Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.

International and Domestic Off-Campus Studies: Global Perspective

“Global Perspective” — The term comes up again and again when St. Olaf students and faculty talk about the lessons they have learned while studying on international and domestic off-campus programs.

They’re talking about the kind of exciting insights they received when Hindu caste systems, Scandinavian cinema or Greek architecture came to life before their eyes; when their biology or physics laboratory moved to a rain forest, a desert or a glacier; or, when everyday and utterly familiar things like eating breakfast or taking a bath were put into thought-provoking new contexts.

The objective of all off-campus programs is to provide students with the opportunity to engage in cross-cultural learning. Students gain knowledge and awareness of cultures other than their own and reflect on their own culture with a new perspective.  Around three-fourths of all St. Olaf students participate in off-campus programs, many of them led by St. Olaf faculty members. As a matter of fact, more than 70% of every graduating class have studied internationally, in places as diverse as Aberdeen, Chiang Mai, Dakar and Istanbul. Around 17 percent have participated in domestic programs — ranging from interim courses on desert biology or, to the contemporary art scene in New York City, to consortial programs on urban studies in Chicago or politics in Washington DC.  A number of students find off-campus study so valuable that they participate in two or three programs during their St. Olaf careers.

Of equal importance is the fact that faculty members find these programs extremely rewarding — both for their students and for themselves. That is why, in the more than 40 years that St. Olaf has been sponsoring them, the college’s field-supervised programs (Term in the Middle East, Term in Asia, Global Semester, and more recently, Environmental Science in Australia) have been led by more than 50 different professors, and 140 faculty members have led more than 300 off-campus interim courses.

Each off-campus offering has a program advisor. Program advisors are St. Olaf faculty members who are particularly well qualified to offer academic advice on specific programs.

It is strongly recommended that all first-year students discuss off-campus study plans with their academic advisor and with the faculty program advisor or the study abroad advisor in the International and Off-Campus Studies Office.

Consortial Activities

Exchange agreements and the college’s membership in consortia make it possible for students to participate in a number of exciting off-campus programs in addition to the ones sponsored by St. Olaf itself.

St. Olaf is one of 13 liberal arts colleges that make up the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM). Other ACM members are Beloit, Carleton, Coe, Colorado, Cornell, Grinnell, Knox, Lake Forest, Lawrence, Macalester, Monmouth and Ripon.

St. Olaf is also a member of the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA), which offers students specialized programs in domestic and international sites focusing on community issues and social change.

Policies and Procedures

Students are responsible for adhering to the regulations and policies contained in the Academic Regulations section of this catalog. In particular, students on St. Olaf off-campus programs are directed to refer to the policies on “Graded and Ungraded Courses” for full details on how off-campus programs affect this graduation requirement.


Nearly all St. Olaf students who study off campus do so during their sophomore, junior or senior years. (A few interims are open to first-year students.) The college’s 4-1-4 calendar (two semesters separated by an interim in January) contributes to the flexibility: it enables students to participate in programs that last a month, a summer, a semester, half a year or a full year.

Students intending to take part in a recognized program off campus must be in good academic standing, be sufficiently mature to benefit from such study, and physically able to participate in the core activities of the program. Many programs have prerequisites, including introductory or advanced courses in a specific discipline or certain levels of language proficiency. Some programs are competitive, and applicants will be accepted based on meeting a standard set of criteria governing the selection process. Details about all St. Olaf-approved semester and year-long programs, program advisors, prerequisites and application deadlines and procedures are found in the international and off-campus program brochure, published every fall by the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies. Interim offerings are detailed in the off-campus interim brochure published each spring by the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies. This information is also available on the International and Off-Campus Studies Web site.


Students in all St. Olaf-sponsored programs pay the St. Olaf tuition plus additional travel and on-site costs that vary, depending on the nature of each off-campus program. Apart from these payments, students are expected to cover passport fees, the cost of additional independent travel and personal expenses on their own. St. Olaf financial aid is available for St. Olaf off-campus programs. Information about special scholarships for off-campus study is available from the Financial Aid Office or the study abroad advisor in the International and Off-Campus Studies Office.

Grades, Credits, Registration

All off-campus courses are graded and appear on the transcript, but only those letter grades given for a course taught by a St. Olaf faculty member are calculated into a student’s grade point average.

In order for a student to receive academic credit for off-campus study sponsored by an institution with which St. Olaf has a program relationship, registration must be completed in advance through St. Olaf College.

All credits earned on St. Olaf-approved programs are viewed as resident credit. In most cases, students can expect to earn the same amount of credit on an off-campus program that they would earn on campus during a comparable period of time.

Students studying on St. Olaf off-campus programs should be aware of the “24 graded courses” graduation requirement. Full details on how this requirement is affected by off-campus courses is found in the Academic Regulations section of this catalog.

St. Olaf’s S/U policy applies to courses taken on off-campus programs.

Credits for Non-St. Olaf Terms Off-Campus

Students may earn elective credit and credit toward a major, but they may not fulfill general education requirements through such programs.   A maximum of four credits may be earned by transfer from study abroad during a leave of absence.  While on a leave of absence from the college, these students may not register for subsequent St. Olaf terms through a proxy. 

St. Olaf-sponsored off-campus Study Opportunities

Full details about programs, program advisors, prerequisites and application deadlines and procedures are found in the international and off-campus program brochures, published every fall and spring by the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies. The brief descriptions located in this catalog, however, will give you an idea of the breadth and depth of St. Olaf’s off-campus study opportunities.