In 1913, under the leadership of Eugene Emerson, the founders of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) were motivated by a desire to educate their own children to organize an elementary school. In the ensuing two years, both high school and college courses were added to the curriculum. Thus began the foundation for Northwest Nazarene University, a fully-accredited, co-educational, Christian comprehensive university of the arts, humanities, sciences and professions.
In 1915, the first student graduated from high school, and a year later Dr. H. Orton Wiley was elected president. The first degrees were conferred upon a class of four graduates in 1917.
Academic progress has been notable, including accreditation as a junior college in 1931 and as a four-year college in 1937. Master's programs were added in the mid-sixties. The name of the institution was changed from Northwest Nazarene College to Northwest Nazarene University in 1999. NNU changed from quarters to semesters in May of 2000.
The university presently offers over 80 areas of study, 18 master's degrees in seven different disciplines and two doctoral degrees. In addition to its 90-acre campus located in Nampa, Idaho, the university also offers programs online as well as in Idaho Falls and in cooperation with programs in 35 countries. NNU serves over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, more than 6,000 continuing education students, and over 10,000 high school students through the concurrent credit program.