2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
    May 18, 2024  
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Purposes and Resources

Founded in 1848 to provide a liberal arts education in the Judeo-Christian humanistic tradition, Muhlenberg College is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and excellence. It is an independent, undergraduate, coeducational institution related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The College is located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the residential “west end” neighborhood, approximately 55 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles west of New York City. The College benefits by being situated next to Allentown’s famous park system.

Mission Statement

Muhlenberg College aims to develop independent critical thinkers who are intellectually agile, characterized by a zest for reasoned and civil debate, committed to understanding the diversity of the human experience, able to express ideas with clarity and grace, committed to life-long learning, equipped with ethical and civic values, and prepared for lives of leadership and service.

The College is committed to providing an intellectually rigorous undergraduate education within the context of a supportive, diverse residential community. Our curriculum integrates the traditional liberal arts with selected pre-professional studies. Our faculty are passionate about teaching, value close relationships with students, and are committed to the pedagogical and intellectual importance of research. All members of our community are committed to educating the whole person through experiences within and beyond the classroom.

Honoring its historical heritage from the Lutheran Church and its continuing connection with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Muhlenberg encourages, welcomes, and celebrates a variety of faith traditions and spiritual perspectives.

Muhlenberg Academic Learning Goals

Muhlenberg Graduates:

Intellectual Practices

  • Communicate clearly and cogently
  • Write and discuss as means of learning and discovery
  • Read texts critically
  • Reason effectively with words, numbers, and symbols
  • Locate, analyze, evaluate, and share information using emerging and established technologies
  • Create and interpret ideas using various modes of representation
  • Seek intellectual risks and grapple with ambiguity and uncertainty

Exploration, Discovery, and Integration

  • Cultivate curiosity
  • Explore and experience various modes of creative expression
  • Build a broad disciplinary and inter-disciplinary knowledge base
  • Understand that knowledge is embedded in multiple contexts (e.g., social, historical, cultural, scientific, ethical, etc.)
  • Develop and apply different modes of inquiry to pose questions and address problems

Engagement and Social Responsibility

  • Understand the multiple contexts (e.g., cultural, ethnic, racial, national, socioeconomic, religious, biological, etc.) that shape construction of human differences
  • Recognize how hierarchies and disparities shape and are shaped by institutions and social relations
  • Make principled decisions as individuals and citizens of local, national, and global communities
  • Develop a capacity to act on the basis of one’s own reasoned beliefs

The Faculty

The College’s most important resource in the fulfillment of its purposes is its faculty, drawn from the major universities of the United States and several other nations. Although more than three-quarters of the full-time teaching faculty at Muhlenberg hold the Ph.D. degree, research and scholarship are undertaken with special regard to their relationship to teaching and learning. Every effort is made to encourage a community of productive scholars and artists who share a passion for effective teaching.

The faculty have developed an academic program that endeavors to resolve the rich complexities inherent in the liberal arts tradition: breadth versus depth, discipline versus flexibility, continuity versus change. As a liberal arts college, Muhlenberg offers programs in the arts, the humanities, the natural and social sciences, and in professional areas such as business, education, pre-medical and pre-theological studies, and pre-law. Flexibility is provided with sensitivity to the individual needs of the student through course options and opportunities for independent study, research, and internships, as well as through a plan for self-designed majors. Through a process of long-range planning and constant review, the College strives to keep its curriculum vital and current with the rapidly changing intellectual world. The excellence and integrity of the Muhlenberg program have been recognized by Phi Beta Kappa and by some 14 additional national honoraries.

The Muhlenberg Tradition

Another important resource of the College is its inheritance of traditional values developed over one and one-half centuries of institutional life. Significant in its tradition are the historic ties between the College and the Lutheran Church. The name Muhlenberg College was adopted in 1867 - 19 years after the College was founded - in honor of the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. The sons of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg made important contributions to the early life of our country. General John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg wintered at Valley Forge with George Washington; Frederick Muhlenberg was the first speaker of the United States House of Representatives; Henry Ernst Muhlenberg was one of the most eminent early American scientists and the first president of Franklin College, now Franklin and Marshall College. All of these men were clergymen who symbolized the relationship of the church to the life of the mind and the life of public service.

Muhlenberg owes much of the distinctiveness of its character and the quality of its life to the historic and continuing relationship with the church. The College believes that its religious background enhances the community of learning within which the search for beauty and truth may flourish. These associations serve to remind us that truly liberating education is not merely a quest for salable answers in the marketplace of ideas but a process through which people acquire self-understanding, a sensitivity to the values inherent in our Western heritage and in other cultures, and an ability to improve the quality of human life.

Diversity Within Community

The College is committed not only to nurturing a sense of oneness and community but also to developing a greater diversity among its members and has initiated special strategies to recruit students, faculty, and staff which will result in a greater diversity in the College community.  The development of additions to the curriculum and student life programs as well as the presence of persons from varied ethnic and geographic backgrounds enriches and re-forms the tradition of the College.

Muhlenberg enjoys the benefits of extraordinary religious diversity within its community.  This provides opportunities for dialogue and understanding truly unique among church-related institutions.

As a further sign of its commitment to fruitful interaction between diverse traditions, the College established the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding in 1989.  Building on the College’s Christian heritage and also acknowledging the significant Jewish presence that has long marked its life, the Institute is devoted to fostering deeper understanding between the two communities.

Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges

The extensive network of colleges in the Lehigh Valley is another significant resource for Muhlenberg.  Five other liberal arts institutions are located within a few miles of the campus: Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, and Moravian College.  Muhlenberg and these institutions form a nationally recognized cooperative organization, the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC).  Through faculty exchanges, cross-registration, joint sessions locally and overseas, cooperative cultural programs, and other kinds of inter-institutional cooperation, LVAIC expands opportunities for Muhlenberg students.  (See “LVAIC Cross-Registration .”)


Muhlenberg’s academic program is accredited by all of the important and appropriate agencies, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 267-282-5000, the Department of Education of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the New York State Board of Regents.  The College is on the approved list of the American Chemical Society.  It is also a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, the College Entrance Examination Board, the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities, and the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Non-Discrimination Policy

Muhlenberg College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or age in the administration of any of its programs or activities, including admissions, financial aid, and employment.

All inquiries regarding this policy and complaints of discrimination in violation of this policy may be directed to:

Vice President, Human Resources
Third Floor, The Haas College Center

Complaints will be handled in accordance with the appropriate procedures established for resolving such complaints as set forth in student, faculty, and staff handbooks.  In addition, inquiries concerning the application of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex) may be directed to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education.