Jul 25, 2024  
College Catalog 2024-2025 
College Catalog 2024-2025

Special Programs

Study Away

Macalester College has a long tradition of providing significant opportunities for students to build an international and intercultural perspective into their college education through participation in an international or domestic study away program.

Students may select from among an ample array of international and domestic programs relevant to Macalester’s liberal arts curriculum. A list of approved programs is developed and maintained in consultation with all academic departments and is available on the Study Away website. From the approved list, academic departments and concentrations also maintain a list of recommended programs that are most suitable for their students. All students are supported in choosing a program through individual study away advising.

The Study Away Review Committee (SARC) evaluates all applications for study away during the regular academic year for credit-worthiness, the student’s preparation for the experience, the quality of the application, and the degree to which the program promises to extend and enrich the individual student’s Macalester degree program.

Macalester charges full Macalester tuition for the study away semester. In order to ensure a balance of study away enrollment between fall and spring semesters, the college reserves the authority to direct a student to study away in an alternate semester regardless of their preference.

Who May Participate?

In order to be eligible to participate in study away, students may not be on strict academic or strict disciplinary probation the semester prior to studying away or during the semester of study away. In addition, students must be enrolled at Macalester the semester preceding their semester of study away, successfully complete the Macalester pre-departure orientation program, and be current with their Macalester Student Account.

First-year students, first-semester sophomores, and transfer students who enter as juniors may not participate in study away programs. This restriction does not apply to January, summer, and special Macalester-organized programs.

Students must also meet the eligibility requirements of the specific study away program in which they plan to participate.

Academic Credit, Grades, and Financial Aid

Students are required to carry a full semester course load as defined by the study away program, which must fall in the range of 12-18 semester credits, however is more typically 14-17 credits. All courses taken and credits earned on SARC-approved study away appear on the student’s Macalester transcript, and grades for those courses are factored into the Macalester cumulative grade point average. Students studying away are subject to the same pass/fail grading policy as students studying on campus.

Academic credit earned in study away courses can be applied to general distribution requirements for graduation with approval from the Registrar, and may apply to the requirements of a major, minor, or concentration if reviewed and approved by the respective department or concentration chair.

With the one exception noted below, all students (including international students) whose applications are approved by SARC may apply eligible financial aid to program costs. While the vast majority of financial aid is portable, it is important to note that certain aid programs, such as work-study, do not apply to study away.  A complete explanation of financial aid for study away is available at www.macalester.edu/financialaid/policies/offcampusstudy/.

The tuition benefits extended to students on the ACTC Dependent Tuition Assistance Program (DTAP) whose qualifying parent or guardian is not a Macalester employee may not be applied to study away, except for Macalester-administered and exchange programs. However, DTAP students do receive the benefit of paying program tuition rather than Macalester tuition, and in some circumstances may become eligible for financial aid for one term due to having to assume the cost of study away.  Students should consult directly with Financial Aid to confirm how their specific benefits apply to their study away program.

Application Process

There are two steps to applying for study away: 1) applying for Macalester approval to study away, and 2) applying to the program provider or foreign university for admission. With rare exceptions, these two steps are independent of each other and have separate deadlines. It is the student’s responsibility to ascertain the relevant deadlines and to provide the required materials by those deadlines.

Information on both steps is available on the Study Away website, and assistance is available from the Study Away staff. Students are advised to participate in the study away advising and application process during the fall semester that precedes the academic year they plan to study away.

Pre-Professional and Professional Programs

The Pre-Law Program

Erik Larson (Co-Advisor, Sociology) and Patrick Schmidt (Co-Advisor, Political Science)

For many years, Macalester’s pre-law students have achieved a record of success, both in winning acceptance at the top law schools in the country and at finding successful–and satisfying–careers in the law.  In fact, the Juris Doctor (J.D.) is the second most common graduate degree for Macalester alumni, which gives students a large network of alumni around the world to tap for advice and inspiration.  The college assists students through informed counseling and mentoring, which includes guidance about their curricular choices while a student, advice about transitioning from undergraduate education to further study in law, and support for all phases of applying to and choosing a law school.  A number of faculty hold law degrees or have deep experience with legal settings, and they are eager to provide support whether someone is a current student or an alumnus considering a career move many years after graduation.

Macalester’s urban location gives pre-law students a particular advantage when exploring the legal field.  Each year, students conduct internships in a wide range of law-related settings, which have included large law firms, trial and appellate courts, criminal law practices, immigration offices and law practices, legal aid providers, public interest advocacy groups, state and federal agencies, and more.  Many students graduate with a strong resume of experience and having explored different directions, which positions them to make informed choices about possible careers.

Departments across the college offer a variety of courses that teach the knowledge and skills relevant to establishing the foundation that can lead to success in law school and law practice.  Students considering legal careers do not need to gravitate to any particular major or minor; law schools mostly ask only that students have taken challenging courses and develop strong writing–both of which are emphasized across Macalester.  Nevertheless, the college offers a concentration in Legal Studies  that provides students a broad liberal arts perspective on the study and practice of law. Pre-law students on campus find many opportunities to connect with other peers considering the same path.


Macalester offers a variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students who have interests in engineering. Many Macalester students major in fields such as mathematics, applied mathematics, computer science, chemistry, physics, biology, geography, economics, and more, and subsequently choose to continue on to master’s and/or doctoral programs in engineering at institutions such as Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Northwestern, Duke, Berkeley, University of Illinois, and the University of Minnesota.

At Macalester, you can gain the benefits of a liberal arts education while preparing yourself for a professional career in any of several areas of engineering. Some of the more popular areas that our students go to graduate school are biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering, and chemical engineering. Students receive an excellent background in science and mathematics that prepares them for technical studies in engineering. Students also receive a broad background in the humanities and social sciences, crucial to the successful modern practice of engineering. Engineers with a liberal arts background are poised to advance in technical management and to play major roles in solving increasingly complex societal problems.

Pre-engineering advising assists students through informed counseling about their curriculum at Macalester and their later choices of graduate schools and employment. Students interested in engineering should contact one of the pre-engineering advisors in advance of course registration.

Jim Doyle (Physics): doyle@macalester.edu

Keith Kuwata (Chemistry): kuwata@macalester.edu

Diane Michelfelder (Philosophy): michelfelder@macalester.edu

Mary Montgomery (Biology): montgomery@macalester.edu

David Shuman (Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science): dshuman@macalester.edu

Health Professions Advising

Advisors: Elizabeth Jansen (Chair, Health Professions Advising Committee, Biology), Lin Aanonsen (Biology), Ron Barrett (Anthropology), Devavani Chatterjea (Biology), Kristi Curry Rogers (Biology), Mary Montgomery (Biology), Robin Shields-Cutler (Biology), Katy Splan (Chemistry), Jaine Strauss (Psychology)

Students interested in premedical studies should consult one of the premedical advisors very early in their first year for academic advice and join the Health Professions mailing list, and the student organization, Health Professions Student Coalition.

Premedical (or pre-health of any sort) students at Macalester may major in any discipline and concurrently complete all prerequisites. A science major is not a prerequisite for admission to medical school. Most medical schools require the following courses: CHEM 111 - General Chemistry I: Structure and Equilibrium  and CHEM 112 - General Chemistry II: Energetics and Reactivity ; CHEM 211 - Organic Chemistry I  and CHEM 212 - Organic Chemistry II ; two to six courses in Biology (we recommend at least BIOL 190 - Genetics  and BIOL 200 - Cell Biology ); two semesters of Physics, which can be PHYS 126 - Introductory Physics I  and PHYS 127 - Introductory Physics II  or PHYS 226 - Principles of Physics I  and PHYS 227 - Principles of Physics II ; and two courses in English. At a number of medical schools, the “English” requirement can be satisfied by various writing or literature courses and need not be listed as an English course. BIOL 351 - Biochemistry I  is either a required course or is a strongly recommended prerequisite at a growing number of medical schools. Most medical schools also require a course in the behavioral sciences; we recommend either PSYC 100 - Introduction to Psychology  or SOCI 110 - Introduction to Sociology . Additional courses in the humanities and mathematics are recommended (we highly recommend taking a statistics course) and they may also be required for admission to some medical schools. These requirements vary so you should consult your premedical advisor before deciding about courses to take that may satisfy prerequisites.

Premedical advisors work carefully with students throughout their preparation, both individually and in group sessions, to assist in program planning that will best meet the individual needs of students. Regular forums and seminars are presented on appropriate topics in research, ethics, and on preparing an application. There are a variety of summer opportunities that enable students to conduct research and explore health professions.

Honor Societies

Phi Beta Kappa

The Macalester chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Epsilon of Minnesota, was established in 1968. This oldest national honor society recognizes outstanding scholarship and broad cultural interests in liberal studies. To be nominated, students ordinarily must have a GPA which places them in the upper 12 percent of their class. Other requirements are good character, sufficient breadth of liberal studies, and a knowledge of mathematics and a foreign language at least minimally appropriate for a liberal education.

Other National Honor Societies

The following departments sponsor national honor societies:

Biology - Beta Beta Beta
Chemistry - Iota Sigma Pi
Chemistry - Phi Lambda Upsilon
Classical Mediterranean and Middle East - Eta Sigma Phi
Computer Science - Upsilon Pi Epsilon
Economics - Omicron Delta Epsilon
English - Alpha Rho Theta
Geography - Gamma Theta Upsilon
German Studies - Delta Phi Alpha
Spanish and Portuguese - Sigma Delta Pi, Phi Lambda Beta
History- Phi Alpha Theta
Neuroscience - Nu Rho Psi
Political Science - Pi Sigma Alpha
Psychology - Psi Chi
Sociology - Alpha Kappa Delta