A Tradition of Excellence
St. Olaf College has long been nationally recognized for its commitment to the sciences. From the extraordinary number of Ph.D. candidates in mathematics and the natural sciences who have received their undergraduate education at St. Olaf to the college’s consistent success at winning national science grants, St. Olaf College is known for its innovative teaching and flagship undergraduate research programs.
According to the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates, St. Olaf ranks eighth overall among baccalaureate colleges in the number of graduates who earn advanced degrees. St. Olaf has the highest number of graduates who earn mathematics and statistics Ph.D.s, and the college ranks in the top 10 for several other scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry and the life sciences.
Forty percent of all St. Olaf students pursue a major or concentration in the natural sciences or mathematics, and nearly 5 percent of each graduating class goes on to medical school. Approximately 9 percent of our students earn mathematics degrees compared to the national average for liberal arts colleges of 2 to 3 percent. Approximately half of St. Olaf math majors are women, and 75 percent of all St. Olaf students take a mathematics course at the calculus level or above. The college also has a distinguished history as a source of top-flight chemists, and the American Chemical Society consistently identifies St. Olaf as one of the most prolific sources of chemistry majors in the country.
Three of St. Olaf College’s nine Rhodes Scholars have been science majors. Since 1995, 26 St. Olaf students have received Goldwater Scholarships, awarded to sophomores and juniors majoring in mathematics, science and engineering, and selected on the basis of academic merit. Three St. Olaf physics majors have been recipients of scholarships from the ELCA Foundation through the Rossing Fund for Physics Education Endowment which was established in 2005.
St. Olaf College graduates are leaders in science education and research, medicine and public health administration, marine biology and natural habit restoration, biostatistics and geophysics. They are nationally known AIDS researchers, genetic counselors, advocates for protecting our nation’s groundwater and committed to providing third-world health care. They are Peace Corps volunteers, Fulbright Scholars, university professors, climatologists, actuaries, neurosurgeons and robotics engineers.