Building traditions since 1901

Since 1901, Northern State University has been committed to academic and extracurricular excellence. Today, we offer nationally accredited academic programs in arts and sciences, business, fine arts and teacher education.

A Marching Wolves member plays trumpet

NSU Fight Song

Fight Song Lyrics


Up Northern Wolves! Up Northern Wolves!
We are for you every day,
Our hearts are true! Smile down on you!
As we go cheering, cheering on our way, 
Oh watch the sign! Come, hit that line!
Move along and lose no time, 
We're on our way -- hip, hip hooray!
We're cheering for you today!

Thunder the Wolf

'Thunder' the Mascot

In 1927, the “Wolf Mascot Skipper” first appeared in the yearbook as a live dog wearing a cape, which many suspected was the pet of Assistant Coach Bob Campbell! Waldo the Wolf was named mascot in 1954; in 1993, the first "Thunder" debuted at the I Hate Winter game. 

Two students make the wolf sign

'Go Wolves' Sign

The “Go Wolves” hand sign shows you're part of the pack! This sign is the middle and ring finger pressed against the thumb, with the pointer and pinky fingers up.

NSU ceremonial mace

The Ceremonial Mace

Originally a weapon, the mace evolved into an ornate staff used as a symbol of authority and carried by church and court officers who escorted high officials during the Middle Ages. Today it is used symbolically in academic ceremonies, carried by Northern's most senior professor.

Historic pillars at NSU north entrance

Alma Mater

The current version of the Alma Mater was written during the 2004-2005 academic year by Northern professor Dr. Allan Jacobson at the request of then-NSU president Patrick Schloss.

NSU Alma Mater Lyrics


Standing in Dakota’s grandeur
Under skies of blue;
Home of loyal sons and daughters,
Hail to NSU!
Northern State, our Alma Mater,
Pride fills all our days.
Years and miles may pass between us,
Still we sing your praise.

New NSU students sit in an auditorium

New Student Convocation

New Student Convocation is the first formal gathering of each academic class and marks a new beginning and welcome as a member of the Wolf Pack Family. It's also a bookend to graduation - see Commencement below. 

NSU employees lead students between the campus pillars

Parade of Scholars

After convocation, newly minted Wolves join Northern employees as scholars in a traditional march to the pillars on 12th Avenue. Each new class passes between the pillars to formally begin its academic journey at Northern. Students who carefully observe this tradition may have fewer 8 a.m. classes!

NSU students head to a picnic after the Parade of Scholars

Wolf Pack Picnic

The Wolf Pack Picnic, a great opportunity to connect with classmates and NSU staff and faculty, is hosted each fall after New Student Convocation.

A Marching Wolves flag bearer marches in the homecoming parade


Northern State University homecoming week, culminating in the largest parade in South Dakota, is a highlight of the year in Aberdeen. Students crown a homecoming king and queen, and the Northern campus and community display their pride in the NSU Wolves.

A student plays color dodgeball

Color Dodgeball

It's dodgeball with a twist - players toss colored powder at the opposing team, starting each new academic year with competitive, colorful fun! 

NSU students head to a picnic after the Parade of Scholars

Late-Night Breakfast

Northern employees join the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and dining services to serve a delicious hot meal to students during finals. Other stress relievers during the week include coloring and karaoke.

A student participates in the uNity walk

uNity Walk

This new Northern tradition focuses on supporting an inclusive, engaged, and supportive culture that celebrates achievement and success for all. The walk ends with a free welcome-back barbecue on the Campus Green.

A group of students poses at the Wolfys

Wolfy Student Engagement Awards

The Wolfys recognizes student leaders' and organizations’ contributions to enhancing the experience for all Northern students.

NSU students head to a picnic after the Parade of Scholars

Lighting of the Green

Northern's beautiful campus green comes to life with lights during the holiday season. The Lighting of the Green usually accompanies Northern's annual holiday dinner.

A person donates blood at a Northern blood drive

Blood Drive

Northern's Campus Activities Board was hosting a blood drive on September 11, 2001; a blood drive is held annually in remembrance of the spirit of national unity that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. 

A group of Northern graduates at commencement


Northern's commencement ceremony celebrates students' accomplishments and marks their transition from student to alum. After commencement, be sure to walk back through the pillars on 12th Avenue for good luck on your next adventure!

Students dressed in school colors make the Wolf sign

School Colors (gold and maroon)

Gold represents the academic excellence of our students and faculty. Maroon is often associated with force, depth, and passion; for Northern, maroon represents these qualities and the unity of our community. Wolves buy maroon and gold apparel at the NSU Wolf Shoppe! Faculty member Frank W. Smith suggested the adoption of maroon and gold in 1902.

Brass musicians perform on stage


Tubaween is a Halloween-themed recital featuring low brass music and a script that highlights student talents, leadership, creativity, and uniqueness. The Student Government Association declared Tubaween a new annual student tradition on November 29, 2023.

Students take a group selfie

I Hate Winter

During Northern's I Hate Winter event, students dress according to a tropical theme and enthusiastically celebrate winter and Wolves basketball.

Students in Halloween costumes

The Haunting of ...

Residence Life takes over a residence hall to create the best haunted “house” in Aberdeen. Grab your friends and tour a ghoulish version of one of your residence halls.

'Tab on CAB' Twist Cone

NSU Campus Activities Board picks up the tab at the renowned Twist Cone, proudly serving Aberdeen and Wolves for more than fifty years!