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 broaden 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’s 3,000 students come from 95 countries, every state and a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds. Oles choose from more than 85 majors, concentrations and pre-professional tracks, and more than 95 percent live on campus. Seventy-three percent of St. Olaf students study abroad. Oles participate on 26 varsity teams, numerous club sports and intramurals. They belong to more than 200 student organizations and have countless opportunities to get involved. St. Olaf’s beautiful 300-acre campus is located in Northfield, Minnesota, approximately 40 miles south of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Religious affiliation: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Student body profile
Oles have many interests and are ready to embrace them with full force in college. Oles approach their journey with care, ambition and open-mindedness, and are unified in their desire to make an impact.
St. Olaf will challenge you with the breadth and depth of a rigorous liberal arts education. Within your major, professors will expect you to master the discipline, demonstrate your knowledge and see the connections between big ideas. Your general education courses will ensure you 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 your knowledge effectively. St. Olaf is the first step toward a lifetime of learning and doing, of seeing creative solutions to real-life, global challenges.
St. Olaf has been a safe place to be myself, devote myself wholeheartedly to the things I care about, fail at things, learn from them and grow as a result. The amount of growth I’ve had in so many different areas in my time here is incredible. The people I have met at St. Olaf have been so influential and impactful to me.
Julie Graf '21
To foster our community, we look for multifaceted people from diverse backgrounds who have all kinds of talents and interests — those who want to pursue their passions both in and out of the classroom. Our process is holistic, which allows us to admit students from a range of backgrounds and who bring a range of experiences. We know that test results don’t tell the whole story, so applications for the fall of 2021 and beyond will now be accepted with and without ACT or SAT test scores.
Cost & financial aid
At St. Olaf, we are committed to making education affordable to attract and educate a diverse student body of thoughtful and talented young people from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Our commitment includes meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need for all students and offering a merit scholarship program to recognize your academic success, your talent in the fine arts and being a servant-leader in your community.
First-time, full-time students receiving grants and scholarships:
Financial aid application deadline
Early Action, Nov. 1
Early Decision I, Nov. 1
Early Decision II, Jan. 15
Regular Decision, Jan. 15
Learn more about financial aid at St. Olaf.
There is always something going on at St. Olaf, from concerts, to community organizing, to intramural practice. No matter how varied your interests are, St. Olaf has more than 200 clubs and student organizations that are ready for you to join. 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.
Number of student organizations
Types of student organizations
Cultural or ethnic
Fine art offerings
At St. Olaf, creativity is cultivated, respected and nourished. In fact, we’re one of only three liberal arts colleges that offer fully accredited majors in art, dance, music and theater. You’ve probably heard of our music program: St. Olaf bands, choirs and orchestras are world-renowned. Our art program is highly esteemed too — with a proven track record of preparing students for graduate school in architecture and museum studies, and for careers as illustrators, photographers and makers of art. Our dance and theater programs launch graduates into conservatory programs and performing careers.
NCAA Division III - Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), Central Collegiate Ski Association
Number of club sports
While the number of club sports teams varies from year to year, St. Olaf generally sponsors around 25 club sports, consisting of competitive, recreational and instructional clubs. In 2018-19, three club teams competed at their respective national championships. Students can initiate a new club by finding enough interested members and defining the structure and purpose of the new club. Each year, dedicated students create 3-5 new club sports.
Number of intramural sports
More than 20 intramural sports and leagues are offered annually at St. Olaf, with the most popular sports being volleyball, soccer and basketball. The opening of the St. Olaf ice arena in January of 2019 has promoted an uptick in intramural broomball among St. Olaf students. Other sports offered include dodgeball, flag football, wiffleball, badminton and tennis.
At St. Olaf, we are focused on working with students from day one to help them explore jobs, gain experience outside of the classroom and pursue meaningful post-graduate work, service and education. Beyond a great education, St. Olaf provides one-on-one career coaching and peer advising. We do everything we can to ensure that Oles are able to leverage their education into a job that’s meaningful and relevant — and 96 percent of Oles are employed, in full-time service projects or graduate school within six months after graduation. Employers want the unique skills that Oles have — a liberal arts education with real-world experience.
Disciplines with largest number of graduates
1. Social sciences
2. Biological and biomedical sciences
3. Visual and performing arts
Use LinkedIn’s alumni tool* to explore what St. Olaf graduates majored in and the types of careers they have and with which companies.
*based only on those who have accounts on LinkedIn
St. Olaf College
Office of Admissions
1520 St. Olaf Avenue