After nearly 150 years, Augsburg College is transforming itself into a university.

The Minneapolis-based, liberal arts school announced Thursday that it formally will change its name to Augsburg University in September.

The change, said President Paul Pribbenow, will reflect the fact that the four-year college already offers nine graduate degree programs, including a program for physician assistants.

At the same time, he said, it "does not change our dedication to our liberal arts mission or our commitment to being small to our students and big for the world," according to a statement released Thursday.

Augsburg said it decided on the name change after conducting focus groups on the perceived differences between colleges and universities.

"We learned that they think a 'university' offers graduate programs, international education and is diverse … all things we already are and offer," said spokeswoman Stephanie Weiss.

Augsburg has 3,600 students at its main campus in Minneapolis and a satellite in Rochester.

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384