Our Story

Allen College has a tradition of excellence in healthcare education, opening in 1925 as a school of nursing diploma program. Since that time, Allen College was incorporated as a degree-granting institution and a new campus was built which allowed for expansion of our healthcare education offerings. Allen College's fundamental commitment to our students remained steadfast. Our current students receive the same commitment given to students throughout the past almost 100 years, which is to prepare them to be outstanding healthcare practitioners are who committed to lifelong learning. 

We are located on a beautiful campus in Waterloo, Iowa. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls metropolitan area combines the diversity of a large city with the friendliness of a small town. Residents value their high quality of life and strive to maintain it. The metro area offers a setting appropriate for nearly every occasion-from shopping and dining at an increasing number of retail areas and restaurants, to leisurely walks along nature trails and exhilarating nights at concerts, shows or sporting events.

Our History

UnityPoint Health – Waterloo (aka Allen Health System including Allen Memorial Hospital) has always recognized its responsibility to prepare health professionals who will provide quality health care to patients in Northeast Iowa. UnityPoint Health – Waterloo, through its Board of Directors, takes pride in supporting an accredited college that provides top programs that are in the forefront of nursing and health sciences education.

Our Timeline

1925: Allen Memorial Hospital School of Nursing Opened

In 1925, Allen Memorial Hospital opened the hospital-based diploma-granting School of Nursing. The first class graduated ten students in 1928.

1934-1942: Temporarily Closed

The School of Nursing closed due to the Great Depression. In 1942, the School of Nursing reopened and the State Teacher’s College (now known as the University of Northern Iowa) provided the basic science instruction.

1958: Radiologic Technology Certificate Program Established

Allen Memorial Hospital established a certificate program in Radiologic Technology.

1989: Allen College of Nursing Incorporated

Allen College of Nursing was incorporated in 1989 as a subsidiary of Allen Health System to establish a degree-granting institution offering nursing and allied health programs.

1990: Iowa Board of Nursing Approval & First Class Enrolled

The Iowa Board of Nursing approved the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in March 1990. The initial class of students was enrolled during the fall of 1990, with the first nursing course being taught in the spring of 1991.

Allen College developed agreements with the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Wartburg College, Waverly and Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo to offer the general education and support courses.

1994: First BSN Class Graduated

Allen College graduated its first class in May 1994. Twenty-six students received their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

1995: Regional Accreditation Received

Allen College received regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission 

1995: Allen Health System Joins Iowa Health System

The Allen Health System became a member of the Iowa Health System.

1996: Radiologic Technology Certificate Program Transferred to Allen College

The Radiologic Technology Certificate Program transferred to Allen College from Allen Memorial Hospital.

1997: Name Change and School of Nursing Diploma Program Closed

The Allen College Board of Trustees changed the name from Allen College of Nursing to Allen College because the radiography program had been added and to allow for further growth. 

The last class from Allen Memorial Hospital School of Nursing graduated in May 1997, ending almost 70 years of excellence in nursing diploma education. Allen graduates serve as leaders in all fields of nursing practice in all parts of the United States. Many have been honored for their contribution to the profession and to society.

1998: Radiography Degree and Master's in Nursing Degree Programs Established

Allen College established the Associate of Science in Radiography program and graduated its first class in 2000.

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with a family nurse practitioner track began in the fall of 1998. This program meets the needs of RNs for a locally based graduate program in nursing and the need for additional primary care providers in our region of Iowa.

1999: Radiologic Technology Certificate Program Closed

The last class from the certificate program graduated in May 1999.

2001-2009: MSN Tracks Expanded
  • 2001: Tracks in Nursing Education and Leadership in Health Care Delivery track were added to the MSN program.
  • 2007: Tracks preparing nurse practitioners in acute care nursing and adult psychiatric-mental health nursing were added.
  • 2009: An MSN track that prepares adult and gerontological nurse practitioners began admitting students.

2007: Bachelor of Health Sciences Degrees Approved

The Allen College Board of Trustees approved offering a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree with three tracks: medical laboratory science, nuclear medicine technology and diagnostic medical sonography.

Students were admitted to the medical laboratory science and nuclear medicine technology tracks in the fall of 2009 and to the diagnostic medical sonography track in the fall of 2010.

2010: Doctoral Nursing Program Established

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program was approved by the College’s Board of Trustees, the Iowa Board of Nursing and the Higher Learning Commission. The College initially offered this post-graduate’s program in fall 2011.

2012-2013: MSN Tracks Changed

  • 2012: The MSN track in psychiatric-mental health nursing was changed to Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
  • 2012: The Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program was revised to an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program. 
  • 2012: The Adult and Gerontological Nurse Practitioner programs were combined to an Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program.
  • 2013: The MSN track in public health was added.

2013: School of Health Sciences Approved to Offer New Degrees
  • BHS in dental hygiene and public health: The college received final approval from its regional accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission, to offer new bachelor’s degree programs in dental hygiene and public health, both to be delivered through distance education. Students in these programs received the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. The public health program began in fall 2014 while the dental hygiene program admitted its first students in fall 2015.
  • EdD: The Higher Learning Commission approved Allen College to offer the Doctor of Education in Health Professions Education program (EdD). The first class of students was admitted in the fall 2014.

2013: Iowa Health System Name Changed to UnityPoint Health

The Iowa Health System changed its name to UnityPoint Health and is now one of the nation's most integrated health systems and Allen Health System is doing business as UnityPoint Health – Waterloo. Through relationships with more than 1,100 providers and specialists and a wide range of physician clinics, hospitals in metropolitan and rural communities and home care services throughout its regions, UnityPoint Health provides care throughout Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. UnityPoint Health entities employ more than 32,000 employees, working toward innovative advancements to deliver the Best Outcome for Every Patient Every Time.

2014: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Degree Planned

The College sought accreditation for a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree. In the spring of 2015, the College applied for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The first class of students was admitted in the fall 2015.

2016: MSN Track in Nursing Informatics Added

A collaboration agreement was established with the University of Minnesota allows a track in Nursing Informatics. This track was discontinued in 2023.

2018: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner MSN Track Added

An MSN Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner track was added.

2019: Bachelor of Health Sciences track in Medical Imaging Added and Doctoral Physical Therapy Program Planned
  • A Bachelor of Health Sciences track in medical image was added where students could choose to study either Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
  • The College sought accreditation for a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

2020: CAPTE Accreditation 

The College applied for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and was granted candidacy status in November 2020. The first class of students was admitted in the spring 2021.

2023: DPT Program Received CAPTE Accreditation

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE) for a period of five years. The first class of five students graduated from the DPT program in December 2023.