Undergraduate Education

Academic Freedom

Student-to-faculty ratio
Nearly 70%
Of classes have 19 students or fewer

At Stanford, students enjoy an unusual degree of academic freedom. The Stanford curriculum is designed with flexibility to provide students the opportunity to explore courses across disciplines. It embodies the cornerstones of a strong Liberal Arts education.

  • Stanford follows a quarter system calendar. Each quarter is 10 weeks long and students are typically enrolled in classes for three quarters: autumn, winter, spring. With three sets of classes each year, the quarter system allows students to take up to 50% more courses during their time in college than would be possible on the semester system.
  • When applying to the University, students do not apply to any specific major, department or program. Students have two full years after enrolling to explore their interests before declaring a major by the end of their sophomore year.  
  • Approximately 25% of our students pursue interdisciplinary programs such as Human Biology, Earth Systems, International Relations, Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and Urban Studies.
  • Each year, over 200 seminars are offered exclusively to freshmen, sophomores and first-year transfer students, averaging 16 students. For example, in the American Songbook and Love Poetry seminar, students and Professor Kenneth Fields whom is the author of many books discuss how different composers, lyricists, and vocalists like Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, and more talked about love in response to depression, gender roles, in their love songs of the 1920s through the 50s and beyond.
  • Stanford students can pursue double-majors, add a minor, write an honors thesis, take graduate level courses, or graduate with both a bachelor's and a master's degree (often in as little as five years.)
  • Students can also take advantage of optional academic enrichment opportunities over the summer, like Leland Scholars , the Arts Intensive , Bing Honors College , or Sophomore College .

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-2021 Academic year has changed. Please visit our Re-Approaching Stanford website to learn more about how we are navigating our undergraduate education programs.

“Its object, to qualify its students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life; And its purposes, to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization, teaching the blessings of liberty regulated by law, and inculcating love and reverence for the great principles of government as derived from the inalienable rights of man to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

-Leland Stanford & Jane Lathrop Stanford

Updated on March 19, 2021 1:25 PM