Majors and Programs

Are you up for the challenge?

Are you up for the challenge?

St. Olaf will challenge you with the breadth and depth of a rigorous liberal arts education.

Within your major, professors will expect you to master the discipline, demonstrate your knowledge, and see the connections between big ideas.

Your General Education courses will ensure you develop a wide range of skills and the flexible habits of mind to meet 21st-century challenges: languages, quantitative reasoning, scientific literacy, creativity and collaboration, and the ability to communicate your knowledge effectively.

85+

majors, concentrations, and pre-professional programs

12:1

student to faculty ratio

#22

ranking for best undergraduate teaching by U.S. News & World Report, 2019

Majors

Overview
The Department of Art and Art History at St. Olaf approaches the study of art as an intellectual and creative endeavor. The department’s curriculum provides students with the research, interpretive, and technical skills to make and study meaningful works of art and to sustain them as artists and critical thinkers throughout their lives.

Overview
Ancient Studies spans more than two millennia between Greece’s Bronze Age and the fall of the Roman Empire. Combining art, history, language, literature, philosophy, religion, and theater, it encourages students to take a broad look at ancient Western culture, examining it from multiple perspectives.

Overview
The Department of Art and Art History at St. Olaf approaches the study of art as an intellectual and creative endeavor. The department’s curriculum provides students with the research, interpretive, and technical skills to make and study meaningful works of art and to sustain them as artists and critical thinkers throughout their lives.

Overview
The Asian Studies major allows students to gain competence in either Chinese or Japanese language and the understanding of Asian societies through a selection of courses in languages, linguistics, literature, film, economics, history, religion, art history, political science, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, as well as special interdisciplinary courses on Asia.

Overview
In Biology, students’ broad foundation in biology through core courses, but also achieve depth in specific biological interests through elective courses and independent study. A St. Olaf biology degree prepares students for a wide range of careers or further study, and the college is among the top undergraduate institutions in the number of graduates who go on to earn Phds in the field.

Overview
The Chemistry Department offers courses in the traditional major areas of chemistry, as well as in interdisciplinary areas, such as biochemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, biophysical chemistry, environmental chemistry, and organometallic chemistry. It is routinely in the top three undergraduate institutions for the number of chemistry majors graduated in a year.

Overview
Classics offers courses in ancient and medieval literature, history, philosophy, religion, political science, fine arts, and archaeology offer fascinating ways to explore the humanities, both on campus and abroad. Learning classical languages improves students’ verbal and analytical skills and gives them tools for studying the past and evaluating the present.

Overview
St. Olaf has taught Chinese since 1973 and is one of only a few colleges in the Midwest that offers four years of language study, an active study abroad program, and a broad selection of related courses in art, economics, history, literature, philosophy, and religion.Students not only develop skills in the language, but also gain knowledge of China in all of the language courses by using various authentic materials.

Overview
St. Olaf’s Computer Science (CS) major is a balanced liberal-arts program that satisfies national curricular expectations, builds on a breadth-first, hands-on introduction to the discipline, takes a team-based approach to software design including interdisciplinary team projects, integrates ethical and social analysis in a distinctive way, and emphasizes written and oral communication skills and other aspects of a liberal arts education.

Overview
Movement-intensive and language-intensive classes present dance as a vital form of embodied awareness, personal expression, and physical communication.The St. Olaf College B.A. in dance guides students toward lives and careers with strong physical, creative, and analytical skills at their foundation.

Overview
The economics curriculum at St. Olaf includes theory, applications, institutional studies, and quantitative analysis. The economics major serves as excellent preparation for careers in a wide variety of fields, including economic analysis, banking, accounting, consulting, health administration, finance, business management, teaching, and international affairs.

Overview
Drawing on 1500 years of literature from Geoffrey Chaucer to Emily Dickinson, Chinua Achebe, and Toni Morrison, the English major encourages students to dig deeply and to range widely, crossing borders and exploring diversity both in content (authors, literary genres, and historical periods) and in form (critical and creative approaches).

Overview
Environmental studies explores the relationships between the earth’s natural and physical systems, human political, economic, and social systems, and human understanding of the environment as informed by ethics, philosophy, art, history, religion, and literature.

Overview
The Exercise Science major at St. Olaf is designed for students interested in the advanced and specialized study of the biophysical aspects of exercise. The major supports academic linkages across disciplines and provides excellent preparation in a wide variety of fields.

Overview
A major in French complements any other St. Olaf major and extends students’ liberal arts education and multicultural competence.By studying the French language and Francophone cultures, civilizations, and literature, students develop and enhance their oral and written language skills, analytical thinking, and familiarity with diverse perspectives sought by employers and graduate schools today.

Overview
German courses allow you to explore topics from fairy tales to film, from everyday life to international politics, and from confronting the past to building a more sustainable and inclusive society. In courses for the major, students gain an understanding of German culture, literature, and civilization as they develop analytical and communication skills in the spoken and written language.

Overview
If students choose to study greek, they will acquire advanced knowledge of the ancient Greek language, the ability to translate and analyze ancient Greek literature in at least three genres, and basic knowledge of the ancient Greek civilization.

Overview
St. Olaf History explores the many facets of the human condition from the past to the present. History invites those who study it to develop an appreciation for the variety of human experiences.

Overview
To fulfill a Japanese major, students will demonstrate both linguistic and cultural competence. For linguistic and language skills, Japanese majors will possess proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing at the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Intermediate-High level as well as metalinguistic and intercultural awareness of the use of Japanese language in different social milieus.

Overview
If students choose to study latin, they will acquire advanced knowledge of the Latin language, the ability to translate and analyze Latin literature in at least three genres, and basic knowledge of the ancient Roman civilization.

Overview
Latin American studies offers an interdisciplinary structure for the systematic study of Latin America, an area that encompasses countries in North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean, whose distinct geography and cultures are unified by elements of a common heritage. It is an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach that contributes to the investigation of political, economic, ethnic, gender, religious, and cultural issues in Latin America.

Overview
Mathematics is all the things noted above and more at St. Olaf, where the mathematics program is recognized nationally for innovative and effective teaching. Students arrange a major in mathematics by developing an Individualized Mathematics Proposal (IMAP). An IMaP outlines a complete, coherent program of study consistent with the goals of the individual student.

Overview
To fulfill a Japanese major, students will demonstrate both linguistic and cultural competence. For linguistic and language skills, Japanese majors will possess proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing at the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Intermediate-High level as well as metalinguistic and intercultural awareness of the use of Japanese language in different social milieus.

Overview
To fulfill a Japanese major, students will demonstrate both linguistic and cultural competence. For linguistic and language skills, Japanese majors will possess proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing at the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Intermediate-High level as well as metalinguistic and intercultural awareness of the use of Japanese language in different social milieus.

Overview
St. Olaf is one of a few colleges and universities where students can use Norwegian to complete their foreign language requirement — and beyond the requirements can study in depth the language, literature, culture, and history of Norway. The Norwegian major allows students to gain competence in the Norwegian language and an understanding of Norwegian society through a combination of courses in the language, literature, history, and culture of Norway.

Overview
The nursing program, through an innovative design that integrates theory with practice and partners educators with professionals in practice, prepares graduates to provide and coordinate nursing care for individuals, families, and communities within standards of professional practice.

Overview
A major in philosophy is highly recommended not only for those who wish to pursue graduate study in philosophy but also as a preparation for other careers that require the ability to think in a creative and disciplined manner about questions that are new or whose method of solution is debated, including careers in law, theology, business, management, medicine, journalism, politics, and education.

Overview
The goal of the physics curriculum is to acquaint students with basic natural phenomena and with the quantitative methods of experimentation and theoretical analysis through which we come to understand them. It provides an excellent preparation for students planning a technical career in physics, engineering, astronomy, or related interdisciplinary programs (biophysics, geophysics, materials science, chemical physics, etc.)

Overview
The political science major provides broad exposure to the discipline and develops skills in critical thinking, systematic inquiry, and effective writing and speaking. Students majoring in political science complete courses in four areas: American politics and public policy, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.

Overview
The Department of Psychology follows the American Psychological Association’s guidelines of “synthesizing the natural and social science aspects of the discipline, in part, by requiring students to take courses in both knowledge bases.” Thus both interpersonal and investigative skills are enhanced.

Overview
Established at St. Olaf College in 1969, Race and Ethnic Studies (abbreviated RACE) represents a multigenerational faculty and student commitment to the interdisciplinary study of race and ethnicity. The program centers the concerns and experiences of people of color and proceeds from the recognition that race and ethnicity have been and continue to be crucial components within interlocking systems of oppression, as well as powerful sites of intersectional resistance.

Overview
The Religion Department equips students of all backgrounds and traditions to interpret, evaluate, and respond to religious ideas and practices. The work of the department is shaped by the college’s Lutheran heritage and commitments as they unfold in a world of many faiths. The Religion major’s learning outcomes expect students to demonstrate the ability to communicate, knowledge of approaches, knowledge of subject.

Overview
Russian language is the key to reading more than one-fourth of all the published scientific literature in the world. Russia continues to be a major player in the global community in many different areas: politics, economics, space-age technology, and the development of new computer software. The Russian major’s learning outcomes are language proficiency, textual competency, and con-textual competency.

Overview
Russian Area Studies is a multidisciplinary area studies department that introduces students to the Russian world through several academic disciplines. In keeping with the college mission to provide a “global perspective,” offers a variety of courses that build upon Russian language proficiency to give students the knowledge and tools for a successful career. The objective of the majoris to prepare students to comprehend, interact with and work in the area from a foundation of cultural literacy.

Overview
The field of social studies education demands reflective practitioners with a broad foundation in the liberal arts and specific knowledge in each of the seven disciplines. The social studies education major equips students with this core content knowledge while also providing multiple opportunities for critical thinking about the various ways we construct knowledge and communicate the human experience.

Overview
Social work education builds on the liberal arts with professional foundation courses. It prepares students for generalist practice, students who understand scientific approaches to knowledge building and practice, are reflective of and responsible for their own ethical conduct, and are committed to lives of service and leadership in the global community.

Overview
Sociology and Anthropology will take you on a journey into unfamiliar cultures and allow you to see familiar social surroundings as if for the first time. Our disciplines open a window to the wider world. Join us as we explore the hunters and gatherers of Southern Africa, peasants in India, squatter activists in Peru, and Latinos in the United States. Come with us into the domain of the rich and powerful, into the lives of impoverished and powerless, into the jurisdiction of politicians, doctors, community activists, labor leaders, and police.

Overview
In courses for the Spanish major, students gain an understanding of the diversity of the Spanish-speaking world (Spain, Latin America, and the Hispanic U.S.) through the study of literature, non-literary texts, culture, language, and linguistics. At the same time, they develop communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills.

Overview
The St. Olaf Department of Theater takes for its subject matter all aspects of making theater. It produces a season of plays whose focus is the liberal arts curriculum rather than a typical theater company’s season of plays. All courses focus on the making of dramatic art.

Overview
Women’s and Gender Studies students explore scholarship about women and gender across cultures and throughout history to examine intersections of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, nationality, ability, religion, and age. The program encourages students to think critically as means to becoming active and ethical participants in career, family, social life, and community.

Academics at St. Olaf

Holland

St. Olaf is the first step toward a lifetime of learning and doing, of seeing creative solutions to real-life, global challenges. The breadth and depth of our curriculum ensures that you’ll develop the skills necessary for success in all fields.

WHAT'S YOUR INTEREST?

Oles ❤️ MUSIC

Music can play a part in your education!
St. Olaf offers a liberal arts experience with the benefits of a music conservatory.

Oles 💡 STEM

We are doers, and that fact is borne out in our work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

Oles 🏆 Business

The best MBA programs seek people with strong skills in analysis, communication, and leadership. They are looking for Oles.

Oles 🔬 Pre-Health

Oles in all pre-health programs benefit from one-on-one advising, job shadowing and internships at top healthcare organizations.
Charles Taliaferro6

Classroom Experience

 

We don’t have graduate students or teaching assistants. Our professors will push you hard in class, but they’ll also be the mentors who challenge you to think about where your learning will lead. Because they will know you well, their reference letters and recommendations can open doors as they follow your life and career long after they’ve given you your last grade.

The Art of Conversation

Conversation is at the heart of a St. Olaf education. We want students to develop the ability to listen carefully, argue forcefully, and be the kind of engaged thinker who makes a conversation more interesting.
St. Olaf’s signature Conversation programs are interdisciplinary, team-taught explorations that take students on five distinct intellectual journeys through influential texts and ideas that have shaped our past and will guide our future.

Learn more

29%

Class of 2022 participation in a First-year Conversation program or Learning Community.