Application and Selection

The Great Conversation is a team-taught interdisciplinary program that introduces students to the liberal arts. All newly admitted first-year students may apply.The program consists of a sequence of five courses spread over the first two years, providing an integrated means to satisfy several of St. Olaf’s general education requirements. Taught primarily through discussion of great works, the Great Conversation provides a broad foundation both for a St. Olaf education and for a life of engaged citizenship.

How to apply

On March 18 all students admitted to St. Olaf will be sent a brochure explaining the Great Conversation and American Conversations programs, with instructions for applying. These instructions  also are available on the admitted  students website. If study in the Great Conversation appeals to you, carefully write the required short essay in response to one of two assigned questions. The essay — the primary means by which students are selected — will be evaluated by three professors who teach in the program.

The admissions procedure for the Great Conversation gives you the option of two due dates:

  • Apply by April 15; notification mailed on or before April 22
  • Apply by May 13; notification mailed on or before May 17

Login and apply here. If you haven’t yet set up a St. Olaf password, call the Admissions Office at 1-507-786-3025, and they can resend your pin and instructions for setting it up.

Although the program reserves positions for the May applicants, it is in your interest to apply earlier rather than later. Those who are waitlisted in April are reconsidered with the May applicants.

All students selected to participate in the program live together in either Ellingson or Kildahl residence halls. This living arrangement not only allows great conversations to continue outside the classroom but also helps create friendships based on shared experiences.