St. Olaf CollegeAcademic CatalogSt. Olaf College

Table of Contents
Academic Life
Academic Regulations
International and Off-Campus Studies
Special Programs
Admissions and Financial Aid
» Admissions Procedures
» Financing Your Education
» Financial Aid Program
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.

Admissions Procedures

St. Olaf encourages applications from all interested persons and seeks to assemble a student body which reflects a variety of geographic, cultural, economic, racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds. We seek to fill each class with a diverse and energetic group of students who are eager to undertake the challenges of a liberal arts education. We admit those we believe will have a successful experience and in determining admission we consider academic achievement, academic aptitude and personal qualifications as well as leadership and significant involvement in school and community.

If you have questions about the application process please contact the Admissions Office at (800) 800-3025. Many students find a campus visit helpful in their search for a college. If you would like information about scheduling a campus visit, please contact the campus visit coordinator at 800-ASKOLAF (800) 275-6523.


A secondary school program combining breadth and depth is an excellent preparation for study at St. Olaf. Advanced Placement or enriched courses, when available, are particularly helpful. We recommend a program of study that includes the following:

  • Four years of English;
  • Three to four years of mathematics;
  • Two to three years of natural science;
  • Three to four years of social studies; and
  • Two to three years of the same second language, including study in the senior year.

We advise students to pursue an academically rigorous high school program that emphasizes creativity, writing and critical analysis. Analytic and quantitative skills developed in such courses as trigonometry and pre-calculus are important for all students. In addition, we encourage students to take academic electives such as computer science, economics, the fine arts, geography, journalism, sociology, speech and world history. Keyboarding, word processing, health and physical education, while valued, are not substitutes for academic subjects.

Students who have not pursued the program of studies suggested above but who are looking for a challenging academic program are encouraged to arrange to meet with an admissions representative. Careful attention is given to each application and explanations of special circumstances are appreciated. St. Olaf offers entry-level courses designed to meet the diverse needs and qualifications of entering students.

Application Requirements
In making admission decisions, each application is reviewed on its merits, without regard to financial need. Applicants to St. Olaf must submit:

  1. A $35 application fee.
  2. The St. Olaf Application for Admission, available from the Admissions Office, or the Common Application, available from high school guidance offices or online at (St. Olaf is among the colleges that accept the Common Application (CA) form, either paper or on-line. Students using the CA are assured of the same consideration given to applicants who use the St. Olaf form. St. Olaf applicants using the Common Application must also submit the St. Olaf Common Application Supplement which is available from the Admissions Office.)
  3. An official transcript from an accredited high school or equivalent (see below). This transcript should include grades as follows:
    • Early Decision: Through the junior year
    • Early Action: Through first quarter or first trimester of the senior year
    • Regular Decision: Through first semester or second trimester of the senior year
  4. Scores from either the American College Test (ACT) or the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT1) (see below). Please consult the Admissions Office if you have any questions.
  5. Two letters of recommendation from teachers of academic subjects. Candidates are also welcome to submit personal recommendations from coaches, music instructors, pastors and others who know the candidate well, but such recommendations are optional.


An official transcript of the high school academic record should be sent by the high school to the Office of Admissions. The transcript must show the record of completed high school work, rank in class (where provided) and aptitude test scores. This transcript should include grades as follows:

Early Decision: Through the junior year (courses in progress senior year)

Early Action: Through first quarter or first trimester of the senior year

Regular Decision: Through first semester or second trimester of the senior year


Anxiety about test scores is a significant concern for many college applicants. Often this anxiety is inappropriate for St. Olaf applicants. Of the academic factors considered, the single most important is the achievement record as shown by the candidate's high school transcript. Test results are an important, but clearly secondary, factor. Applicants are advised to take either the ACT or SAT early in the college admissions process, but preferably not later than January of the senior year. High school guidance offices have information on the tests, test dates, testing centers, and registration procedures.


Three types of application — Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision — are available to students:

  1. Early Decision Application
    Candidates for whom St. Olaf is the first choice may choose to apply under Early Decision. Under Early Decision, qualified candidates who apply by November 15 of the senior year in high school will receive an admission decision mailed by December 15. Early Decision is a commitment application process which means that Early Decision candidates agree that St. Olaf is their first choice and that an offer of admission will be accepted within ten days of notification of admission or within ten days of a financial aid decision and that the candidate will not initiate any new applications at other colleges upon committing to St. Olaf. Early Decision candidates must take the SAT or ACT before, or very early in, the senior year so that the test results will reach the college no later than November 15. St. Olaf expects that all candidates who apply under Early Decision will honor their commitments. Students who do not feel that they can honestly abide by the requests made under Early Decision should apply under our Early Action or Regular Application procedure. Candidates who are unsure as to whether or not Early Decision is appropriate should contact the Admissions Office for more information.

  2. Early Action
    Candidates who wish to be considered for the Buntrock Regent Scholarship (the top academic scholarship at St. Olaf) or who are interested in earlier notification of admission should apply under Early Action. Early Action candidates must complete their application by December 15 of the senior year. Early Action admission decisions will be mailed on February 1. High School transcripts for Early Action candidates must include grades from first quarter or first trimester of the senior year.

  3. Regular Application
    Candidates not applying under Early Decision or Early Action will be considered for admission using our regular application procedure. Regular Application candidates may apply at any point during their senior year, but are encouraged to apply no later than February 1 to receive full consideration by the admissions committee. Second trimester or fall semester grades must have been received by the Admissions Office before an application will be reviewed. Admission decisions are sent on a rolling basis beginning March 1.


St. Olaf holds individual auditions for students who apply to the Bachelor of Music program or who wish to be considered for a music scholarship. Candidates must submit a taped audition by January 15 of the senior year. For more information about auditions, contact the Music Department at (507) 646-3297. Students applying to the Bachelor of Music program must be admitted to the college prior to admission to the Bachelor of Music Degree. Bachelor of Music candidates may use any of the types of application including Early Decision, Early Action, or Regular Decision.


College courses completed in accredited liberal arts colleges and universities may be transferred toward a St. Olaf degree. Students who transfer to St. Olaf from other colleges are required to follow the regular application procedure and submit an official college transcript for each college attended and a completed dean's form (available from the St. Olaf Admissions Office) from the dean of students of their most recent college or university. After the official transcript is submitted to the Office of Admissions, the assistant registrar will provide the transfer applicant with a written evaluation of credits accepted by St. Olaf.
A maximum of 18 courses may be transferred. St. Olaf requires a residency of 17 courses over the equivalent of two years. The grades earned at other institutions are entered on the St. Olaf record but are not calculated in the St. Olaf Grade Point Average.

"Transfer Courses and Credits," as follows and in the Academic Regulations section of this catalog, contains important information about limitations on future transfer courses taken at other colleges after a student transfers to St. Olaf. Transfer students should also refer to the credit scale printed later in this chapter. Questions should be directed to the Office of the Registrar at (507) 646-3015.


The Office of Admissions welcomes applications from American and international students from around the world. A minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper-based exam and 213 on the computer-based exam is required for non-U.S. citizens seeking admission. The application deadline is February 1 for admission the following September.

Services to international students include airport pickups, special orientation sessions, peer counselors, intercultural programs, friendship family program and academic, financial and U.S. Immigration counseling.

St. Olaf College was approved for non-immigrant students by the Immigration and Naturalization Service on December 15, 1983, file number SPM 214F0253.000, and is authorized under federal law to enroll F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant students.


Students admitted under Early Action or Regular Decision must notify the Admissions Office of their college choice by May 1 of the senior year, which is the national candidate reply date. To confirm enrollment, an initial payment is to be made on or before May 1 and will be credited towards the student's comprehensive fee. An additional payment is due by June 15 to confirm the student's intention to enroll. These payments are neither refundable nor transferable.


The fields in which Advanced Placement and credit may normally be obtained are: art (history and studio), biology, chemistry, English, French, German, government, history (European or American), Latin, mathematics, music, Norwegian, physics, politics, psychology, Russian and Spanish. See the Academic Regulations section of this catalog for details on Advanced Placement credit.


Consult the "Transfer to St. Olaf" portion of the Academic Regulations section of this catalog for details.


"Special" students are defined as short-term (one year or less) students who do not plan to graduate from St. Olaf. Such students must apply for special admission status with the Admissions Office and submit transcripts from any colleges previously attended.

"Part-time" students are those who intend to graduate from St. Olaf and who register for fewer than three courses. Such students must also apply to the Admissions Office.