St. Olaf College

Vibrant fall colors at St. Olaf

“[St. Olaf] is enlightening, forward-looking, and innovative, the teachers are caring human beings, and the welfare of the student takes priority.
Colleges That Change Lives

Even though we are physically distant, the St. Olaf Community is as strong as ever. We’re bringing campus to you! Use this Virtual Visit Experience to envision yourself on campus and get a taste of the energy, compassion, and excellence Oles surround themselves with every day. We also invite you to explore the community and connect with us virtually.

St. Olaf College
1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield, Minnesota 55057
507.786.3025 / 800.800.3025
⋅ 3,000 students, representing  all 50 U.S. states + D.C. Around 300 international students come from 100+ countries
⋅ Around 60% of students come from out of state.
⋅ 12.2:1 student-to-faculty ratio
⋅ Average class size: 23
⋅ First-generation college students comprise nearly 18% of each incoming class.
⋅ Comprehensive Fee: $60,980
⋅ 93% of students receive need-based aid or a merit scholarship from the college.
⋅ Average need-based award: $42,972

A St. Olaf student works in a science lab

A St. Olaf student skis across campus

St. Olaf College students study in front of the fireplace

The St. Olaf community gathers together in a chapel

St. Olaf ChristmasFest

  • With so many great liberal arts colleges, how do you choose? What makes St. Olaf stand apart? We think it’s this: St. Olaf doesn’t produce ordinary college grads. It turns out Oles (oh-lees). Oles are the people that companies want, because they know how to get stuff done. They think harder, approach problems differently, persevere with enthusiasm. Oles are born of St. Olaf’s intense academic program—an academic program that hones minds, while its emphasis on global engagement helps broadens perspectives. Oles aren’t necessarily religious, but our religious tradition encourages deep self-reflection. Most important, perhaps, is the Ole community—a vibrant community that accepts, supports and encourages, generating lifelong friendships and invaluable business connections. Today more than ever, the world needs idealistic, tireless problem solvers. In other words, Oles.
  • St. Olaf students and faculty are increasingly diverse in background and outlook, reflecting the changing demographics of the 21st century, the dynamic impact of the world’s great religious traditions, and the new frontiers of human knowledge. The college’s academic program engages students in a wide range of high-impact educational experiences in and beyond the classroom, including hands-on student-faculty research, internships, volunteer service and civic engagement, study abroad, and special cohort-based learning communities such as the college’s signature Conversation programs.
  • The combination of strong majors, a broad curriculum, and extensive programs to link learning to “real-world” experiences, means a St. Olaf education prepares students to graduate with clear direction and a sense of purpose.

Worth Noting

Located in Northfield, Minnesota, a two-college town of 20,000 people just 35 miles south of Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Olaf has one of the most beautiful and well-equipped campuses in the country. The quality and careful maintenance of the facilities reflects a culture of stewardship that extends beyond the 300-acre campus to the management of the college’s 325 acres of surrounding natural lands. Prairie restoration, wetlands and a student-run organic farm provide living opportunities for hands-on research in a variety of disciplines.

In recent years, the college has made substantial investments in new, enhanced, or renovated buildings and equipment providing state-of-the-art facilities for all aspects of campus life and learning.

  • Center for Art and Dance and the newly renovated Hall of Music provide the core of a campus arts quadrant, in which interdisciplinary creative work thrives. St. Olaf’s renowned music programs are complemented by equally strong programs in theater, dance, and art.
  • Tostrud/Skoglund athletic complex provides recreation and fitness facilities for the entire campus community. It is an important focal point of student life.
  • Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences is a state-of-the-art, 200,000 square foot building housing the college’s interdisciplinary science programs.
  • Tomson Hall, is the home of the college’s language programs, study abroad programs, and a wide range of student support services.
  • A recent renovation of Old Main and Boe Memorial Chapel have provided much-needed space to house programs serving a religiously diverse student community actively engaged in social justice issues and programs.

Academic Reach
St. Olaf provides a first-rate educational foundation for students intending to pursue Ph.D. degrees in a wide range of fields. The National Science Foundation ranks St. Olaf 12th overall among 263 baccalaureate colleges in the number of graduates who earn doctoral degrees. St. Olaf is in the top 10 in:

  • arts and music
  • biological science
  • chemistry
  • education
  • foreign languages
  • life science
  • mathematics and computer science
  • mathematics and statistics
  • medical sciences
  • physical sciences
  • religion and theology
  • social service professions

Since 1995, St. Olaf has produced five Rhodes Scholars, 33 Goldwater Scholars, and 133 Fulbright Scholars.

The Institute of International Education ranks St. Olaf as the leading U.S. Bachelor of Arts institution in the number of students who study abroad.

St. Olaf consistently ranks among the leading colleges in the number of Peace Corps volunteers. Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, nearly 525 St. Olaf alumni have served. The college has a similar record of success placing students in other volunteer organizations like the Lutheran Volunteer Corps and Teach for America.

Faculty & Academics

The college’s budget reflects its priorities: approximately half is spent directly on teaching, instruction, and academic and student support; a further 30% is spent on need-based financial aid and scholarships.

  • All classes at St. Olaf are taught by faculty; there are no graduate students or TAs. St. Olaf professors take great pride in their teaching.
  • 94% of the full-time faculty holds the most advanced degree in their fields.
  • St. Olaf offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in more than 45 majors, more than 20 academic concentrations, and nearly two dozen pre-professional programs.
  • About one-third of recent graduates have earned double- or triple-majors, often pursuing interests in wildly different disciplines: art and physics, music and mathematics, biology and religion, or philosophy and management studies.
  • A 4-1-4 academic calendar provides students with a January Interim term during which to explore a single subject, or take part in domestic or international off-campus study.
  • St. Olaf offers more than 116 domestic and international off-campus study programs, including programs in 41 countries.

Areas of Study
For more information on St. Olaf’s areas of concentration* and to see the most current listings, please check the college website.

Africa and the Americas *
Art (Studio)
Art History
Asian Studies
Biomolecular Science *
China Studies *
Computer Science
Educational Studies *
Environmental Studies
Ethnic Studies
Exercise Science
Family Studies *
Film Studies *
Finance (Management Studies *)
German Studies *
Individual Major
Interdisciplinary Studies
International Studies
Japan Studies *
Latin American Studies *
Linguistic Studies *
Management Studies *
Mathematical Biology *
Media Studies *
Medieval Studies
Middle Eastern Studies *
Neuroscience *
Nordic Studies *
Political Science
Race and Ethnic Studies
Russian Area Studies
Social Studies Education
Social Work
Statistics *
Women’s and Gender Studies

Pre-Professional Tracks
Business and Management
Computer Engineering and Software Engineering
Education (Teaching Certification)
Health Studies
Information Technology and Information Systems
Occupational Therapy
Performing Arts
Physical Therapy
Public Policy
Teaching Certification
Theology and Seminary
Veterinary Medicine

Campus Life

St. Olaf is an intensely residential community, offering a wide range of activities that create and sustain strong relationships between students, faculty, and staff.

  • Approximately 95% of students live on campus in one of 11 residence halls, five language houses, and 12 community service Honor Houses. All students eat in one main campus dining facility – Stav Hall.
  • St. Olaf is consistently ranked as having some of the best college food in the nation, including locally sourced food from nearby farms or from the student-run STOGROW organic farm.
  • More than 200 student organizations cover sports, politics, religion, service, academics, and social activities for almost any interest.
  • NCAA Division III, Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference: 27 men’s and women’s varsity sports. More than a dozen club sports club sports including Cycling (Co-ed), Hockey (Men), Lacrosse (Men and Women), Rowing (Co-ed), Rugby (Men and Women), Triathlon (Co-ed), Ultimate (Men and Women), and Volleyball (Men).
  • Dozens of intramural sports also provide recreation, fitness, and fun for student-athletes at all levels of competition.
  • Music programs involve almost a third of the student body. Two orchestras, two bands, eight choirs, three jazz bands, and other ensembles offer performance opportunities to music majors and non-majors alike.

Varsity Sports

27 varsity teams in the NCAA Division III, Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference:

Alpine Skiing (Men and Women)
Baseball (Men)
Basketball (Men and Women)
Cross Country (Men and Women)
Football (Men)
Golf (Men and Women)
Hockey (Women)
Nordic Skiing (Men and Women)
Soccer (Men and Women)
Softball (Women)
Swimming and Diving (Men and Women)
Tennis (Men and Women)
Track and Field (Indoor and Outdoor, Men and Women)
Volleyball (Women)
Wrestling (Men)

Life After College

St. Olaf has a long tradition of encouraging students to apply their liberal arts skills in a variety of professions and careers. The Piper Center for Vocation and Career is a powerful tool for developing strong links between academics and experiences: career planning, coaching, internships and research, and networking with St. Olaf alumni across the country and around the world.

St. Olaf has been a leader in providing data about the post-graduation activities of its most recent graduates. Through the college’s First Destination survey and other information sources, St. Olaf has tracked the activities of more than 90% of the classes of 2011-2018 and has provided a database – searchable by major – of what these recent graduates have done in their first year after graduation. Visit

  • Class of 2012: 65% working or engaged in full-time service programs; 26% attending graduate or professional school; 1% “still working on it”; 2% pursuing “other adventures”; and 8% unknown.
  • Class of 2013: 66% working or engaged in full-time service programs; 22% attending graduate or professional school; 2% “still working on it”; <1% pursuing “other adventures”; and 9% unknown.
  • Class of 2014: 66% working or engaged in full-time service programs; 23% attending graduate or professional school; 2% “still working on it”; <1% pursuing “other adventures”; and 9% unknown.
  • Class of 2015: 66% working or engaged in full-time service programs; 21% attending graduate or professional school; 2% “still working on it”; and 10% unknown.
  • Class of 2016: 76% working or engaged in full-time service programs; 19% attending graduate or professional school; 4% “still working on it”; and 7% unknown.

Academic Profile of Entering Class

Of the entering first year class for Fall 2019:

  • 820 new, full-time students, of whom approximately 23% are U.S. students of color and 10% are international students.
  • 18% are first-generation college students.
  • The average ACT score was 29.
  • The average composite SAT score was 1310.
  • The average unweighted GPA was 3.69.
  • Students enrolled from 43 states, the District of Columbia, and 57 countries.
  • There were 5,700 total applications, and the acceptance rate was 47.5%.