Details about counting transfer courses towards political science major

What kinds of transfer courses can be counted toward a St. Olaf political science major?

To receive one St. Olaf course credit, a transfer course must carry a minimum of three semester-hour credits or four quarter-hour credits.   Common kinds of transfer courses include:

  • A transcripted Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) course in Political Science completed during a student’s junior or senior year of high school.  Additional information concerning college-wide policies on St. Olaf credit for PSEO courses is available on the website of the Office of the Registrar:
  • Political science courses offered at institutions other than St. Olaf or Carleton; students commonly complete such courses during a summer term or January interim
  • Political science courses completed under the auspices of an off-campus program that is not affiliated with St. Olaf (i.e., a program that is not listed in St. Olaf’s annual International and Domestic Off-Campus Programs brochure).

2.   Can transfer courses be used to satisfy any requirements within the major and/or any General Education requirements?

Yes, transfer courses may satisfy some requirements for the political science major, within the following parameters:

  • A subfield requirement may be met by a transfer course as appropriate to the content of the course.
  • One Level III requirement may be met by a transfer course.  To receive Level III credit, a student must complete as part of the course work a research paper using primary sources and analyzing in depth a significant problem of interest to political scientists.  The paper must be submitted to the St. Olaf Department of Political Science for review to verify that it reflects departmental criteria for Level III work.  In order to receive Level III credit, the paper must:

1.   Advance a clear argumentative thesis by testing a hypothesis, proposing an explanation, resolving a legal or philosophical difficulty, or defending a policy or position;
2.   Defend the thesis with scholarly evidence, including classic or contemporary sources as appropriate to the topic of the paper;
3.   Make explicit use of one or more theoretical concepts or frameworks;
4.   Be at least 15 pages in length, exclusive of references;
5.   Receive a grade of C or better from the course instructor.

If a Level III transfer course consists of an independent study or research experience, the student must have completed at least one lower-level course (Level I or II) in the subfield area of the independent study prior to or during the semester in which the independent study is completed.

Transfer courses may also meet selected General Education requirements, depending on the course or program; consult the St. Olaf College catalog for details.

3.   What do students need to do to make sure they receive the right amount and type of credit toward the political science major for transfer courses?

  • Credit for a PSEO course is recorded on the student’s St. Olaf transcript by the Office of the Registrar.  A PSEO course is counted as one Level I elective credit toward the major UNLESS students receive approval from the department chair to count the course differently – for example, as a Level II course, or toward a subfield requirement.  To obtain such approval, students must submit a Request for Credit Toward a Major form to the Political Science Academic Administrative Assistant for approval by the department chair.  The department chair may require a copy of the syllabus or a detailed course description to accompany the request.  Students must also work with the Office of the Registrar to receive GE credit for these courses.  For details, see the St. Olaf College Catalog.
  • To receive St. Olaf credit for all other kinds of transfer courses, students must obtain a Permission to Transfer Credit to St. Olaf form from the St. Olaf Office of the Registrar, and review the College’s policies for transfer credit indicated on the form to make sure they can receive St. Olaf credit for the course they plan to take.  They must then complete the form (including a signature from the department chair if they plan to seek major credit for the course) and submit it to the St. Olaf Office of the Registrar before registering for the course or program at the other institution.  (Students do NOT need to submit a transfer request form if they are registering for a St. Olaf-approved off-campus program; credits from these programs are considered St. Olaf credits rather than transfer credits.)
  • To receive credit toward the political science major for transfer course work, students must submit a Request for Credit Toward a Major form to the Political Science Academic Administrative Assistant for each political science credit they wish to receive before registering for the course or program at the other institution.  The request will be forwarded to the department chair for approval.  If the request for credit includes sufficient information about course content (such as a detailed course description or a course syllabus), the chair may provide final approval for political science credit before the student registers.  Otherwise, the chair will provide conditional approval and indicate what additional information the student will need to provide after completing the course in order to secure final approval (e.g., a course syllabus, a portfolio of completed assignments, a major research paper, etc.).  IT IS THE STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY TO SUBMIT THE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR FINAL APPROVAL AFTER COMPLETING THE COURSE OR PROGRAM AND RETURNING TO CAMPUS. Materials should be submitted to the Political Science Academic Administrative Assistant. Once a request has received final approval, copies will be provided to the student, the student’s academic advisor, and the Political Science Academic Administrative Assistant, to ensure accuracy in certifying that the student has completed the major.
  • Most transfer courses will be designated as Level I or II, but students may request Level III credit.  Students requesting Level III credit must submit a copy of the research paper(s) prepared for the course to the Political Science Academic Administrative Assistant after returning to campus.  The Academic Administrative Assistant will arrange for a St. Olaf political science faculty member to review the paper to determine whether it is equivalent to work submitted in Level III courses taught within the department.