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New majors and concentrations available

St. Olaf is offering three new academic programs starting this year. The creative writing major was officialized in fall 2021. The public health studies and musical theater concentrations were newly approved in September 2022. Faculty are excited to launch these programs after witnessing years of interdisciplinary majors and courses focus on these subjects. 

Creative writing places a greater emphasis on writing techniques than literary analysis to prepare them for a breadth of career fields. Styles include poetry, creative nonfiction, science fiction, screenwriting, and journalism. 

Students are required to take 10 credits total for the major, with a minimum of five writing workshops, two literature classes, two electives, and English 185. Majors are required to switch to the Ole Core Curriculum.

Parker Gardner ’24 is one of many writers who seized the chance to evolve their craft. “I’ve always loved writing, but wanted to focus more on fiction than anything else,” they said. “When I heard the major got approved, I was so excited because that would let me do exactly what I wanted.” 

The Public Health Studies Concentration requires five credits, with one course the following areas: Fundamentals of Public Health, Biological Basis of Health, Social Science/Humanities Perspective on Health, Research Methods and Data Tools, and Liberal Arts Dialog in Public Health. 

Chair of Public Health Studies Andrea Conger ’98 said, “It allows us to have a thoughtful and intentional way at looking at the world in all its complexities.” 

The Musical Theater concentration requires six total credits. Courses include Theater 131, Music 267, Theater 271, three semesters of dance, three semesters of voice lessons, two semesters of faculty-led productions or tech labs, and an elective. 

“The singer today needs to be versatile,” Chair of Musical Theater Tracey Engleman ’93 said. “This [concentration] is a way for our music students to have the strong traditional background in classical singing but also have the ability to sing in more contemporary styles.”

To view which courses count towards their major or concentration, students should visit For additional questions, students can reach out to the following professors below for more information. 

Jonathan Naito, Chair of English:

Andrew Conger, Chair of Public Health Studies:

Tracey Engleman, Chair of Musical Theater: