An Education in the Liberal ArtsAcademic Catalog: 2019–2020

Gustavus strives to be a distinctive community of learning, known for dedication to excellence and to the development of the whole student. This means nurturing an intellectual climate that encourages scholarly activities by both students and faculty. Central to this vision is excellence in teaching. Conversations among students, between students and faculty, and among faculty members are the fabric of the College community.

Woven into this fabric are programs and opportunities that strengthen and add substance to a college education. They include academic advising, a core of coursework to develop both a breadth of knowledge and writing skills, an academic calendar that offers flexibility, special academic opportunities, and top-notch facilities.

4-1-4 Calendar Year

The academic year at Gustavus comprises a four-month fall semester, a one-month interim, and a four-month spring semester. It is common during a semester to take four courses. During January Term (IEX), students take one course, the content of which is comparable to a full semester course.

Two IEX courses are required for graduation. Students have a variety of choices, including an on-campus course, a career exploration, a class taken abroad, or a class offered by any approved college also offering interim coursework.

A listing of IEX courses is available to students online prior to registration. Policies on Interim Experience can be found in the section titled “Academic Information and Policies.”

Core Requirements

All Gustavus students devote approximately one-third of their coursework to an examination of the liberal arts. Prior to the start of their first year, students select either the Liberal Arts Perspective Curriculum or the Three Crowns Curriculum.

The two liberal arts tracks are similar in that both require courses from the same academic areas, involve approximately the same number of courses, are compatible with every major, and allow for study away opportunities or an internship during the junior or senior year. Both programs ensure that every Gustavus graduate has a broad-based liberal arts background to complement the more specialized study represented by the student’s major.

In the Liberal Arts Perspective Curriculum, students select nine courses from a list of approved courses that represent various academic areas (e.g., the Arts, Natural Science, and Social Science), choosing one or more courses each semester. Another course, a First Term Seminar, is to be selected by all Liberal Arts Perspective 
students for the first semester of their first year. The Liberal Arts Curriculum may 
be described as a distributional liberal arts core program.

All Three Crowns Curriculum students take a sequence of nine integrated and cross-disciplinary courses in a cohort. A theme of “individual and community” runs throughout the curriculum as it examines the artistic, literary, religious, philosophical, and scientific heritage of the Western tradition within a global perspective. Students choose an additional three courses in quantitative reasoning, non-English language, and physical fitness. The Three Crowns Curriculum is an enriched program with many out-of-class educational cultural activities such as free trips to the Guthrie, weekend retreats, and social events like barbecues. The program introduces students to ethical values questions and issues of responsibility within society, culminating in the capstone Senior Seminar. The Three Crowns Curriculum enrolls approximately 10 percent of each entering class and selection is based on date of application to the program. The Three Crowns Curriculum: Connections, Ideas, and Values may be described as an integrated liberal arts core program.

Writing Program

Put simply, clear writing reflects clear thinking. Both are central to the Gustavus liberal arts experience. Both are skills crucial to life after college as well.

Most Gustavus courses require writing. However, Gustavus is committed to teaching writing skills throughout the curriculum. Thus, under the Writing Across the Curriculum program, all Gustavus students are required to take three designated writing courses, including one Writing Intensive (WRITI) course and one Writing in the Disciplines (WRITD) course. These three courses must be taken from at least two different academic departments, and at least one of these must be Level II or higher.

Academic Advising

Gustavus Adolphus College strives to instill in its students a capacity and passion for lifelong learning and encourages them to take an active role in their own education. To assist students in this intellectual and personal growth, each student is assigned a faculty academic advisor.

In the Liberal Arts Perspective Curriculum, the First Term Seminar professor serves as a student’s first academic advisor, while in the Three Crowns Curriculum program, a professor who teaches in the program serves as a student’s first advisor.

All first-year students are officially considered undeclared majors upon arrival and work with their assigned advisor (FTS or Three Crowns) at least through the end of the first semester. If students are certain about their major, they are encouraged to talk with faculty from that major department while keeping their assigned advisor the first semester. If students are certain about a pre-professional interest, they are welcome to talk with the pre-professional faculty contacts. In addition, we hope students will use many campus resources like the Academic Support Center (ASC), Career Development, and the Registrar’s Office from the very beginning.

If first-year students are ready to declare a major and arrange for an advisor from that department, the first time they are allowed to do so is after their first semester. Spring semester of the sophomore year is a traditional time by which students should be ready to declare their major. Students must have a major declared to be eligible to register for classes in the spring semester of the junior year.

Transfer students are assigned a faculty advisor by the Academic Support Center until they are ready to declare a major.

The mission of our faculty-based advising program goes beyond simply prescribing courses. Faculty and students talk about course choices, the integration of coursework and co-curricular responsibilities, possible majors, and developing an academic program that will be finished in a timely fashion and will lead to further study or interesting careers.

Advisors supply students with accurate information about the curriculum and on- and off-campus resources, guide students in the decision-making process, and are available to answer additional questions and process information.

Conversations with advisors often introduce students to new, intriguing, and possibly unfamiliar academic opportunities available in the Gustavus community. Equipped with such information, students are in the position to ultimately become their own best advisor, in charge of their decisions, and prepared to shape their particular College academic career according to their skills, values, and interests.

Faculty-based advising is supported by the Academic Support Center and Career Development, where professionals are available to discuss options and opportunities.

Special Academic Opportunities

Academic Assistantships. Each academic department generally appoints at least one student annually as an academic assistant based on demonstrated excellence in the major field as well as interest in the work.

Responsibilities vary among departments but generally include one or more of the following: conducting a research project, assisting with a departmental research project, assisting with a specific course, or serving as a student resource in 
departmental decision-making.

Student Research Opportunities. Collaborative research by students and faculty is encouraged at Gustavus. Research opportunities in all academic disciplines provide students with an ideal setting for integrating their knowledge base and creativity in the pursuit of new ideas at the frontier of knowledge. Each year Gustavus students and faculty members present the results of their research at numerous discipline-specific conferences around the country, in professional journals, and at the National Undergraduate Research Conference. Many opportunities for research are available both on- and off-campus. There is strong evidence that undergraduate research experience is an especially valuable asset when applying for graduate study as well as when seeking employment requiring a high level of independence.

International Education. Gustavus students are encouraged to include an international experience in their coursework. The Center for International and Cultural Education (CICE) helps students choose a study-away program based on their academic goals and interests. Short-term programs during January or summer, and semester or academic year opportunities are available at both domestic and international sites.

For a complete list of programs, and for more information, see the Center for International and Cultural Education website ( Policies governing eligibility and credit transfer may be found in the Academic Bulletin section titled “Academic Information and Policies” and in the online application system.

Academic Internships. Two types of internships are available at Gustavus: Interim Career Explorations and regular semester or summer Academic Internships. Generally, Interim Career Explorations give students the opportunity to explore their interests in a career of their choice by job shadowing and observing persons working in that career field on a full-time basis during January. Semester and summer Academic Internships give students the opportunity to learn by applying previously acquired academic knowledge and skills to actual projects and tasks in a workplace environment, and to gain experience in a career field.

Internships can be found in almost all disciplines and exist in companies and organizations throughout the country. Non-Academic Internships and Career Explorations can be completed at any time for the purpose of exploring careers and gaining experience (not for credit). Specific policies governing Academic Internships may be found in the section titled “Academic Information and Policies.”

Honorary and Professional Organizations. A number of national or international honorary organizations have established chapters at Gustavus.

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honorary fraternity, with a limited number of chapters at schools with reputations for excellence in liberal studies. Membership, open to both men and women, is by election. Consideration is given to juniors or seniors who demonstrate competence in foreign language and math, have broad cultural interests, and who have devoted 75 percent of their coursework toward liberal studies. Minimum grade point average for juniors is 3.9 and for seniors is 3.7.

Gustavus has established two honorary organizations. The Guild of St. Ansgar recognizes seniors on the basis of scholarship, leadership, and participation in campus activities. Members are elected by a faculty-student committee. The 
Guild of St. Lucia is for junior women who have maintained at least a 3.333 GPA. Members are selected by faculty and current members on the basis of academic excellence, leadership, and service to the College.

National honorary and professional organizations include:

  • Alpha Kappa Delta Sociology
  • Beta Beta Beta Biology
  • Dobro Slovo Slavic Languages
  • Eta Sigma Phi Classics
  • Gamma Theta Upsilon Geography
  • Iota Tau Alpha Athletic Training
  • Kappa Delta Pi Education
  • Lambda Alpha Anthropology
  • Lambda Pi Eta Communications
  • Pi Delta Phi French
  • Pi Kappa Delta Forensics
  • Pi Kappa Lambda Music
  • Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science
  • Psi Chi Psychology
  • Sigma Delta Pi Spanish
  • Sigma Pi Sigma Physics
  • Sigma Tau Delta English
  • Sigma Theta Tau Nursing
  • Sigma Xi Natural and Social Sciences
  • Theta Alpha Kappa Religion

Information on each organization is available from its respective academic department.