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.

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



Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Graduation Requirements

A student admitted to St. Olaf College is considered a degree candidate and registers under the regulations and degree requirements listed in the catalog for the academic year the student first enters St. Olaf as a degree candidate. No candidate for a degree will receive a diploma until all requirements have been fulfilled. While some course requirements may be fulfilled differently, Graduation Requirements themselves are not subject to waiver for individual students.

A student in doubt about how certain requirements are interpreted should consult the Academic Regulations section of this catalog or contact the registrar.

Responsibility for understanding and meeting Graduation Requirements stated in the St. Olaf Catalog rests entirely with the student. Faculty advisers and the registrar will assist in every way possible.

Graduation Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree

  • Degree candidate students first entering St. Olaf after May 1994 will pursue degrees under graduation requirements listed below in this catalog.

  • Graduation requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Music are described within the Music Department listing. Questions should be directed to the Music Department in person or by phoning (507) 646-3180.

Requirements for Degree Candidate Students First Entering St. Olaf After May 1994

General Graduation Requirements

1. Courses

The equivalent of 35 full-course credits through a combination of full-credit and fractional-credit courses.

2a. Residency Requirement for One Degree

Two years (17 of the required 35 courses through St. Olaf), including the senior year.

The senior year in residence is defined as registration at St. Olaf College, either (a) during the last two semesters and Interim preceding the conferring of the degree, or (b) for at least nine of the last 12 full-credit courses.

2b. Residency Requirement for Two Degrees

Should a student desire to earn both the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Music degrees at St. Olaf, both the junior and senior year, or the senior year and a fifth year, must be spent in residence. A minimum of 43 full-credit courses must be completed with the last 17 full-credit courses earned through St. Olaf.

3. January Interim

At least three of the required 35 course credits must be earned in three separate January Interims. An Interim may be taken on campus, through a St. Olaf off-campus Interim program, or through an approved Interim exchange with another 4-1-4 college. Transfer students admitted with at least sophomore standing must complete two Interims.

4. Grade Points and Grade Point Average

An average grade of C (2.00 on a 4.00 system) for all courses taken for the usual letter grades. See the Academic Regulations section of this catalog for details.

5. Course Level

Satisfactory completion of 18 full-credit courses above Level I, courses numbered 200 and higher.

A course can earn only its assigned level. It cannot be raised in level as the result of extra studies, assignments or performance.

6. Graded Courses

A minimum of 24 full-course credits out of 35 must be graded.

A sliding scale is used if not all 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. Sophomore transfer students need a minimum of 18 graded courses and junior transfer students a minimum of 13 graded courses. Details are available from the registrar.

All students should be aware of the restrictions on S/U and P/N grades.

Students studying on St. Olaf off-campus programs should refer to "Graded and Ungraded Courses" in the Academic Regulations section of this catalog for details about how this graduation requirement is affected by off-campus programs.

7. Major - 8 or More Full-Credit Courses

Objective:To study a discipline or an interdisciplinary field in depth.
Requirement: A minimum of eight full-credit courses in a disciplinary or interdisciplinary major.
Specific requirements for each major are listed in the preface to course offerings in each department and interdisciplinary program. All majors include writing requirements. Many departments/programs require more than the minimum eight courses for a major; they may also require comprehensive examinations or papers.

Comprehensive Graduation Requirements (General Education)

Some courses in the St. Olaf curriculum count for more than one graduation requirement at the same time. A course taken for Studies in Natural Science may also be the first course in the chemistry major. A course taught in the Department of English may simultaneously satisfy requirements for Literary Studies and Multicultural Studies. Courses with writing usually fulfill more than one requirement. In addition, students may complete requirements with courses taken on international and off-campus programs.

A typical course of study may have proportions like these:

General Education: 14-16 courses
Major: 8-10 courses
Electives: 10-12 courses
Total for graduation: 35 course credits

Depending upon Advanced Placement examination results, choice of foreign language, prior preparation in languages and mathematics, choice of a major and a second major or teaching certification, the proportions will vary.

Foundation Courses

1. First-Year Writing [FYW] - 1 course

Objective: To equip students for effective writing in the liberal arts and introduce writing as a means of learning.
Requirement: Satisfactory completion of General Education 111 in the first year of study. Students who initially transfer 15 or more courses to St. Olaf are exempt from this requirement.
Placement: Students who need to improve their writing skills complete English 110: Critical Skills in Composition, in the first semester of the first year, then complete a General Education 111 in the second semester of the first year. All other students may enroll directly in a General Education 111 section.

2. Courses with Writing [WRI] - 4 courses

Objective: To sustain and improve writing skills.

Requirement: Satisfactory completion of four courses across the curriculum designated as Courses with Writing.

3. Foreign Language [FOL] - 0-4 courses

Objective: To develop non-English language skills to an intermediate level, deepen understanding of language as a human phenomenon and generate insights into a culture other than one's own.

Requirement: Satisfactory completion of the fourth college semester course (numbered 232 or higher) taught in the French, German or Spanish languages; or satisfactory completion of the third college semester course (numbered 231 or higher) taught in the Chinese, Greek, Latin, Japanese, Norwegian or Russian languages.

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. All 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 adviser.

Students may also fulfill the foreign language requirement by demonstrating proficiency at the required third- or fourth-semester level either through a St. Olaf proficiency examination or by transfer of college credits in a single foreign language at the appropriate levels as determined by the relevant St. Olaf foreign language department and the registrar. 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 necessary, the dean of the college. Such exams may involve an expense paid by the student. Students fulfilling the foreign language requirement with courses transferred from an American institution should first consult with the registrar. These transferred courses must be in a single language and at the appropriate level.

Alternatives to the foreign language requirement are rarely considered and only if strict adherence to course requirements and class attendance are met. Students experiencing special language difficulty or students for whom English is a second language should consult the registrar or the director of academic advising. See Index.

4. Oral Communication [ORC] - 1 course

Objective: To develop oral communication competence and confidence.

Requirement: A course that incorporates specific instruction, practice and feedback, designated as ORC.

5. Mathematical Reasoning [MAR] - 1 course

Objective: To develop an understanding of mathematics and mathematical problem-solving.

Requirement: Satisfactory completion of a course approved for Mathematical Reasoning credit.

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

6. Physical Activity [PHA] - 2 one-quarter (.25) credit physical activity courses or a .50 credit course.

Objective: To enhance knowledge of present and long-term physical well-being.

Requirement: Two different one-quarter (.25 credit) activity courses providing participation in structured physical activity in Physical Education or Dance or a .50 credit course in Physical Education. Participants in a recognized intercollegiate sport or dance company may register and receive credit for one of the two required .25 credit courses. Credit for intercollegiate sport or dance company participation cannot be earned as an elective. It can be earned only once as part of the PHA requirement.

Core Courses

1. Historical Studies in Western Culture [HWC] - 2 courses

Objective: To develop historical perspective on and critical appreciation of the major traditions, institutions and achievements of Western culture.

Requirement: Two courses which may be taken in a variety of departments.

2. Multicultural Studies [MCS-G, MCS-D] - 2 courses

Objective: To develop an understanding and appreciation of global and domestic cultural diversity.

Requirement: One full-credit course focusing on culture outside of the Western tradition and one course which includes a component focusing on cultural diversity within the United States. The course and the component may be taken in a variety of departments.

3. Artistic and Literary Studies [ALS-A, ALS-L] - 2 courses

Objective: To develop appreciation and understanding of artistic and literary forms.

Requirement: One course focusing on artistic forms and one course focusing on literary forms. The courses may be taken in a variety of departments. Fractional courses totaling one course may satisfy the Artistic Studies requirement if they are all in the same artistic form and are accredited for Artistic Studies.

4. Biblical and Theological Studies [BTS-B, BTS-T] - 2 courses

Objective: To introduce the Biblical tradition and to develop a critical and coherent understanding of Christian belief.

Requirement: An introductory Biblical studies course (Religion 121), taken during the first year, and one course in Christian theology. Students who initially transfer 15 or more courses to St. Olaf are only required to complete the Christian theology course.

5. Studies in Natural Science [NST, NSL] - 2 courses

Objective: To develop an understanding of scientific knowledge, the process of scientific discovery and the role of the sciences in society and culture.

Requirement: Two courses in different departments or interdisciplinary programs. At least one must be in biology, chemistry or physics, and at least one must be a laboratory course.

6. Studies in Human Behavior and Society [HBS] - 2 courses

Objective: To introduce concepts, theories and methods for the empirical understanding of individual and social human behavior.

Requirement: Two courses in different departments or programs.

Integrative Course

Ethical Issues and Normative Perspectives [EIN] - 1 course

Objective: To analyze ethical issues from a variety of perspectives that provide norms of justice and well-being and guide moral reasoning. One or more perspectives from the Christian theological tradition will be included.

Requirement: One upper level course (numbered 200 or higher) which may be taken in a variety of departments.

Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of the Christian theology requirement or permission of instructor.

Participation in Commencement

Only students who have successfully completed 33 full-course credits out of the required 35 full-course credits with a minimum 2.00 grade point average are eligible to be included in the Commencement program and participate in Commencement and its related activities without a diploma.

Neither senior status, number of courses attempted, time spent in college, delays in submitting off-campus or transfer work nor other circumstances or miscommunication eliminate the 33 full-course requirement. The 33 credits must be fulfilled and recorded before the day of Commencement.

Again, the responsibility for understanding and meeting graduation requirements rests entirely with the student.