The College has functioned under several names (St. Raphael Seminary, Mt. St. Bernard, St. Joseph College, Dubuque College and Columbia College), finally adopting its present name during its centennial in 1939. From the time of its founding, the college has devoted its faculty and facilities to an undergraduate program; it conferred the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.
In 1963, when the Catholic University of America decided to discontinue its branch program of graduate study on the Loras campus, Loras College, realizing the growing need to the locale for study beyond the baccalaureate degree, initiated its Graduate Division offering the Master of Arts degree in some fields.
The College became coeducational in the fall of 1971. In 1973, the Associate of Arts and the Associate of Science degrees were introduced. The Division of Community Education was initiated in 1975.
Both the Undergraduate College and the Graduate Division of Loras College are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The teacher education program, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, is accredited by the Iowa Department of Education. The undergraduate teacher education program is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The American Chemical Society has approved the undergraduate chemistry program. Loras College is also approved by the Association of American Universities and New York Board of Regents. The Council of Social Work Education has accredited the social work major at the baccalaureate level.