Distinction in Nordic Studies

What is Distinction?
Distinction is a formal academic honor (which appears on the transcript) that each Program in the College may vote to bestow upon its senior concentrators who have those qualities most valued in their area and who demonstrate the ability to produce independent work of the highest scholarly or artistic standard. A Program awards Distinction to recognize outstanding achievement and encourage potential.  (For more information, see St. Olaf College Statement on Distinction.)

The Nordic Studies Program invites senior concentrators who seek a significant and challenging intellectual experience to apply for Distinction in Nordic Studies.

Criteria for Distinction

To be considered for Distinction, students must satisfy certain minimum GPA requirements, prepare a project under the direction of a Project Advisor in the Nordic Studies Program (or an advisor approved by the Director of Nordic Studies), have the work reviewed by faculty, and successfully complete an public presentation of the project.

GPA requirements: Cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 and GPA in Nordic Studies courses of at least 3.7. Under special circumstances, and after consultation with their Project Advisor, students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements may petition the Director of Nordic Studies for permission to begin the Distinction process.

Project description: Distinction projects may spring out of work done in courses, but must go well beyond that work.  Thus a paper or project submitted for a course (including an IS/IR course) must be substantially expanded and revised in order to be used for distinction, and in addition, there must be some form of public presentation of the work.  Public presentation could be a talk to students after conversation table, presentation at a scholarly conference, creation of a website, YouTube video, poster, etc.  Papers or projects may be in either Norwegian or English (or another Nordic language), but projects in English will normally be substantially longer.  Thus a paper in Norwegian should be 10-15 pages in length, but one in English should be 20-30 pages.  A wide range of types of papers or projects may be proposed.  The final product might be a scholarly paper or a piece of creative writing. Projects such as websites or poster presentations must be accompanied by a written prospectus, must be the equivalent of a substantial paper, and will be approved on a case-by-case basis.  Before embarking on a project, the student must have the project approved by a group of Nordic Studies faculty members.  Students may not earn distinction in both Norwegian and Nordic Studies.

Papers or projects should reflect superior (distinct) achievement in one or more of the learning outcomes for the Nordic Studies concentration:

  1. Linguistic outcomesa) Language proficiency in listening, reading, writing and speaking at the ACTFL intermediate-high to advanced-low levelsb) metalinguistic awareness
  2. Broad understanding of Nordic culturea) Knowledge of Nordic historyb) knowledge of contemporary Nordic societiesc) greater depth of knowledge of aspects culture or language of one or more Nordic countries


  • All Nordic Studies concentrators will be informed of the Distinction in Nordic Studies option during the spring semester of their junior year.
  • Nordic Studies concentrators who have attained an overall GPA of 3.3 and a GPA in the concentration of 3.7 will be invited to apply for distinction in Nordic Studies by the end of September of their senior year.
  • Nominated students who wish to apply for distinction must discuss their proposal with the Director of Nordic Studies and choose an adviser by early November of the fall semester of their senior year.  Along with their adviser (who may be from another department) and the department chair, students must choose one or more faculty members from the Nordic Studies faculty, including at least one from outside the Norwegian Department to serve on their distinction committee.
  • Students must have a draft of their distinction project by mid-March of their senior year.  This draft will be circulated for comment by members of the committee.  Based on the comments received, students will then make any revisions necessary, and submit a final draft by the end of March.
  • Public presentation of the project, in whatever form is appropriate for the project, will occur during the first half of April.
  • The distinction committee (consisting of the Director of Nordic Studies and selected Nordic Studies faculty including at least one from outside the Norwegian Department, depending on the topic) will vote by ballot on whether or not distinction should be awarded.  Students will be notified by the end of April, and names of students earning distinction in Nordic Studies will be forwarded to the registrar’s office by the end of April.

See: Distinction in Norwegian