What sets a St. Olaf education apart from the rest?

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.

Are you up to the Challenge?

St. Olaf will challenge you with the breadth and depth of a liberal arts education. Courses are designed to develop a wide range of skills and the flexible habits of mind to meet 21st-century challenges: languages, quantitative reasoning, scientific literacy, creativity and collaboration, and the ability to communicate effectively.

 While the courses are meant to stretch your intellectual abilities, the college places a large emphasis on what happens outside the classroom. This spans the life skills you can build through participating in a music ensemble or athletic team and the job skills you can build through internships, job shadowing, and undergraduate research.

Lifelong friendships are formed on the Hill.

With 95% of students living on campus or in college-owned houses nearby, Oles are all about community. You’ll be connected in everything you do, from teams and ensembles, to residence hall corridors, to learning cohorts like the Conversation programs and faculty-led study abroad groups, to clubs and organizations, to the worldwide alumni community.

Oles live, learn, and play together. This is no accident. We have designed the campus, the curriculum, and the extracurricular programs to connect people and build friendships that last. Stav Hall is the hub of community life. It houses our award-winning food service, but it also serves as a community gathering place where you’ll see your friends for meals.

Almost everyone is involved in something, and more than a few Oles are involved in one thing too many. That’s to be expected when you put talented and motivated people together.  Just do the math: 3,000 students, more than 200 organizations and clubs, 24 hours, 7 days a week. There is always something going on, from Pause concerts, to community organizing, to intramural practice, to the deadline for your article for the Manitou Messenger.

If you’ve spent years working at something you love — the violin, or football, or debate, or whatever drives you — you can continue doing that with people equally talented and equally driven. But if you want to strike out in new directions, try new things, or find a new niche, this is a great community in which to do that. Exploration and experimentation are exciting. You never know where they’ll lead.

An Ole’s college experience is a wider world experience

To be globally engaged is to be one part intellectual, one part experiential, and one part self-awareness and identity. Through languages and area studies, you’ll explore specific countries and cultures, but global issues are embedded in courses across the curriculum. Study abroad will involve more than simply taking classes in another country. It will connect you to local communities and get you involved in the daily lives of others. The experience will change the way you see the world. You’ll come back to St. Olaf a different person: more confident, more curious, more knowledgeable, and more experienced.

On campus, the increasing international diversity of our students, faculty, and staff (who collectively come from more than 80 countries), make St. Olaf a rich and dynamic place to live and learn.

International experiences are not an add-on. More than two-thirds of our students have at least one study abroad experience, and many have two or three. You’ll choose among faculty-led semester and interim programs, direct-enroll programs with one of our dozens of academic partners, or self-designed programs or international internships that will immerse you in languages and cultures.

Oles land jobs, But more importantly they find vocations

We provide pathways to develop student’s strengths, talents and vocation.  96% of Oles are employed, in full-time service projects, or in graduate or professional school within 6 months of graduation.

The Piper Center for Vocation and Career will help you identify your interests and abilities and shape your education around your career aspirations. You’ll use the Piper Center and the St. Olaf alumni network to pursue internships or job shadowing, start a business or organization, or seek fellowships and experiences that will prepare you for graduate school, the job search, and the start of your career.

Student-faculty research is a collaboration that takes many forms in labs, studios, and libraries. Through St. Olaf’s Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program, students in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences explore questions that make real contributions to their disciplines.

The result: publications, conference presentations, and the kinds of hands-on experience that strengthens graduate school and job applications.

Beyond the classrooms and labs, you’ll work through the Piper Center to create internships or volunteer projects tied directly to your academic interests, gaining real-world experience and building your network.

St. Olaf students have a stellar track record in the competitions for Fulbright, Goldwater, Beckman, and other prestigious fellowships. We’ve even had five Rhodes Scholars over the past 15 years.

Admissions Website

Please visit the St. Olaf College Admissions Website for more information.

Applying to St. Olaf College

  • Early Decision 1 (binding)
    • November 15 deadline, mid-December notification
  • Early Decision 2 (binding)
    • January 8 deadline, February 1 notification
  • Regular Decision
    • January 15 deadline, mid-March notification

Required Application Materials

  1. Coalition Application  or Common Application 

  2. Writing Supplement / Supplemental Questions
  3. Official high school transcript: 

  4. ACT and/or SAT scores

  5. Teacher Recommendation

  • The Early Decision Agreement Form (only required if you are applying Early Decision)

St. Olaf does not have an application fee.

Financial Aid

The goal of our financial aid program is to make a St. Olaf education affordable. St. Olaf invests $60 million annually in grants and scholarships to support great students. We have a long tradition of meeting the demonstrated need of all admitted students through a combination of scholarships, grants, student employment, and loans. Our commitment to providing a strong financial aid program ensures that we continue to attract and educate a diverse student body of thoughtful and talented young men and women from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.

St. Olaf requires you to submit the CSS Profile and FAFSA to be considered for need-based financial aid.  Students who meet our financial aid deadlines are given full consideration for all available sources of financial aid.  The St. Olaf College Net Price Calculator will provide an estimate of the need-based financial aid package you can expect to be offered. Please be aware that this estimate will not reflect merit scholarships.

    • Students receiving St. Olaf scholarships or grants: 92%
    • Average need-based financial aid package: $38,733
    • Merit Scholarship range: $2,000 - $25,000 per year
    • Median debt at graduation: $27,000

For more information and details on St. Olaf's financial aid process, please visit our Financial Aid website.

Visiting St. Olaf College

If there was a Top Ten list of reasons people decide to enroll at St. Olaf, reason No. 1 we hear time and again is: “When I visited the campus, I just felt like I belonged.” During the academic year the Admissions Office is open Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m.–noon.
Summer hours are Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Individual Daily Visits

Individual visits are offered throughout the year. We ask that visitors register before coming to campus so that we may provide the best possible experience. Go to our Visit Calendar and select the date for your intended visit, or call the Admissions Office (800-800-3025) to set up your visit.

Below are some of the most common things students and their families do while visiting campus:

    • Tour campus
    • Attend an information session
    • Interview with an admissions staff member
    • Meet our faculty (limited during the summer)
    • Attend a class (limited during the summer)
    • Enjoy a meal in Stav Hall
    • Use our athletic facilities
Visit Day Programs

St. Olaf offers multiple opportunities throughout the year to visit campus and see a more formal program. These are a great way to visit campus if you want to get an overall feel for St. Olaf. Visit Day programs always include tours, interactions with current students, access to Admissions staff, and delicious food from Bon Appetit. Some include department-specific information, faculty lectures or panels, and more. Programs are offered in February, March, April, June, July, August, October and November.  Learn are about our visit day programs here.

International Student Admission & Financial Aid

International students are an important and growing part of the student body. This past year, St. Olaf welcomed students from 86 countries. The
college’s emphasis on languages, international and off-campus study, and a global perspective makes this an excellent place for international students to live and learn. Visit our website for more information about applying as an international student to St. Olaf College

International Student Admission Process:

All students apply using the Coalition Application or Common Application. International applicants may apply Early Decision (deadline: November 15 or January 8) or Regular Decision (deadline: January 15). Students applying for need-based financial aid should
apply by the Regular Decision deadline. 

Test Score Requirements:
  • ACT and/or SAT scores
  • If English is not your language of instruction, you are required to submit official results of the TOEFL or IELTS. Minimum TOEFL score is 90 (IBT), 233 (CBT), or 577 (PBT). Academic IELTS minimum band is 6.5.
International Student Financial Aid
  • St. Olaf offers merit scholarships and need-based grants to degree-seeking international students. A financial aid package may include scholarships, grants, college-sponsored loans, and on-campus employment. 
  • To apply for financial aid you may submit either the CSS PROFILE or the International Student Financial Aid Application. If you are not applying for need-based financial aid, please submit the International Student Certification of Finance form. 
  • Because St. Olaf has a need-sensitive admissions process and need-based assistance is competitive, it is in your best interest to be honest about your family’s ability to pay.