Frequently Asked Questions

Academic Advising

Advising Frequently Asked Questions

Who is my academic adviser?

You can find your adviser’s name listed on your student portal. If you are a first year student, your adviser will be your Anchor Course FYE101 (or LH1110 if in Honors) professor. If you are a new transfer student not enrolled in an Anchor Course, you will work with the department chair of your intended major for advising until you formally declare your major.

When should I meet with my adviser?

We encourage students to meet with their advisor on a regular basis. Making this connection early is important, as getting to know your adviser can help with your success at Saint Mary’s and beyond. All students meet with their adviser each semester before course registration to discuss academic progress, goals, and a plan for the following semester. Students should check in with their adviser any time they have questions or concerns that may affect their academic progress at Saint Mary’s.

Can I change my adviser?

If your major is declared, you may contact the department chair if you would like to be assigned to a different adviser. If you are undeclared and would like to change advisers, please contact the Student Success Center.

When should I declare my major?

Students must declare their major by the end of their first year. We recommend you meet with your adviser early on to begin discussing your interests and future goals as they relate to majors. If you would like additional resources to help you with this important decision, please feel free to contact the Student Success Center.

How do I declare or change my major?

Your first step is to meet with your adviser and begin filling out the major declaration form. Once you have the form complete and all the necessary signatures, return the form to the Registrar’s Office, Saint Mary’s Hall 29, and they will make the official updates. There is no limit to the number of times that you can change your major, however, it is important to continually meet with your adviser to review your graduation timeline if you decide to change your major.

What is my Degree Audit Report?

Your Degree Audit Report outlines all of the specific requirements needed for graduation, including general education and major requirements. Your Degree Audit Report is an excellent tool to utilize as you track your progress toward graduation as it factors in your completed and in-progress coursework. You can view your Degree Audit Report via your student portal.

What is GPA (Grade Point Average) and how is it calculated?

In order to evaluate the overall quality of coursework, a system of grade points is used. The number of grade points earned in a given course is the number of credits for that course multiplied by the grade point corresponding to the grade earned in that course, as follows:
Grade     Grade Pts.     Achievement Level
A             4.000             Excellent
AB           3.500
B             3.000             Very Good
BC           2.500
C             2.000             Satisfactory
CD          1.500
D             1.000             Minimal Pass
F             0.000             Failure

I        Incomplete

P       Pass (A, AB, B, BC, C)

NC    No Credit (CD, D, F)

AU     Audit

W      Withdrawal

The grade point average (GPA) is determined by dividing the total grade points earned by the total number of credits attempted.

What are the requirements for graduation?
  • Earn a minimum of 122 semester credits
  • Maintain at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA and a 2.0 major GPA
  • Complete a minimum of 45 credits in 300 or 400 level courses
  • Complete General Education Requirements
  • Complete at least one major
  • Earn at least 60 semester credits in academic residence at Saint Mary’s (transfer students)
  • Spend the final year in academic residence unless enrolled in an approved off-campus program
  • Apply no more than 4 semester hours of music ensemble credits toward the minimum graduation requirement of 122 semester credits

Exceptions or substitutions must be approved by the dean of Student Success.

How do I know which classes to take for my major?

For further information regarding courses specific to your major, please reference the Major Paradigms.

The major paradigms are a helpful resource, as they can be used from semester to semester to help you stay on track for completing your major.

In addition to the major paradigms, you’re encouraged to meet with your adviser to further discuss courses and the best plan for you.

Should I take the math, English, or Spanish placement tests?

English and Math

Students are placed into their first English and math course based on their ACT/SAT subscores in English and math. To view your placement, login to your student portal. You will see your English and math placement courses listed in the lower right corner.

If you would like to try to place into a different course, it is recommended that you consider a placement test. Please note: E105: Writing Skills is the only English course you can take the placement test for to try to test out of.

For more information regarding the math placement test, please contact Dr. Kristin Sellke at

For more information regarding the English placement test, please contact Dr. Brook Lenz at


If you have taken Spanish courses in high school or are a native speaker considering a major or minor in Spanish or are interested in taking Spanish classes in general, we recommend that you speak with a faculty member to determine the best starting course for you.

For more information regarding Spanish placement, please contact Dr. John Reed at

What is the difference between dropping a course and withdrawing from a course?

At the beginning of each semester, students have one week from the first day of classes to make adjustments to their schedule. This means that you can add or drop courses without penalty. Additionally, changes made during this first week will not appear on your academic record. During this window, you can make changes to your schedule via the student portal. After this first week, you will need to complete a course withdrawal form, available from the Registrar’s Office, in order to be withdrawn form the course. You will no longer be able to drop the course on your own via the student portal. Before withdrawing from a course, it is important that you speak with the course professor, your adviser, your coach if you are an athlete, Residence Life if you will drop below 12 credits, and also financial aid to ensure withdrawing will not impact any financial aid you may have. Additionally, it is important to note that when you withdraw from a course, a W will be recorded for that course on your academic record rather than a letter grade.

I'm struggling in a class, how can I get help?

Talk to your professor. Talking to your professor is key. While you may have performed poorly on an exam, your professor won’t necessarily know that you’re struggling unless you speak up. Find out your professor’s office hours and utilize this time to talk with them about your progress in class. Sometimes things are not as bad as they seem. Other times, things may be much worse than you realize. Your professor can provide you with a clearer picture of your situation and options for additional assistance such as tutoring or study tips.

Consider tutoring. Tutoring is a free service to you as a student, so definitely take advantage of this great resource. Tutoring is peer-to-peer, and all tutors are recommended by departments and are students who have been successful in the class. Sign up for a tutor. For more information regarding tutoring, please contact Joe Dulak at

Consider withdrawing from the course. If you feel you have explored all of your options and have given advice from your professor or tutoring some time, you may consider withdrawing from the course. The decision to withdraw is yours to make and should be made only after you have considered all options and consequences. For instance, will you go below full-time status (less than 12 credits)? If so, this can affect housing, financial aid, athletic eligibility, and more, so be sure to speak with individuals in these areas. Additionally, always seek out your adviser before withdrawing from a course to come up with a plan to retake the course if it is needed for graduation.

Can I repeat a class to earn a better grade?

Students are encouraged to repeat courses in which they received a final grade of F or D. Students choosing to repeat a course should note that the grades from any previous attempt of a course are never deleted from their academic record. However, it is only the grade earned in the latest attempt of the course that will be used in the calculation of their cumulative GPA. Therefore, it is possible for a student to improve their cumulative GPA by repeating a course and earning a higher grade. Please note that students may not replace a grade earned at Saint Mary’s by taking a similar course at another university.

I want to take a class at a different school and transfer it back to Saint Mary's. What should I do?

Course Substitution and Pre-approval Process

Have you transferred in a course(s) that you think will count toward a general education requirement? Are you thinking about taking a class outside of Saint Mary’s that you are hoping can fulfill a general education requirement? We can help!

What you need to do:
To have general education courses approved, you will need to send the following information to an academic adviser in the Student Success Center (hard copies or email):

  • Name of accredited institution/college
  • Official course description and/or syllabus
  • Credit amount of course
  • Name of course and course code/level
  • The name of the Saint Mary’s general education course or category you hope to have fulfilled

The academic adviser will review this information and submit a proposed decision to the coordinator of Academic Advising. The coordinator of Academic Advising will review the information as well and make a final decision within 2-3 business days. The academic adviser will follow up with you on the final decision.

Approved Courses:
If the course is one you have already transferred in, the course will then be substituted and a new degree audit will be sent to you for your records.

If the course is one you are planning to take in the future, you must receive a final grade of a C or higher for the course to officially transfer in. Additionally, you will need to have your official transcripts sent to the Registrar’s Office:

Office of the Registrar
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
700 Terrace Heights #37
Winona, MN 55987-1399

Courses Not Approved:
If the course is one you have already transferred in, the course will be counted as elective credits toward graduation.
If the course is one you are planning to take in the future, the academic adviser will explain why the course was not approved to help you as you may wish to search for an additional course to consider.

More information on transfer students

For assistance with course pre-approvals and/or substitutions for your major, please contact the department chair.

Will my AP, CLEP and/or IBP credits transfer?
Who should I contact if an illness or family emergency causes me to miss class?

If you need to miss class, it is your responsibility to contact your professors as soon as possible and seek direction in making up missed assignments and exams. If you need to be absent for a family related emergency, please contact the Student Success Center at or 507-457-6994. If you need to be absent due to an illness or other medical reason, please contact and make an appointment with Student Health Services for follow up at 507-457-1492. The above offices will then inform your instructors and confirm your absence; however, please note that this serves as notification only and not a formal excused absence.

I'm thinking about withdrawing from Saint Mary's. What should I do?

If you are unsure if withdrawing from Saint Mary’s is the right decision for you, you can meet with an academic adviser in the Student Success Center to help. Set up a time to meet by emailing or stopping by the office.

If you have decided that withdrawing from Saint Mary’s is in your best interest, you will need to complete the Request for University Withdrawal. If you have any questions about the withdrawal process, please set up a time to meet with an academic advisor in the Student Success Center.

Registration FAQs

How do I register for classes?

It is important that you become familiar with the registration process prior to your registration date.

Overview of the student portal

Instructions on adding or dropping a class

For further guidance on registering for courses, please email to set up a meeting time.

When do I register for classes?

Your registration time is determined by the number of credits you have earned. Your adviser will give you your pin number and your exact registration date and time during your advising meeting.

How do I know my class standing?

Classification of Students:
0-23 earned credits: First Year
24-55 earned credits: Sophomore
56-86 earned credits: Junior
87+ earned credits: Senior

What should I do if I have a registration hold?

To see if you have any registration holds, view your academic record in your Student Portal. There are multiple reasons that a hold may have been placed on your account. Your Student Portal will indicate the type of hold you have, and you should contact the respective office as soon as possible to see what needs to occur to have the hold removed. Keep in mind that you will not be able to register for classes until your holds are cleared. It is important to take care of holds immediately, if possible, so you are able to register on time and hopefully get into all the courses you planned on.

How do I order my books?

You can order your books online by visiting the Bookstore website and following these steps:

  • Hover over ‘Textbooks’ (top left corner)
  • Select ‘Find Textbooks’
  • Use the information from your schedule to search for the required books,  i.e. LCT 140 G

To view your schedule, log into your Student Portal. If you cannot remember your username and password, you can call our IT help desk at 507-457-7800 and they can help you get logged in.

What should I do if a course I need to take is full?

If a class you were planning to take is full, you can contact the instructor of the course and explain why you hope to be added into the course and see if they would be willing to give you an override and add you in. Overrides will be at the instructor’s discretion. If the instructor is agreeable to giving you the override, you will need to fill out and add card and have the instructor sign off on the card as well. Add cards can be found at the Registrar’s Office and should be returned to the Registrar’s Office for entering once completed.

How many credits should I register for each semester?

Full-time students need to register for 12-18 credits per semester. In order to graduate in fo years, you should plan to take 15-16 credits each semester. Depending on course load and other circumstances, you may opt to take a higher credit range (17-18) or a lower credit range (12-14). Additionally, you may choose to take a lower credit range and take courses over the summer to keep on track as well. If you have the Minnesota State Grant, you are required to take 15 credits per semester. It is recommended that you consult with your faculty adviser to map out your anticipated graduation date to help yourself stay on track and feel comfortable with your graduation timeline. You may find the Long Term Course Planning Worksheet helpful as you plan for graduation.

Can I register for more than 18 credits?

Students seeking to take 19 or more credits in a semester must receive approval from the dean of Student Success. Students must have a current cumulative GPA of a 3.0 or higher to be considered. Each credit taken above 18 credits is an additional cost per credit.

How many credits can I take at Saint Mary's in the summer?

Students planning to take online summer courses at Saint Mary’s are encouraged to take no more than nine credits. If you are considering taking a summer course (either through Saint Mary’s or another university), it is in your best interest to talk with the Financial Aid Office to see if enrolling in summer course(s) impacts financial aid you may have.

Additionally, you may wish to meet with an adviser in the Student Success Center to further discuss strategies to be successful in your summer course.

Transfer Student FAQs

What is the process for transfer course substitution?

Course Substitution Process

Have you transferred in a course(s) that you think will count toward a specific requirement?

What you need to do:
Using the key below, send the following information to the appropriate person (hard copies or e-mail):

– Name of accredited institution/college
– Official course description and/or syllabus
– Credit amount of course
– Name of course and course code/level
– The name of the Saint Mary’s course or area you hope to have fulfilled

This information will be reviewed generally within 3-5 business days.

  • Major or Minor Requirements – Department Chair of the major or minor
  • Prerequisites for course – Department Chair in which the course is housed
  • IGEP Requirements – Coordinator of IGEP minor or Associate Dean for General Education
  • Lasallian Honors requirements – Director of Lasallian Honors Program
  • Legacy General Education Program Requirements – Dean of the College

Approved Courses will be substituted in. 

Courses Not Approved will remain on your transcript as elective credit toward graduation.

How do I order my books?

You can order your books online by visiting the Bookstore Website and following these steps:

  • Hover over ‘Textbooks’  (top left corner)
  • Select ‘find textbooks’
  • Use the information from your schedule to search for the required books,  i.e. QR 101 B 

To view your schedule, log into your Student Portal. If you cannot remember your username and password, you can call our IT help desk at 507-457-7800 and they can help you get logged in.

How do I find out my housing assignment?

For more information regarding housing assignments and requests, please contact the Residence Life Office at 507-457-1409

How do I get a parking sticker?

Visit the Campus Safety website for more information regarding parking on campus.

For additional information please contact Campus Safety at 507-457-1703. 

Who can I talk to about my meal plan?

For more information regarding meal plans and food service hours, visit the  Food Services website.

To select your meal plan, login to your Portal and complete the ‘Winona Meal Plan’ tab in the left-hand column.