Area Requirements

The following structure for General Education Requirements, including Thinking Matters, Disciplinary Breadth, and Education for Citizenship became effective with the 2012-13 entering freshman and transfer class. Undergraduates matriculating prior to 2012-13 should consult the relevant Bulletin from the year in which they began study at Stanford to determine the requirements applying to them.

  • Thinking Matters—This requirement is satisfied by completing a one quarter, 4-unit courses for freshmen under the subject THINK. Taught by faculty from a wide range of disciplines and fields, Thinking Matters (THINK) courses express Stanford’s commitment to liberal education and emphasize rigorous critical inquiry through exploration of significant and enduring questions.  These courses satisfy the one quarter freshman Thinking Matters requirement that recognizes the importance of developing students’ skills in interpretation, reasoning, and analysis as a solid foundation for undergraduate study. Multiple Thinking Matters courses may also be taken as electives.
  • Disciplinary Breadth—requirement 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 areas of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and the Social Sciences.
  • Education for Citizenship—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: Ethical Reasoning, the Global Community, American Cultures, and Gender Studies.
    • 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.

Courses that have been certified as meeting the requirements are identified in ExploreCourses which is a part of the Stanford Bulletin and  on Axess with the notational symbols listed below. Students may search for courses by GER on Axess.

  • Thinking Matters
    • THINK one quarter, freshman year course
  • Disciplinary Breadth
    • DB-EngrAppSci: Engineering and Applied Sciences
    • DB-Hum: Humanities
    • DB-Math: Mathematics
    • DB-NatSci: Natural Sciences
    • DB-SocSci: Social Sciences
  • Education for Citizenship
    • EC-AmerCul: American Cultures
    • EC-GlobalCom: Global Community
    • EC-Gender: Gender Studies
    • EC-EthicReas: Ethical Reasoning