Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.
Requirements for B.A. Degree
Comprehensive Graduation Requirements (General Education)
General Education requirements constitute the “core” degree
requirements of the curriculum. Courses are described
in this catalog and in the Catalog Supplement; courses fulfilling
a given General Education requirement are indicated in the Class
and Lab Schedule.
Note that St. Olaf’s General
Education curriculum does not work by a distribution system (so
many courses in certain disciplines); rather, it identifies an
area of learning for General Education and sets out a series of
guidelines which inform the construction of courses. Departments
and programs submit their course proposals to a General Education
committee, which judges whether a course fulfills a requirement.
Because the college’s expectations for General
Education are distinctive and characteristic of this college alone, students
must be particularly careful as they plan off-campus and transfer work. The
Registrar’s Office determines how transfer work can apply to St. Olaf’s
General Education requirements; advisers of off-campus programs determine whether
a non-St. Olaf course applies to the General Education requirements. See TRANSFERRING
TO ST. OLAF.
Some courses in the St. Olaf curriculum count for more than one
graduation requirement at the same time. A course taken for
Studies in Natural Science may also be the first course in
the chemistry major. A course taught in the Department of English
may simultaneously satisfy requirements for Literary Studies
and Multicultural Studies. Writing in Context courses usually
fulfill more than one requirement. In addition, students may
complete requirements with courses taken on international and
A typical course of study may have proportions like these:
General Education: 14-16 full course credits
Major: 8-10 full course credits
Electives: 10-12 full course credits
Total for graduation: 35 full course credits
Depending upon Advanced Placement examination results, choice
of foreign language, prior preparation in languages and mathematics,
choice of a major and a second major or teaching certification,
the proportions will vary.
Of courses taken to meet General Education requirements, only
.25 credit courses may be taken on an S/U basis. Full or .50
credit courses taken S/U do not fulfill General Education requirements.
An independent study or an independent research credit does not
fulfill a General Education requirement for the degree (except
as a course in writing [WRI]).
1. First-Year Writing [FYW] — 1 course
Objective: To equip students for effective writing in the liberal
arts and introduce writing as a means
Requirement: Satisfactory completion
of General Education 111 in the first year of study. Students who
initially transfer 15 or more courses to St. Olaf are exempt from
Placement: Students who need
to improve their writing skills complete English 107: Introduction
to Academic Writing, or English 110: Critical Skills 110: Critical
Skills in Composition, in the first semester of the first year,
then complete a General Education 111 in the second semester of
the first year. All other students may enroll directly in a General
Education 111 section.
2. Writing in context Courses [WRI] — 4
Objective: To sustain and improve writing skills.
Requirement: Satisfactory completion
of four courses across the curriculum designated as Writing in
3. Foreign Language [FOL] — 0-4 courses
Objective: To develop non-English language proficiency to an intermediate
level, deepen understanding of language as a human phenomenon
and generate insights into a culture other than one’s own.
Requirement: All St. Olaf
students must satisfy the foreign language requirement. This may
be done through satisfactory completion of the fourth college semester
course (numbered 232 or higher) taught in the French, German or Spanish languages;
or satisfactory completion of the third college semester course (numbered
231 or higher) taught in the Chinese, Greek, Latin, Japanese, Norwegian
or Russian languages, or demonstration of equivalent proficiency.
Placement: The college provides placement
examinations for new students. On the basis of examination results
and the admissions record, the college assists with initial placement
in a first-, second-, third- or fourth-semester course. All students
are advised to begin foreign language study in the first semester
of the first year and to continue their language study in each
subsequent semester until the requirement is completed. In cases
where a student’s schedule
of courses makes that impossible, the student should consult with his or
Students planning to fulfill the foreign language
requirement with transfer courses from other institutions should
be aware of St. Olaf’s requirement
of intermediate proficiency in one foreign language. Questions regarding the
transfer of foreign language courses to St. Olaf should be directed in advance
to the registrar.
Proficiency reports from persons not known to St. Olaf must be based
on documented exposure or training by the student in a foreign language
equivalent in length to three or four college semesters, or demonstration
of a sufficient length of time in a non-English speaking culture to give
credence to a proficiency report. As a rule, proficiency reports from
persons outside of St. Olaf are not acted upon until the student arranges
for a final proficiency exam by persons and methods agreed to by members
of the foreign language faculty, the registrar and, if deemed necessary,
the dean of the college. Such exams may involve an expense charged to
A student experiencing foreign language difficulty
should first consult the instructor of the foreign language course
and also his/her academic adviser; these faculty may also refer
the student to the Academic Support Center. Students for whom English
is a second language should consult the registrar or the director
of academic advising.
For students with learning disabilities specific
to foreign language, there is an alternate way to satisfy the foreign
language requirement, as approved by the St. Olaf faculty on October
“After completion of the work in a foreign
language course at St. Olaf College, the student who receives
a D or F or no credit may petition to satisfy all (in the case
of an F or no credit in a Language 111 course) or any remaining
portion of the requirement by taking Foreign Culture and Civilization
or Literature in English Translation.”
Alternatives to this requirement are rarely considered.
In most cases, they can be initiated by the student only upon completion
of a course as explained above. Criteria for granting permission
for an alternative include, but are not limited to, strict adherence
to language course requirements and class attendance, plus evidence
of having worked with a tutor assigned by the Academic Support
Center. In a limited number of cases involving students with specific
learning disabilities as detailed in Public Law 94-142 (the Education
for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975), Section 5(b)(4), a faculty
member or a student may initiate the procedure to request an alternative
to the foreign language requirement before the student completes
the course, as detailed in guidelines approved by the faculty on
May 10, 1988.
4. Oral Communication [ORC] — 1 course
Objective: To develop oral communication
competence and confidence.
Requirement: A course that incorporates
specific instruction, practice and feedback, designated as ORC.
5. Mathematical Reasoning [MAR] — 1 course
Objective: To develop an understanding
of mathematics and mathematical problem-solving.
Requirement: Satisfactory completion of a course
approved for Mathematical Reasoning credit.
Placement: The college
provides a placement examination for new students. On the basis
of examination results and the admissions record, most students
are advised to complete the requirement in the first year. In
some instances, however, students are advised to complete the requirement
later. The college assists with placement.
6. Physical Activity [PHA] — 2 one-quarter
(.25) credit physical activity courses or a .50 credit physical
Objective: To enhance knowledge of
present and long-term physical well-being.
Requirement: Two different one-quarter (.25 credit)
activity courses providing participation in structured physical
activity in Physical Education or Dance or a .50 credit course
in Physical Education. Participants in a recognized intercollegiate
sport or dance company may register and receive credit for one
of the two required .25 credit courses. Credit for intercollegiate
sport or dance company participation cannot be earned as an elective.
It can be earned only once as part of the PHA requirement.
It is strongly recommended that both PHA requirements
be completed before the senior year. The following regulations
are often misunderstood:
- Students not appearing on the first class day
of a physical activity course are normally dropped from the
course by the instructor. In this event, the student must still
drop the course at the Registrar’s Office by the posted
drop deadline. The instructor does not assume this responsibility.
- Only one physical activity course credit may be earned
by students as a result of participation in an approved intercollegiate
sport. This credit must be entered as Physical Education 171-194
at the registration preceding the sport/participation term. Credit
cannot be claimed after the term in which participation took
place. An intercollegiate physical education (.25) credit can
only be used within the two quarter-credit physical education
graduation requirement. An intercollegiate physical education
(.25) credit cannot be used as an elective for the purpose of
earning a credit toward the 35 full-credit course requirement
for graduation. It can only be used once as one-half of the two-course
- Dance 101 and 104 are .5 credit courses, but
each earns only one PHA credit and cannot be counted for both
(.25) PHA requirements.
- Students may register initially for
only one physical activity. On a space-available basis a second
physical activity may be added with a signed drop/add slip within
the drop/add dates published on the Registrar’s Office
- After the Physical Activity (PHA) requirement
has been completed, students may repeat Physical Activities (all
those coded department 59) under the following conditions:
- The PHA requirement is completed with two different PE activities.
- Students repeating a PE must wait until the first day of classes to register
the repeated activity to allow all current students to register
for the PHA requirement.
- Students may only register on a “space available” (open courses)
- PE activities may only be repeated four times.
1. Historical Studies in Western Culture [HWC] — 2 courses
Objective: To develop historical perspective
on and critical appreciation of the major traditions, institutions
and achievements of Western culture.
Requirement: Two courses which may be taken in a
variety of departments.
2. Multicultural Studies [MCS-G, MCS-D] — 2
Objective: To develop an understanding
and appreciation of global and domestic cultural diversity.
Requirement: One full-credit course focusing on
culture outside of the Western tradition and one course that includes
a component focusing on cultural diversity within the United States.
The course and the component may be taken in a variety of departments.
3. Artistic and Literary Studies [ALS-A, ALS-L] — 2
Objective: To develop appreciation
and understanding of artistic and literary forms.
Requirement: One course focusing on artistic forms
and one course focusing on literary forms. The courses may be taken
in a variety of departments. Fractional courses totaling one full
course credit may satisfy the Artistic Studies requirement if they
are all in the same artistic form and are accredited for Artistic
4. Biblical and Theological Studies [BTS-B, BTS-T] — 2
Objective: To introduce the Biblical
tradition and to develop a critical and coherent understanding
of Christian belief.
Requirement: An introductory Biblical studies
course (Religion 121), taken during the first year, and one course
in Christian theology. Students who initially transfer 15 or
more courses to St. Olaf are only required to complete the Christian
5. Studies in Natural Science [NST, NSL] — 2
Objective: To develop an understanding
of scientific knowledge, the process of scientific discovery and
the role of the sciences in society and culture.
Requirement: Two courses in different departments
or interdisciplinary programs. At least one must be in biology,
chemistry or physics, and at least one must be a laboratory course.
6. Studies in Human Behavior and Society [HBS] — 2
Objective: To introduce concepts, theories
and methods for the empirical understanding of individual and social
Requirement: Two courses in different departments
Ethical Issues and Normative Perspectives [EIN] — 1 course
Objective: To analyze ethical issues
from a variety of perspectives that provide norms of justice and
well-being and guide moral reasoning. One or more perspectives
from the Christian theological tradition will be included.
Requirement: One upper level course (numbered 200
or higher) which may be taken in a variety of departments.
Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of the Christian
theology requirement or permission of instructor.
Minimum of eight courses in the major
One completed major is required for graduation. Students
must declare a major no later than the time of registration for
interim and semester II of their junior year by filling out a form
available at the registrar’s office. Students are allowed
to change this declaration or add a second major at a later date.
Only this catalog defines the specific requirements for each departmental
or interdisciplinary major. Depending on the department or interdisciplinary
program, the number of courses required for a major ranges from
eight to twelve courses, with some departments recommending course
work in other departments. Departments and interdisciplinary programs
may require comprehensive examinations or special research projects.
While the maximum course credits in any one department
allowed toward the 35.00 full course credits graduation requirement
may vary, 21 full course credits must be completed outside of the
department or program certifying the major. If a student has a
double major, courses taken in the second major count toward the
21 credits outside of the first major. In order for a student to
be certified in a second or third major, 21 credits also must be
taken outside of those majors as well.
Other regulations are:
- A minimum of six full course credits above
C- (C or higher) must be completed in the major field.
- Only one full-course equivalent taken S/U may count toward
the minimum requirements for a major.
- At least 50 percent of the minimum major must be taken through
St. Olaf. Students should consult the registrar and the appropriate
department chair or program director about counting toward a
major courses taken at other colleges. The chairs should sign
the student’s transfer of credit form (available
from the Registrar’s Office) if work from other institutions is accepted
in advance. Likewise, courses taken through St. Olaf off-campus programs
should be approved by the chairs/directors and the off-campus program adviser
in advance if credit toward a major is desired. (See TRANSFER
COURSES, ALREADY ENROLLED ST. OLAF STUDENTS.)
- Certification of the completed major is done by the department
chairs and interdisciplinary directors.
- Graduation requirements for majors within the Bachelor of
Music degree may vary widely. Students should consult this
catalog and the Music Department chair.
Attaining two or three majors within the confines of 35 courses
often is difficult. The student should consult frequently with
his/her adviser and the chairs or directors of the majoring departments
and programs. Three regulations are important:
- 21 full course credits outside of the department certifying
the major are required for graduation. Courses applied to an
additional major, as well as Education Department courses attending
a major, count toward the 21 “outside” credits.
Twenty-one credits outside of each of the second or third majors are required
in order to certify those majors as complete and recorded on the student’s
- A graduate may add an additional major to the St. Olaf
record if no more than two courses from another institution are
subsequently applied to the additional major.
- Certification of a completed major is the responsibility/prerogative
of the department chairs or program directors, not the registrar.