In 1910, the Lutheran Synod founded a seminary but it was opened for students in 1911 and known as Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary of Eastern Canada. In 1914, the seminary offered non-theological courses under the name of "the Waterloo College School". In 1924, the Waterloo College of Arts was founded under the same dean. Waterloo College of Arts made an alliance with the University of Western Ontario in 1925. It soon started to offer honors degree courses in the arts. In 1960, the Lutheran church renewed its sponsorship for Waterloo College and obtained a revised charter by changing the name of the seminary to Waterloo Lutheran University. Laurier's school colors are purple and gold which extend from its early partnership with Western. However, originally maroon and gold was adopted.
Laurier established a second campus in Brantford, Ontario in the year 1999. After 7 years in 2006 the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work migrated from the Waterloo campus to another campus in downtown Kitchener. The Brantford campus is actually centered on a number of historic lands in the downtown area which was restored when the university was founded. It also includes a Carnegie library, Brantford's 1880 post office along with an 1870 mansion and a 1950 Odeon Place.
WLU has an enrollment of about 17,000 full-time and part-time Bachelor students with over 1,500 full-time and part-time graduate students. The university has over 500 faculty and staff members. Laurier has been transforming from a primarily UG university to a moderate research institution. According to the Maclean's magazine survey of Canadian universities 2019, Laurier was ranked 6th out of 15 Canadian universities put in a comprehensive category. According to the Registrar's Report for Winter 2016, six most popular streams at Laurier are ranked in a order of Business, Communications Studies, Psychology, Criminology, Economics, and Biology
The internationally known Faculty of Music at WLU is considered as one of the best across the nation. A report of 2017 indicates that students choose to concentrate in Composition, Comprehensive along with Music Education and Music History. The teachers at WLU also attract a greater percentage of students from other countries. The university’s music program offers master's degree in only Music Therapy. The strength of WLU in "music and business education" has been identified as one of the reasons that the Waterloo Region is a "powerful educational hub" said by University of Waterloo president with former Governor-General of Canada, David Johnston. It was named as Canada's Best Music Campus by CBC Radio in 2013.