Admissions Procedures

Tomson Hall 220
507-786-3833; 800-800-3025

St. Olaf College seeks to assemble a student body that reflects a variety of geographic, cultural, socio-economic, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Each class reflects the college's commitment to enrolling a diverse and energetic group of students eager to embrace the challenges of a liberal arts education. Admissions decisions take into consideration academic achievement and aptitude, personal qualifications, evidence of service and leadership, and significant involvement in school and community.

If you have questions about the application process, please contact the Admissions Office at 800-800-3025.       

Recommended Preparation

A secondary school program combining breadth and depth is an excellent preparation for study at St. Olaf. Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Cambridge A level, or accelerated and enriched coursework, when available, are particularly helpful. St. Olaf recommends a program of study that includes the following:

  • Four years of English;
  • Three to four years of mathematics;
  • Three to four years of natural science;
  • Three to four years of social studies; and
  • Two to four years of the same second language, including study in the senior year.

Successful applicants to St. Olaf have pursued an academically rigorous high school program that emphasizes creativity, writing, and critical analysis. Analytic and quantitative skills are important for all students. In addition, students are encouraged to take academic electives such as computer science, economics, the fine arts, geography, journalism, sociology, speech, and world history. Keyboarding, word processing, health, and physical education, while valued, are not acceptable substitutes for academic subjects.

Careful attention is given to each application, and explanation of special circumstances is encouraged. St. Olaf offers a variety of courses designed to meet the diverse needs, interests, and qualifications of new students.

Application Requirements

Each application for admission is reviewed on its own merit. Applicants to St. Olaf must submit:

  1. The Common Application, available from high school guidance offices or online at or
    1. If a student wishes, they may submit their application through the Coalition instead of the Common Application. The Coalition application is available at
  2. An official transcript from an accredited high school or equivalent (see below). This transcript must include grades through the junior year in high school. 
  3. One (two are encouraged) letter of recommendation from a teacher, preferably from a class taught in grades 10-12 in an academic subject: English, world language, history, social studies, mathematics, or the natural sciences.
  4. An additional letter of recommendation, which may come from another individual who knows the applicant well.

High School Transcript

An official transcript of the high school academic record showing completed high school work, rank in class (where available), and test scores must be submitted by the appropriate deadline.

College Entrance Tests

The single most important academic factor for applicants to St. Olaf is the record of achievement reflected in the candidate's high school transcript. Standardized test results are important, but a secondary factor. St. Olaf does not require submission of standardized test scores, but we will accept and consider them in our review process for students who choose to submit them. Applicants who choose to submit scores are advised to take either the ACT or SAT early in the college admissions process, and not later than fall of the senior year. High school counseling/guidance offices have information on the tests, test dates, testing centers, and registration procedures.

Types of Application

Three types of application are available to students: Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision

Early Decision Application

Early Decision is designed for students who have determined that St. Olaf is their first choice. Students may not submit Early Decision applications to other institutions and must withdraw all other applications upon acceptance. There are two rounds of Early Decision. Applicants who submit their complete Early Decision I application by November 1 will be notified by December 15. Applicants who submit their complete Early Decision II application by January 15 will be notified by February 10.

Early Action Application

Early Action is available to students who wish to learn their admission status to St. Olaf prior to the Regular Decision timeline but may have not yet determined whether or not they are prepared to commit to St. Olaf. Early Action follows a similar timeline to the Early Decision I process but does not require a binding commitment. Applicants who submit an Early Action application by November 1 will be notified by December 23rd.

Regular Decision Application

Students considering a number of different colleges should apply under our Regular Decision process. The Regular Decision application deadline is January 15 and applicants will be notified on or about March 15.

Institutional Eligibility

St. Olaf College admits as regular students only persons who—

  • Have a high school diploma; and/or
  • Have the recognized equivalent of a high school diploma; and/or
  • Have completed at least 6 credit hours that are applicable toward a degree or certificate offered by the institution.

St. Olaf College ensures the validity of the high school diploma or college credit hours by requiring the student to submit an official transcript.

If this is not possible or there is reason to doubt the validity of the high school diploma or recognized equivalent, St. Olaf College will contact the student’s home state educational agency to verify completion of high school, recognized equivalent of a high school diploma or college coursework. 

Admission to the Music Program

Students who intend to major in music or who wish to apply for a St. Olaf music scholarship must submit the music scholarship application form, audition CD, music resume, and letter of recommendation to the Music Admissions Office by December 15. All students must also complete the college application for admission by January 1. More information can be found online at or by calling 507-786-3297.

Admission of Transfer Students

To receive full consideration for admission for September, transfer students must complete the application for admission by April 1 (notifications sent by May 1). Applications completed after that date will be considered on a rolling and space-available basis. Transfer students should complete the Common Application along with the Registrar's Report. Students should also submit an official final high school transcript and official college transcripts showing all completed college coursework. The St. Olaf registrar will provide transfer students with an evaluation of their transcripts for transfer of course credits. More information on transferring can be found here:

A maximum of 18 courses may be transferred. St. Olaf requires a residency of 17 courses over the equivalent of two years. The grades earned at other institutions are entered on the St. Olaf record but are not calculated in the St. Olaf grade point average.

Transfer Courses and Credits 

Consult Transfer of Credit to St. Olaf College in the Academic Regulations and Procedures section of this catalog for details.

The Academic Regulations and Procedures section of this catalog contains important information about limitations on future transfer courses taken at other colleges after a student transfers to St. Olaf. Transfer students should refer to the transfer credit scale and questions should be directed to the Registrar's Office at 507-786-3015.

International Students

Students who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents of the United States are considered international students at St. Olaf College who may apply under the Early Decision or Regular Decision processes. International students are required to submit official results of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System), ACT, or SAT. If English is not the official language of the student's home country or the primary language of instruction, the TOEFL or IELTS is required. More information can be found online at or by calling 507-786-3025.

Services to international students include airport pickups, special orientation sessions, peer counselors, intercultural programs, friendship family program, and academic, financial, and U.S. Immigration counseling.

St. Olaf College was approved for non-immigrant students by the Immigration and Naturalization Service on December 15, 1983, file number SPM 214F0253.000, and is authorized under federal law to enroll F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant students.

National Candidate Reply Date

Students admitted under Regular Decision must notify the Admissions Office of their college choice by the national candidate reply date of May 1. To confirm enrollment, a non-refundable payment is to be made on or before May 1. It will be credited toward the student's comprehensive fee. 

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge A Level and Credit

See the Transfer of Credit to St. Olaf College section of this catalog for details on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge A Level credit.

Part-Time Students

“Part-time” students are those who intend to graduate from St. Olaf and who register for fewer than three (3.00) credits in a term. Such students must also apply to the Admissions Office.