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Completing the COLLEGE First-Year Requirement 

The first-year requirement depends on when a student entered Stanford and officially matriculated as a first-year student. If you entered Stanford in:

  • Autumn 2022 and after: you need to take two quarters of COLLEGE (2 courses, 3 or 4 units each). ESF (7 units), SLE 91, SLE 92, ITALIC 91, and ITALIC 93 may also count toward a quarter of COLLEGE.
  • Autumn 2021: you have a one-quarter COLLEGE requirement (one course, 3 or 4 units). Both COLLEGE and THINK courses were offered in this transition year and satisfy the requirement. ESF (7 units), SLE 91, SLE 92, ITALIC 91, and ITALIC 93 may also count toward a quarter of COLLEGE.
  • Autumn 2012 through Autumn 2020: you must complete the one-quarter Thinking Matters requirement (one course, 4 units). Students who were unable to complete the THINK requirement in their first year may take a currently offered COLLEGE course to fulfill the requirement. ESF (7 units), SLE 91, SLE 92, ITALIC 91, and ITALIC 93 may also count toward a quarter of THINK. Email to request a placement; include a note about your top 3 preferred courses. After the course is completed, you will need to remind to request the substitution be updated in Axess.
  • Autumn 2011 and earlier: you may have a three-quarter Introduction to the Humanities requirement (IHUM, three courses of 4 units each), or a Western Culture or CIV requirement. Students returning after such an extended leave can work with the COLLEGE program to substitute current first-year requirement classes for the original requirement. Email

COLLEGE and Ways

Courses fulfilling the COLLEGE requirement will typically also be certified to fulfill a Way, and a single course may be counted toward both requirements.

Course Eligibility

All frosh and new transfers are eligible to take COLLEGE courses. Frosh will be given a placement as part of the Approaching Stanford process, while transfers may optionally email to request enrollment, if they so choose.

After the first year at Stanford, only students who still need to complete the first-year requirement will be enrolled in COLLEGE courses. General interest, major requirements, and/or needing a Way do not enable non-frosh to take COLLEGE courses.

Repeating COLLEGE

Students may only repeat COLLEGE if they failed the course and need to complete the requirement.

If a student fails a COLLEGE course, they may take any COLLEGE course to replace it. After successful completion of the second course, the student may request of that the original NP grade be converted to an RP as per the repeat grade policy.

Grade Disputes and Other Concerns

Policies vary slightly depending on program, but in general, the first step is to talk with your instructor. The Grade Dispute chart (pending) outlines the specific process for COLLEGE, THINK, SLE, ITALIC, and ESF. Students may also find Stanford's Student Academic Grievance Procedure helpful. 

COVID-19 Changes to THINK Grading Policies

Normally, students must take THINK for a letter grade to fulfill the Thinking Matters requirement (and the same is true of COLLEGE). However, COVID-19 required some changes to this policy.

  • In Spring 2020, all courses were only offered as S/NC. An S in Spring 2020 fulfills the THINK requirement.
  • For Academic Year 2020-21, all courses must have an CR/NC option. A CR in THINK, ESF, SLE, or ITALIC during 2020-21 fulfills the THINK requirement. Students can change their own grading basis independently in Axess by the deadline; there is no need to ask the THINK office.