2020 Summer Trimester

University History

NWHSU History

Founded in 1941 as Northwestern College of Chiropractic, Northwestern Health Sciences University has grown in size and influence in the practice of natural health care in Minnesota and beyond.  Dr. John B. Wolfe, a civil engineer turned doctor of chiropractic, founded Northwestern College of Chiropractic and started the college with the help of one colleague and three students.


The First Campuses

Beginning in a second floor of a downtown Minneapolis building, Dr. Wolfe founded the college in response to the need for a school that offered a broad program in clinical chiropractic and basic science. By 1949, a postwar influx of veterans raised the enrollment to 280. Northwestern prospered because of its rigorous academic program and the quality of the students and faculty. As Northwestern graduated more chiropractors, the profession grew and more doctors of chiropractic referred still other students to the college. 

At the same time, to affirm the legitimacy of chiropractic education, Northwestern became a nonprofit institution, unusual for chiropractic schools at the time. Its board included members of the Minnesota Chiropractic Association and the Minnesota Chiropractic Foundation. As the college grew, it moved to larger quarters on Park Avenue in Minneapolis, including a former carriage house that served as a clinic where students could treat patients.


Continued Growth 

In 1965, Northwestern entered a new period of growth. Creating the Giant Step Program, the school created a new clinic, pioneered a two-year pre-professional requirement for all incoming students, remodeled its main building including a library and all-purpose biology teaching laboratory, and adopted objectives to ensure the development of a quality education program designed for the needs of the profession. 

On the Move Again 

In 1974, the continuing growth of Northwestern led to the purchase of a campus in Saint Paul, located on Mississippi River Boulevard. From this location, Northwestern pioneered community-based clinical education and the final trimester preceptorship for the training of chiropractic interns with clinics first across the United States and eventually in foreign countries.

More Growth and Another New Campus 

In the 1970s and '80s, Northwestern's alumni were now referring more students to the college, which led to further growth of the profession. In addition, more patients were becoming aware of the existence and value of chiropractic care. 

In 1983, the college moved to its current location, a 25-acre campus in Bloomington, Minnesota, just south of Minneapolis. The new complex provided students with all the structure and amenities of a university, including laboratories, classrooms, library, and public clinics. The new location also gave rise to student organizations and support services.

Establishing a University 

Growing interest among healthcare consumers in natural therapies including acupuncture and massage therapy promoted college leadership to actively explore adding other natural healthcare degree programs. 

In 1999, the Minnesota Institute of Acupuncture and Herbal Studies, which had been founded by Minnesota acupuncture pioneer, the late Edith R. Davis, merged with Northwestern. The merger created the Minnesota College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which continued offering a Master of Acupuncture and Master of Oriental Medicine. 

Also in 1999, Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU) was established to reflect its new identity as a leader in natural healthcare education, clinical services, and research. 

In 2000, Northwestern created the Massage Therapy Program and graduated its first class in the spring of 2002.

Expanding Once Again 

To accommodate a growing research program, expand its library, and provide more robust support services to students and alumni, the University faced the need to expand once again. 

In 2008. Northwestern built the Wolfe-Harris Center for Excellence, which houses the Wolfe-Harris Center for Clinical Studies; the Greenawalt Library; and the Northwestern Student, Alumni, and Career Services Center. Renovations to the existing building included new classrooms, instructional labs, and the Center for Diagnostic Imaging digital radiology lab for students. 

Between the two buildings lies an exquisitely landscaped Healing Garden made possible by a generous donation from Standard Process® offering a relaxing outdoor gathering space. 

In 2010, NWHSU established the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Policy to inform and influence patient-centered, evidence-informed public policy on behalf of complementary and integrative healthcare providers and patients.

Establishing an Undergraduate College 

To assist students with fulfilling prerequisites or completing a bachelor's or associate's degree, the College of Undergraduate Health Sciences was created in 2011 to offer pre-professional courses, including accelerated sciences courses and general education courses. The college also offers a Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Health/Pre-Med program for students interested in applying to medical school, dental school, and other health professional schools.

Expanding into Allied Health Programs

In June 2019, NWHSU announced that the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) approved the transfer of students in the Twin Cities area whose educational plans were interrupted by the sudden closing of Argosy University. The HLC approved to accept students transferring from Argosy in five degree programs including Associate of Applied Sciences in Medical Assisting, Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology, Associate of Science in Radiation Therapy, Associate of Science in Medical Laboratory Technology, and the Bachelor of Science in Medical Terminology. These five new degree programs are now part of NWHSU's curriculum and degree offerings. These important and complementary fields fit well with NWHSU's exclusive focus on health sciences education and expand the University's focus on integrative health care.