The Lutheran College Washington Consortium, also known as the Lutheran College Washington Semester, or LCWS, was founded in 1986 by a core group of Lutheran colleges to provide a quality residential Washington, D.C., semester program exclusively for their students.
LCWS is owned and operated by it’s member schools. In addition to the three founding colleges - Gettysburg College, Muhlenberg College, and Roanoke College - ten additional schools are members of the LCWS program, including: Augustana University (SD), California Lutheran University, Concordia College (MN), Concordia University Chicago, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Luther College, Susquehanna University, Thiel College, Valparaiso University, and Wittenberg University.
The program started as a one semester a year operation with a professor taking sabbatical and acting as the director of the program. In 1991, a full-time Dean, Dr. Nancy D. Joyner, was hired and the program expanded to operate year-round. Originally part of the Luther Institute, LCWS broke away and became an independent organization in 1998. It was at that time that the program began using the name "Lutheran College Washington Semester" to distinguish itself from the Luther Institute. LCWS moved from Capitol Hill to the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, VA, where offices, classrooms, and student housing were established. The program has remained in this location ever since.