecting almost a half million dollars in 1938.[18]

ASTC was known for its diverse student body and ethnic tolerance. In fact, the first Hopi to receive a college degree was Ida Mae Fredericks in 1939.[18] Students came from rural farms, mining families, the East Coast, and points between. During the depression, fraternities and clubs sprang up, reflecting the diversity of background and interests.

Enrollment dropped sharply at the beginning of World War II, dropping to 161 in 1945.[19] During this time, ASTC became a Navy V-12 program training site.[20] However, the end of World War II brought increased enrollment as returning veterans continued their education.

The end of the war also expanded programs beyond teaching degrees, especially in the fields of art and science. To reflect this growth, the school changed its name to Arizona State College at Flagstaff in 1945 and, in 1958, became Arizona State College. Also in 1958, the world-renowned forestry program was started. With further growth over the next two decades, the Arizona Board of Regents granted Arizona State College university status as Northern Arizona University in 1966.[16]

The Old Main on the south campus


Flagstaff campusEdit

Set across 829 forested acres, the Flagstaff campus houses academic, administrative, and residential buildings.

A bird's-eye view of the NAU Science and Health building

At 6,950 feet (2,120 m) above sea level, NAU is one of the highest-elevation four-year college campuses in the country. The main campus is surrounded by the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world[21] and enjoys a four-season climate, with an average annual snowfall of 260 inches. Winter skiing is accessible at Arizona Snowbowl, an alpine ski resort located on the San Francisco Peaks, 7 miles (11 km) northwest of town and the Grand Canyon and Sedona are short drives away.[22] Flagstaff is regularly ranked among the best college towns in the United States.[23]

For many years, the university has prioritized sustainability initiatives,[24] and campus-wide programs and resources encourage the entire university community to get involved with sustainability efforts. There are more than a dozen LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings on campus and all new construction must meet strict LEED standards. Dining services and facilities contribute to a composting initiative, collecting more than 300,000 pounds of material each year, which prevents 250 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Much of the campus uses renewable wind and solar technologies and the university is investigating opportunities to utilize the vast ponderosa pine forests around campus for biomass electricity or heat production.

Statewide campuses and NAU OnlineEdit

In addition to the more than 21,000 students who study on the Flagstaff campus, NAU currently serves another 8,000 students online and statewide. In order to provide access and affordability to all Arizona residents, NAU offers more than 130 accredited degree programs at more than 20 statewide locations.[25] NAU also has partnerships with community colleges and NAU–Yavapai, a collaboration with Yavapai College in Prescott Valley, Arizona. The university's oldest branch campus, and the largest, is NAU–Yuma.

NAU Online[26] has two paths to degrees: traditional online and a subscription program.

  • Traditional online courses conform to the regular semester schedule and tuition is based on credit hours.
  • The subscription online model has weekly start dates and students work at their own pace. Payment is based on a six-month flat subscription rate.


Fall Freshman Statistics[27][28][29][30][31]

  2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Applicants 37,386 36,855 36,831 36.875 36,511 31,995
Admits 30,523 31,312 30,428 29,812 28,495 20,727
% Admitted 81.60 84.95 82.61 80.85 78.04 64.78
Enrolled 5,217 3,395 3,668 3,872 5,607 3,872
Avg Freshman GPA 3.70 3.64 3.61 3.60 3.60 3.40
Avg ACT Composite 22 23 23 23 23 23

Colleges and programsEdit

Across seven colleges, NAU offers more than 130 undergraduate degree programs, more than 80 master's degree programs, and about 20 doctoral programs, along with 50 undergraduate and 40 graduate certificates.

The top 10 undergraduate academic degree plans by enrollment for the 2020–2021 school year were: [10]

  1. Nursing
  2. Psychological Sciences
  3. Biomedical Science
  4. Criminology and Criminal Justice
  5. Elementary Education
  6. Hotel and Restaurant Management
  7. Management
  8. Social Work
  9. Health Sciences – Public Health
  10. Strategic Communication

College of Arts and LettersEdit

The College of Arts and Letters houses numerous departments, including:

  • School of Art
  • Comparative Cultural Studies
  • English
  • Global Languages and Cultures
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Kitt School of Music
  • Theatre

The college also oversees the NAU Art Museum, Martin-Springer Institute (promoting lessons of the Holocaust), Northern Arizona Writing Project, Ardrey Memorial Auditorium, and Kitt Recital Hall. The College of Arts and Letters Film Series has provided quality classic films to the NAU and Flagstaff community for a decade, and has recently established the NAU International Film Series. CAL is also home to NAU's doctoral program in Applied Linguistics. Department faculty and students share their scholarly work and artistic achievement through more than 300 performances, lectures, films, and exhibitions annually.[32]

College of EducationEdit

The College of Education is a cornerstone of NAU academics, with bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs available. Programs focus on early childhood, elementary, secondary, and higher education. Fields of study include:

  • Educational Leadership
  • Educational Psychology
  • Educational Specialties (e.g., bilingual and multicultural education, career and technical education, educational technology, and special education)
  • Teaching and Learning[33]

The college also houses the Diné Dual Language Teachers Professional Development Project that works with teachers with proficiency in the Diné (Navajo) language and high academic achievement to meet licensing requirements for teachers who work in language instruction education programs.

College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied SciencesEdit

The College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences is NAU's newest college. Within CEIAS are 19 undergraduate majors, 5 minors, 13 master's, and 5 doctoral programs. The college includes schools and departments[34] for:

  • Applied Physics and Materials Science
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Construction Management
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems

Students have access to numerous research labs including:[35]

  • Center for Ecosystem Science and Society
  • Center for Health Equity Research
  • Center for Materials Interfaces in Research and Applications
  • Merriam Powell Center for Environmental Research
  • Pathogen and Microbiome Institute

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural SciencesEdit

The College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences[36] has undergraduate and graduate programs that integrate science and mathematics through the creative application of knowledge. Departments include:

  • Astronomy and Planetary Science - This program has direct access to the Lowell Observatory.[37]
  • Biological Sciences
  • Center for Science Teaching and Learning
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • School of Earth and Sustainability
  • School of Forestry
  • Mathematics and Statistics

More than 30 university-funded research institutes and centers are available to faculty and students, including:

  • Center for Ecosystem Science and Society
  • Colorado Plateau Biodiversity Center
  • Ecological Restoration Institute
  • National Institute for Climate Change Research

College of Health and Human ServicesEdit

NAU Science and Health Building

The College of Health and Human Services[38] prepares students to become excellent health professionals and to provide service to improve the health and well-being of the communities served, particularly Arizona residents, Native Americans, and individuals considered disadvantaged. The college's departments—offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees—include:

  • Athletic Training
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Health Sciences
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physician Assistant Studies

The College of Health and Human Services offers several programs at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus,[39] a state-of-the-art facility on 30 acres in downtown Phoenix that includes more than six million square feet of research, academic, and clinical facilities for students earning advanced degrees in medical professions.

College of Social and Behavioral SciencesEdit

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences[40] offers a wide array of social science and related professional degree programs, including:

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Indigenous Studies
  • Communication
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Geography, Planning, and Recreation
  • Politics and International Affairs
  • Psychological Sciences
  • Sociology
  • Social Work
  • Sustainable Communities
  • University Studies
  • Women's and Gender Studies

The college also houses the Civic Service Institute that connects students, older adults, and other community members to national service volunteer opportunities within their communities. The Institute for Human Development fosters the development of attitudes that promote the public's appreciation and value of individuals with disabilities.

The W. A. Franke College of BusinessEdit

The W. A. Franke College of Business[41] offers degrees at the undergraduate and master's levels. Businessman Bill Franke's commitment of $25 million resulted in the renaming of the college in his honor in 2007. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – AACSB International - renewed The W. A. Franke College of Business's accreditation in 2020. The business division is based in a 111,000-square-foot (10,300 m2), LEED-certified building.[42] The School of Hotel and Restaurant Management is located in the Eugene Hughes building on central campus with a high-tech demonstration kitchen, high-end conference room, and cafe. The college consists of two divisions:

Business Division: The Business Division offers the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with majors in

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Information Systems
  • Management
  • Marketing

The Business Division also offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

School of Hotel and Restaurant Management: NAU's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management is ranked 18th on the Best Hospitality and Hotel Management Schools in the World list by CEOWorld Magazine.[43]

Honors CollegeEdit

NAU is home to the first Honors program offered in Arizona. The academic enrichment program is open to students of all majors and offers coursework, research opportunities, and programs designed to enhance the undergraduate experience. Honors College students have unique opportunities for study abroad and can participate in out-of-classroom programs like Canyon Country Aesthetics. Freshman Honors students can live in the Honors Residence College, which offers living, learning, and study spaces under the same roof.[44]

Graduate CollegeEdit

The Graduate College offers more than 80 master's degrees, about 20 doctoral degrees, and 40 graduate certificates, both in-person and online.[45] NAU offers graduate students hands-on mentoring, and numerous research, scholarship, and creative activities. The NAU Graduate College supports all aspects of graduate education and provides professional development opportunities for students.

University College (dissolved)Edit

University College was a portal for students to make efficient, informed decisions about pursuing academic paths. Undergraduate students automatically became a part of University College when admitted to Northern Arizona University. Various programs, resources, and support included academic transition programs, the First Year Learning Initiative, and the Bachelor of University Studies degree program.[46]

Effective summer 2016, the University College was dissolved.[46]


Lowell Observatory of which NAU has been a primary institution of collaborative research

Northern Arizona University is ranked No. 191 in the most recent National Science Foundation (NSF) national research rankings for fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019) performance of $58.91 million. The research division's core facilities are the Environmental Genetics and Genomics Resource Center, Imaging and Histology Core Facility, and the Research Greenhouse Complex. Other research laboratories include the Centennial Forest, Child Speech and Language Lab, Colorado Plateau Analytical Lab, Geospatial Research and Information Laboratory, Laboratory for Applied Social Research, Merriam-Powell Research Station, RAPIDLab, Southwest Experimental Garden Array, and Walnut Creek Center for Education and Research. The Pathogen and Microbiome Institute conducts research to track and fight a host of rapidly evolving and potentially deadly diseases including COVID-19. More than 100 faculty, full time staff, graduate and undergraduate students work in the Institute. Collections, archives and museums include The Arboretum at Flagstaff, Art Museum, Cline Library Special Collections and Archives, Colorado Plateau Biodiversity Center, and the Museum of Northern Arizona.


Academic rankings
ARWU[47] 111-129
Forbes[48] 317
THE/WSJ[49] 501-600
U.S. News & World Report[50] 284
Washington Monthly[51] 192
ARWU[52] 401-500
QS[53] 1001-1200
THE[54] 501-600
U.S. News & World Report[55] 722

The 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities, one of the three most influential and recognized university rankings, ranked Northern Arizona University 401st-500th internationally and 111th-129th nationally, tied with other domestic institutions like Boston College, Brigham Young University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of California, Merced.[56]

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2021-2022 ranked NAU 501st-600th internationally and 110th nationally, tied with domestic schools like American University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Missouri.[57]

Tuition and feesEdit

The average cost of tuition and fees for a full-time, Arizona resident undergraduate student for two semesters was $11,896 in 2020,[58] and out-of-state undergraduates paid an estimated $26,642.[59] NAU also participates in the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program, which offers lower tuition rates for students from the Western United States. For 2020–21, WUE tuition and fees are $17,221.[60] NAU is also part of two programs, the Western Regional Graduate[61] program and the Professional Student Exchange Program,[61] that allow approved graduate students from other Western states to pay in-state tuition.

Residence hallsEdit

NAU student studying in the Honors College dormitories.

NAU houses nearly 10,500 students on campus.[62]

Freshman residence hallsEdit

Available freshman halls include Allen Hall, Campbell Hall, Cowden Hall, Honors College, McConnell Hall, Morton Hall, Reilly Hall, Sechrist Hall (a nine-story residence hall, the tallest building in northern Arizona),[63] Taylor Hall, Tinsley Hall, and Wilson Hall.[64]

Upper division housingEdit

Upper-division suite-style and apartment housing is available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.[65]

On-campus housing for upper-division students includes:

Calderón, Campus Heights, Gabaldon, Gillenwater, McDonald, McKay Village, Mountain View, Pine Ridge Village, Raymond, Roseberry, and South Village.[66]

Residents of family units are within the Flagstaff Unified School District.[67] Residents are zoned to Kinsey Elementary School, Mount Elden Middle School, and Flagstaff High School.[68]

NAU partner housing by American Campus CommunitiesEdit

Rising juniors and seniors currently living on campus have priority leasing status for university-partnered housing located on campus.[65] These halls are located on the NAU campus, but are operated by American Campus Communities: The Suites, Hilltop Townhomes, and Skyview.[69]


Walkup Skydome on the north campus

Student-athletes compete at the intervarsity level in football (men); volleyball, soccer, golf, and swimming and diving (women); and basketball, cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, and tennis (men and women). The university participates in 15 intercollegiate sports programs.[70] NAU teams compete at the Walkup Skydome, a multipurpose building providing facilities for football, basketball, indoor track and field, soccer, weight lifting, lacrosse, student recreation, major concert events, commencements, intramurals, and a variety of other university and community activities.[71]

The Rolle Activity Center provides physical education classrooms and contains courts for recreational and varsity sports, including NAU's volleyball team, with seating for almost 1,100. The building is named after Joseph C. Rolle—“Mr. Lumberjack” in 1989. Rolle played basketball from 1937 to 1941, served as student body president, and received a BA in 1941 and MA in education in 1950 from Arizona State College of Flagstaff. He later earned an EdS from Columbia University and then worked at NAU for 36 years in positions ranging from bookstore manager to Dean of Students and Dean of University Services.[72]

The Wall Aquatic Center in the Aquatic and Tennis Complex is one of the finest high-altitude swimming facilities in the world.[73]

The Lumberjacks compete at the NCAA Division I level in all sports. In football, the Lumberjacks compete at the Football Championship Subdivision level (formerly known as Division I-AA). NAU competes in the Big Sky Conference in all sports except swimming and diving, which are part of the Western Athletic Conference.

Football players at NAU

The Lumberjacks won the NCAA Men's Division I Cross Country Championship in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021.[74] The 2017 repeat title closed out a perfect season with a 53-point victory, placing five athletes in the top 40. The victory was the lowest score (74) at the NCAA Championships since 2014, and the Lumberjacks became the first repeat champions since 2013–14.[75] Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Michael Smith earned the Bill Dellinger Award as National Men's Coach of the Year and also picked up both the Big Sky's Men's and Women's Coach of the Year awards. In track and field, Smith was named the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mountain Region Women's Indoor Coach of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

Maya Calé-Benzoor of Israel set the school outdoor long jump record at 20' 6" (6.10 m), NAU records in both the women's indoor and outdoor long (20' 6".00) and triple jumps (41' 3".75), and 40' 5".00 in the indoor triple jump.[76] She was an NCAA All American in 1984.[77][78] In 1989 she was inducted into the NAU Athletic Hall of Fame.[76]

Because of its high elevation, NAU's facilities are sometimes used for altitude training by endurance athletes.

On-campus activitiesEdit

NAU has more than 350 recognized professional, academic, service, and social organizations; an intramural sports program; The Lumberjack student newspaper; and active residence hall organizations.[79]

Advanced Media LabEdit

The 2,000-square-foot lab offers undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to collaborate with scholars and researchers on grant-funded projects including mobile development, augmented and virtual reality, filmmaking, aerial drone cinematography, motion capture and Esports.

Student-run mediaEdit

In the Social and Behavioral Sciences’ School of Communication, the Media Innovation Center (MIC) hosts several immersive learning programs where students practice journalism and filmmaking in real-world settings.

The LumberjackEdit

Students can work at The Lumberjack, covering news of NAU and the region for and social media, and a print edition circulated throughout Flagstaff. The student-run newspaper is more than a century old and has numerous journalism awards to its credit.[80][81]

The MIC sports team is a multimedia organization allowing students to cover sports across Arizona for TV, online, social media, and print.

NAZ Today, KJACK Radio, UTV StudiosEdit

Through UTV Studios, students produce short films and two student film festivals during each academic year. UTV 62, a student-run cable channel, operates 24 hours daily, seven days a week on campus channel 62.

Students also produce NAZ Today, which is broadcast on cable television throughout northern Arizona. It is the only local newscast in the region. In 2018, NAZ Today received national recognition from the Broadcast Education Association for "best student television newscast produced more than four days weekly." Students in NAU's Strategic Communication program publish NAZ Today stories on Facebook and Twitter, and maintain the show's website.

KJACK (KLJXLP, 107.1 FM) is an FCC-licensed radio station that gives students hands-on learning of the basics of radio and broadcasting. In addition to popular and alternative music, KJACK students provide live sports broadcasts, talk shows, and news.

NAU's televised news program, NAZ Today, airs Monday through Thursday in Flagstaff on NPG cable channel 4; formerly, it also aired on UniversityHouse (Dish Network channel 9411) until it folded. Since the shutdown of Channel 2 news in August 2008, NAZ Today is now the only TV news source for the Flagstaff area.

Members of the MIC sports team cover sports across Northern Arizona for various media platforms in the MIC. Students also cover Baseball Spring Training and other major sporting events in Phoenix.

Recreation servicesEdit

The NAU Health and Learning Center features include an indoor jogging track, a 38-foot climbing wall, a large weight room, a multipurpose gym, a cardio theatre, and 123,000 square feet of recreation opportunities. The Health and Learning Center also includes all of the on-campus medical services and the offices for Disability Resources on campus.[82]

Intramural and club sportsEdit

More than 30 competitive and recreational intramural opportunities in individual and team sports are available.[83] Also, more than 40 sports clubs are classified as either competitive or recreational/instructional, including baseball, rugby, soccer, ice hockey, lacrosse, Quidditch, disc golf, kendo, mixed martial arts, and water polo.[84] The club tennis team competes in the national USTA Tennis on Campus league and won the national Spring Invitational in 2017.[85]

Movies and other eventsEdit

Unions and Student Activities offers many services and events for the campus community, such as movies and the popular Friday night AfterHours program produced by Sun Entertainment. SUN also presents concerts, comedians, free movies, trivia nights, dodgeball, and many other special events each year. The College of Arts and Letters presents classic films every Tuesday night during the school year and more than 400 music and theatrical performances, lectures, films, and art exhibitions annually.


The NAU Alumni Association represents more than 160,000 alumni.[10]

Professional sportsEdit

The Arizona Cardinals of the NFL conducted their summer training camp at Northern Arizona University's Flagstaff campus for many years until 2013.[86] The Cardinals left Flagstaff to conduct their camp in Glendale in 2013.[87] Beginning in 2014, NAU entered into partnerships with the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury of the NBA and WNBA respectively.[88]

See alsoEdit


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