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Completing the First-Year Requirement 

The first-year requirement depends on when a student entered Stanford.

  • Note to prospective students only: expect a TWO-quarter requirement if you matriculate in Autumn 2022 or later.
  • Students matriculating in Autumn 2021 must complete the one-quarter COLLEGE requirement
  • Students who matriculated Autumn 2012 through Autumn 2020 must complete the one-quarter Thinking Matters requirement. Students who were unable to complete the THINK requirement in their first year may take either a THINK or COLLEGE course to fulfill the requirement. Email to request a placement; include a note about your top 3 preferred courses.
  • Students who matriculated in Autumn 2011 and earlier may have a three-quarter Introduction to the Humanities requirement, or a Western Culture or CIV requirement. Students returning after an extended leave can work with the COLLEGE program to substitute current 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 and THINK 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 and THINK courses. General interest and/or needing a Way do not enable non-frosh to take COLLEGE or THINK courses.

Grade Disputes and Other Concerns

Policies vary slightly depending on program, but in general, the first step is to talk with your instructor. This Grade Dispute chart 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.