Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation


Main content start

Our first-year classes encourage you to consider what ideas, scientific evidence, and art can contribute to your personal development. How might a novel affect how you view others? What can a scientific study teach you about social hierarchy and stress? Does a philosophical argument about free speech change your mind about censorship? These are the kinds of questions we invite you to dwell on. The point is not to get the right answer on a test, it’s to let your mind explore alternative views.

Choose two quarters to take COLLEGE during your first year at Stanford. Alternatively, you can also fulfill the COLLEGE requirement by participating in the ESF, ITALIC, or SLE programs.  Visit Compare Options to Fulfill the Requirement for a handy chart to see the differences. 

COLLEGE Courses 2023-2024

Student writing
Autumn Seminar

Why College? Your Education and the Good Life

Seminars offer a unique frosh experience. In Autumn, reflect on your own life goals in Why College: Your Education and the Good Life

Need a conversation starter? Over a thousand of your fellow frosh will join you in taking these seminars. Your seminar will be just 10-15 students, letting you get to know people outside your residence. 

Special events for the whole first-year class. 

Meets 2x/week. Attend Seminar twice for 80 minutes, each week. 3 Units.

Ways. Way-A-II.

Students have class outside
Winter Seminar

Citizenship in the 21st Century

Seminars offer a unique frosh experience. In Winter, consider your place within your communities in Citizenship in the 21st Century

What makes this course unique? Starting with Stanford’s fundamental standard, we ask how citizenship in a community needs to be constantly redefined and reinvigorated for each new era.

Come together beyond the classroom. All frosh are invited to a panel on the crisis of democracy and other major events.

Meets 2x/week. Attend Seminar twice for 80 minutes, each week. 3 Units.

Ways. Way-ER or Way-SI

Students surround whiteboard
Spring Lecture Courses

Global Perspectives

Spring lecture courses enable you to analyze your relationship and responsibility to the world and the planet.

Global Perspectives on Big Questions. Several thematic courses of 70-120 students take a global approach to big questions, ranging from daily concerns about how we live around the world to existential questions about sustainability. The global orientation hones your skills to see connections across very different cultures, and enables you to understand the world as an interconnected system. You will develop critical thinking skills through studying a range of materials, including films and novels, scholarly analyses, and quantitative datasets.

Meets 4x/week. Attend Lecture twice for 50 minutes, and Section twice for 50 minutes, each week. 4 Units.

Ways. Varies by course but each course will be certified for at least one Way by spring.

Special Programs

Participating in the programs below also counts toward the COLLEGE requirement.

ESF students at the Getty Center

ESF: Education as Self-Fashioning

Students can take ESF in the Autumn plus a COLLEGE course in Winter or Spring.

ITALIC students watch musical performance

ITALIC: Immersion in the Arts

Completing the full year of ITALIC fulfills COLLEGE in addition to other requirements.

SLE student group photo outside

SLE: Structured Liberal Education

Completing the full year of SLE fulfills COLLEGE as well as other requirements.