Valparaiso University: A Northwestern Education

As one of the most prestigious Lutheran based universities in the United States, Valparaiso University ranks eleventh on the list of the 25 largest Indiana colleges and universities. It is slightly smaller than the University of Indianapolis and bigger than the University of Evansville. With a stunning modern campus just miles from the bustling metropolis of Chicago, Illinois, Valparaiso University is a great school with over 150 years of tradition.

Promotional video for Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana


Campus and Student Life

Valparaiso University
is located in the town of Valparaiso, Indiana, about two and a half hours away from Indianapolis and fifty miles from Chicago. Valparaiso is a fairly large town with over 25,000 residents. While there are many more things to do in Indianapolis than there are in Valparaiso (commonly known as “Valpo” to Indiana residents), there are still plenty of attractions in the town, so students of the university can always find a fun activity to take their minds off of their studies. Valparaiso holds an annual Popcorn Festival in honor of Orville Redenbacher, a Purdue University grad who grew up in Valparaiso. The town is also just 15 minutes from the Indiana Dunes National Park and just under an hour from the cultural mecca that is Chicago.

Video of a flight above Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana

Valparaiso University’s 150 year history began back in 1859, when the university was founded as a Methodist facility that championed the ideas of coeducation at a time when very few other institutions of higher learning were coed. The school was forced to close its doors in 1871, after the Civil War, but it reopened under new leadership just two years later, in 1873. The college became a university in 1906 and again changed hands in 1925 when the Lutheran University Association purchased the school. Today, Valparaiso University remains a Lutheran college, though many of its students belong to other Christian denominations, and some belong to a diverse set of religions from Islam to Judaism.
In keeping with the university’s Lutheran heritage, Valparaiso University is host to one of the most recognizable religious structures in Indiana: the Chapel of the Resurrection. It’s not nearly as old as the Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, but it has been around for 50 years and is a northwest Indiana landmark. It was built on the highest point in the Valparaiso University campus and can been seen from U.S. 30. The building draws inspiration from the Church of the Nativity all the way in Bethlehem, and it is a regal structure that rises almost 100 feet above the ground. The university uses it for many functions other than religious services, like student convocations and events. It is one of the visual trademarks of Valparaiso University.

Video commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana

In addition to the Chapel of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University also plays host to many different structures that promote a fun student lifestyle. One of the newest of these buildings is the Harre Union. This four story, modern facility is the secular heart of Valparaiso University. The Harre Union hosts academic offices, dining hotspots, copy centers and computer labs for last minute work on campus, and study lounges.

Time-lapse video of the construction of the Harre Union at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana

The Games and Recreation Center is perfect for rainy days and warm summer afternoons; the indoor portion has free access to foosball, table tennis, and other parlor games, while the Outdoor Recreation Center rents out bikes, tents, and equipment for outdoor games. The Union also has conference rooms that students and guests alike can rent out for their own personal or business use.
If you’ve got the higher things in life on your mind, don’t worry; Valparaiso University also has a teeming center for the arts, called the Valparaiso University Center for the Arts. This refined structure unites Valparaiso University’s art, music, and theatre programs under one roof for greater cooperation among faculty and easier access for students. The Center for the Arts holds two performance halls: the University Theatre, which seats nearly 300, and the Duesenberg Recital Hall, which has roughly 200 seats. These are popular venues for Indianapolis music and music from around the nation.

Video of a senior cello recital at the Duesenburg Recital Hall at the Center for the Arts on campus at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana


In addition, the Valparaiso University Center for the Arts houses the Brauer Museum of Art, which rivals any Indianapolis art museum. The Brauer Museum has hosted works from all around the world, including an Old Masters exhibition from Romania in 1997. Many members of the Indianapolis art community stop by to have a look at the wealth of beautiful exhibits.


While there are plenty of things to keep you occupied at Valparaiso University, the real focus of any good college is the education it provides. Valparaiso is no different; a degree from Valparaiso University goes a long way with prospective employers. Over 90% of Valparaiso grads find a good position within their chosen profession shortly after graduation, a pretty impressive figure! Receiving accolades from such judges as U.S. News and World Report, Peterson’s Competitive Colleges, and The Templeton Guide, Valparaiso University’s degrees give you a lot of professional clout for your money.
The university is divided into five different colleges: the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Business Administration, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, and the graduate school, Christ College. These five colleges encompass more than seventy different majors, including applied statistics, political communication, sociology and criminology, and digital systems design. At Valpo, students receive individual attention from their highly trained instructors. The student to faculty ratio at the university is an excellent 13 to 1, and the average class size is just 22 students. That’s about as much as an average Indianapolis high school classroom.

Video tour of the nursing program at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana

First year students at Valparaiso University are required to take a unique set of courses, known as the “Valpo Core”. The Valpo Core is a program called “The Human Experience” that lasts for two semesters and spans multiple disciplines. It promotes critical thinking, writing to learn, and self-evaluation to prepare the foundation for general core studies at Valparaiso. The course meets four days a week and seeks to explore the lifelong question of human existence and what it means to be human. It’s an ambitious prospectus, but this rigorous intro year teaches students more about themselves than any extracurricular activity could.
In addition, Valaparaiso University also plays host to a very prestigious law school that is recognized across the country as one of the best. Valparaiso trains its lawyers to be thinking, analyzing members of society instead of automatons who simply memorize the facts. The university is well known for its commitment to values as well as skill training. Each student at the Valpo School of Law must complete forty hours of pro bono community service work before they can graduate. The law school provides students with a theoretical foundation in addition to applied coursework so that Valparaiso graduates can quickly adapt to changes in the legal system and new ideas.

Video of a civil liberties forum hosted by the Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana


If Valparaiso, Indiana doesn’t strike you as a great place to spend four years, the university also offers many different study abroad programs. These classes are designed to immerse students in a different culture for a semester or a year. For some programs, students don’t even need to learn another language to attend classes. Valparaiso University has study abroad sites all over the world, including England, China, Germany, France, and many more.


Valparaiso University also has a strong tradition of NCAA Division I sports. Their teams’ spirit, skill, and fight can only be matched by some of the best teams in Indianapolis sports. The Crusaders used to compete in the Mid-Continent Conference, which currently includes Indiana University – Purdue University (IUPUI) and Southern Utah University. The Valparaiso University Crusaders now belong to the Horizon League, which also features Butler University and Cleveland State. The university fields 19 sports teams for both men and women, including bowling, basketball, football, cross country, swimming and diving, and tennis. There are also three spirit teams at the school: cheerleading, the pep band, and the Crusaderettes, a cheer and dance team.

One of the most illustrious seasons in Crusaders history occured in the 1997-1998 season, and ranks right up there with any season in Indianapolis college basketball for glory. The men’s basketball team made a run to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Tournament, putting Valparaiso University on the map for the national sports community. After posting a 23-10 record in the regular season, the Valparaiso Crusaders took first place in the Mid-Continent Conference, then known as the Summit League. The team finished 23rd in the nation, something that has not been duplicated in Valparaiso sports since.

Video history of the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team


The Crusaders women’s volleyball team has been excellent in recent years as well. In the 2008-2009 season, the Crusaders posted a 12-4 conference record and a 25-7 overall record. The season featured some resounding wins against the University of Notre Dame, Butler University, IUPUI, although they posted a disappointing loss against Indiana University. In their 30 years of history, the women’s volleyball team has made three appearance in the NCAA tournament and claimed top spot in their conference eight times, including five wins of the conference tournament.

Video highlights of a women’s volleyball game featuring Valparaiso University


A Northwestern Education

All in all, Valparaiso University is a great example of a modern institution devoted to teaching students to succeed in not only their careers, but also their lives. Their Valpo Core program allows students to learn who they are personally as well as academically. The university’s Lutheran principles may motivate the school’s mission, but students from all faiths are encouraged and accepted at the school. Valparaiso University has had 150 years of excellent academic and athletic achievement, and they are still going strong.

For more information on Valparaiso University, including a course catalog and academic schedule, please visit the university’s homepage.

Valparaiso University
1700 Chapel Dr
Valparaiso, IN 46383

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