Tracing Northwestern University's Growth and Development
Way back in 1932, an enterprising group of educators composed of Angel Albano, Cresencio Barangan, Maximo Caday, Manuela Romero, Rufina Mariano and Nicolas Nicolas pooled their hard-earned savings to put up and incorporate the first private non-sectarian educational institution in Ilocos Norte known as the Northwestern Academy.

The operation of the school was interrupted in 1945-1948 with the outbreak of World War II. Upon resumption, a 12 room building, the first it can call its own was constructed to accommodate the influx of students. In 1949, the academy became Northwestern College with Apolinario Aquino as President. Opening of new courses followed namely Associate in Surveying, Bachelor of Laws, BS Commerce, Technical Engineering, Industrial Education, Master of Arts in Education, BS Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.

The purchase of a nine-hectare lot and the construction of the Science and Engineering building were landmarks in the institutions growth and progress. With the acquisition of the lot, the dream of the incorporators for the institution to becomea university began to take shape. The College continued to offer more programs. The course leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Criminology was opened in 1969, followed by the BS in Nursing Program and two-year course in Police Science Technology in 1973. in 1982, fifty years after its founding, Ben A. Nicolas became President of the College and Chairman of the Board of Directors taking over the reins from his father, Nicolas Nicolas who held the distinction of chairman of the board for fifty years. A major breakthrough along with the reforms instituted was the opening of the Computer Center , the first of its kind north of Metro Manila.

Recognizing the need of going through voluntary accreditation as a means of attaining quality education, management applied for accreditation of some of its programs. In a short span of time, five of its programs were accredited, namely: Arts and Sciences, Commerce, Education, Engineering and Criminology.

New course designed to meet the demands of the time were offered in 1990, namely: BS in Accountancy, BS Computer Science, Two-Year Computer Secretarial, One-Year Craftsman (Civil), Practical Electricity, One-Year Computer Technician, BSE major in Library Science.

In 1991, a permit to operate a program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) major in Development Education was issued. Permits to operate a 2-year course in General Radio Communication Operator and Midwifery were also granted the same year followed by the opening of Doctor of Education; Master of Arts in Nursing; Master of Arts in Public Administration; Master in Business Administration; BS in Chemical Engineering; BS in Geodetic Engineering; BS in Marine Engineering; BS in Marine Transportation; BS in Architecture; BS in Mathematics; BS in Industrial Technology; BS in Commerce major in Entrepreneurship; Management Accounting; Banking and Finance; BS in Secretarial Administration; Bachelor of Arts major in Mass Communication; BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management; BS Tourism; BS in Physical Therapy; and Nursery and Kindergarten.

On November 3, 1992 , Northwestern University was granted university status. Jose G. Castro was the first University President.

Reforms continued to be instituted and academic programs were strengthened to prepare the student for global competitiveness in the third millennium. More programs were granted accreditation status. During this time, Ben A. Nicolas resumed the position of President.

Research and Community Extension became the priority thrusts in SY 1998-1999. The University Center for Research was put up.

In 2002, government recognition to offer BS in Medical Technology was issued. In 2003, BS in Industrial Engineering and MS Management Engineering programs were given government recognition. A year after, permit to operate programs leading to the degree in BS Radiologic Technology and BS Environmental Studies were granted.

At the threshold of the 21 st century NWU applied and subjected itself to an international auditing agency, the Anglo-Japanese American (AJA) Registrars Inc. Having met the stringent requirements, NWU holds the distinction of being the first educational institution in the province to be granted International Standard Organization) ISO-9001/1994 certificate and later granted ISO 9001-2000 certificate.

A major achievement of great significance was the grant of Deregulated Status to the university by the Commission on Higher Education in 2003. It was also in the same year that it forged an international sisterhood relationship with Sangmyung University, Korea.

In 2004, a 35,000 sq. meter lot in Payas, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte and a 14,633 sq. meter lot in Nalbo, Laoag City were acquired that will serve as the future site of the Research and Community Extension Center. A Worship Center and the Alumni House were also constructed in the same year which are indications of Northwestern University s unrelenting efforts in expanding and strengthening its services.

From humble beginnings, Northwestern University has today emerged as a leading and progressive institution of learning in Laoag City and Ilocos Norte. It is committed to provide a learning environment geared towards excellence and thus prepare students to be world-class citizens.