North Iowa Area Community College

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Coordinates: 43°09′25″N 93°07′55″W / 43.157°N 93.132°W / 43.157; -93.132 The North Iowa Area Community College (commonly known as NIACC) is a community college in Mason City, Iowa.


NIACC began as Mason City Junior College in 1918, becoming the first public two-year college in Iowa and one of the first such institutions in the country. The first year there were 28 students, six instructors, and five fields of study under Principal James Rae. Tuition was free to Mason City residents and $10 for non-residents. The College was on the top floor of the high school until the 1950s when it moved to the Memorial University Building. In 1960, the college moved into the former Roosevelt High School Building.(? needs clarification)

In 1965, Iowa’s 61st General Assembly enacted legislation creating a statewide system of two-year post-secondary educational institutions, identified as Merged Area Schools. Mason City Junior College then transformed into North Iowa Area Community College (Merged Area II). Enrollment exceeded 1700 full-time students and in 1970 the College moved to its current campus on the east edge of Mason City.

NIACC is a progressive, comprehensive learning institution positioned to serve as the major cultural, educational, and economic development force for the North Iowa region. In 2018, the College will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The College began in 1918 as Mason City Junior College, the first public two-year college in Iowa, and became North Iowa Area Community College in 1966. The College sits on a 500-acre countryside campus that consists of modern facilities including the Student Activity Center, Recreation Center, Muse-Norris Conference Center and Murphy Manufacturing Technology Center, as well as lakeside student apartments. New student housing for approximately 400 students is under construction and will be open in the fall 2014. The College also operates Community Education Centers in Charles City, Garner, Hampton, Lake Mills and Osage. With a staff of approximately 300, the College currently offers nearly 40 one- and two-year career programs, the first two years toward a bachelor's degree in most fields and an array of continuing education opportunities for professional and personal growth.

On average, the College serves more than 3,700 degree students each year and thousands more through non-credit programs.

AQIP (Academic Quality Improvement Program): In spring 2010 application was made to The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) NIACC to participate in the Academic Quality Improvement Program, thus replacing the traditional accreditation process. AQIP is based on continuous quality improvement principles. Each institution must have at least three action projects underway at all times and at least one of the projects must be related to student learning. The College received its accreditation renewal from the HLC in the Fall 2013.

NIACC was ranked #14 in the nation for student success, according to an article published in June 2012 on College Measures, a joint venture of the American Institutes of Research and Matrix Knowledge Group, has created a chart for CNNMoney to help students find the best options. Based on the percentage of students that graduated within three years or transferred to four-year colleges, they compiled a “success” rating for each community college in the U.S. NIACC was rated at a 72% success rate, meaning that 72% of all students who attend NIACC either complete or have a successful transfer to a four-year institution within three years. (complete article:

Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America’s community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program in May 2012 named North Iowa Area Community College as one of the nation’s 120 top community colleges, challenging it to compete for the $1 million fund for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The Aspen Institute identified the 120 community colleges—10 percent of all institutions—using a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four areas: graduation rates; degrees awarded; student retention rates; equity in student outcomes.

NIACC partners with local businesses and trains skilled workers so they can get good jobs in Iowa. NIACC has trained more than 11,500 workers under local individual employer workforce agreements, totaling $8 million in job training funds.

The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center serves as a key source for entrepreneurial support so each person and community can achieve their potential.

NIACC offers an annual Performing Arts and Leadership Series. About 16,000 people every year enjoy a variety of shows through the series. This ads to the culture of North Iowa and brings more people to North Iowa.

The mission of North Iowa Area Community College is to enhance the quality of life for people of North Iowa through comprehensive educational service, and responsive leadership.

NIACC's current President is Dr. Steve Schulz. Schulz began his duties at NIACC on December 1, 2013.


The student/teacher ratio is 13:1 with class sizes averaging 20–30 students.

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