St. Olaf CollegeAcademic CatalogSt. Olaf College

Table of Contents

Academic Life
» A St. Olaf Education
» The 4-1-4 Calendar
» Academic Resources
» Majors and More
» Grad. Requirements
» Academic Advising
» Successful Study
» Campus Facilities

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

Changes that have occurred in St. Olaf academic policy and curriculum since the publication in 2002 of the St. Olaf Catalog for 2002–04 are indicated in red and red strikethrough type.

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1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield, MN 55057



Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

A St. Olaf Education

Mission of the College

St. Olaf, a four-year college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, provides an education committed to the liberal arts, rooted in the Christian Gospel and incorporating a global perspective. In the conviction that life is more than a livelihood, it focuses on what is ultimately worthwhile and fosters the development of the whole person in mind, body and spirit.

Now in its second century, St. Olaf College remains dedicated to the high standards set by its Norwegian immigrant founders. In the spirit of free inquiry and free expression, it offers a distinctive environment that integrates teaching, scholarship, creative activity and opportunities for encounter with the Christian Gospel and God's call to faith. The college intends that its graduates combine academic excellence and theological literacy with a commitment to lifelong learning.

St. Olaf College strives to be an inclusive community, respecting those of differing backgrounds and beliefs. Through its curriculum, campus life and off-campus programs, it stimulates students' critical thinking and heightens their moral sensitivity; it encourages them to be seekers of truth, leading lives of unselfish service to others; and it challenges them to be responsible and knowledgeable citizens of the world.

— Approved by the St. Olaf faculty in 1987 and the opening paragraph adopted, as a shorter version, by the St. Olaf Board of Regents that same year.

An Education for Life in the 21st Century

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 opportunity for integrative study through double counted courses which 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.

General Education:

A student's General Education program includes three types of courses.

Foundation studies focus on the development of basic verbal, mathematical, and physical skills. The requirements in this area include:

  • First-Year Writing (General Education 111), a course that equips students for effective writing in the liberal arts and introduces writing as a means of learning;

  • Four additional writing-intensive courses, available in a variety of disciplines;

  • Foreign language courses that permit students to develop an intermediate level of proficiency;

  • One 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 Western culture;

  • Two courses examining global and domestic diversity;

  • Two courses in literature and the fine arts;

  • Two courses introducing Biblical and theological study:

  • Two courses in the natural sciences;

  • Two courses analyzing human behavior.

Finally, an integrative ethics course 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 which systematically address questions of justice, morality, rights and responsibilities, often in the context of a student's major.

These requirements support the college's mission in a variety of ways. Students are introduced to the liberal arts in First-Year Writing and in a variety of discipline-based foundation and 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 our mission.

Major Studies:

Students are also prepared for lives of worth and service in their major studies. Many students choose to major in one of the traditional liberal arts disciplines, such as art, biology, economics, history, mathematics or philosophy. Others choose an interdisciplinary program which brings the perspectives of several disciplines to bear on a specialized area of concern, such as Asian studies, medieval studies, or women's studies. Many students choose to double-major or to pursue a concentration or certification program in addition to a disciplinary major or to develop an area of emphasis within a major.

See Graduation Requirements in the Index for detailed information on the General Education requirements. Consult the Class and Lab Schedules published three times a year by the Office of the Registrar for specific information on the requirements that particular courses fulfill.