Academic Advising


Getting the Most Out of Advising

As a student, there are some important steps you need to take in order to get the most out of your advising appointments with your adviser. In order for your adviser to help you make good decisions, it is essential that you take the time to understand academic policies, procedures, and degree requirements. Utilize the online course catalog and other online resources through Saint Mary’s to help you get started. Your adviser can then help clarify information and answer any questions you have.

Preparing for Advising Appointments

Arriving to your advising appointment prepared will be beneficial to both you and your adviser. While choosing courses is an important component of the advising meeting, having courses selected and two possible schedules created before your appointment opens the door for you and your adviser to talk more in depth about courses and how they will be beneficial to your future. Additionally, coming prepared will allow for more time to discuss your long term goals (personally and professionally) and will help you get to know your adviser better.

Advising FAQ’s

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 undecided on your major, you will work with an adviser in the Student Success Center. Once you are ready to declare a major, you will be reassigned an adviser within your academic major department.

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 advisor can help with your success at Saint Mary’s and also post Saint Mary’s as well. All students meet with their adviser each semester before course registration to discuss academic progress, goals, and a plan for the following semester classes. 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 that 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 us!

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 Registrars 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 your track your progress toward graduation as it factors in your completed and in-progress coursework. You can view your Degree Audit via your student portal.

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

Grade Points and Achievement Levels In order to evaluate the overall quality of course work, 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 guide you in a good path to follow to stay on track for your major.

In addition to the major paradigms, we encourage you 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 upon their ACT/SAT subscores in English and Math. To view your placement, login to your portal at You will see your English and Math placement courses listed in the lower right-hand corner.

If you would like to try to place into a different course, it is recommended that you consider a placement test. Please note that 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 and/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 1 week from the first day of classes to make adjustments to their schedule. This means that you can add and/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 withdraw form 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 professor of the course, 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 professors office hours and utilize this time to talk with them about your progress in class.  Sometimes things are not a bad as they seem to you.  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 that you have explored all of your options and have given advice from your professor and/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 so forth, 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 on 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 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 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 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 in and a new degree audit will be sent to your P.O. box 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.

For more information, visit the Saint Mary’s website.

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 do 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. You can set up a time to meet by e-mailing or by 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 University Withdraw survey. If you have any questions about the withdraw process, please set up a time to meet with an academic advisor in the Student Success Center.

Mailing Address:
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Academic Advising Office
700 Terrace Heights #6
Winona, MN 55987-1399

70 Griffin Hall

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.