St. Olaf CollegeAcademic CatalogSt. Olaf College

Table of Contents
An Education for the 21st Century: Academic Life
Graduation Requirements
Academic Regulations
» Entering St. Olaf
» Transferring to St. Olaf
» Registering for Courses
» Special Registrations
» Counting Courses & Credits
» Academic Status
» Records/Policies
» Leaving St. Olaf

» Graduating
International and Off-Campus Studies
Special Programs
Admissions and Financial Aid
Life Outside the Classroom
Facts and Figures
College Calendar

Registrar's Office
Admin 224
1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield, MN 55057



Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Counting Courses and Credits


For numerical purposes, the term “course” means a full (1.00) course credit, as distinguished from fractional course credits.

St. Olaf courses are not denominated in semester or quarter credits. Each St. Olaf course is equivalent to 4.00 semester credits or 5.00 quarter credits.

Course descriptions are printed in this catalog. Course offerings during a given semester are listed in the Class and Lab Schedules, which are published on the Registrar’s Office website at Thirty-five full course credits are required for the Baccalaureate degree. Unless reduced as the result of transfer credits, 24 of the 35 courses must be taken on a graded basis.


Half-semester courses have drop/add and S/U deadlines that are different from full-semester courses. Consult the registrar’s calendar on the registrar’s website. If a student is taking a full load of 4.50 courses with the .50 being a first-half semester course, he/she cannot register for a second-half semester course unless he/she meets the criteria for an overload stated under “Course Loads” in this catalog.

Note that “1” designates a first-half semester course and “2” a second-half course in the Class and Lab Schedule.


Often credit earned from specific courses varies with different Baccalaureate degrees, core requirements, and majors. Rely on the Class and Lab Schedules for information about which courses fulfill general education requirements.

  1. Performance studies courses are always Level I when counted toward the Bachelor of Arts degree. Credit for performance studies courses is counted as upper level (numbered 200 and above) in the principal performing medium for Bachelor of Music degree students only during the junior and senior years.
  2. Dance activity courses count toward the physical activity requirement (PHA).
  3. A course may be repeated only once, only at St. Olaf, and only when the grade is C- or below, U or N. A course cannot be repeated after satisfactory completion of any course in the same department for which the course is considered a pre-requisite, unless specifically required to graduate. A course may be repeated S/U only if the course was originally taken S/U and a U was received. If a course receives an S credit, it may not be repeated regardless of the actual reported grade. A course may earn only one credit once completed with a passing grade. Each course attempt remains part of the permanent record, but only the second grade is computed into the grade point average.
  4. After students have graduated with a degree, the college will not accept additional courses transferred from other colleges except two courses to complete an additional major.
  5. A student may not take an independent study for a course regularly offered in a department of the college. Independent study or research may count toward a major, but may not fulfill a general education requirement (except as a course with writing [WRI]).
  6. Twenty-four of the 35 full courses required for graduation must be taken on a graded basis unless that number has been reduced by transfer or off-campus course work.
  7. A student must complete at least six courses with grades of C or higher in a major in order to complete the major requirement. A grade of C- or S does not count in fulfilling this requirement.


St. Olaf courses have levels designated by course numbers in this catalog and in the Class and Lab Schedules as Level I, II and III.

Level I Courses, numbered 100 through 199, are for the most part introductory to a field or discipline. They exert a demand for only such depth of study, student responsibility, and independence commensurate with initial work at the college level.

Level II Courses, numbered 200 through 299, require student independence in the acquisition of material and mastery of techniques and methods above that demanded in Level I courses.

Level III Courses, numbered 300 through 399, are usually confined to the major and demand control of methods as well as command of basic factual and theoretical knowledge appropriate to the discipline. A student should have at least two Level III courses in the major.

Courses numbered at Level II and Level III are referred to as upper level courses.

Students may be required to have at least two Level III courses in their major.

Eighteen of the 35 full course credits required for graduation must be at Level II or III.

A course can earn only one level. It cannot be raised in level as the result of extra studies, assignments, or performance. A course with a lower number cannot, as the result of extra work, become another course of a higher number because of scheduling conflicts or closed course status. For example, Art 119 (.50) cannot earn credit as Art 233 (1.00), nor can Art 233 become 244. Likewise, a .25 credit course cannot become a .50 credit course.


To be considered full-time, a student must be registered for at least 3.00 course credits. Students receiving veterans benefits need 3.00 course credits to be considered full-time. Four full-credit semester credits are required to maintain certain forms of State of Minnesota financial aid.

4.5 credits is the typical, maximum course load allowed from all sources during a semester and only one course may be taken during Interim. Note that a student cannot add a course so as to create a course overload; a course must be dropped first if an added course would put the student's course load over the allowed 4.5 credits maximum.

If a student is taking a full load of 4.50 credits with the .50 being a first-half semester course, he/she cannot register for a second-half semester course unless he/she meets the criteria for an overload, below.

With the permission of the registrar, a student may exceed 4.5 credits during a semester if:

  1. The student is a senior, for whom the maximum load is 5.00 full credits during one semester of the senior year. The senior year is defined as the two semesters prior to Commencement either as a “par-ticipator” (see PARTICIPATION IN GRADUATION, page 55) or as a diploma graduate.
  2. The student is a junior or a sophomore and normally has a 3.60 grade point average over the nine most recent, full St. Olaf courses. The student may thereby take up to the maximum of 5.00 full courses.

First-year students are not eligible for course overloads.

Note that all students will receive an extra tuition charge for course overloads beyond 4.5 credits. See ADDITIONAL FEES AND COSTS, page 329.


  1. A final exam is required for all courses, and a special time is reserved in exam week for every course’s exam. Teachers may plan an in-class exam for that period or arrange other means of evaluation brought to the final meeting of the class at the latest (i.e., a take-home exam, a final paper, etc.). In any case, students must attend the scheduled final exam meeting, whether it is a traditional exam or a special, final meeting of the class. Absence will be reported to the appropriate student dean by the instructor and results in failure of the final exam or the course at the discretion of the instructor.
  2. Except for courses in performance studies, physical activity, and dance activity, an instructor may not use the last day of class for either a written or oral final exam. Take-home exams and papers substituting for final exams must be due at the scheduled final exam period.
  3. Students are required to take final exams at the scheduled time unless the instructor, with the written approval of the department chair or program director, has given the student permission to re-schedule to another time during finals week. Student requests for an exam change must be made in writing. The decision rests with the chair or director. Chairs and directors will exclude from consideration rescheduling requests involving rides home, early family vacations, early summer employment, prepurchased airline tickets, and the like. The Student Honor Council welcomes policy that restricts the number of schedule exceptions during finals week.


Final grades are designated as follows:

Excellent A(A+) 4.0 grade points
  A- 3.7 grade points
  B+ 3.3 grade points
Very Good B 3.0 grade points
  B- 2.7 grade points
  C+ 2.3 grade points
Satisfactory C 2.0 grade points
  C- 1.7 grade points
Poor D+ 1.3 grade points
  D 1.0 grade points
  D- 0.7 grade points
Failure F 0.0 grade points
Failure N No credit (D+ to F)
Failure U No credit (D+ to F)
Other I Incomplete
  P Pass (C- or higher)
  S Satisfactory (C- or higher)
  WP Withdrawal with a passing grade
  WF Withdrawal with a failing grade

Course credit cannot be earned with a U, N, I, WP, WF, or F.


Grade/Credit 1.00 0.75 0.50 0.25
A 4.00 3.00 2.00 1.00
A- 3.70 2.77 1.85 .92
B+ 3.30 2.47 1.65 .82
B 3.00 2.25 1.50 .75
B- 2.70 2.02 1.35 .67
C+ 2.30 1.72 1.15 .57
C 2.00 1.50 1.00 .50
C- 1.70 1.27 .85 .42
D+ 1.30 .97 .65 .32
D 1.00 .75 .50 .25
D- .70 .52 .35 .17


The grade point average is based upon final grades for all course work taken at St. Olaf as well as for grades earned through inter-registration at Carleton College and grades earned through the Minnesota Intercollegiate Nursing Consortium Program, where there is a completed major in nursing.

Grades and grade points for courses transferred from other schools are not computed in the St. Olaf grade point average. Graded courses from St. Olaf off-campus programs are not computed in the grade point average except for courses taught by St. Olaf instructors.

The grade point average shows two decimal places (3.15, 2.36, etc.) and is never rounded up or down. It is determined by dividing the total number of St. Olaf, MINC, and Carleton-graded courses into the total grade points.

An average grade of C (2.00) is required for graduation.

Grades earned S/U or P/N and grades earned through transfer credits, Advanced Placement, or other means, are not computed in the grade point average.


Students have access to their academic records via the World Wide Web.

Under no condition can grades be reported by telephone or to third parties, including parents, with-out specific written authorization by the student.


A student has one year to notify the Registrar’s Office of a grade error on the transcript. A grade error is a recording mistake made by the Registrar’s Office.

Grade changes, on the other hand, are initiated by the instructor issuing the original grade. The intended purpose of the grade change procedure is to correct an instructor’s computational or other error in reporting a grade, not to represent additional work on the part of the student. The instructor (both instructors of a team-taught course) submits a grade change request to the registrar for consideration. If the request is approved, the Registrar’s Office informs both the student and the instructor.


Of the full (1.00) course credits counting toward the minimum requirements for a major, six must be complete with a grade of C or higher.


A minimum of 24 full (1.00) graded courses out of 35 full equivalent courses is required for graduation. A reduction scale printed below is used if not all course work is taken at St. Olaf, or if credit is earned through special programs such as Advanced Placement. As a rule, two-thirds of the courses taken at St. Olaf must be graded. The graded course requirement is reduced by scale in the following instances:

  1. Credits transferred into St. Olaf from another institution. However, credits taken on an off-campus program through another institution if less than two semesters in length will not reduce the number of graded course credits required for graduation. This rule applies to students who matriculate at St. Olaf before going on a non-St. Olaf off-campus program.
  2. Credit awarded through College Board Advanced Placement.
  3. Credits earned on St. Olaf off-campus programs that are two semesters in length.

A semester-length St. Olaf off-campus program or combinations of several semester-length off-campus programs will not reduce the number of graded credits required. However, a course taught by a St. Olaf instructor on an off-campus program is considered a graded course and counts toward the 24 required if taken for a letter grade.

A full-year off-campus program gives a student partial graded course credit toward the 24-graded-course requirement even though the letter grades from a full-year program are not computed in the grade point average unless taught by a St. Olaf instructor. Under these conditions, the 24-graded-course requirement is reduced as follows:

Nine courses earned — four graded courses reduced
Eight courses earned — four graded courses reduced
Seven courses earned — three graded courses reduced
Six courses earned — three graded courses reduced

Interim Exchange courses do not reduce the number of graded courses required for graduation.

The reduction scale by course quantity is printed below:

St. Olaf
courses taken
St. Olaf
graded required
34 23
33 22
32 22
31 21
30 20
29 20
28 19
27 18
26 18
25 17
24 16
23 16
22 15
21 14
20 14
19 13
18 12
17 12


An incomplete in a course is rarely granted and only if there is a distinct possibility of, and a commitment to, finishing the course in a timely manner.

A request for an incomplete is initiated by the student and submitted to the Office of the Dean of Students. Incompletes are granted primarily for documented medical reasons and may not be issued by an instructor without prior approval of the dean of students or one of the associate deans of students.

An incomplete for which a grade is not recorded by the extended deadline set at the time of approval of the incomplete automatically becomes an F. The incompleted course cannot be dropped from the record at a later date to avoid a failing grade. Once the course is completed with the assignment of a letter grade and credit, an asterisk is entered beside it on the permanent transcript indicating that the course was once incomplete. A student may not apply for an incomplete in a course added after the posted deadline because of insufficient time to complete the assigned work.

A student who has been granted an incomplete in a course cannot subsequently finish the course with similar course credit transferred from another college. A St. Olaf incomplete that is not completed at St. Olaf will be converted into an F following the extended deadline set at the time of approval of the incomplete. A student with an incomplete on his/her academic record may participate in Commencement if all other requirements for graduation have been met (see page 55).  Only after a final grade has been recorded for the course, however, will a degree be conferred and a diploma issued.

Only in the most extraordinary circumstances are incompletes allowed on St. Olaf abroad programs not led by a St. Olaf faculty member. Many non-U.S. colleges and universities are not familiar with the practice of giving incompletes, and constraints having to do with distance and time make it very difficult to follow up on incompletes. Consequently, students should not anticipate being able to avail themselves of this option.


Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Music major and the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Music are defined only in this catalog. Students should also consult the Music Handbook. Bachelor of Arts Music and Music Education majors should be careful to complete 21 credits outside of the major.


Student participation in campus musical organizations (choirs, orchestras, bands, ensembles, etc.) is not awarded course credit.


Performance studies courses (music lessons) are always Level I courses for Bachelor of Arts students.

Performance studies courses (lessons) are upper level courses for Bachelor of Music students only in their principal performing medium and only during the junior and senior years.

Generally, performance studies courses are fractional (.25) courses, not full credit courses. Registration for performance studies courses must be approved by the Music Department. Registration instructions are published in the Class and Lab Schedule. Lessons may be added to or dropped from a student’s registration only with a music lesson drop/add slip available from the Music Office. This drop/add slip must be processed by the Music Department academic administrative assistant before it will be accepted in the Registrar’s Office.

Registration for performance studies lessons may result in an additional fee; see the Music Office for details. If a student drops a performance studies course (lessons) after the fifth day of class, no refund of music lesson fees is made.


P/N credits are earned in courses that are offered only P/N. In other words, every student taking the course is doing so on an ungraded basis. This differs from S/U grades where each student in a course may elect to take the course graded or ungraded. Courses offered only on the P/N basis, if so designated, may fulfill general education graduation requirements.