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Undergraduate Degrees and Programs

Degree Requirements

A Liberal Education

As do all major universities, Stanford provides the means for its undergraduates to acquire a liberal education, an education that broadens the student's knowledge and awareness in each of the major areas of human knowledge, that significantly deepens understanding of one or two of these areas, and that prepares him or her for a lifetime of continual learning and application of knowledge to career and personal life.

The undergraduate curriculum at Stanford allows considerable flexibility. It permits each student to plan an individual program of study that takes into account personal educational goals consistent with particular interests, prior experience, and future aims. All programs of study should achieve some balance between depth of knowledge acquired in specialization and breadth of knowledge acquired through exploration. Guidance as to the limits within which that balance ought to be struck is provided by the University's General Education Requirements and by the requirements set for major fields of study.

These educational goals are achieved through study in individual courses that bring together groups of students examining a topic or subject under the supervision of scholars. Courses are assigned credit units. To earn a bachelor's degree, the student must complete at least 180 allowable units and, in so doing, also complete the Writing Requirement, the General Education Requirements, the Language Requirement, and the requirements of a major.

The purpose of the Writing Requirement is to promote effective communication by ensuring that every undergraduate can write clear and effective English prose. Words are the vehicles for thought, and clear thinking requires facility in writing and speech.

The Language Requirement ensures that every student gains a basic familiarity with a foreign language. Foreign language study extends the student's range of knowledge and expression in significant ways, providing access to materials and cultures that otherwise would be out of reach.

The General Education Requirements provide guidance toward the attainment of breadth and stipulate that a significant share of a student's work must lie outside an area of specialization. These requirements ensure that every student is exposed to different ideas and different ways of thinking. They enable the student to approach and to understand the important ways of knowing how to assess their strengths and limitations, their uniqueness, and, no less important, what they have in common with others.

Depth, the intensive study of one subject or area, is provided through specialization in a major field. The major relates more specifically to a student's personal goals and interests than do the general requirements outlined above. Stanford's curriculum provides a wide range of standard majors through its discipline-oriented departments, a number of interdisciplinary majors in addition to department offerings, and the opportunity for students to design their own major programs.

Elective courses, which are not taken to satisfy requirements, play a special role in tailoring the student's program to individual needs. For most students, such courses form a large portion of the work offered for a degree. Within the limitations of requirements, students may freely choose any course for which previous studies have prepared them.

This section provides more detailed descriptions of these various requirements and the rationales upon which they are based.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Stanford University confers the degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or the degree of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) on those candidates who have been recommended by the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP), who have applied in advance for conferral of the degree, and who have fulfilled the following requirements:

  1. A minimum of 180 units of allowable University work. (As described below, units above the allowable limits for activity courses and for courses taken on a satisfactory/no credit and credit/no credit basis cannot be counted towards the 180-unit minimum.)
  2. The Writing, General Education, and Language Requirements (see below).
  3. Curricular requirements of at least one major department or program and the recommendation of the department(s). (Descriptions of curricular and special degree requirements are included in each department's section of this bulletin.)
  4. Students admitted as freshmen—A minimum of 135 units (including the last quarter in residence) at Stanford. In special cases, students who have earned at least 135 units in resident work may petition for a waiver of the last quarter-in-residence requirement for up to 15 units through the Last Units Out of Residence petition.
  5. Students admitted as transfers—A minimum of 90 units (including the last quarter in residence) at Stanford. In special cases, students who have earned at least 90 units in resident work may petition for a waiver of the last quarter-in-residence requirement for up to 15 units through the Last Units Out of Residence petition.

Stanford confers the Bachelor of Science degree on candidates who fulfill these requirements in the School of Earth Sciences, in the School of Engineering, or in the departments of Applied Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, or Physics in the School of Humanities and Sciences. The University also awards B.S. degrees to candidates in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society; in the Program in Mathematical and Computational Science; in the Program in Symbolic Systems; and, when appropriate, in the Program for Individually Designed Majors. Candidates who fulfill these requirements in other schools or departments receive the Bachelor of Arts degree.

Students who complete the requirements for two or more majors, which ordinarily would lead to the same degree (B.A. or B.S.), should review "The Major" section of this bulletin to ensure that they have an understanding of the requirements for multiple or secondary majors.

Bachelor of Arts and Science (B.A.S.)

The University confers the degree of Bachelor of Arts and Science (B.A.S.) on candidates who have completed the following:

  1. with no overlapping courses, the curricular requirements of two majors which ordinarily would lead to different bachelor's degrees (that is, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science).
  2. These students must have applied in advance for graduation with the B.A.S. degree instead of the B.A. or B.S. degree, been recommended by the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP),
  3. Fulfilled a minimum of 180 units of University work described in point 1 of the "Bachelor of Arts (B.S.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.)" section.
  4. The requirements of each major without applying any course towards the requirements of more than one major, according to "Multiple Majors" section of this bulletin. The Major-Minor and Multiple Major Course Approval Form is required for graduation for students with the B.A.S degree.
  5. The Writing, General Education, and Language requirements.
  6. Students admitted as freshmen—A minimum of 180 units (including the last quarter in residence) at Stanford. In special cases, students who have earned at least 180 units in resident work may petition for a waiver of the last quarter-in-residence requirement for up to 15 units.
  7. Students admitted as transfers—A minimum of 135 units (including the last quarter in residence) at Stanford. In special cases, students who have earned at least 135 units in resident work may petition for a waiver of the last quarter-in-residence requirement.with no overlapping courses,

Students who cannot meet the requirements for both majors without overlapping courses are not eligible for the B.A.S., but may apply to have a secondary major recorded on their transcripts. (See "The Major" in the "Undergraduate Degrees and Programs" section of this bulletin.)

Dual Bachelor's Degrees (Concurrent B.A. and B.S.)

A Stanford undergraduate may work concurrently toward both a B.A. and a B.S. degree. To qualify for both degrees, a student must complete:

  1. A minimum of 225 units of University work. Units above the allowable limits for activity courses and for courses taken on a satisfactory/no credit and credit/no credit basis cannot be counted towards the 225 minimum.
  2. The requirements of each major without applying any course towards the requirements of more than one major, according to "Multiple Majors" section of this bulletin. The Major-Minor and Multiple Major Course Approval Form is required for graduation for students with dual degrees.
  3. The Writing, General Education, and Language requirements.
  4. The curricular requirements of two majors (one of which leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree and the other to a Bachelor of Science degree).
  5. Students admitted as freshmen—A minimum of 180 units (including the last quarter in residence) at Stanford. In special cases, students who have earned at least 180 units in resident work may petition for a waiver of the last quarter-in-residence requirement for up to 15 units.
  6. Students admitted as transfers—A minimum of 135 units (including the last quarter in residence) at Stanford. In special cases, students who have earned at least 135 units in resident work may petition for a waiver of the last quarter-in-residence requirement.

A student interested in dual bachelor's degrees should declare them in Axess no later than two quarters in advance of completing the program.

Students who do not meet the higher unit and residence requirements of the dual degree option may be eligible instead for the B.A.S. degree as described above.

Second Bachelor's Degree

Stanford does not award a second Bachelor of Arts degree to an individual who already holds a Bachelor of Arts, nor a Bachelor of Science degree to an individual who already holds a Bachelor of Science degree. However, the holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford may apply to the C-USP Subcommittee on Academic Standing for admission to candidacy for a Bachelor of Science degree, and the holder of a Bachelor of Science degree from Stanford may apply for candidacy for a Bachelor of Arts degree. The C-USP Subcommittee on Academic Standing determines whether the application for a second degree may be approved and/or the conditions a student must meet in order to be allowed to earn a second degree. A recommendation of the major department for the second bachelor's degree must accompany the application.

Generally, a holder of a B.A. or B.S. degree may not apply for the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree, although a student may submit a petition for exception. The office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, via the office of Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR), Sweet Hall, reviews these petitions. A student approved for this program may register as an undergraduate and is subject to the current rules and regulations affecting undergraduates. Requirements for a second Stanford bachelor's degree are the same as those described above for dual bachelor's degrees.

Coterminal Bachelor's and Master's Degrees

See the "Coterminal Degrees" section of this Bulletin.

The Major

The primary purpose of the major is to encourage each student to explore a subject area in considerable depth. This in-depth study complements the breadth of study promoted by the General Education Requirements and, in many cases, by a student's choice of electives. Work in depth permits practice in critical analysis and the solving of problems. Because of its depth, such study also provides a sense of how knowledge grows and is shaped by time and circumstances.

The structure of a major should be a coherent reflection of the logic of the discipline it represents. Ideally, the student should be introduced to the subject area through a course providing a general overview, and upper-division courses should build upon lower-division courses. The course of study should, if feasible, give the student the opportunity and responsibility of doing original, creative work in the major subject. Benefits of the major program are greatest when it includes a culminating and synthesizing experience such as a senior seminar, an undergraduate thesis, or a senior project.

Degree Requirements

Undergraduates must select a major by the end of their sophomore year. All undergraduate major programs listed in this bulletin, except for certain honors degree programs that require application and admission in advance, are open to all students. Students may use Axess to declare, drop, or change a major. In some departments or programs, though, a late change could easily result in extending the period of undergraduate study. Students who have applied to graduate or who wish to declare an individually designed major must use the Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major, Minor, Honors, or Degree Program to select or change a major. Students requiring assistance should contact the Student Services Center. For academic advising regarding majors, students should consult the office of Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR). 

Check individual department or program listings in this bulletin for the undergraduate degrees offered and for specific major requirements. If an area of study has no baccalaureate degree, that discipline is not available as a regular undergraduate major.

Faculty set the minimum requirements for the major in each department. These requirements usually allow latitude for tailoring a major program to a student's specific educational goals. The responsibility for developing a major program within department or program requirements lies ultimately with the individual student working in consultation with the major adviser.

Limits of the Major

In order to achieve the values of study in depth, a well-structured major should constitute at least one-third of a student's program (55-65 units). To ensure the values of breadth, a major should comprise no more than two-thirds of a student's program (115-125 units); and, to avoid intellectual parochialism, a major program should not require a student to take more than about one-third of his or her courses from within a single department.

Major requirements in cognate subjects essential to the structure of a given major should be counted as part of the major program in applying these guidelines. Department or school requirements designed to provide extra disciplinary breadth should not be counted.

For a limited number of qualified students, many departments and programs offer special programs leading to degrees with honors. A student may apply to the major department or program for acceptance into the honors program. Demands on the student may vary, but all honors programs encourage creative, independent work at an advanced level in addition to the major requirements.

The guidelines set forth here are deliberately general; implementation must take into account the specific needs of a student's program and the nature of the discipline or disciplines involved. The exercise of responsibility in achieving the desired educational balance belongs first with the student, who, after all, has the strongest interest in the value of his or her education. It belongs secondarily to departments and major programs, which must set the requirements of competence in the many majors offered.

Multiple Majors

Although most students declare only one major, a student may formally declare more than one major within a single bachelor's degree (B.A., B.S., or B.A.S.) program. The student may do that either at the time of initial major declaration or, as may be more advisable given the planning required to complete more than one major, by amending the original declaration. The student's major departments or programs have access routinely to all information pertinent to that student's academic record (for example, course and grade information), and each is expected to provide advising and other assistance. Students may pick up appropriate information regarding major declarations from the Student Services Center. To be awarded a bachelor's degree with multiple majors, the student must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Formally declare all majors through Axess to the Office of the University Registrar.
  2. Satisfy the requirements of each major without applying any course towards the requirements of more than one major or any minor unless:
    1. overlapping courses constitute introductory skill requirements (for example, introductory math or a foreign language);
    2. overlapping courses enable the student to meet school requirements (for example, for two majors within the School of Engineering). Currently, only the School of Engineering has school requirements for its undergraduate majors.

Students pursuing multiple majors must complete a multiple major program form indicating which courses they plan to apply toward each major and any minor(s). Departments must certify that the plan of study meets all requirements for the majors and any minor(s) without unallowable overlaps in course work; the School of Engineering Dean's office certifies this information in any case involving an Engineering major or minor. To facilitate advance planning, multiple major program forms are available at any time from the Registrar's forms web site. The Major-Minor and Multiple Major Course Approval Form is required for graduation for students with multiple majors or a minor. The form should be submitted to the Student Services Center by the Final Study List deadline of the quarter of intended graduation.

If the pursuit of multiple majors (or secondary majors; see below) unduly delays an undergraduate's progress through Stanford, the University reserves the right to limit a student to a single major, and/or to confer a degree on a student who has completed all of the requirements for a degree even though the student has not applied to graduate; such an individual would then be subject to the University's usual rules and restrictions regarding future enrollment or registration.

When students cannot meet the requirements of multiple majors without overlaps, the secondary major, may be relevant.

Secondary Major

In some cases, students may complete course requirements for more than one major, but they may not meet the requirements outlined for the multiple major option. For example, the student may develop a course plan in which courses requisite for one major overlap with requirements for another. In these cases, the student may declare a secondary major which results in the transcript bearing an annotation that the course requirements for that major have also been met. Secondary majors are not listed on the diploma. Students declare secondary majors through the Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major, Minor, Honors, or Degree Program .

Foreign Language Proficiency

The notation "proficiency in (language)" appears on the official transcripts of those students whose levels of achievement are found by procedures established by the Language Center to be roughly equivalent to knowledge an excellent student can be expected to demonstrate late in the third quarter of the third year of study in that language.

Undergraduate Minor

Students completing a bachelor's degree may elect to complete one or more minors in addition to the major. Minors must be officially declared by students no later than the deadline for their application(s) to graduate, according to declaration procedures developed and monitored by the Registrar. Earlier deadlines for declaration of the minor may be set by the offering school or department. Satisfactory completion of declared minors is noted on the student's transcript after degree conferral.

A minor is a coherent program of study defined by the department or degree program. It may be a limited version of a major concentration or a specialized subset of a field. A minor consists of no fewer than six courses of 3 or more units to a maximum of 36 units of letter-graded work, except where letter grades are not offered. Departments and degree programs establish the structure and requirements of each minor in accordance with the policy above and within specific guidelines developed by the deans of schools. Programs which do not offer undergraduate degrees may also make proposals to their cognizant deans to establish a minor. Requirements for each minor are described in the individual department or program listings in this bulletin.

Students may not overlap (double-count) courses for completing major and minor requirements, unless:

  1. Overlapping courses constitute introductory skill requirements (for example, introductory math or a foreign language), or
  2. Overlapping courses enable the student to meet school requirements (for example, for a major within the School of Engineering and a minor). Currently, only the School of Engineering has school requirements for its undergraduate majors.

Undergraduates use Axess to declare or drop a minor. The Major-Minor and Multiple Major Course Approval Form is required for graduation for students with a minor. The form should be submitted to the Student Services Center by the final study list deadline of the quarter of intended graduation.

Students with questions about declaring minors or double-counting courses towards combinations of majors and/or minors should consult with the departments or programs involved or the Student Services Center. For academic advising regarding minors, students should consult the Undergraduate Advising and Research Office (UAR).

Baccalaureate Honors

With Distinction

In recognition of high scholastic attainment, the University, upon recommendation of a major department or program, awards the Bachelor's Degree with Distinction. Distinction is awarded to 15% of the graduating class based on cumulative grade point averages. Distinction is calculated at the end of the Winter Quarter for each graduating class.

Students are also urged to consider the departmental honors programs that may give depth to their major study and to consider, as well, how the interdisciplinary honors programs might contribute to the quality of their undergraduate education.

Departmental Honors Programs

In recognition of successful completion of special advanced work, departments may recommend their students for honors in the major. Departmental honors programs demand independent creative work at an advanced level in addition to major requirements. If approved for departmental honors, the student should declare the Honors degree through Axess.

Interdisciplinary Honors Programs

In recognition of successful completion of honors program requirements, the following interdisciplinary programs can recommend students majoring in any field for honors in their program:

The interdisciplinary honors programs are designed to complement study in a department major. The requirements for these honors programs are described in the department sections of this bulletin. If approved for interdisciplinary honors, the student should submit the Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major, Minor, Honors, or Degree Program form to the Student Services Center to declare the Interdisciplinary Honors Program.

General Education Requirements

Effective for undergraduates admitted in 2013-14, a new General Education Requirements policy is in place. Students admitted in earlier years should consult the "General Education Requirements through 2012-13" section below.

In order to graduate, undergraduates must complete the following General Education Requirements:

  • Thinking Matters Requirement
  • Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing
  • Writing and Rhetoric Requirement
    • Program in Writing and Rhetoric (2 courses required, PWR 1 and PWR 2)
    • Writing in the Major
  • Language Requirement

Purpose

The General Education Requirements are an integral part of undergraduate education at Stanford. Their purpose is to introduce students to the intellectual life of the University, to foreground important questions, and to illustrate how they may be approached from multiple perspectives. They are intended to develop a broad set of essential intellectual and social competencies of enduring value no matter what field a student eventually pursues. Students have flexibility to select topics that appeal to them while building critical skills, exploring interests, forming relationships with faculty and peers, and forging connections between educational experiences in many spheres. Together with the major, the requirements serve as the nucleus around which students build their four years at Stanford.

General Education requirement courses must be taken for a letter grade and a minimum of 3 units of credit, with the exception of courses taken to fulfill the Language requirement, which may be taken for credit/no credit. Additionally, a course taken to satisfy the Creative Expression Way (Way-CR)  may be taken for a minimum of 2 units and/or may be taken satisfactory/no credit at the instructor’s discretion.

Credit Transfer

Students may propose that work taken at another college or university be accepted in fulfillment of a General Education Requirement. In such cases, the Office of the University Registrar determines, after appropriate faculty consultation, whether the work is comparable to any of the specifically certified courses or course sequences. To fulfill GER requirements through transfer work, the course must match a specific Stanford course that fulfills the same GER requirement, be a minimum of three quarter units, and be taken for a letter grade. For more information see the Transfer Work section of this Bulletin.

Thinking Matters

Students are required to take one Thinking Matters (THINK) course during their freshman year. Most students take one stand-alone course selected from approximately eight courses offered each quarter.

Alternatively, students may take  one of three residence-based, year-long programs:

  • Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture (ITALIC)
  • Science in the Making Integrated Learning Environment (SIMILE)
  • Structured Liberal Education (SLE)
    • Each of these also satisfies at least part of the Writing and Rhetoric Requirement as well as several Ways requirements.)

Another option, in Autumn Quarter only, allows students to enroll in Education as Self-Fashioning (ESF) that satisfies the Thinking Matters requirement as well as PWR 1.

Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing (WAYS)

These courses provide students with educational breadth by giving instruction in essential skills and capacities in the areas of:

Students are required to take eleven certified WAYS courses, with two courses in WAY-AII, WAY-SI, and WAY-SMA, and one course in each of the remaining five WAYS.

Although courses may be certified to fulfill two WAYS, you may only count a course toward one WAY in your program of study. Thinking Matters courses typically satisfy a WAY. Courses may also count both for major and General Education requirements.

Additional information on the WAYS requirements is available on the Stanford Undergrad site.

Language Requirement

To fulfill the Language Requirement, undergraduates are required to complete one year of college-level study or the equivalent in a foreign language. Students may fulfill the requirement in any one of the following ways:

  1. Complete three quarters of a first-year, 4-5 units language course at Stanford or the equivalent at another recognized post-secondary institution subject to current University transfer credit policies. Language courses at Stanford may be taken with the Credit/No Credit grading basis, if so offered, to fulfill the requirement.
  2. Score 4 or 5 on the Language Advanced Placement (AP) test in one of the following languages: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, or Spanish. Advanced Placement (AP) tests in foreign literature do not fulfill the requirement.
  3. Achieve a satisfactory score on the SAT II Subject Tests in the following languages taken prior to college matriculation:
  4. Test Subject Score
    Chinese630
    French640
    German630
    Latin630
    Spanish630
    Italian630
    Japanese620
    Korean630
    Hebrew540
  5.  Take a diagnostic test in a particular language which either:
    1. Places them out of the requirement, or
    2. Diagnoses them as needing one, two, or three additional quarters of college-level study. In this case, the requirement can then be fulfilled either by passing the required number of quarters of college-level language study at Stanford or the equivalent elsewhere, or by retaking the diagnostic test at a later date and placing out of the requirement.

Written placements are offered online throughout the summer in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Spanish for home background speakers.

For a full description of Language Center offerings, see the "Language Center" section of this bulletin under the school of Humanities and Sciences.


Writing and Rhetoric Requirement

All instructors at Stanford University expect students to express themselves effectively in writing and speech. The Writing and Rhetoric requirement helps students meet those high expectations.

All candidates for the bachelor's degree, regardless of the date of matriculation, must satisfy the Writing and Rhetoric requirement. Transfer students are individually reviewed at the time of matriculation by the Office of the University Registrar's Degree Progress section and, if necessary, the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) as to their status with regard to the requirement.

The Writing and Rhetoric requirement includes courses at three levels. The first two levels are described in more detail below. Writing-intensive courses that fulfill the third level, the Writing in the Major (WIM) requirement, are designated under individual department listings.

All undergraduates must satisfy the first-level Writing and Rhetoric requirement (WR 1) in one of five ways:

  1. PWR 1: a course emphasizing writing and research-based argument.
  2. SLE: writing instruction in connection with the Structured Liberal Education program.
  3. ESF: writing instruction in connection with the Education as Self-Fashioning Thinking Matters course.
  4. ILEs: writing instruction in connection with either the SIMILE or ITALIC Integrated Learning Environment courses.
  5. Transfer credit approved by the Office of the University Registrar for this purpose.

All undergraduates must satisfy the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WR 2) in one of four ways:

  1. PWR 2, a course emphasizing writing, research, and oral presentation of research.
  2. SLE: writing and oral presentation instruction in connection with the Structured Liberal Education program.
  3. A course offered through a department or program certified as meeting the WR 2 requirement by the Writing and Rhetoric Governance Board. These courses are designated as Write-2.
  4. Transfer credit approved by the Office of the University Registrar for this purpose.

A complete listing of PWR 1 courses is available each quarter on the PWR web site, and at the PWR office in Sweet Hall, Third Floor. Complete listings of PWR 2 and Write-2 courses are available to students on the PWR web site the quarter before they are scheduled to complete the WR 2 requirement.

For a full description of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), see the "Writing and Rhetoric" section of this bulletin under the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education.

Students who matriculated prior to Autumn 2003 should consult previous issues of the Stanford Bulletin or the PWR office to determine what requirements apply.

General Education Requirements through 2012-13

Undergraduates fulfill their General Education Requirements through the policy in effect at the time of their admission to Stanford.

  • Undergraduates who matriculated in Autumn 2012, follow the Thinking Matters requirement as described above and the GERs, including Language and Writing and Rhetoric requirements, as below.
  • Undergraduates who matriculated in Autumn 2011 or earlier follow the freshman IHUM requirement rather than the Thinking Matters requirement and should consult the relevant Bulletin from the year in which they began study at Stanford to determine the requirements applying to them. They follow the GER requirements, including Language and Writing and Rhetoric requirements, as below.
  • Undergraduates who matriculated prior to Autumn 2003 should consult previous issues of the Stanford Bulletin to determine what requirements apply.

Students may elect to change to the new system described above. The following description applies to students under the GER policy effective through 2012-13.

Purpose

The General Education Requirements are an integral part of undergraduate education at Stanford. Their purpose is:

  1. to introduce students to a broad range of fields and areas of study within the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, applied sciences, and technology; and
  2. to help students prepare to become responsible members of society.

Whereas the concentration of courses in the major is expected to provide depth, the General Education Requirements have the complementary purpose of providing breadth to a student's undergraduate program. The requirements are also intended to introduce students to the major social, historical, cultural, and intellectual forces that shape the contemporary world.

Fulfillment of the General Education Requirements in itself does not provide a student with an adequately broad education any more than acquiring the necessary number of units in the major qualifies the student as a specialist in the field. The major and the General Education Requirements are meant to serve as the nucleus around which the student is expected to build a coherent course of study by drawing on the options available among the required and elective courses.

Information regarding courses that have been certified to fulfill the General Education Requirements, and regarding a student's status in meeting these requirements, is available at the Student Services Center. Course planning and advising questions related to the General Education Requirements should be directed to Undergraduate Advising and Research.

It is the responsibility of each student to ensure that he or she has fulfilled the requirements by checking in Axess. This should be done at least two quarters before graduation.

Students should be very careful to note which set of General Education Requirements apply to them. The date of matriculation at Stanford determines which requirements apply to an individual student.

Area Requirements

Disciplinary Breadth

This requirement is satisfied by completing five courses of which one course must be taken in each subject area.

Disciplinary Breadth gives students educational breadth by providing experience in the following areas. Each area is linked to a comprehensive list of courses on ExploreCourses.

Education for Citizenship

This requirement is requirement satisfied by completing two courses in different subject areas; or completing two Disciplinary Breadth courses which also satisfy different Education for Citizenship subject areas.

Education for Citizenship provides students with some of the skills and knowledge that are necessary for citizenship in contemporary national cultures and participation in the global cultures of the 21st century.

Education for Citizenship is divided into four subject areas. Each area is linked to a comprehensive list of courses on ExploreCourses. Further explanation of the purposes of Education for Citizenship requirements follows below.

Ethical Reasoning

Courses introduce students to the pervasiveness, complexity, and diversity of normative concepts and judgments in human lives, discuss skeptical concerns that arise about normative practices, review ways in which people have engaged in ethical reflection, and consider ethical problems in light of diverse ethical perspectives.

The Global Community

Courses address the problems of the emerging global situation. They may compare several societies in time and space or deal in depth with a single society, either contemporary or historical, outside the U.S. Challenges of note: economic globalization and technology transfer; migration and immigration; economic development, health; environmental exploitation and preservation; ethnic and cultural identity; and international forms of justice and mediation.

American Cultures

Courses address topics pertaining to the history, significance, and consequences of racial, ethnic, or religious diversity in the culture and society of the U.S. Challenges of note: equity in education; employment and health; parity in legal and social forms of justice; preserving identity and freedom within and across communities.

Gender Studies

Courses address gender conceptions, roles, and relations, and sexual identity in a contemporary or historical context; they critically examine interpretations of gender differences and relations between men and women. Challenge of note: changing sexual and physiological realities in contemporary and historical perspective.

Courses certified as meeting the General Education Requirements must be taken for a letter grade and a minimum of 3 units of credit. A single course may be certified as fulfilling only one subject area within the General Education Requirements; the one exception is that a course may be certified to fulfill an Education for Citizenship subject area in addition to a Disciplinary Breadth subject area.

Notational Symbols

Courses that have been certified as meeting the requirements are identified throughout ExploreCourses with the notational symbols listed below.

Notational symbol Area
Thinking Matters
THINKFreshman Year
Disciplinary Breadth
DB-EngrAppSciEngineering and Applied Sciences
DB-HumHumanities
DB-MathMathematics
DB-NatSciNatural Sciences
DB-SocSciSocial Sciences
Education for Citizenship
EC-AmerCulAmerican Cultures
EC-GlobalComGlobal Communities
EC-GenderGender Studies
EC-EthicReasEthical Reasoning

Language Requirement

To fulfill the Language Requirement, undergraduates are required to complete one year of college-level study or the equivalent in a foreign language. Students may fulfill the requirement in any one of the following ways:

  1. Complete three quarters of a first-year, 4-5 units language course at Stanford or the equivalent at another recognized post-secondary institution subject to current University transfer credit policies. Language courses at Stanford may be taken with the Credit/No Credit grading basis, if so offered, to fulfill the requirement.
  2. Score 4 or 5 on the Language Advanced Placement (AP) test in one of the following languages: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, or Spanish. Advanced Placement (AP) tests in foreign literature do not fulfill the requirement.
  3. Achieve a satisfactory score on the SAT II Subject Tests in the following languages taken prior to college matriculation:
  4. Test Subject Score
    Chinese630
    French640
    German630
    Latin630
    Spanish630
    Italian630
    Japanese620
    Korean630
    Hebrew540
  5.  Take a diagnostic test in a particular language which either:
    1. Places them out of the requirement, or
    2. Diagnoses them as needing one, two, or three additional quarters of college-level study. In this case, the requirement can then be fulfilled either by passing the required number of quarters of college-level language study at Stanford or the equivalent elsewhere, or by retaking the diagnostic test at a later date and placing out of the requirement.

Written placements are offered online throughout the summer in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Spanish for home background speakers.

For a full description of Language Center offerings, see the "Language Center" section of this bulletin under the school of Humanities and Sciences.

 

Writing and Rhetoric Requirement

All instructors at Stanford University expect students to express themselves effectively in writing and speech. The Writing and Rhetoric requirement helps students meet those high expectations.

All candidates for the bachelor's degree, regardless of the date of matriculation, must satisfy the Writing and Rhetoric requirement. Transfer students are individually reviewed at the time of matriculation by the Office of the University Registrar's Degree Progress section and, if necessary, the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) as to their status with regard to the requirement.

The Writing and Rhetoric requirement includes courses at three levels. The first two levels are described in more detail below. Writing-intensive courses that fulfill the third level, the Writing in the Major (WIM) requirement, are designated under individual department listings.

All undergraduates must satisfy the first-level Writing and Rhetoric requirement (WR 1) in one of five ways:

  1. PWR 1: a course emphasizing writing and research-based argument.
  2. SLE: writing instruction in connection with the Structured Liberal Education program.
  3. ESF: writing instruction in connection with the Education as Self-Fashioning Thinking Matters course.
  4. ILEs: writing instruction in connection with either the SIMILE or ITALIC Integrated Learning Environment courses.
  5. Transfer credit approved by the Office of the University Registrar for this purpose.

All undergraduates must satisfy the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WR 2) in one of four ways:

  1. PWR 2, a course emphasizing writing, research, and oral presentation of research.
  2. SLE: writing and oral presentation instruction in connection with the Structured Liberal Education program.
  3. A course offered through a department or program certified as meeting the WR 2 requirement by the Writing and Rhetoric Governance Board. These courses are designated as Write-2.
  4. Transfer credit approved by the Office of the University Registrar for this purpose.

A complete listing of PWR 1 courses is available each quarter on the PWR web site, and at the PWR office in Sweet Hall, Third Floor. Complete listings of PWR 2 and Write-2 courses are available to students on the PWR web site the quarter before they are scheduled to complete the WR 2 requirement.

For a full description of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), see the "Writing and Rhetoric" section of this bulletin under the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education.

Students who matriculated prior to Autumn 2003 should consult previous issues of the Stanford Bulletin or the PWR office to determine what requirements apply.

Credit

Activity Courses

For undergraduates, a maximum of 8 units of credit earned in activity courses, regardless of the offering department or if accepted as transfer units, count towards the 180 (225 if dual degrees are being pursued) units required for the bachelor's degree. All activity courses are offered on a satisfactory/no credit basis.

Courses Taken on Satisfactory/No Credit or Credit/No Credit Basis

A maximum of 36 units of credit (including activity courses) taken at Stanford or its overseas campuses for a "CR" or "S" grade may be applied towards the 180 (225 if dual degrees are being pursued) units required for the bachelor's degree. The maximum for transfer students is 27 units.

Departments may also limit the number of satisfactory or credit courses accepted towards the requirements for a major. Satisfactory/Credit courses applied towards a minor may be similarly limited. Courses not letter-graded are not accepted in fulfillment of the General Education Requirements. Writing in the Major courses are usually offered letter grade only. In those instances where the course is offered for a letter grade or CR/NC, the course must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Writing in the Major requirement.

Internship Guidelines

Undergraduate internships should not by themselves carry any credit. However, an individual student may arrange with a faculty member for a research or other academic project to be based on the internship. Arrangements between students and faculty regarding credit are expected to be made well in advance of the internship. Credit should be arranged within departmental rules for directed reading or independent study and should meet the usual department standards. No transfer credit is awarded for internships.

Last Units out of Residence

Students may petition to complete their final 15 units out of residence to complete their degree requirements. The final 15 units of transfer credit must meet the criteria in the undergraduate "Transfer Work" section of this bulletin. Students must submit the Request for Last Units Out of Residence Petition to determine eligibility and to request pre-approval of the transfer work. A registration status is required to graduate. Students should select either the Graduation Quarter or the Permit for Services Only special registration status on the Last Units Out of Residence petition. Refer to the Special Registration Status section of the bulletin for a description of theses statuses. An application to graduate should be submitted through Axess.

Concurrent Enrollment (Undergraduate)

Undergraduates may enroll concurrently at Stanford and at another college or university. The following policies apply to concurrent enrollment:

  1. Students may not exceed 20 quarter units between both schools. This is the same unit maximum for undergraduates at Stanford. (One semester credit or hour generally equals 1.5 quarter units.)
  2. Satisfactory academic progress is determined only by Stanford courses and units. Transfer work completed at other institutions is not considered in this calculation.
  3. Students are expected to submit a Request for Transfer Credit Evaluation for pre-approval of transfer credit prior to enrolling in the transfer institution.

Advanced Placement

Stanford University allows up to 45 units of external credit (90 units for transfer students) toward graduation including work completed in high school as part of the College Board Advanced Placement curriculum. The awarding of such credit is based on Advanced Placement test scores and is subject to University and department approval.

The faculty of a given department determine whether any credit toward the 180-unit requirement can be based on achievement in the College Board Advanced Placement Program in their discipline. Stanford departments electing to accept the Advanced Placement (AP) credit are bound by these University policies:

  1. Credit is usually granted for an AP score of 4 or 5. Usually, 10 quarter units are awarded (but occasionally fewer than 10). No more than 10 quarter units may be given for performance in a single examination.
  2. Whether credit is to be given for an AP score of 3 is a matter for departmental discretion; up to 10 units may be awarded.
  3. No credit may be authorized for an AP score lower than 3.

Performance on an AP exam can indicate the appropriate placement for continuing course work in that subject at Stanford. If students enroll in courses at Stanford for which they received equivalent AP credit, the duplicating AP credit will be removed. The chart below shows the current AP credit and placement policies.

A maximum of 45 quarter units of Advanced Placement (AP), transfer credit, and/or other external credit (such as International Baccalaureate) may be applied toward the undergraduate degree. More than 45 units of AP, transfer, and other external credit may appear on the Stanford University transcript; however, only 45 units can be applied to the minimum units required for the undergraduate degree. Once credit has been posted it cannot be removed from the student record. Stanford University policies on AP and other external credit are subject to review and change on an annual basis. Subjects not listed on this chart are not eligible for AP credit at Stanford University. Students may only receive AP credit for the AP policies that were effective during their matriculation year at Stanford.

Further information is available from the Student Services Center or at at the Registrar's web site.

AP Scores and Placement

Test Subject Score Placement Quarter Units
Calculus AB (or AB subscore)5MATH 5110
Calculus AB (or AB subscore)4MATH 425
Calculus BC4,5MATH 5110
Calculus BC3MATH 425
Chemistry5CHEM 33 or above4
Chinese (Language and Culture)15Take placement exam if continuing in this language10
Computer Science A4,5CS 106B or 106X 5
Computer Science AB4,5CS 106B, 106X, or 1075
French (Language)15Take placement exam if continuing in this language 10
German (Language)15Take placement exam if continuing in this language 10
Japanese (Language and Culture)15Take placement exam if continuing in this language10
Latin (Literature or Virgil)14,5Take placement exam if continuing in this language 10
Physics B5PHYSICS 258
Physics B4PHYSICS 23 and 25 4
Physics C Mechanics only4,5PHYSICS 43 and 45 or PHYSICS 23 and 255
Physics C Mechanics only3PHYSICS 41,43 and 45 or PHYSICS 23 and 254
Physics C E&M only4,5PHYSICS 41 and 45 or PHYSICS 21 and 255
Physics C E&M only3PHYSICS 41,43 and 45 or PHYSICS 21 and 254
Physics C Both Parts4,5PHYSICS 45 or PHYSICS 2510
Physics C Both Parts3PHYSICS 41,43 and 45 or PHYSICS 258
Spanish (Language)15Take placement exam if continuing in this language 10

1

A score of 4 or 5 on this test fulfills the Language Requirement. A score of 5 is required to receive 10 units of credit.


Stanford University awards advanced placement credit for certain International Baccalaureate and international advanced placement subject examinations. The international test subjects must match the content of the College  Board Advanced Placement test subjects that receive advanced placement credit.

 

 

Undergraduate Transfer Work

Academic credit for work done elsewhere may be allowed toward a Stanford bachelor's degree under the following rules and conditions:

  1. Credit may be granted for work completed at institutions in the U.S. only if the institutions are accredited.
  2. Study in institutions outside the U.S., when validated by examination results, tutorial reports, or other official evidence of satisfactory work, may be credited toward a Stanford bachelor's degree, subject to the approval of the credit evaluator and the appropriate departments.
  3. Credit is officially allowed only after the student has been unconditionally admitted to Stanford.
  4. Credit is allowed for work completed at institutions in the U.S. only on the basis of an official transcript received by the Registrar at Stanford directly from the institution where the credit was earned.
  5. Credit from another institution may be transferred for courses which are substantially equivalent to those offered at Stanford University on the undergraduate level, subject to the approval of the credit evaluator. A maximum of 20 quarter units may represent courses which do not parallel specific undergraduate courses at Stanford, again, subject to the approval of the credit evaluator as to quality and suitability.
  6. Course work cannot duplicate, overlap, or regress previous work.
  7. Transfer course work cannot count towards secondary school diploma and/or graduation requirements.
  8. To fulfill GER requirements through transfer work, the course must match a specific Stanford course that fulfills the same GER requirement, be a minimum of three quarter units, and be taken for a letter grade.
  9. Transfer work can be used to satisfy a department major or minor requirement. The transfer work must first be officially accepted into the University through the Office of the University Registrar. Departments determine if approved transfer work can be used to satisfy a department major or minor requirement.
  10. The credit allowed at Stanford for one quarter's work may not exceed the number of units that would have been permissible for one quarter if the work had been done at Stanford; for work done under a system other than the quarter system, the permissible maximum units are calculated at an appropriate ratio of equivalence.
  11. Credit is allowed at Stanford for work graded 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' or 'Pass' (where 'Pass' is equivalent to a letter grade of 'C' or above), but not for work graded 'D' or below.
  12. No more than 45 (90 for transfer students) quarter units of credit for work done elsewhere may be counted toward a bachelor's degree at Stanford (including advance placement test credit).
  13. Credit earned in extension, correspondence, and online courses is transferable only if the university offering the courses allows that credit toward its own bachelor's degree. Such credit is limited to a maximum of 45 quarter units for extension courses, a maximum of 15 quarter units for correspondence and online study, and a maximum of 45 quarter units for the combination of extension, correspondence, and online courses.
  14. Credit earned in military training and service is not transferable to Stanford, unless offered by an accredited college or university in the U.S. and evaluated as above by the credit evaluator.

Special Registration Statuses (Undergraduate)

The following reduced-tuition categories can be requested by undergraduates in the final stages of their degree program:

Permit to Attend for Services Only (PSO)

Undergraduates in their terminal quarter who are completing honors theses, clearing incomplete grades, or have completed all requirements and are requiring a registration status to utilize university resources, may petition one time only for PSO status. PSO does not permit any course enrollment. Students should apply to graduate through Axess if applying for the PSO special registration status. The deadline for the completed PSO petition is the Preliminary Study List deadline of the applicable quarter.

13th Quarter

Undergraduates who have completed at least twelve full-time quarters may petition to register for 13th Quarter registration status at a reduced tuition rate for their final quarter, but must register for at least eight units. Undergraduate dual degree students must complete at least fifteen full-time quarters before petitioning for reduced tuition in their final quarter.  Students receiving financial aid should check with the Financial Aid Office for eligibility if they are seeking aid beyond 12 quarters of enrollment.  Undergraduates should apply to graduate through Axess if applying for the 13th-quarter special registration status.

Graduation Quarter

Undergraduates may petition one time only for Graduation Quarter in their terminal quarter only if:

  1. filing a Request for Last Units Out of Residence in order to complete up to 15 final units at another institution; or
  2. returning from a discontinued status and filing a Request to Return and Register in Undergraduate Study  in order to confer their degree; or
  3. if all degree requirements have been completed and student requires a registration status to graduate, but will not be using University resources or housing.

Coterm students are only eligible for the Graduation Quarter special registration status if they are conferring both the undergraduate and graduate degree in the same quarter. Undergraduates may be eligible for Graduation Quarter status in these three situations only if the student has completed all graduation requirements and will not be utilizing University resources, including housing. The deadline for the completed Graduation Quarter petition is the Preliminary Study List deadline of the applicable quarter.

Minimum Progress for Undergraduates

Undergraduates are expected to finish their degree requirements in a timely fashion. In addition to maintaining academic standing obligations, students are expected to take courses to progress towards a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. If after 12 quarters, an undergraduate is not on track to complete degree requirements and graduate within the next two quarters, the University may impose requirements with deadlines on a student's course of study. Further, if a student fails to meet those imposed requirements and/or has not after 18 quarters completed all degree requirements, the University may discontinue the student for failure to progress.

Leaves of Absence and Reinstatement (Undergraduate)

Undergraduates are admitted to Stanford University with the expectation that they will complete their degree programs in a reasonable amount of time, usually within four years.

Students on leave of absence are not registered at Stanford and, therefore, do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. They cannot fulfill any official department or University requirements during the leave period. Students on leave may complete course work for which an 'Incomplete' grade was awarded in a prior term and are expected to comply with the maximum one-year time limit for resolving incompletes; a leave of absence does not stop the clock on the time limit for resolving incompletes.

Leaves of absence for undergraduates may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (eight quarters including Summer Quarters).

Voluntary Leave

Students have the option of taking a voluntary leave of absence for up to one year upon filing a petition to do so with the Office of the University Registrar and receiving approval. Except where unexpected circumstances necessitate an immediate leave, students are expected to file for a voluntary leave of absence 30 days prior to the quarter in which the leave will begin.

The leave may be extended for up to one additional year provided the student files (before the end of the initial one-year leave) a petition for the leave extension with the Office of the University Registrar and receives approval. Undergraduates who take an approved leave of absence while in good standing may enroll in the University for the subsequent quarter with the privileges of a returning student. However, the University may condition its approval of a petition for leave of absence on the student's meeting such requirements as the University deems appropriate in the individual case for the student to be eligible to return (such as, in the case of a leave for medical reasons, proof of treatment and/or an interview with a provider at Vaden Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services or its designee).

New freshmen and transfers are required to register in Autumn Quarter and may not take a leave of absence prior to or during to their first quarter, except with the permission of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (or his or her designee) under extenuating circumstances.  However, new Stanford students may request a deferment from the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

Undergraduates who wish to withdraw from the current quarter, or from a quarter for which they have registered in advance and do not wish to attend, must file a leave of absence petition with and receive approval from the office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, via the office of Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR), Sweet Hall. Information on tuition refunds is available in the "Refunds" section of this bulletin. For a full refund, petitions must be received by the Office of the University Registrar no later than the first day of classes for the quarter.

Mandatory Leave

A mandatory leave of absence can be imposed in circumstances in which a student:

  • presents a substantial risk of harm to self or others or is failing to carry out substantial self-care obligations; or
  • significantly disrupts the educational or other activities of the University community; or
  • is unable to participate meaningfully in educational activities; or
  • requires a level of care from the University community that exceeds the resources and staffing that the University can reasonably be expected to provide for the student's well-being.

Students whose circumstances warrant a review under the Dean's Mandatory Leave of Absence Policy, will be apprised, in writing, of University concerns by the Dean of Student Life and will be provided an opportunity to respond to concerns in writing or in person or via telephone before a review committee convened by the Dean of Student Life. Students placed on involuntary leave of absence can appeal an unfavorable decision to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The University can condition a student's return to registered student status on such requirements as the University deems appropriate in the individual case (such as, in the case of a leave for medical reasons, proof of treatment of an interview with a health care professional at Vaden Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services or its designee). The Dean of Student Life publishes the full Dean's Mandatory Leave of Absence Policy on its web site.

When a student is granted or placed on a leave of absence after the beginning of the term, courses in which the student was enrolled after the final study list deadline appear on the student's transcript and show the symbol 'W' (withdraw). For additional information regarding satisfactory academic progress, refer to the "Academic Standing" section of this bulletin. Information on tuition refunds is available in the "Refunds" section of this bulletin.

Discontinuation and Reinstatement

A student's academic degree program may be discontinued if the student:

  • fails to be enrolled by the study list deadline; or
  • fails to be approved for a leave of absence by the start of the term; or
  • voluntarily terminates undergraduate studies; or
  • is dismissed for academic reasons; or
  • is expelled from the University.

Students who fail to be either enrolled by the final study list deadline, or have exceeded their eight quarters of approved leave, or who fail to submit a Leave of Absence petition by the published deadline, must apply for reinstatement through the Request to Return and Register in Undergraduate Study. The University is not obliged to approve reinstatements of students. Applications for reinstatement are reviewed by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and are subject to the approval of the Faculty Senate Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy or its designees. The Committee or its designees may determine whether the application for reinstatement will be approved or not, and/or the conditions a student must meet in order to be reinstated. Reinstatement decisions may be based on the applicant's status when last enrolled, activities while away from campus, the length of the absence, the perceived potential for successful completion of the program, as well as any other factors or considerations regarded as relevant to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education or the Committee.

Applications for reinstatement through the Request to Return and Register in Undergraduate Study, must be submitted eight weeks prior to the start of the term in which the student seeks to enroll in classes. Information and instructions may be obtained by contacting the office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, via the office of Undergraduate Advising Research (UAR), Sweet Hall.

Students who have been expelled from Stanford University are not permitted to apply for reinstatement.

Leaves of absence and reinstatement of graduate students are addressed in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

Conferral of Degrees

Upon recommendation to the Senate of the Academic Council by the faculty of the relevant departments or schools and the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy, degrees are awarded four times each year, at the conclusion of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer quarters. All diplomas, however, are prepared and distributed after degree conferral in accordance to the distribution dates listed on the Registrar's Office web site.

Students must apply for conferral of an undergraduate or graduate degree by filing an Application to Graduate by the deadline for each term. The deadlines are published in the Academic Calendar. A separate application must be filed for each degree program and for each conferral term. Applications are filed through Axess.

Requests for conferral are reviewed by the Office of the University Registrar and the student's department, to verify completion of degree requirements. Registration is required in the conferral term. Students with unmet financial or other University obligations resulting in the placement of a hold on their registration cannot receive a transcript, statement of completion, degree certificate, or diploma until the hold is released. An academic record where no other degree objective is being pursued is permanently frozen after the final degree conferral, and all subsequent grade change requests or changes to the student record are not permitted.

Students are typically expected to apply to graduate during the term in which they expect to be awarded a degree. The University, however, reserves the right to confer a degree on a student who has completed all of the requirements for a degree even though the student has not applied to graduate; such an individual would then be subject to the University's usual rules and restrictions regarding future enrollment or registration.

Students who wish to withdraw a request for conferral or make changes to the Application to Graduate should notify the Student Services Center in writing through the Withdrawal of Application to Graduate Form by the late application to graduate deadline on the academic calendar. Students who withdraw their graduation applications or fail to meet degree requirements must reapply to graduate in a subsequent term.

Stanford University awards no honorary degrees.