Ways of Thinking/ Ways of Doing(Ways) is the name of Stanford’s innovative general education breadth system. You must take 11 courses in 8 Waysany time during your undergraduate years.

The Ways breadth system takes a unique perspective on the idea of “breadth.” Unlike the breadth requirements of other institutions, Ways focuses on two other important aspects of university education.  First, we emphasize both “thinking” and “doing”—that is, teaching you how to view the world differently, how to conceptualize it from various angles, and how to use those new intellectual capacities in new ways. Second, it emphasizes synthesis and integration— individual Ways as not seen as separate, but part of an overall intellectual profile and set of complementary capacities.

The Ways system is intended to complement and integrate with your experiences in your major.  It also provides you with a more clearly articulated and meaningful rationale for breadth and more flexibility for you to select courses of interest in a wide array of fields. 

Learn How to Fulfill the Ways

The Ways

Comprehensive descriptions, including the rationale and learning outcomes, for each Way


The Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing breadth system is overseen by the Breadth Governance Board (BGB).  The Board is chaired by David Palumbo-Liu, Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor and Professor of Comparative Literature.  View the full list of committee members, including a list of teams for specific Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing.  The charge to the Breadth Governance Board was established in September, 2012.

More information on the BGB


The Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) recommended the change to the new Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing breadth system as a core part of its aims for a Stanford undergraduate education (owning knowledge, honing skills and capacities, developing personal and social responsibility, and adaptive learning).  SUES and the Faculty Senate believed that undergraduate education would be better structured by shifting from a discipline-based to capacity-based model of achieving breadth.

Full text of the Faculty Senate legislation