Definition of a St. Olaf Credit and Course Load


For numerical purposes, the term “course” means 1.00 credit, as distinguished from fractional credits.

Course descriptions are printed in this catalog.

The fully updated class and lab schedule is posted and maintained on the Registrar's Office website. The schedule lists the titles, credit value, OLE Core curriculum attributes, instructor, and meeting place and time of all courses offered during the next academic term. Should a schedule be found in error with regard to course credit, the registrar maintains a master course file for reference and inspection. “1” designates a first-half semester course and “2” a second-half semester course.

Definition of a St. Olaf Credit

For purposes of definition and transfer of credit, each 1.0-credit St. Olaf course is equivalent to 4.00 semester credits or 5.50 quarter credits.

A St. Olaf semester lasts 14 weeks (13 weeks of classes plus a 5-day final exam period). The St. Olaf calendar also includes one four-week January term (formerly called Interim) and two five-and-a-half week summer terms. Regardless of the term, each 1.00 St. Olaf credit course includes, at a minimum, the equivalent of thirty-eight 55-minute instructional hours. Some courses carry additional lab or discussion sessions. Students are expected to devote a minimum of 3 hours outside of class time for every hour in class. Fractional course credits are determined as a proportion of the thirty-eight instructional hours and out-of-class time. 

Thirty-five (35) credits are required to complete the baccalaureate degree. A St. Olaf degree is equivalent to a minimum of 140 semester credits or 192 quarter credits. More specific information regarding transfer of credit may be found under "General Policies Governing All Transfer of Credit to St. Olaf College."

For purposes of financial aid and billing, full-time status is defined as 3.0 St. Olaf credits (the equivalent of at least 12 semester or 16.5 quarter credits); three-quarter time: at least 2.25 St. Olaf credits; half time: at least 1.5 St. Olaf credits; less than half-time status: fewer than 1.5 St. Olaf credits. See "Financial Aid Program" for further information relevant to federal and state grants.

After students have graduated with a degree, the college will not accept additional courses transferred from other colleges except two courses to complete an additional major.

Course Levels

St. Olaf courses have levels designated by course numbers in this catalog and in the class and lab schedule as level I, II, and III.

Level I courses, numbered 100 through 199, are for the most part introductory to a field or discipline. They exert a demand for only such depth of study, student responsibility, and independence commensurate with initial work at the college level.

Level II courses, numbered 200 through 299, require student independence in the acquisition of material and mastery of techniques and methods above that demanded in level I courses.

Level III courses, numbered 300 through 399, are usually confined to the major and demand control of methods as well as command of basic factual and theoretical knowledge appropriate to the discipline. A student should have at least one level III course in the major; depending on the department, two level III courses may be required.

Performance studies courses are always level I when counted toward the Bachelor of Arts degree. Credit for performance studies courses is counted as upper level (numbered 200 and above) in the principal performing medium for Bachelor of Music degree students only during the junior and senior years.

Courses numbered at level II and level III are referred to as upper-level courses.

Eighteen of the 35 credits required for graduation must be at level II or III.

A course can earn only one level and one credit value. It cannot be raised in level or credit value as the result of extra studies, assignments, or performance. A course with a lower number or credit value cannot, as the result of extra work, become another course of a higher number or credit value because of scheduling conflicts or closed course status.

Course Load and Overload

To be considered full-time, a student, including students receiving veterans' benefits, must be registered for at least 3.00 credits. Four (4.00) credits are required to maintain certain forms of State of Minnesota financial aid.

4.50 credits is the typical, maximum course load allowed from all sources during a semester, and only one course may be taken during January term. Note that a course must be dropped first if an added course would put the student's course load over the allowed 4.50 credits maximum.

A student taking a full load of 4.50 credits with the .50 being a first-half-semester course cannot register for a second-half-semester course unless the student meets the criteria for an overload, below.


With the permission of the registrar, a student may exceed 4.50 credits during a semester if:

  1. The student is a senior, for whom the maximum load is 5.00 credits. The senior year is defined as the two semesters prior to graduation.
  2. The student is a junior or a sophomore and, normally, has a 3.60 grade point average over the two previous semesters. The student may then take up to the maximum of 5.00 credits.
  3. First-year students are not eligible for course overloads.

Note that all students receive an extra overload tuition charge for each quarter-credit overload for course overloads beyond 4.5 credits. The refund policy also applies for course overload. See Additional Fees and Costs. There is no refund of tuition after two weeks after 10th day.

Half-Semester Courses

Drop/add and satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) deadlines for half-semester courses are different from those of full-semester courses. Consult the registrar’s calendar on the Registrar's Office website. A student taking a full load of 4.50 credits with the .50 being a first-half semester course cannot register for a second-half semester course unless the student meets the criteria for an overload stated under “Course Loads” in this catalog.

Note that “1” designates a first-half semester course and “2” a second-half course in the class and lab schedule.


Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts music major and the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Music are defined only in this catalog. Students should also consult the Music Handbook. Bachelor of Arts music majors must complete 21 credits outside of the major.

Performance Studies Courses (Music Lessons) and Music Organization Participation

Performance studies courses (music lessons) are always level I courses for Bachelor of Arts students.

Performance studies courses (music lessons) are upper-level courses for Bachelor of Music students only in their principal performing medium and only during the junior and senior years.

Generally, performance studies courses are fractional (.25) courses, not full-credit courses. Registration for performance studies courses must be approved by the Music Department. Lessons may be added to or dropped from a student’s registration only with a music lesson drop/add slip available from the Music Office. This drop/add slip must be processed by the Music Department academic administrative assistant.

Registration for performance studies lessons may result in an additional fee; see the Music Office for details. If a student drops a performance studies course (lessons) after the sixth day of class, no refund of music lesson fees is made. For information on fees for the combination of performance studies and overload, consult Additional Fees and Costs.

Student participation in campus musical organizations (choirs, orchestras, bands, ensembles, etc.) is not awarded course credit, but it does appear on the official transcript.