Northland College

Northland College makes the most of its location in Ashland, Wisconsin, located next to Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world and home to the Apostle Islands and surrounded by a million acres of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Faculty, staff, students, and community experts lead undergraduate research, internships, fieldwork, and coursework on the water, in the field, and in the community.

Listed as one of Sierra magazine’s “cool schools,” Northland College is leading sustainability in higher education. Currently 46 percent of the campus dining budget is spent on local foods and the College has a goal of reaching 80 percent by 2020. The composting center, run by students, is growing and taking in food waste from households in town. Last year alone, the College composted 96,000 pounds of food waste, then distributed and sold the compost to local farmers and gardeners. Students also manage the multiple gardens on campus—and the College is adding sustainable agriculture as a minor starting in Fall 2019.

The Hulings Rice Food Center along with two other centers of excellence, employ students to lead research and innovation on topics concerning the region. The Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation investigates and monitors water quality in Lake Superior and the surrounding rivers, streams, and lakes—including Bay City Creek that flows through campus to the lake—and looks for solutions. Through research, polls, and studies, the Center for Rural Communities attempts to better understand rural communities and fill in the gaps of data, often missing in controversial issues.

Founded in 1892, Northland College is a four-year liberal arts college that has been a leader in blending an environmental focus with a liberal arts mission since 1971, enabling those it serves to address the challenges of the future. Some 600 students from 30+ states and several countries attend Northland College.


Ashland, Wisconsin

Student/Faculty Ratio



Over 40 programs including Art, Biology, Chemistry, Education, English, Fisheries and Wildlife Ecology, Forestry, Gender and Women’s Studies, Geology, Graphic Design, Humanity and Nature Studies, Meteorology, Native American Studies, Natural Resources, Outdoor Education, Religious Studies, Sociology and Social Justice, Sustainable Community Development and Writing among others.


A 14-week Fall Term and Winter Term followed by a 4-week May Term. During the May Term, students take one intensive course, giving them an opportunity to dive into a field course, travel course or another hands-on experience.


  • Local Foods Initiative – a partnership with Chartwells, UW Extension, Chequamegon Food Co-op, Bayfield Regional Food Producers Cooperative and local farms
  • Mino Aki Garden – produces fresh produce for the cafeteria and campus events
  • Renewable Energy Fund – led by students to support campus sustainability initiatives
  • Renewable energy including wind towers, solar panels and geothermal heat
  • Reuse Room
  • McLean Environmental Learning and Living Center residence hall
  • LEED Gold-certified buildings
  • Native landscaping


  • Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
  • Applied Research and Environmental Laboratory
  • Center for Rural Communities
  • Food Lab and Composting Facility
  • Indigenous Culture Center
  • Member of Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL)
  • Member of Round River Conservation Studies
  • The Outpost – outdoor gear rental
  • Sunshine Bike Shop
  • Northland College community radio station
  • Greenhouse
  • Fitness center, training facility and sports fields