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Academic Program

Academic Program Overview | Dignitas | Required First-Year Courses | Pathways | Study Abroad | Honors | Prior-Learning Assessment | Cross-Registration | Summer Session

Academic program

The curriculum at The College of St. Scholastica reflects a commitment to prepare students for their responsibilities as working professionals, as citizens of a democracy and as individuals who seek to live full human lives. A student's academic program consists of three parts: general education requirements (General Education), specialized coursework (a major) and electives. The major prepares the student for graduate school or for a profession and is normally selected during the sophomore year. Elective courses allow students to pursue particular interests.

Students who complete an undergraduate degree at The College of St. Scholastica will achieve outcomes related to:

  • Heritage
  • Scope of learning
  • Intellectual and foundational skills
  • Personal and social responsibility
  • Integrative and applied learning

Degree Requirements

The following minimum College requirements must be met for the bachelor's degree:

  1. Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 128 semester credits including:
    • Forty-two upper-division credits (numbered 3000 or above). A major program as stipulated by a department or advisor.
    • Achieve a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the major as well as an overall "C" average.
  2. Fulfill the residence requirement:
    • The last 32 credits before graduation must be earned at The College of St. Scholastica.
    • A minimum of 16 credits must be earned in a major field at The College of St. Scholastica.
    • Cross-registered courses may count toward residence
    • CLEP and Portfolio Assessment credits do not count toward residence and may be earned at any time.
  3. Complete the general education requirements. Requirements for some majors are more stringent than these minimums.
  4. The maximum number of physical education credits that can count toward graduation is 8.

Awarding of a Second CSS Bachelor's Degree

A second CSS bachelor's degree must be granted 12 months or more after the first degree. The new degree must include at least 32 unique credits. Otherwise, a second major is awarded.

Learning Outcomes for the 21st Century


The College of St. Scholastica is a Catholic academic institution in the Benedictine tradition.  We are shaped by the Benedictine principles of formative study, meaningful work, responsible living and daily prayer. The College of St. Scholastica embraces the fundamental principles of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition: reason and faith are equally valid and ultimately compatible; rational inquiry and the search for meaning are key values; the contributions of other perspectives are enriching. The College intentionally fosters a community of diverse voices, religions and philosophies. St. Scholastica students should reflect our distinctive identity and, as beneficiaries of the College's heritage, recognize their responsibilities to the academic community that nurtures them and to other communities in which they may contribute. Students at St. Scholastica will:

  • Articulate the ways they have experienced the Benedictine values while at the College.
  • Recognize the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and its role in their college experience.
  • Contend with academic issues where the tension between reason and faith is present.
  • Analyze critical questions of our time from the perspective of the College's Benedictine heritage and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

Scope of Learning

The College of St. Scholastica is committed to preparing students broadly for their responsibilities as skilled and ethical working professionals, as engaged and informed citizens, and as individuals seeking to realize their full human potential. CSS students gain broad experience in liberal education, focused by engagement with meaningful questions, both contemporary and enduring. This occurs especially in the General Edudation Curriculum but also across other programs and experiences.

  • Scope: Through study and engagement in the sciences and mathematics, social sciences, humanities, languages and the arts.

Intellectual and Foundational Skills

The College of St. Scholastica equips students with the intellectual and foundational skills that prepare them for responsible living and meaningful work. CSS students practice these skills extensively, throughout their experiences at the College, in the context of progressively more challenging problems, projects and standards for performance.

  •  Inquiry and analysis
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Written and oral communication
  •  Quantitative literacy
  • Information literacy
  • Teamwork and problem solving

Personal and Social Responsibility

As a Catholic Benedictine institution, The College of St. Scholastica prepares students to live and work in a diverse world and to live in justice and peace, consistent with Catholic Social Teaching, which calls us to live simply, sustainably, and in solidarity with all people. Anchored through active involvement with diverse communities and practical challenges, CSS students take on ever-increasing levels of responsibility for thinking about diversity and for understanding how our individual identities impact relationships.

  • Civic knowledge and engagement - local and global
  • Intercultural knowledge and competence
  • Ethical reasoning and action
  • Foundations and skills for lifelong learning

Integrative and Applied Learning

In majors, minors and other programs, students of The College of St. Scholastica direct a substantial portion of their effort toward excellence within a particular discipline. Additional ongoing experiences in the liberal arts and sciences prepares students for the challenges of the 21st century. CSS students demonstrate their application of knowledge, skills, and responsibilities to new settings and complex problems

  • Synthesis and advanced accomplishment across general and specialized studies

General Education Program

The General Education program at The College of St. Scholastica provides students a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences that is rooted in our Catholic Benedictine Heritage and cultivates a conscientious use of knowledge that prepares them for responsible living in a global community. The program has three components: a first-year experience known as Dignitas and two required courses in composition and communication, a range of liberal arts courses called Pathways, and an upper-division Writing Intensive requirement.

Historically Benedictines have been scholars, caregivers, educators and artists; the liberal arts mirror the broad pathways that Benedictines have pioneered. The rigor and breadth of our program prepare St. Scholastica students to meet the present and face the future with wisdom, faith and imagination.

Veritas, St. Scholastica's General Education Program

In Latin, veritas means "truth."

At St. Scholastica, Veritas is also the name of our General Education Program, which has an essential role, together with the majors, in fulfilling the College's distinctive academic mission of liberal education in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition by emphasizing the search for truth across a breadth of disciplines.

What is a liberal education?

The Association of American Colleges & Universities defines liberal education as an "approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest."

In all Veritas courses students engage in the Personal and Social Responsibility values that inform a St. Scholastica education:

  • Intercultural knowledge and competence
  • Ethical reasoning and action
  • Civic knowledge and engagement 

These skills are essential in preparing students for a life of career wellness and meaningful work.

Summary of Veritas

Among all of the Undergraduate College Learning Outcomes, Veritas emphasizes the Heritage, Personal & Social Responsibility, and Intellectual & Foundational Skills outcome areas, while accomplishing Scope of Learning via the program's breadth. The Veritas curriculum consists of three levels of courses:

Foundations courses, primarily at the 1000-level, introduce key values and skills of the curriculum. Aspects of the first-year experience, including Dignitas, first-year composition, and interpersonal communication, are included in the Foundations. Additional Foundations coursework in non-native languages (for traditional main campus students) and mathematics need not necessarily be taken in the first year.

Conceptions courses introduce Pathways of study at the 1000- and 2000-levels while focusing on at least one Personal & Social Responsibility value and at least four Intellectual & Foundational Skills.

Integrations courses continue to introduce new Pathways of study-they are not follow-up courses for content experts-but at the 3000-level, with faculty free to assume students have prior familiarity with the Personal & Social Responsibility values and Intellectual & Foundational Skills. Each of these courses, like Conceptions courses, advances students' thinking on at least one value and at least four of the skills. Integrations courses are upper-division with respect to students' competence in the values and skills, not with respect to the specialized content knowledge of the discipline. These courses need to be accessible, liberal education entries into the discipline, as there is no guarantee that students have prior coursework in that Pathway.

Students may transfer in much of the coursework of Veritas as appropriate; however, the minimum Veritas requirement for all CSS students is 8 credits. Traditional age incoming first year students who transfer in a large number of general education credits round out their general education experience at CSS by taking, at minimum, Dignitas, a Religious Studies course and an upper division Integrations course.

Foundations Courses

"Traditional" (main campus) students have 18-26 credits of Foundations requirements, depending on their non-native language status.

Dignitas 8 cr.
Interpersonal Communication 2 cr.
First-Year Composition 4 cr.
Mathematics 4 cr.
Language (Completion of 1112 at CSS or 3 years of high school language study or demonstration via exam or bilingual background.)

Foundations courses are typically 1000-level courses; however, mathematics courses in particular will likely span levels. While the non-native language and mathematics Foundations courses need not necessarily be taken in the first year, the Foundations as a whole are the basic building blocks of the Veritas curriculum and of students' learning. Equivalent college-level work may be transferred in for all of these requirements except Dignitas, which plays a formative role in the Veritas curriculum and at the College as a whole. Students who are coded as entering as "first-time freshmen" (regardless of their transfer credits) take two semesters of Dignitas. It is recommended that students who enter as "transfer students," such as extended and online students, take the 2-credit accelerated semester of Dignitas or programs that provide a 0-credit option that introduces students to the key elements of a CSS education. Students without college-level credit in mathematics will take a course appropriate for their current level of understanding, according to the placement policies of the Mathematics and other departments.

Main campus students not exempt from the non-native language requirement may start a new language or continue a high school language at their current level until they have completed a course numbered at least 1112.

Conceptions and Integrations Courses

All students have 32 credits of requirements (combined) at the Conceptions and Integrations levels. These requirements are distributed in several different ways:

  • There must be four credits in each of the seven Pathways, plus four more credits in any Pathway(s), including the "Open" Pathway.
  • There must be at least 16 credits at the Conceptions level. 
  • There must be at least eight credits at the Integrations level.

The distribution of coursework across Pathways assures breadth in students' education, but the unifying themes of the Personal & Social Responsibility values and Intellectual and Foundational Skills assure coherence in that education.

Conceptions courses are lower-division, 1000- or 2000-level courses. Every Conceptions course will introduce students to a Pathway, engage them in a Personal & Social Responsibility value, and build at least four of the Intellectual & Foundational Skills.

Integrations courses are upper-division, 3000-level courses, but are still liberal education experiences accessible to non-majors. Every Integrations course will introduce students to a Pathway, build upon their engagement with the Personal & Social Responsibility values, continue to develop their Intellectual & Foundational Skills, and in particular, develop the Written Communication skill. Integrations courses are intended to be writing intensive.

Conceptions & Integrations Disciplinary Pathways

Social Sciences

The Social Sciences study psychological, economic, social, cultural, and/or political thinking and behavior in individuals and societies. Students discover the interconnectedness and relationships among motivation, learning and development, including the causes and implications of differences and similarities among people. 


History is an interdisciplinary study that reflects upon and analyzes human experience, paying particular attention to change over time. It focuses on the ways people are active agents in transforming the world and how the past illuminates the present. Students explore human societies in different times and places, encouraging cross-cultural comparisons. Courses in history contribute to creating better informed, more critically thinking citizens who understand themselves and the world around them in deeper, more diverse ways. 


Literary study emphasizes close reading of and thoughtful expression about texts from a variety of perspectives and issues, ranging from forms and genres to modes and historical-cultural contexts. Focused on language, literary study involves both individual work and communal ways of understanding texts through oral and written interpretation. Literary study fosters the imaginative and intellectual effort needed to engage in varying cultural experiences to understand human values. 

Fine Arts

Art is created in all human cultures as a response to life. All forms of art can enable us to express depths of experience and emotion, rationally explore that which gives us pleasure, shape social values, reach out to others across time and culture, and create something more lasting than we are. Through the creation and study of art, students consider its definition, interpretation and impact on humanity. Art merits both technical and reflective study as part of a liberal education. 

Theology and Religious Studies

The study of theology and religion involves the academic exploration of our relationship with God and the nature and role of religion. Courses examine beliefs, rituals, ethics, sacred writings, spiritualities, and the meaning and application of faith in students' lives. Most courses reflect the Christian tradition or the Benedictine Catholic heritage. Consistent with an ecumenical and interfaith perspective, courses are often in dialogue with Protestant Christianity, Judaism and other faiths. Particular courses focus on the traditions and theologies of other world religions.


Philosophy, the love of wisdom, uses natural reason to guide the search for the good life. The study of philosophy challenges the student to think critically and make and evaluate arguments. The aim of philosophy courses is to contemplate those questions that will lead to responsible living. 

Natural Sciences

The natural sciences attempt to discover principles or laws, which explain life and the physical universe through iterations of observation, formulation of hypotheses, experimentation and/or further data collection, and development of theory. Scientific discoveries enable humans to understand and explain the universe, to appreciate the beauty of its complex interconnectedness, and to exercise stewardship over its resources. Students who take natural science courses are better able to understand the scope of scientific endeavor, its limits, how science has shaped the modern world, and both the scientific and technological issues society faces.


The "Open" Pathway allows for course offerings that are uniquely designed outside of the seven disciplinary Pathways. When students are choosing a course for their "Open" Pathway, the four credits that can be taken in any of the Pathways to bring a student's total Conceptions/Integrations credits to 32. This allows for courses that are highly interdisciplinary or that otherwise do not fit easily into discipline-specific Pathways to still address liberal education goals.

Disciplinary Concentration

To prepare students for responsible living and meaningful work, the College believes that students should direct a substantial portion of their effort toward excellence within a particular discipline. This entails pursuing a major to develop a depth of knowledge and skills and the modes of inquiry common to the discipline, as well as considering the larger context of the roles the discipline plays in society. Requirements for all the majors are found under Curriculum. 


Electives provide an opportunity for students to explore areas of interest outside of the General Education program and the major. The number of electives a student can take will vary based on the student's major, the number of college credits they brought to the College from other sources, and the number of credits taken each semester. Students are encouraged to stretch themselves by selecting electives that expose them to new ideas.

Study Abroad

The College of St. Scholastica is dedicated to helping students become more responsible members of their communities, extending to the global community. St. Scholastica has a tradition of study and service abroad that goes back more than 30 years to our first program in Ireland. Students at St. Scholastica are sure to find a study-abroad or service-learning program through the many available options, including College-sponsored courses, programs at universities affiliated with the College and independent programs. Additional details about specific programs can be found here:

Types of Experiences

  • St. Scholastica Faculty-led: a St. Scholastica professor or instructor leads a group of students abroad.

  • Consortium and Exchange: St. Scholastica and the school abroad sign an agreement regarding curriculum, financial aid and scholarships. Current examples include; HECUA and the Irish American Scholars Program.

  • Outside programs: Any program not directly associated with St. Scholastica. This can be a program from another school, a program from one of our many providers, or a study-abroad opportunity through another college or university found by the student. Financial aid, however, may not be available for programs other than those sponsored by St. Scholastica. For a full list of study-abroad opportunities, please visit our website at

HECUA Off-Campus Study Programs

The College of St. Scholastica is a member of the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA). HECUA provides off-campus experiential learning opportunities that link academic study with hands-on work for social change. Students earn 16 St. Scholastica credits in the semester-long programs and four St. Scholastica credits in January-term programs. The program is open to all St. Scholastica students. St. Scholastica financial aid travels with students in semester programs. More information can be found at

Which semester should I travel?

Deciding when to study abroad is different for everyone. Some majors are more flexible than others, so it's important to talk with an academic advisor about the best time for studying abroad. If a semester or year program is not possible for your schedule, take advantage of a program departing during winter or summer break. The key is to plan early!

How financial aid works:

Students who choose a St. Scholastica faculty-led, a consortium, or an exchange program will, in most cases, be able to apply any institutional aid such as scholarships or grants. Students who choose an outside program will not be able to use institutional aid but will be able to use any applicable federal or state aid, outside scholarships and student loans to pay for study-abroad programs.

Credit transfer:

Credit for courses taken abroad will be evaluated and transferred back to St. Scholastica. For faculty-led programs, credit transfer is automatic. For consortiums, exchanges and outside programs, the credit will be reviewed and applied to the student's transcript.

Getting started:

  1. Decide where you want to go. Research study-abroad options through the CSS Study Abroad website, or through external study-abroad providers.

  2. Learn more about each program. For St. Scholastica study-abroad programs, see the faculty program advisor or contact the program provider (for external programs).

  3. Find out how this will affect your financial aid. Make an appointment with Financial Aid to determine your budget and how your loans and scholarships will apply to study abroad.


Nursing students have the opportunity to participate in this service-learning elective. Students, through intensive experience applying principles of civic engagement and nursing knowledge, gain understanding of cultural differences and similarities between people of different cultures. Students use their skills and knowledge to help bring solutions to community-identified problems.


The College offers a semester at a new liberal arts college in China near Hong Kong. All instruction is in English and the student body and faculty are international. General education and business credits can be earned through this program. Campus housing is available. Students also often have the option of studying in China during the winter break in a program covering Chinese economics, government, language and history. All majors are welcome to participate.



Students study in London on a three-week May program, led and taught by St. Scholastica faculty members every other year. With a focus on literature and theatre, the "London Arts and Culture" itinerary exposes students to the vibrant cultural history of London and includes multiple theatre performances, workshops, museums, and historical sites. A three-day excursion to the cities of Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon is also included. Students may choose CTA 3950 (2 cr.) that includes only the May experience or ENG 3950/HON 3950 (4 cr.) that combines a spring semester literature course with the May experience.  


The College of St. Scholastica cosponsors an exchange program with the Leipzig University developed for students in the health science fields, that promotes the integration of language and professional interests in an immersion model. During a two-week stay after the end of spring term, St. Scholastica students live with and shadow Leipzig students in their professional training and clinical practice in Germany. In the fall term, Leipzig students come to the St. Scholastica campus and repeat the exchange. Participation in the exchange requires a minimum of one year college/three years high school German and is recommended at the end of the junior or senior level to maximize professional experience.


The College sponsors an Ireland program during each spring semester. The program enables a student to pursue a full semester's coursework in liberal education in addition to experiencing intercultural exchange, travel and personal enrichment. The course offerings will vary each year dependent upon the two resident St. Scholastica faculty members who participate in a given semester.


The Theology and Religious Studies Department offers a two-part course focused on the study of Christian art, culminating in a trip to Rome, Italy. Students participate in a semester-long study of the arts in the Christian Tradition (TRS 2120 - The Christian Faith in Art] before traveling as a class to Rome, a city internationally known for its historic artistry as well as its significance in the Christian tradition. The city is used as the classroom, giving students a chance to examine religion and faith as expressed in a wide variety of art, as well as a number of historical religious locales including St. Peter's. The trip to Rome is dependent upon the number of registered students.


The College offers an intensive 10- credit, six-week service-learning education-abroad summer program in Cuernavaca, Mexico, called Cuernavaca Quest. This exciting program combines academic work and experiential education focusing on social justice issues. It promotes personal transformation through the integration of knowledge, action and reflection. Students and faculty live and study at Quest Mexico. This center is dedicated to educating students about social justice issues and the life of the poor in Mexico. Students study Spanish at a local language school and learn about Mexico from Quest Mexico staff, community leaders and activists. St. Scholastica faculty teach a course on Mexican history, culture, and society. The final two weeks of the program are spent in a service-learning internship in the community. Students must be at the sophomore level and have completed the equivalent of two semesters of college-level Spanish to participate in the program.  All credits earned in the Cuernavaca Quest program count toward a major or minor in Spanish. 


The College sponsors a winter break program in Morocco providing undergraduate students the opportunity to research marketing practices in a global setting. This course applies contemporary marketing theory to marketing functions within the ultra-fragmented distribution channels of Morocco. Students conduct research on a variety of businesses to illustrate how contemporary marketing principles apply in an environment that still, to this modern day, uses the trading principles of the 18th century while at the same time competing in the modern global marketplace.


The College of St. Scholastica conducts a series of summer language camps in cooperation with Petrozavodsk State University in Petrozavodsk, Duluth's sister city in Russia, and Saint Martin's University in Washington.  Russian language camps intended for American students of Russian are held every other year in May and June in Petrozavodsk. An integral part of St. Scholastica's and Saint Martin's Russian Language Programs, the camps are open to any interested student. Language classes are taught at the beginner through advanced-intermediate level by Petrozavodsk State University faculty. The Russian camps also include many cultural and recreational activities as well as extended visits to St. Petersburg and Moscow. In alternate summers, St. Scholastica faculty offer English language camps for students from Petrozavodsk. St. Scholastica students also are encouraged to participate in these camps by acting as hosts to the College's guests from Russia. 


Students at St. Scholastica have an opportunity every other summer to spend a few weeks on a service-learning program to Tanzania. In a required course the previous semester, students are introduced to the history, culture, and sociopolitical situation in Tanzania, along with some basic Swahili instruction and safe travel procedures. Students continue to examine and reflect upon concepts of culture, cultural competence, global development, equity and social justice issues while traveling. Particular focus is given to a critical examination of one's personal and professional values in light of the Benedictine values that are also embraced by our hosts - the Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Agnes in Tanzania. Service-learning projects are matched to the skills and interests of the student and faculty participants to work with the needs of the rural peoples that the Tanzanian Sisters serve. All participants assist in gathering and carrying medical and teaching supplies for the monasteries that we visit.

Honors program

The Honors Program at The College of St. Scholastica prepares civic scholars committed to the pursuit of knowledge that leads to ethical action in their communities and beyond. The program's small, discussion-based seminars can fulfill Veritas requirements as designated by the instructor. Prospective students who meet two of the following criteria qualify to request an interview with the Honors Director for admission to the program: rank in the top 15 percent of high-school class, high-school GPA of 3.5 or above, and ACT score of 26.

Prior Learning Assessment

The college classroom is not the only place college-level learning may occur. The College of St. Scholastica has several mechanisms by which it recognizes college-level learning acquired outside the classroom. Credit may be accepted from specialized or special purpose institutions, including the U.S. Armed Services, provided the work is applicable to St. Scholastica's baccalaureate degree programs and is recommended by the American Council of Education (ACE).

Portfolio Assessment

Students who wish to document prior learning through Portfolio Assessment begin the process by participating in an online PLA orientation that helps them decide if this program will be useful. In the online PLA orientation, students identify their college-level learning experiences. The online PLA orientation facilitator guides students through the process. After completing the PLA orientation, the student will document their equivalent learning in a portfolio that will be reviewed by faculty members. To register for the online PLA orientation, please contact your academic advisor.

Credit by Examination

The College Board and the Educational Testing Service provide a national program of examinations called the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) that is used to evaluate college-level education. The Registrar maintains a list of the CLEP exams that meet Pathways requirements. Academic departments determine which CLEP examinations can substitute for major requirements, so students are advised to discuss their CLEP plans with their academic advisor. Note that credit cannot be granted for both a course passed by examination and a regular classroom course that duplicates the subject matter. No credit can be given for an examination if an advanced course in that area has already been taken.

Challenge Exams

A degree-seeking undergraduate student may request the opportunity to take a "challenge" examination to seek credit for a course for which a CLEP examination is not available. Challenge opportunities are provided at the discretion of the department chair. Please contact your academic advisor for specific procedures to request a challenge.


Full-time degree-seeking traditional undergraduate students at St. Scholastica may enroll for up to two courses per semester at two other local universities without payment of additional tuition if the total number of credits does not exceed 18 credits. Such enrollment, called cross-registration, is available at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Wisconsin-Superior. The College of St. Scholastica does not open online courses to cross-registration.

If a student's total credits exceed 18, the student will be charged for those excess credits at the current College of St. Scholastica cost-per-credit rate. In addition, students are responsible for payments to the host institution for course fees. The host institution reserves the right to withhold grades if payments for course fees are not received. The grade earned at the cross-registered institution counts in your St. Scholastica GPA.

Complete details of the program are available in OneStop. Cross-registration is not available during the summer, nor does it include graduate-level work at any time.

A variation on cross-registration may be available for traditional students or for non-traditional and graduate students with other institutions with advisor approval. For example, many students on our Brainerd campus take consortium work through Central Lakes College.

Summer session

The College offers a variety of study opportunities during the summer, including traditional courses on the Duluth campus, accelerated courses at all of our extended campuses, and online courses. Contact an academic advisor for more information on summer offerings.