About Northwood University

Our Mission

We develop free-enterprise leaders who drive global economic and social progress.

Our Vision

We inspire human potential through immersive learning to advance economic freedom, for everyone, everywhere.

Our Values

We affirm the natural yearning in every human heart to be free. Our academic community welcomes individuals, their distinctive talents, and their potential to make a difference through a life well spent. We believe in:

  • The advantages of an entrepreneurial, free society

  • Individual freedom and personal responsibility

  • Leading from a foundation of ethics and integrity

  • Embracing the global and multicultural nature of enterprise

  • Celebrating individual uniqueness and diversity of perspectives in an inclusive community

Code of Ethics

The community of students, faculty and staff of Northwood University affirms this code of ethics as the behaviors that advance our mission, vision and values.


Exercise personal freedom and accountability that uplifts and respects individual freedom for all.


Treat all others with consideration for their circumstances and with thoughtful regard for their value as human beings.


Show compassion for the feelings, thoughts, and conditions of others.


Seek the spiritual development necessary to create our happiness, inspiration, reverence, meaning, and purpose.


Embrace truthfulness, fairness, and probity, and demand the absence of fraud or deceit in ourselves and others with whom we act.


Demonstrate persistence, determination, and effort in order to achieve our goals and applaud the high achievement of others.


Be guided by a code of behavior which reflects our values, unimpeded by circumstance, personal gain, public pressure, or private temptation.


Be accountable for the care and welfare of others and responsible for the intended and unintended consequences of our actions.

Outcomes and Attributes

Common Degree Outcomes

A university education encompasses learning through courses and co-curricular experiences which allow our graduates to achieve Common Degree Outcomes. Our learning community promotes the achievement of six outcomes which become competencies our graduates share.

  • Articulate and apply the principles and values of freedom and free-enterprise.

  • Communicate effectively in speech and writing.

  • Demonstrate critical thinking, analytical skills, and problem-solving proficiency.

  • Demonstrate foundational knowledge of the functional areas of business.

  • Demonstrate acumen applied to the global business environment.

  • Demonstrate effective leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.

Attributes of our Graduates

At Northwood, we emphasize qualitative personal development. Through purposeful programming and course offerings we develop individuals who: can explain their personal values; appreciate the aesthetic, creative and spiritual elements of life; seek lifelong education; are effective self-evaluators and action-oriented. These attributes encompass our holistic approach to developing the future leaders of a global free-enterprise society.

History of Northwood

On March 23, 1959, two young men with an idea, a goal, and a pragmatic philosophy to encompass it all, broke away from their careers in a traditional college structure to create a new concept in education.

Their visionary idea became a reality when Dr. Arthur E. Turner and Dr. R. Gary Stauffer enrolled 100 students at Northwood Institute. They used a 19th-century mansion in Alma, Michigan, as a school building, a small amount of borrowed money for operating expenses and a large amount of determination.

Northwood was created as the world was changing. The Russians had launched Sputnik and America was soon to follow. Stauffer and Turner watched the race to space. They envisioned a new type of university – one where the teaching of management led the way. While the frontiers of space were revealing their mysteries, Stauffer and Turner understood all endeavors – technical, manufacturing, marketing, retail, every type of business – needed state-of-the-art, ethics-driven management.

Time has validated the success of what these two young educators called "The Northwood Idea" – incorporating the lessons of the American free-enterprise society into the college classroom.

Dr. David E. Fry took the helm in 1982, Dr. Keith A. Pretty in 2006 and Dr. Kent MacDonald in 2019, each continuing the same ideals as Stauffer and Turner, never wavering from the core values. The University grew and matured. Academic curricula expanded; Northwood went from being an Institute to an accredited University, the DeVos Graduate School of Management was created and then expanded; the Adult Degree Program and its program centers expanded to over 20 locations in eight states; international program centers were formed in Malaysia, People's Republic of China, Sri Lanka, and Switzerland; and significant construction like the campus Student Life Centers added value to the Northwood students' experience. New endeavors such as Aftermarket Studies, entertainment and sports management and fashion merchandising, along with a campus partnership in Montreux, Switzerland, demonstrate an enriched experience for all our students.

With a clearly articulated mission to develop free-enterprise leaders who drive global economic and social progress, Northwood University is expanding its presence in national and international venues. Professors are engaged in economic and policy dialogue; students are emerging as champions in regional and national academic competitions. At all campuses and in all divisions, Northwood University is energized and is actively pursuing dynamic programming and increased influence.

Northwood University educates managers and entrepreneurs – highly skilled and ethical leaders. With more than 57,000 alumni and a vibrant future ahead, The Northwood Idea is alive and well.

The Northwood Idea

Bringing the lessons of the American free-enterprise society into the college classroom.

We view a Northwood University education as an investment in your future. Any person who devotes time to a Northwood education gives up the opportunity to devote that time to all the other pursuits he or she might engage in during that time.

The Value of The Idea

Northwood graduates emerge prepared to shape their world.

We believe and teach that…

  • Competitive, productive effort can overcome obstacles, solve problems and achieve goals.

  • Human beings can make a difference in the world in which they live.

  • Political and economic freedom are of paramount importance in releasing creativity and productivity.

  • Sacrifice – savings – is a necessary prerequisite to progress.

  • Equality of opportunity based on contribution and inequality of reward using the same criteria are not only appropriate but the necessary conditions, in a system not forced into conformity with some master plan.

  • It is the differences among us that make us interesting and useful to each other.

  • We need the freedom to fail.

  • We must be free to bear the positive and negative consequences of our actions.

  • In a competitive system, all who participate benefit from it.

  • As a society, we cannot gain from the establishment of legal monopolies except in a very few and constrained circumstances.

  • An understanding and appreciation of the arts and humanities is a primary source of human enrichment in the lives of productive human beings.

  • Education is never something that one person can do to another. It is, rather, something two people do together.

We dedicate ourselves to…

The elimination of artificial barriers to equal opportunity for all human beings. Racial, religious and sexual barriers are anathema to us.

We practice…

A healthy skepticism of large and powerful government, because we think history has clearly demonstrated that such structures move rapidly from being of the people toward being over the people, and freedom is lost in the balance. Our intolerance of monolithic power is consistent across the business, labor and government spectrum.