Departmental Requirements for a Major

The major encourages you to explore a subject area in considerable depth. The Stanford curriculum provides a wide range of standard majors through its discipline-oriented departments and a number of interdisciplinary majors, in addition to department offerings.

You must declare a major by the end of their sophomore year. Each degree program specifies the minimum number of units and the courses necessary for completion of the major, including prerequisites, core courses, electives and sometimes a senior project or thesis.

For official wording of Stanford's academic policy on the department requirements for a major(s), refer to the Stanford Bulletin: The Major.

What are the requirements of a major?

Every department specifies which courses you must take and how many units you must accrue in order to fulfill the requirements of a particular major. Major requirements include prerequisites, core courses, electives, and, for some majors, a capstone project such as a senior thesis.  These requirements generally provide latitude for tailoring a major program to a your individual interests and goals.  Find out specific requirements for majors through one of the following resources:

When should I declare?

You should plan to declare their major before the end of the sophomore year. Students must choose a major before achieving junior status (usually after completion of 90 units, including units granted for transfer work or Advanced Placement). Even after this point you may change your major if your interests shift.

How do I declare?

The process of declaring differs slightly between majors, so be in contact with your advisor and your prospective department during the declaration process.

  1. Determine the process for declaring a major in your prospective department or program.  Most departments expect students to visit their undergraduate offices before completing the declaration process. Some require students to fill out a form and select a faculty advisor before declaring. To find the specific process required by your major department, visit its website or find the link through Explore Majors.
  2. Declare your major through Axess.  Follow the instructions on the “Declaration of Major” link on Axess to petition the prospective department of your official request to major in the program.
  3. Receive confirmation that you have been accepted as a major.  The department contacts you to let you know you are accepted as a major in its program and identifies next steps you need to take.

The Student Services Center has a How To Declare a Major/Minor video if you would like to see a demo of the steps for completing this action in Axess.

What if I want to change my major?

You can change your major at any time. Check with your department, however, before you change your major: in some cases, changing your major late in your undergraduate career can delay your graduation.

How do I choose the best major for me?