Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.The
St. Olaf Curriculum
The St. Olaf College curriculum engages students in a multidisciplinary, multicultural exploration of human knowledge and experience. The curriculum cultivates the basic skills students need to succeed in college and beyond and introduces students to the traditional liberal arts disciplines. The combination of general education, major, and elective courses helps students develop both breadth and depth in their college education.
At the same time, the curriculum provides opportunities for integrative study through general education courses that meet more than one requirement and through a variety of interdisciplinary majors and concentrations. This blend of traditional and innovative instruction nurtures a critical, creative, and flexible intelligence. The St. Olaf curriculum prepares students for the lifelong learning so essential to their continued personal and professional development.
A student’s General Education program includes three types
of courses. (Note: For numerical purposes, the term “course” means
a full (1.00) course credit, as distinguished from fractional
Foundation studies focus on the development of basic verbal,
mathematical, and physical skills. The requirements in this area
- First-Year Writing, a course that equips students for
effective writing in the liberal arts and introduces writing
as a means of learning;
- Four additional Writing in Context
courses, available in a variety of disciplines;
- Foreign language
courses that permit students to develop an intermediate
level of proficiency;
- A course that develops oral communication
competence and confidence, available in a variety of disciplines;
- A course in mathematical reasoning;
- Two different quarter-credit
courses in physical activities or dance, or one .50
course in physical education.
Core studies introduce the different fields of knowledge and
diverse ways of knowing that are at the heart of the liberal
arts. Core requirements include:
- Two courses in the history of
- Two courses in multicultural studies, one
examining global and one examining domestic cultural diversity;
- Two courses, one in literature and one in the fine arts;
- Two courses, one introducing Biblical study and one introducing
- Two courses in two different departments
or interdisciplinary programs in the natural sciences
(one in either biology, chemistry or physics), one with a
- Two courses from two different departments
analyzing human behavior.
Finally, an integrative ethics
course based on Christian theology
offers upper-division students an opportunity to apply a variety
of normative perspectives to the analysis of a range of personal
and social issues. Faculty from across the college offer advanced
courses that systematically address questions of justice, morality,
rights and responsibilities, often in the context of a student’s
These requirements support the college's mission in a variety of ways. For example, First-Year Writing introduces writing as a means of learning in the liberal arts. Students further explore the liberal arts in a variety of core courses. Courses in Biblical and theological study, together with the ethics course, support the college's concern to graduate theologically literate students. A global perspective is articulated in foreign language courses, in multicultural studies courses, and in international programs that meet general education requirements. Students are prepared for the world of work in foundation courses that emphasize communication and analytic skills and in integrative courses that promote flexibility of mind.
Taken as a whole, the general education requirements seek to foster the development of mind, body, and spirit that is at the heart of the college's mission.
Consult the Class and Lab Schedules published
by the Office of the Registrar for specific information on the
requirements that particular courses fulfill. For detailed information concerning the general education curriculum as a whole and individual requirements, consult http://www.stolaf.edu/committees/gec/index.html.