The humble beginning of Northern Luzon Adventist College was established in 1923. It started as a church school with 37 pupils enrolled in 5 different grade levels under only one teacher – the young Tomas Pilar, a fresh graduate of the then six-year old Philippine SDA Academy (which later became Philippine Union College that eventually became the Adventist University of the Philippines). In 1926 or thereabouts, the school moved to its present site and became known as the Ilocos Junior Middle School offering Grades 1-7.
In 1931, the school started to offer a secondary program and became known as the Northern Luzon Academy. Mrs. Cora Lugenbeal, wife of American missionary Elder Edward Lugenbeal, became the first principal and served until 1939. The first high school graduation was held in 1938.
The academy began to offer college-level courses in 1990. In March 1992, the Northern Luzon Mission Executive Committee endorsed the proposal to upgrade Northern Luzon Academy to senior college status. The North Philippine Union Mission (NPUM) approved this recommendation in April 1992. The College further received its accreditation to operate from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the International Board of Education (IBE) of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists.
In 1996, the Far Eastern Division (FED) Commission on Education granted the school a five-year Accredited Status for its academy program.
The NLAC High School Department is the first of three academies in the North Philippine Union Mission to be granted a Level II status by the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines. The school achieved such status in November 1990 after a formal evaluation conducted by the ACSCU Accrediting Agency Incorporated. This was renewed in April, 1996 for another five years Level II of status.
The school has distinguished itself by winning a regional award for being “the Cleanest and Most Beautiful Private Secondary School” in Region I during 1991-1992.
The Liberal Arts program started its operation in 1990 under the permit granted by the department of Education Culture and Sports and was given the government recognition No. C-017 series 1993 dated June 27, 1993. The Education Program started in the school year 1991-1992 under DECS permit. The program received its government recognition No. C-099 series 1994 for Elementary Education, and No. C-098 series 1994 for the Secondary Education.
In 1995, the International Board of Education of Seventh-day Adventists, upon the recommendation of the Southern Asia Pacific Division, approved the starting of a tertiary program on the campus leading to Bachelor of Arts major in English, Filipino, General Science, History, Mathematics, and Theology, Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, Bachelor of Elementary Education, Bachelor of Information and Computer Science, Bachelor of Nursing, Bachelor of Secretarial Administration, of Bachelor Secondary Education.
Northern Luzon Adventist College operates by the policies of the General Conference and by the policies of the Southern Asia Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as expressed in the Division Educational Policy Manual.
The Board of Regents of Seventh-day Adventists granted the College candidacy status for two years ending December 31, 1997. An evaluation visit was made on September 7-9, 1997, which resulted to an initial three-year accreditation covering the period September 1997 to September 2000 for the 12 abovementioned programs. The subsequent visit on March 12-13, 2000 by a three-man committee resulted to its level II accreditation up to December, 2002.
The FAAP granted Level III Re-accredited status to the Liberal Arts program of NLAC and was awarded by ACSCU-AAI on April 30, 2009 at Quezon City, Philippines and is valid until 2012. The Education program was also granted Level II Re-accredited status on the same date.
On November 16-20, 2009, the ACSCU-AAI team paid a visit to NLAC and accredited four programs such as Pre-school, BS Accountancy, BS Nursing and Master of Arts in Education. These programs were given a two-year candidacy status from March 2010-March 2012. This was awarded on May 20, 2010 at Cagayan de Oro by the same agency. Finally, on December 12, 2011 Level 1 Accreditation status was granted to the four programs by the FAAP.