Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Academic Resources

Academic Advising CENTER

Academic advising at St. Olaf College encourages the integration of the mind, body, and spirit as students learn to create academic, career, and lifelong goals. Students discover how to direct their intellectual curiosity, to overcome personal or academic barriers to learning, and to pursue their goals. Central to this educational process is the collaboration between students and their faculty advisors.


The Academic Advising Center assigns a faculty advisor to each student. After completing at least one semester, all students may change to a different faculty advisor at any time during the academic year, with the permission of the new advisor via a change of advisor form. The Academic Advising Center and the department chairs and program directors oversee the reassignment of advisees for faculty on sabbaticals or other leaves. Generally speaking, no individual faculty member has more than 25 to 30 advisees in any given year.

The advice of faculty advisors does not constitute a promise or a contract ensuring a student’s graduation on schedule or the completion of specific requirements. Students and faculty advisors must refer to the class and lab schedules to determine which courses fulfill specific graduation requirements. The responsibility for understanding and meeting degree requirements rests entirely with the student. Students have access to their academic records at any time on St. Olaf’s Student Information System (S.I.S).

Goals for Academic Advising

Through academic advising, students at St. Olaf:

  1. examine the purpose of higher education at a liberal arts institution;
  2. examine goals and objectives of the St. Olaf mission statement;
  3. develop an understanding of the goals and purpose of the St. Olaf general education curriculum;
  4. learn to use resources on the St. Olaf campus;
  5. learn to analyze and develop an academic plan each semester using the Student Information System;
  6. learn to prioritize competing responsibilities (academic, co-curricular, and personal);
  7. assess interests and talents and develop academic, personal, and career goals;
  8. integrate knowledge and skills acquired before and during study at St. Olaf;
  9. develop a desire for life-long learning.

Students' roles and responsiblities

The responsibility for understanding and meeting degree requirements rests entirely with the student.

In order to take full advantage of the wide range of academic opportunities at St. Olaf College, students are expected to:

  1. express their academic interests and aspirations to their faculty advisor;
  2. respond promptly to messages from their faculty advisor;
  3. prepare carefully for meetings with their advisor;
  4. develop a 4-year academic plan that assists in pursuing a broad range of academic interests, in graduating in a timely manner, and in facilitating a desire for life-long learning;
  5. learn how to read a degree audit;
  6. explore the breadth of the general education curriculum, in order to understand the significance of each of the requirements;
  7. pursue an in-depth course of study within a major field chosen from those offered at St. Olaf or independently developed with the assistance and approval of the Center for Integrative Studies. Each student must declare one major by fall semester of a student's junior year; however, students may declare a major prior to that time. In addition to the one required major, students may choose to declare an area of emphasis or a concentration.
  8. consider how to incorporate off-campus study into a long-range plan;
  9. become aware of the large number of support services available on campus.


Faculty advisors assist the student in fulfilling their responsibilities. Advisors are expected to:

  1. maintain confidentiality;
  2. be accessible
  3. help advisees prepare for registration and electronically authorize students to register;
  4. encourage advisees to explore available resources to help make decisions regarding academic, career, and lifelong goals:
  5. understand policies and requirements when questions arise:
    • assist advisees in immediate problem-solving by providing advice;
    • when appropriate, refer advisees to relevant office or resource person;
  6. assist advisees in understanding the purpose and goals of higher education in general, and the St. Olaf curriculum in particular;
  7. encourage advisees to change advisors if they declare a major in an area outside their advisor's realm of expertise.

The advice of faculty advisors does not constitute a promise or a contract ensuring a student’s graduation on schedule, or the completion of specific requirements. The responsibility for understanding and meeting degree requirements rests entirely with the student.

Academic Advising Center

The Academic Advising Center provides administrative and curricular support to all St. Olaf students and faculty advisors. The center provides high quality, timely service on routine and general academic curricular questions and encourages all students to become more knowledgeable and involved in planning their academic programs.

Academic Peer Advisors (APA)

Academic Peer Advisors are a select group of current St. Olaf College students who assist the Academic Advising Center in providing quality, timely service on routine and general academic curricular questions. They enable their peers to become more knowledgeable and involved in planning their academic programs. Academic Peer Advisors also assist with academic planning sessions during Week One (new student orientation), set up academic planning sessions during the year, provide support during registration times, and assist the Coordinator of the Academic Advising Center as needed.

academic Support Center

The Academic Support Center (ASC) (, in collaboration with faculty, other staff, and students, assists students who strive to become stronger independent and collaborative learners. The ASC's staff assists those who want to improve their academic performance, either in general or in a particular course. Programs run by the ASC include:

  • The Study Skills Center (SSC) offers individual help with managing time, taking notes, studying for tests, reading effectively, studying world languages, and solving problems. The SSC is staffed by Academic Assistants (subject area student tutors with special training).
  • The Writing Place is a walk-in learning center, staffed by trained student writing assistants, where all students may receive help with research papers, essays, and reports at any stage of the writing process.
  • The Math Clinics are staffed by advanced mathematics students who offer help with questions on reading assignments or problem sets from beginning calculus courses.
  • Student Disability Services provides consultation and advocacy assistance for students with documented or suspected disabilities. Services include reviewing documentation to identify appropriate accommodations, supporting development of college level coping skills, and facilitating communications with professors regarding disabilities and accommodations.
  • English Language Learning Program, staffed by trained student writing assistants, provides individual and small group tutoring for students whose first language is not English and who need semester-long help with academic writing.
  • Assigned Tutoring Program uses subject area tutors who are approved by department faculty and trained by the ASC to work with students experiencing serious difficulties in a particular course. Tutoring is available in most subject areas as part of an overall plan developed collaboratively with an ASC professional staff member.

All ASC services are free of charge for full-time St. Olaf students.

Student Disability Services

Student Disability Services is the designated office on the St. Olaf College campus that verifies and is the custodian of student disability documentation, establishes reasonable accommodations, and acts as a resource/advocate for students with disabilities. Any student who has need for disability services should contact a Student Disability Services Specialist, Academic Support Center, Modular Village, 507-786-3288.

To be eligible for services, students must have a documented disability: a physical, social/emotional or cognitive impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities (walking, seeing, speaking, learning, breathing, working, taking care of oneself, performing manual tasks). 

Student Disability Services seeks to provide to students with disabilities equal access to academic information through accommodations and support and to inform the college community about disability issues.

Piper Center for Vocation and Career

The Piper Center is comprised of four umbrella programs offering a host of opportunities to gain experience while pursuing an undergraduate degree. Within each program are initiatives that promote the CEL’s mission to “create and facilitate experiential learning that complements the St. Olaf curriculum.” In addition, the CEL is a resource center for students, providing information and assistance to help determine vocational goals and devise well-informed post-graduation plans.

Career Connections — The Career Connections program helps students develop, implement, and evaluate career/life plans and collaborates with academic departments to integrate concepts of career development into courses of study. The career connections process emphasizes career exploration, experiential learning, and reflection through a wide range of assessments, resources, services, and programs throughout the campus community.

Academic Internships — The services and resources available through the Academic Internship program support students as they seek to apply their classroom learning to structured educational work experiences. The program staff works closely with academic departments to facilitate internships that offer a high level of correlation between conceptual knowledge and application, and offers tools and strategies that encourage students to set learning goals for and derive meaning from their internship experiences.

Entrepreneurship — The Entrepreneurship program promotes social innovation and entrepreneurship among students, faculty, and alumni. Dedicated to education, research, and service within the liberal arts, the program supports a community of people actively engaged in social innovation and entrepreneurship through a selective Innovation Scholars program, grants, courses, internships, and special events.

Civic Engagement — The Civic Engagement program broadens academic experiences by linking students and faculty with civic engagement and service opportunities in local, national and international contexts. Collaborations between the CEL, faculty members, and community partners enhance learning and encourage students to develop the skills, knowledge and experience necessary for engaged and responsible citizenship.

Information and Instructional Technologies

Information and Instructional Technologies (IIT) provides computers, software, A/V technologies, and support services to the entire St. Olaf community. All campus computers — including Macintoshes, PCs, and Linux-based systems — connect to a campus network that provides free access to e-mail, software servers, electronic storage spaces, the Internet, and Internet 2.

Public labs are located in all the academic buildings and residence halls and provide equal access to equipment and software for all students, whether or not they are enrolled in a course requiring the use of the computer. In addition to the public facilities, 19 departments share or have their own specialized computing labs. This brings the total number of computers available for student use to more than 800, or a student-computer ratio of just under 4:1. Multimedia editing facilities are also available and used heavily.

Computing use is not limited to out-of-class assignments as nearly all of the St. Olaf faculty rely on some form of computing technology in their teaching, e-mail notifications or discussions and use of Moodle — the campus course management system — being the most popular. All college classrooms are equipped with appropriate technologies and are updated or added to each year.

Over 97 percent of all students have their own computer on campus; many also have their own printer. Students who own a computer can connect to the campus network and the Internet in their own rooms in all of the eleven residence halls, using either the wireless network or a wired connection. Wireless access is available across campus, including many outdoor spaces. Students can access their course assignments, check e-mail, review their grades, view their tuition bills, or just surf the Web from the comfort of their rooms or from a study space in the library or other academic building.

IIT employs 22 full-time professionals and nearly 70 student employees who support the computing needs of the entire campus — students, staff, and faculty. A campus help desk and student computing consultants are available nearly 95 hours per week during the academic year, including assistance in the evenings.

St. Olaf’s Libraries and Special Collections

The 2008 Princeton review rated the St. Olaf library as the ninth best college or university library in the nation. Together, the St. Olaf and Carleton libraries and Information and Instructional Technologies provide a variety of carefully selected resources that mirror the breadth and depth of the undergraduate curriculum. The partnership between the libraries and Information and Instructional Technologies provides access to regional, national, and international networks, databases, and other sources of information and ensures the availability of academic resources to the entire community.

Twenty-six staff and more than 100 students purchase, organize, and make available a rich blend of materials and access points. The Bridge consortium of St. Olaf and Carleton College library collections contains over 1.3 million items, including videos, sound recordings, software, microforms, and many electronic resources. The St. Olaf portion of this collection is housed in three separate libraries: Rølvaag Library (the “main” library), Halvorson Music Library, and Hustad Science Library. The libraries subscribe to thousands of print and electronic periodicals and are a partial depository for federal government publications.

While the Bridge consortium provides the fundamental resources for undergraduate research, it also has a number of unusual strengths. St. Olaf, for example, has especially strong holdings in the fields of religion, Scandinavian literature and history, mathematics, and music. St. Olaf is also one of the few places where extensive materials can be found for the study of the culture and church life of Norwegian Americans. The St. Olaf Libraries digitize and make freely available unique local publications such as the Manitou Messenger, the Viking Yearbook, and other works of historical significance to St. Olaf.

Strong consortial relationships with libraries throughout the United States ensure the availability of materials necessary for virtually all types of research.

The St. Olaf Libraries are distinguished by an instruction program that teaches students to conduct research in the disciplines taught at St. Olaf. Librarians work with specific assignments in classes and provide research assistance at the reference desks in all three libraries. The libraries are open 110 hours per week when class is in session, with extended hours late in the semester and during exams.

Kierkegaard Library

The Howard V. and Edna H. Hong Kierkegaard Library, located within the Rølvaag Library building, is the major research collection outside of Denmark for the study of the thought of the Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. The library was presented to St. Olaf College in 1976 by the Hongs, who gathered the collection to support their translation into English of the complete works of Kierkegaard, published in 26 volumes by Princeton University Press. The Library is directed by Professor Gordon Marino, a Kierkegaard specialist and professor in the Philosophy Department. Especially during the summer, the library offers programs that bring students and visiting scholars together for research seminars and private study as well as study of Danish for the purpose of reading Kierkegaard texts in the original language. More than 50 scholars a year come to the Library from all over the U.S. and around the world. The collection includes 11,000 book volumes as well as 4,000 periodical and newspaper articles, non-print media, and archival materials. The collection is open Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m-5:00 p.m. during the academic year, with extended hours in the summer months. Access to the collection at other times is available by appointment. The collection is open to anyone with interest in the study of Søren Kierkegaard, including St. Olaf and Carleton students, faculty, scholars, pastors, and other visitors. For further information, consult the Kierkegaard Library website at

College Archives

Located in the Rølvaag Library Building, the Shaw-Olson Center for College History contains official records and publications, private papers, photographs, books, periodicals, audio and visual recordings, and museum artifacts that record and illustrate the history and life of the college. These materials provide historical information about the Board of Regents, the faculty, the student body, alumni, academic departments, the curriculum, administrative offices, campus services, college organizations, and campus activities. The mission of the archives is 1) to preserve materials that reflect the college’s identity; 2) to make these materials available to scholars, students, alumni, and other interested researchers; and 3) to promote attention to the college's history. The collection may be searched electronically with Fram at Fram identifies paper records and artifacts, indexes abstracts of all articles in the student newspaper, The Manitou Messenger, and provides full text searching for the St. Olaf magazine. The Center for College History also provides work opportunities for some students and occasional internships for majors in appropriate departments and programs.

The Norwegian-American Historical Association

Housed in the Rølvaag Library Building, the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) has been sheltered by St. Olaf since its founding in 1925. With an international membership of nearly 2,000, NAHA has two goals: to publish scholarly books on Norwegian-American history (90 books have been published so far) and to be a national center for research in Norwegian-American history by collecting and maintaining printed and manuscript materials produced by Norwegian-Americans or concerning their history. Printed materials are incorporated in the college library collection and other materials (such as diaries, journals, newspapers, periodicals, and records of organizations) in a separate archive. The oldest, out of print publications are available on the NAHA website at: Both students and the public are invited to use this center for research in Norwegian migration.

Student Support Services

The St. Olaf College Student Support Services (SSS) program is a college retention program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, St. Olaf College, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and the North Star STEM Alliance. The SSS program is one of three TRIO programs originally funded under the Higher Education Act of 1965, whose objective is to help students overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to complete their college education. SSS provides the following services: academic advising/referral; cultural events and leadership activities; financial aid advising; graduate school preparation; incentive program for academic achievement; research, internship and scholarship application assistance; supplemental instruction (SI); and a graphing calculator lending program.

To be eligible for services, a participant must be a first-generation college student (neither parent has a four-year degree), meet federal income guidelines, and/or have a documented disability. The SSS program provides services to approximately 160 eligible St. Olaf students annually. In order to apply for the program, students should contact Student Support Services, 507-786-8018.

Other ACADEMIC support

Class Attendance

Class attendance is expected and usually required. Irregular class attendance becomes the concern of the college since absence from class represents an academic loss. Excessive or prolonged absences are reported by instructors to the Dean of Students Office.

Study Time and Study Habits

Many students need to adjust their time use habits on arrival at college. St. Olaf students report spending, on average, two to three hours of study outside of class for each hour in class. Making the best use of the limited time available usually requires using a good mix of daylight and evening hours for studying and avoiding study marathons. Successful study at St. Olaf usually includes reading ahead, attending class, using faculty office hours, studying for each class in frequent, short study sessions, attending help sessions, forming a study group, asking questions soon after they arise, and seeking help if the preceding efforts do not appear to be working.

Faculty Office Hours

Professors hold office hours for the classes they teach. Office hours are regular times set aside each week to talk with students from class, usually on a walk-in basis. Office hours provide an opportunity to ask questions about class topics, to extend the class discussion, or to get to know instructors better. St. Olaf faculty encourage students to avail themselves of this opportunity.

Help Sessions

Many departments hold special help sessions or discussion groups for particular courses. These are usually listed on syllabi for those courses and are usually staffed with upperclass students who have been successful in the course. These sessions may offer an opportunity to get a second look at the class material, to rehearse the ideas and vocabulary, and to ask questions.

Study Groups

Most students find it helpful in at least some of their courses to form a study group of two to three interested classmates. Such groups often improve understanding of course material through discussing assignments, exploring course ideas further, brainstorming possible test questions for each other or formulating questions to bring up in class.

Continuous Reporting System

Instructors are required to file a continuous reporting form that alerts the Dean of Students Office to students who are having difficulties in a course.