Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.



First-Year Writing [FYW] -- 1 course

Students who initially transfer 15 or more courses to St. Olaf are exempt from this requirement.

Students who may benefit from a two-semester sequence of writing instruction complete Writing 107: Introduction to Academic Writing, or Writing 110: Critical Skills in Composition, in the first semester of the first year, then complete a Writing 111 in the second semester of the first year. All other students may enroll directly in a Writing 111 section.

Writing in Context Courses [WRI] -- 4 courses

Foreign Language [FOL] -- 0-4 courses

Additional Information:

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 [FOL-F], German [FOL-G], or Spanish [FOL-S] languages; or satisfactory completion of the third college semester course (numbered 231 or higher) taught in the Chinese [FOL-C], Greek [FOL-K], Latin [FOL-L], Japanese [FOL-J], Norwegian [FOL-N], or Russian [FOL-R] 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. In general, 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 her advisor.

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. See also Foreign Language Transfer.

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 the student.

Students for whom English is a second language should consult the registrar.

Students with a documented language learning disability should confer with the Student Disability Services in the Academic Support Center.

Students who have difficulty making progress in foreign language courses at the college should first consult the instructors of their foreign language courses and their academic advisors; these faculty may also refer students to the Academic Support Center. Students are strongly urged to seek the support of a tutor and meet with that tutor on a regular schedule.

In very rare cases, the foreign language requirement may be fulfilled by another method: students who have not fulfilled the foreign language requirement may petition the Foreign Language Subcommittee of the Curriculum Committee to satisfy the remainder of the requirement by completing one or more substitute courses in foreign culture and civilization or in literature in English translation. In compliance with state and federal disability discrimination laws, this alternative route to fulfillment of the foreign language requirement is intended for students with disabilities specific to the learning of foreign languages. Any petition should be drawn up with the guidance of the Academic Support Center.

Oral Communication [ORC] – 1 course

Abstract and Quantitative Reasoning [AQR] – 1 course

Placement: The college provides a placement process for new students. On the basis of placement 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.

Studies in Physical Movement [SPM] – 2 courses (of any credit value)

Additional Information:

Two different courses, of any credit value, that expand students' experiences in and understanding of movement and promote lifelong health and wellness of the whole person. Students are encouraged to expland their horizons and focus on different activities or modes of movement in order to fulfill the requirements. Participants in a recognized intercollegiate sport may register and receive credit for one of the two required courses. Credit for intercollegiate sport participation cannot be earned as an elective. It can be earned only once as part of the SPM requirement.

It is strongly recommended that both SPM requirements be completed before the senior year. The following regulations are often misunderstood:

  1. Students not appearing on the first class day of an SPM 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.
  2. Only one SPM course credit may be earned by students as a result of participation in an approved intercollegiate sport. This credit must be entered as Exercise Science 171-194 at the registration preceding the sport/participation term. Credit cannot be claimed after the term in which participation took place. An intercollegiate SPM (.25) credit can only be used within the two-course SPM graduation requirement. An intercollegiate SPM (.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 SPM requirement.
  3. At registration, students may register initially for only one SPM course. On a space-available basis a second SPM course may be added with a signed drop/add slip within the drop/add dates published on the Registrar’s Office Web site.
  4. After the SPM requirement has been completed, students may repeat exercise science activity (ESAC) under the following conditions:
    • The SPM requirement is completed with two different courses.
    • Students repeating an ESAC course must wait until the first day of classes to register the repeated activity to allow all current students to register for the SPM requirement.
    • Students may only register on a “space available” (open courses) basis.
    • Exercise science activity courses may only be taken a maximum of four times (the first time plus three repeats).


Historical Studies in Western Culture [HWC] – 2 courses

Multicultural Studies [MCG, MCD] – 2 courses, one MCG, one MCD (must be from two different departments)

Artistic and Literary Studies [ALS-A, ALS-L] – 2 courses, one ALS-A, one ALS-L

Biblical and Theological Studies [BTS-B, BTS-T] – 2 courses, one BTS-B, one BTS-T

Students who initially transfer 15 or more courses to St. Olaf are only required to complete the Christian theology course.

One BTS-T course is the required prerequisite for an EIN course.

Studies in Natural Science:

Scientific Exploration and Discovery [SED] – 1 course (SED, IST must be completed with two different courses from two different departments)

Integrated Scientific Topics [IST] – 1 course (SED, IST must be completed with two different courses from two different departments)

Studies in Human Behavior and Society [HBS] – 2 courses (must be from two different departments)


Ethical Issues and Normative Perspectives [EIN] – 1 course

Completion of the BTS-T requirement or permission of the instructor is the prerequisite for all EIN courses.