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A Visit to Augustana University

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I was excited to drive to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to meet with my students who are there and revisit Augustana. My visit to Augustana University showed me just how much this affordable, private, Norwegian-heritage liberal arts college has to offer. As the largest private university in the state, Augustana retains a strong alumni network and an enthusiastic “Augie” student body.

Augustana Aerial Shot

Often flying under the radar, Augustana may be of particular interest to those looking for a strong liberal arts education, more than 100 possible majors and minors, and is situated in a vibrant community not too far from home. I was thrilled to discover that Augustana University, with its 2000 undergrads, provides opportunities galore in this fast-growing city of Sioux Falls, which has a population of 250,000 people. Because Augustana is the only college in the city, notable local companies like Sanford Medical and Avera Medical benefit not only the town, but also the college in many ways, providing opportunities for internships, practicum’s, employment, etc.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

An easy 4-hour drive from the Twin Cities, Sioux Falls is a cultural hub with a robust arts and theater community. Attracting top Broadway shows and musicians, Sioux Falls always has something going on. I stayed by the river and Falls Park, where 26 miles of biking and hiking trails surround the city. What I liked best about Sioux Falls, aside from the excellent restaurants and scenery, were the friendly people.

Froiland Science Complex

Froiland Science Complex


Augustana is known for its excellent undergraduate programs, all taught by professors. This liberal arts school requires students to complete a broad core curriculum, while also offering more than 100 undergraduate majors and minors to choose from.

“Inspired by the Lutheran scholarly tradition, students’ academic journey at Augustana University begins with an integrative First-Year Seminar. It continues through a broad liberal arts education in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Along the way, students will be challenged to examine thoroughly life’s foundational questions through conversation and academic inquiry as they explore faith, engage in service, and achieve an education of enduring worth.”

Froiland Pendulum

Pendulum in Froiland Science Complex

Standout programs include nursing, health sciences, pre-professional, and computer science, as well as more unique majors in sign language, data science and bioinformatics, among others. The huge medical community in Sioux Falls makes it an ideal place for health science students to explore the ample job opportunities. Augustana also offers some unique graduate studies programs in areas such as Master of Genetic Counseling in conjunction with Sanford Medical.

Also of note is the Civitas Honors Program, for those looking to enhance their education both academically and civically. “The Civitas Honors program at Augustana is centered on exploring the nature and characteristics of citizenship; at Augustana University, in the United States, and as part of a global community.” Civitas students also have the option to incorporate study and/or research abroad into their final vocation projects.

If engineering is your goal, Augustana has an excellent dual-degree engineering program. After earning a B.A. from Augustana in a major of their choice, students will then earn a degree in their chosen engineering specialty from either Columbia University (for a B.S. degree), or Washington University in St. Louis (where students can choose from a mix of bachelors and masters degree options).


Game Day

Game Day

Augustana students are smart and outgoing, and enjoy being involved in activities. The competitive Division II athletic program is part of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Approximately 25 percent of students participate in athletics, but there is also no shortage of club and intramural sports on campus as well. The Augustana Vikings have top-notch facilities, including the new Sanford Fieldhouse, Elmen Center (basketball, volleyball and wrestling), Bowden Field (softball), Ronken Field (baseball), and Howard Wood Field (track and field), among others.


High school record is most important when considering applications at Augustana. Merit scholarships are plentiful for qualified students, and applications are accepted through the Common Application. According to the website, an average student profile looks like the following:

Science Class

Science Class

  • ACT Composite: 25
  • Average GPA: 3.5
  • High School Rank: 67% from the top quartile

Geographic Distribution

  • South Dakota: 45%
  • Minnesota: 33%
  • Iowa: 9%
  • Nebraska: 5%
  • Other: 8%


Religious Preference

  • Lutheran — ELCA: 32%
  • Lutheran — Other: 7%
  • Catholic: 20%
  • Methodist: 5%
  • Reformed: 3%
  • Other: 33%

Tuition & Fees

Tuition for the 2018-1019 academic year at Augustana is $25,500, and this amount increases approximately 3 percent each year.  Additional expenses not included in annual tuition amount include housing and meals, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses.

New concert hall

New concert hall

Other highlights at Augustana include:

  • Musical theater, including opera
  • Undergraduate research opportunities (paid)
  • Study Abroad
  • Great Scholarship opportunities, especially for distinguished scholars, ranging from $18,000 to full tuition for top students
  • New science complex (Gilbert Science Center)
  • Student support center and career planning
  • A large and diverse group of clubs and student activities on and off campus

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