Pre-Departure Resources


St. Olaf College offers an orientation program designed for students registered for off-campus study. Heightened sensitivity, understanding and appreciation of other cultures are covered through lectures, films and discussions with international students and students returning from off-campus study. Issues of health and safety are emphasized.

Four orientation sessions are held during the year. Orientation for Semester I and year-long programs will be a one-day retreat on a Saturday in late April. Orientation for Semester II programs will be a one-day retreat on a Saturday in late September. Orientation for Semester I and II domestic off-campus programs will be held on an evening in May.  Orientation meetings for Interim programs (both domestic and international) will be held in mid-November.

The orientation includes sessions regarding topics of general interest and relevance to all programs. Small program groups study culture and specific materials relevant to their own program areas.

Participation in the orientation programs is a requirement for students registered for off-campus programs.

Written information for the programs, in the form of orientation handbooks is provided by International and Off-Campus Studies. Former participants contribute useful information for the orientation handbooks.


A valid U.S. passport is required for participation in all international programs. Application for a U.S. passport is filed in person at the nearest county courthouse. A representative of the county recorder of Rice County is available on the St. Olaf campus for one day in April and one day in October to receive applications for passports.

Note: The International and Off-Campus Studies Office needs a copy of the passport of all participants in order to register them, for security purposes, with the in-country embassy.


Certain countries require an entry visa. For some programs, International & Off-Campus Studies will facilitate the visa process while at other times, participants may need to acquire a visa on their own. Once accepted, participants will be advised by International & Off-Campus Studies regarding visa application and picture requirements.
If IOS will be processing visas for the program you are going on, you must turn over your passport to our office for several weeks in order for the process to be completed.  If you will need your passport in the months immediately preceding your program, please check promptly with IOS to be sure there will be no problem in scheduling the acquisition of the visa(s).  This is especially important for Semester I programs and for programs requiring multiple visas.
An estimated amount has been budgeted into the program fee for visa(s). If visa expenses for an individual student exceed the budgeted amount (for example, if additional visas are needed because of one’s citizenship or if special handling is required because of a student’s personal travel plans), the extra cost will be charged to the student.  IOS will inform the student of the additional cost and add the charges to the Student Account.

International & Off-Campus Studies will do its best to provide up to date information about visa requirements.  However, International & Off-Campus Studies cannot guarantee that its advice is definitive.  Countries can change their visa requirements at any time or they may be interpreted differently by various consulates or airport authorities.  Non-US citizens need to be aware that they may face complications that other students on a program do not encounter.


Participants in programs in Europe require no immunizations, unless recommended by the college health service. Participants in programs in Asia, Africa and Central and South America may be required to have certain inoculations. Current information is provided after acceptance into the program.

Physical Examinations

Anyone participating in an off-campus program for one semester or longer is required to have a physical examination. This is for the protection of the student. The examination should take place no more than six months prior to the departure but also soon enough in advance that any correctable health problems might be caught in time and dealt with before departure. Deadlines for submission of physical examination forms are as follows: Semester 1 and full-year programs: August 1; Semester II Programs: November 1.