Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

Academic Status and Honors


Classification is based on the number of St. Olaf total credits completed by and only on October 1, as follows:

Sophomore: 6-14 credits
Junior: 15-22 credits
Senior: 23 or more credits
A student will not be reclassed to senior status unless the student intends to graduate in that current year.

Because reclassification is completed only once each year, it is important that all work completed at another institution be transferred to St. Olaf before the reclassification process begins. A student’s classification may affect “room draw,” choice of residence hall, registration, or other benefits.

Students who graduated from high school six or fewer months prior to entering St. Olaf as “new students” are first-year students and may not, as the result of six or more Advanced Placement, high school, post-secondary, and/or college summer courses, claim sophomore status for any purpose.


Each semester, the Registrar’s Office compiles for the Office of the Dean of the College a dean’s list, which includes the names of all students with a GPA of 3.75 or above for that semester. To be named to the dean’s list, students must have successfully completed three or more graded full credits in the semester.


St. Olaf students may complete the requirements of a major or concentration "with distinction." Departmental distinction is an academic honor conferred by the college according to specific criteria established by the department or program responsible for certifying the major or concentration. Distinction is awarded upon completion of all graduation requirements.

Distinction is a recognition of the academic or artistic excellence of a student's work in the major or concentration. Distinction is a selective award: normally, no more than ten percent of a department's or program's majors or concentrators receive distinction. Distinction recognizes consistent excellence in the major field or concentration: normally, candidates for distinction maintain a GPA in the major or concentration of 3.50 or higher. Distinction recognizes excellence in a particular academic undertaking: normally, the recognition is based in part on student work beyond the minimum requirements for the major or concentration, usually in the form of a distinction project or thesis representing a considerable achievement. Distinction is not generally conferred on the basis of service to departments or programs. Faculty members of the department or program determine specific criteria for distinction. Interested students should contact the appropriate department or program for more information. Not every candidate receives distinction.

A student may receive distinction in more than one major or concentration if the student completes separate projects, one for each major or concentration. A single project may suffice if the project or thesis conforms to all relevant departments’ or programs’ guidelines and constraints described for distinction. Students seeking to submit a single project or thesis for distinction in more than one department or program must gain the approval of all relevant departments and/or programs before undertaking work on the project or thesis.

Each department or program submits to the registrar the names of all students who have been awarded distinction. Indication of distinction appears in the commencement program and on the academic transcript.


Honors are determined by the cumulative grade point average (G.P.A.). They are conferred at commencement and recorded on the final transcript and the diploma.

Honors requirements are as follows:

3.60 — cum laude
3.75 — magna cum laude
3.90 — summa cum laude

In determining honors, a grade point average is never rounded up or down.

Honor designations are not recorded on student transcripts prior to graduation from the college.


On Honors Day each May, students are recognized in three categories: election to Phi Beta Kappa, special honors, and general honors by class. General honors include all full-time students who have a cumulative grade point average through interim of the current academic year at the level of cum laude or above (see HONORS).

The names of the honorees are posted on the registrar's Web site at least three weeks prior to Honors Day.


Standards for election to Phi Beta Kappa and other honor societies are the prerogative of the honor societies, not the college.


Each graduated senior is ranked in his/her class according to cumulative grade point average (GPA). Class rank is recorded on the permanent transcript for those students whose names appear in the Commencement program in May of a given year.

Participators in Commencement are ranked according to their cumulative GPA after spring semester of the senior year. Rank is not changed even if further St. Olaf course work is used to complete degree requirements or used by diploma graduates for additional credits.

Class rank is also computed for non-seniors at the end of each academic year, but it is not recorded on the transcript. Class rank is available upon request at the Registrar’s Office. Picture identification is required.


A student may be placed on academic probation, or be continued on probation, with:

  1. A cumulative grade point average of 1.80 or below in the first year, 1.90 or below in the sophomore year and 2.00 in the junior and senior year, or
  2. Two or more grades of D, F, N, or U in any semester, or
  3. Fewer than two and one-half courses of C- or better during a semester, or fewer than five and one-half courses of C- or better during an academic year.

Parents of financially dependent or consenting students are notified when students are placed on academic probation.

A student on probation may not participate in an interim exchange program. Students may apply to a St. Olaf sponsored off-campus program while they are on probation, but ordinarily a student who remains on academic probation may not participate in an off-campus program. Approval by the director of International and Off-Campus Studies is required for a student on academic probation to participate in an off-campus program. Students on academic probation may not serve in an executive role in a student organization, and students continuing on probation may be asked further to curtail extra-curricular activities. Institutionally controlled gift assistance or financial aid may be reduced if a student is placed on academic probation.

College decisions involving probation are not subject to appeal.


A student may be dismissed if the student is on probationary status and fails to achieve minimal academic progress. Minimal academic progress is defined as that combination of course completions and grade points that suggest the probable completion of graduation requirements in four years with at least a 2.00 cumulative grade point average. Such progress is expected to approximate the following scale:

Cumulative GPA of 2.00 after the completion of 23 credits.
Cumulative GPA of 1.90 after the completion of 15 credits.
Cumulative GPA of 1.80 after the completion of 6 credits.

Normally a student will not be considered for dismissal unless s/he has been on probation for at least one semester. The college reserves the right, under extraordinary circumstances, however, to dismiss a student who has not been on probation.

There is usually a waiting period of one year prior to consideration of an application for readmission following dismissal.

Decisions resulting in academic dismissal or the placement of a student on academic probation are made by the Academic Standing Committee, which includes the faculty member serving as associate dean of students (chair), the other two class deans, the associate registrar for student services, the coordinator of the Academic Advising Center, the coordinator of Student Disability Services, the director of Student Support Services, the director of the Academic Support Center, the director of Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach, and one member of the faculty, appointed by the faculty member serving as associate dean of students.

Parents of financially dependent or consenting students are notified when academic dismissal occurs.

Students placed in dismissal status may appeal the dismissal decision to an appeals board composed of the dean of the college, the dean of students, and the registrar. The appeal must be made in writing and sent to the Dean of Students Office within seven days of the date of receipt of the dismissal letter. The decision of the appeals board is final.