Details on counting off-campus courses toward political science major


1.   What kinds of off-campus courses can be counted toward a St. Olaf political science major?

To receive one St. Olaf course credit, an off-campus course must carry a minimum of three semester-hour credits or four quarter-hour credits.   Eligible courses for the political science major include:

  • Political science courses offered through a St. Olaf semester abroad program (e.g., Global, Middle East, Asia, Australia), but taught by instructors outside the St. Olaf Department of Political Science
  • Political science courses offered through St. Olaf-affiliated programs at other U.S. or international institutions (e.g., Washington Semester, junior year programs in Britain, HECUA programs, ACM programs, and other programs listed in St. Olaf’s annual International and Domestic Off-Campus Programs brochure).

Internships completed through an off-campus program receive St. Olaf credit but may not be counted toward a St. Olaf political science major unless the internship is supervised by a St. Olaf faculty member in the Department of Political Science.

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

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

  • A subfield requirement may be met by an off-campus course as appropriate to the content of the course.
  • One Level III requirement may be met by an off-campus 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 off-campus 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.

Off-campus 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 off-campus courses?

  • Students work with the Office of International and Off-Campus studies to arrange for credits and grades from their off-campus programs to be recorded on their St. Olaf transcript.
  • To receive credit toward the political science major for off-campus 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 program.  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 off-campus courses will be designated as Level I or II, but students may request Level III credit (see above).  If the student is requesting Level III credit, the student 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.