St. Olaf College

2014 Quick Stats
1520 St. Olaf Avenue

Northfield, MN 55057

Phone: (507) 786-2222
2013-2014 Tuition
tuition and fees
male /
Jan. 15
application deadline

More Information


U.S. News Rankings

Ranking score and category
U.S. News rank Category Name
#52 Overall Score: 68 out of 100. National Liberal Arts Colleges

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St. Olaf College is a private institution that was founded in 1874. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 3,176, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 300 acres. It utilizes a 4-1-4-based academic calendar. St. Olaf College's ranking in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges is National Liberal Arts Colleges, 52. Its tuition and fees are $40,700 (2013-14).

St. Olaf is an Evangelical Lutheran college and encourages students to examine and live out a life of faith. Students are required to take, at a minimum, the Bible in Culture and Community course and a class on Christian theology. About 96 percent of students live on campus at this residential college, and alcohol is not allowed on the premises. There is no Greek system, but students have more than 250 other student clubs and organizations to check out. More than a third of students are active in one of the many musical organizations, including eight choirs and two orchestras, and the school broadcasts its weekly Sing for Joy music and sermon radio series across the country. Student musicians can also perform in the St. Olaf Christmas Festival, a long-standing musical tradition that is broadcast on PBS.

The Oles sports teams compete in the NCAA Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in traditional college sports as well as Nordic and alpine skiing. The school mascot is a costumed lion named Ole. St. Olaf has a large, wooded campus in Northfield, Minnesota, and is surrounded by college-owned farmland and prairies. Carleton College is located in Northfield, too, and is St. Olaf’s main football rival. Minnesota's Twin Cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis, are thriving college towns about 35 miles away.

In tribute to the Norwegian immigrants who founded the college, St. Olaf still offers a robust program in Scandinavian culture, including Norwegian language classes, Nordic film studies and Viking history courses. Notable alumni of the Norwegian-influenced college include Anton Armstrong, conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, and Al Quie, former governor of Minnesota. Jay Gatsby, the title character in the novel "The Great Gatsby," went to St. Olaf, too.

School mission and unique qualities (as provided by the school):

One of the nation's leading four-year residential colleges, St. Olaf offers an academically rigorous education with a vibrant faith tradition. Founded in 1874, St. Olaf is a liberal arts college of the church in the Lutheran tradition (ELCA). A St. Olaf education provides both breadth and depth: The college's General Education curriculum ensures that students are exposed to the full spectrum of disciplines that contribute to a balanced intellect. The offering of 45 majors and 22 concentrations allows students to delve deeply into a discipline that captures their imagination and sustains their interest. St. Olaf graduates write clearly, reason logically, understand the geography of human knowledge, recognize problems and know how to resolve them, know how to learn and work with others in teams and groups, and can function effectively in a changing and multi-dimensional world. Widely known for its world-class programs in mathematics and music, St. Olaf is also recognized for its innovative approaches to undergraduate science education and its commitment to environmental sustainability as evidenced in such initiatives as the adoption of green chemistry principles across the science curriculum. For nearly half a century, St. Olaf has been at the forefront of global education and a pioneer in study abroad. Today, with 110 distinct international and off-campus programs in 46 countries, St. Olaf students enjoy a world of opportunities when pursuing their studies. St. Olaf takes pride in its record of academic excellence. A leader among undergraduate colleges in producing prestigious Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Fellows, and Peace Corps volunteers, St. Olaf ranks 11th overall among the nation's baccalaureate colleges in the number of graduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees, with top ten rankings in the fields of mathematics and statistics, religion and theology, arts and music, education, foreign languages, chemistry, and biological sciences.

General Information

School type private, coed college
Year founded 1874
Religious affiliation Lutheran
Academic calendar 4-1-4
Setting rural
2012 Endowment $329,606,569


When applying to St. Olaf College, it's important to note the application deadline is January 15, and the early decision deadline is November 15. Scores for either the ACT or SAT test are due January 15. The application fee at St. Olaf College is $40. It is more selective, with an acceptance rate of 60.4 percent.

For more information about the tests, essays, interviews, and admissions process, visit the Applying to College knowledge center.

Selectivity more selective
Fall 2012 acceptance rate 60.4%
Application deadline January 15
SAT/ACT scores must be received by January 15

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Academic Life

The student-faculty ratio at St. Olaf College is 12:1, and the school has 60.2 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at St. Olaf College include: Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Physical Sciences; Visual and Performing Arts; and Mathematics and Statistics. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 93.3 percent.

Class sizes
Class sizes
Student-faculty ratio 12:1
4-year graduation rate 83%
Five most popular majors for 2012 graduates
Social Sciences 16%
Biological and Biomedical Sciences 12%
Physical Sciences 10%
Visual and Performing Arts 10%
Mathematics and Statistics 9%

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Student Life

St. Olaf College has a total undergraduate enrollment of 3,176, with a gender distribution of 44.3 percent male students and 55.7 percent female students. At this school, 91 percent of the students live in college-owned, -operated, or -affiliated housing and 9 percent of students live off campus. St. Olaf College is part of the NCAA III athletic conference.

Total enrollment 3,176
Student gender distribution
Student gender distribution
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Collegiate athletic association NCAA III

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Campus Info & Services

St. Olaf College offers a number of student services including nonremedial tutoring, placement service, health service, and health insurance. St. Olaf College also offers campus safety and security services like 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late night transport/escort service, 24-hour emergency telephones, lighted pathways/sidewalks, and controlled dormitory access (key, security card, etc). Of the students at St. Olaf College, 25 percent have cars on campus. Alcohol is not permitted for students of legal age at St. Olaf College.

Students who have cars on campus 25%
Health insurance offered Yes

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Paying for School

At St. Olaf College, 68 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $26,194.

Paying for college doesn't have to be difficult or devastating. Go to the Paying for College knowledge center to get advice on raising cash and reducing costs.

Tuition and fees $40,700 (2013-14)
Room and board $9,260 (2013-14)
Financial aid statistics
Financial aid statistics

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* Overview details based on 2012 data

College Rankings

Best Liberal Arts Colleges - Narrow your search with the U.S. News rankings of Liberal Arts Colleges, schools that emphasize undergrad liberal arts education.

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