Susan Huehn, Regents 160G

Nursing is founded on a commitment of service to others and focuses on the health and well being of society. Nursing practice involves four areas: promoting health and wellness, preventing illness, restoring health, and care of the dying.

The nursing program at St. Olaf College offers students the opportunity to enjoy a St. Olaf education, earn a bachelor of arts degree with a major in nursing, enroll in nursing courses with students outside the major, and have clinical learning experiences in a wide variety of local and Twin Cities medical and health care centers, long-term care facilities, community agencies, home health, and other facilities. By combining the values of the individual and a liberal arts background with the acquisition of professional knowledge and nursing skills, the nursing program integrates development of the whole person, a commitment to life-long learning, and service to others with a holistic approach to the practice of professional nursing.

Upon graduation, students are eligible to apply for initial licensure by examination for registered nurses offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and, upon licensure, they can apply for certification as a public health nurse in Minnesota.

Overview of the Major

The nursing program, through an innovative design that integrates theory with practice and partners educators with professionals in practice, prepares graduates to provide and coordinate nursing care for individuals, families, and communities within standards of professional practice. Students learn to think critically, communicate effectively, and implement holistic nursing care within the developmental, physical, psychological, socio-cultural, and spiritual context of patient situations.

Graduates are qualified to work in hospitals, public health agencies, transitional and long-term care facilities, homes, hospice, healthcare organizations, and clinics to provide high-quality nursing care to individuals, families, communities, and populations and to direct the nursing care given by others. They have the background for graduate study in nursing programs, which can prepare them for advanced nursing practice, teaching, administration, and research.

Accreditation and Approval

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at St. Olaf College is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791. 

The Minnesota Board of Nursing has approved the St. Olaf professional nursing program for the purpose of meeting the education requirements for licensure as a registered nurse. Approval is the authority granted by the board for a controlling body to offer a program designed to prepare students to meet the education requirements for licensure as a practical, professional, or advanced practice registered nurse.

Information regarding state approval of the program is available from the:

Minnesota Board of Nursing 
2829 University Ave SE Suite 200 
Minneapolis, MN 55414 
Phone: 612-317-3000 
Fax: 612-617-2190 

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major


See Academic Honors

The nursing department proposes three pathways for Departmental Distinction. 

Departmental Distinction:  Clinical Performance

Each year faculty will identify one student who has excelled in clinical performance.  Students will be nominated by faculty and then selected by faculty vote at a spring meeting of the faculty during the nominee’s senior year.  This student will be awarded Departmental Distinction for Clinical Performance at the Nursing Pinning Ceremony held on graduation day.

Departmental Distinction:  Creative and Innovative Project

Students will create a proposal that demonstrates a significant contribution to the nursing profession.  The proposal will be presented to the Department Chair; all proposals will be presented to the full faculty by the department chair at the beginning of the student’s senior year.  Once the project is approved by the nursing faculty the student will begin work on a creative project with a designated faculty member.  The project will demonstrate creativity and innovation and contribute to positive social change in the profession of nursing. 

Examples could be the development of a teaching project and implementation to an identified group of learners or the implementation of a wellness-oriented project with fellow St. Olaf students.  A final project will be presented to the nursing department faculty in a presentation and distinction will be awarded with faculty approval in the spring of the student’s senior year.

Departmental Distinction:  Academic

To qualify for Academic Departmental Distinction students must have a cumulative 3.5 GPA in all nursing courses.  Students will create a research project proposal which will be presented to the nursing faculty for approval.  Once approved, the student will work with a faculty member to implement the research project.  This project will include a literature review, the development of a research question and plan, and preliminary research if time allows.  In addition to the written component, students will present the project to the nursing department faculty in the spring of the student’s senior year.  Academic distinction will be awarded with faculty approval.

Special Programs

Study Abroad

Nursing students at St. Olaf can participate in the study/service or semester abroad programs listed in the Smith Center for Global Engagement section of the catalog. However, participants in study abroad/away programs will need to plan carefully and additional time may be necessary to complete all requirements for the nursing major. The nursing advisor or the department chair will assist in planning for these experiences.

Second Majors

Second majors may be desirable but not attainable for nursing majors without extensive planning and possibly additional years of college.  There is no guarantee that nursing students will be able to complete a second major in four years.