About Ways

COVID 19 Guidance

  • For Academic Year 2020-21: Ways courses completed during academic year 2020-21, including summer quarter, and taken for a letter grade, CR/NC grading with a Credit (CR) grade or S/NC grading with a Satisfactory (S) grade will satisfy that Way.
  • For Winter Quarter 2020: Ways courses completed in winter quarter 2020 and taken for CR/NC grading with a CR grade may be eligible for Ways. If you are a graduating senior, please reach out to Academic Advising in VPUE immediately for further guidance. If you will not be graduating this spring or summer, please reach out to Academic Advising at a later date (CR winter grading only).
  • For Spring Quarter 2020: Ways courses completed in spring quarter 2020 and taken for S/NC grading with a Satisfactory grade will satisfy that Way.


The Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing (Ways) breadth system takes a unique perspective on the idea of “breadth” and a liberal education. Unlike the disciplinary breadth requirements of many traditional 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 embraces the value Stanford places on a broad educational experience -- the Ways provide you with a set of complementary capacities for building your own overall intellectual profile.

The Ways system is intended to complement and integrate with your experiences in your major.  It also provides you with a clearly articulated and meaningful rationale for breadth and great flexibility for you to select courses of interest in a wide array of fields. Ways will provide you with a well-rounded toolkit of intellectual skills to use here at Stanford and to take with you when you graduate. 

Fulfilling the Ways

The Ways program is comprised of eight Ways requirements. You must take a total of eleven courses

Two courses each in:

One course each in:

Each course must be a minimum of 3 units and taken for a letter grade with the exception of Creative Expression.*

While a course may be certified for up to two Ways, you may only count one Way per course with the exception of residential Integrated Learning Environment (ILE) programs.

*A CE course must be taken for a letter grade except when a letter grade option is not offered and only “Satisfactory/No Credit”  is available (CE courses offered “Letter or Credit/No Credit” must be taken for a letter grade). The CE requirement may be fulfilled by doing one of the following:

  • taking one CE course with a minimum of 2 units
  • taking a 1-unit CE course twice in different quarters
  • taking two 1-unit courses in the same department such as in Dance, Music, or TAPS

Independent Study courses and Graduate courses are not eligible for Ways credit.

The Ways and other General Education Requirements and programs

Degree Requirements and the Ways Requirement:

The Thinking Matters Requirement: Typically most Thinking Matters courses can count towards Ways.

The Writing and Rhetoric Requirement: The required courses taught by PWR, PWR 1 and PWR 2, may not double count for Ways. Exception: if a student completes a WRITE 2 (DWR 2) course to fulfill PWR 2, it may be counted for Ways. Also, WIM courses and advanced PWR courses may double count for Ways.  Please visit the PWR page to learn more about this requirement.

The Foreign Language Requirement:  This requirement does not count towards Ways. In an extraordinary case, an advanced Language course that focuses on literary interpretation may fufill AII, but it cannot fulfill both the Language and Way requirement.

Major/ Minor Requirements: These requirements can count towards Ways.

Other Programs and the Ways Requirement:

  • Introductory Seminars (IntroSems): These seminars can count towards Ways.
  • Integrated Learning Environment (ILE) programs: Each of these programs fulfill up to four Ways.
    • ITALIC (Immersion in the Arts: Living in Culture)
      • 91 = AII
      • 92 = CE (previously AII in winter 2020 and prior years)
      • 93 = AII or CE (previously ED and CE in spring 2020 and prior years)
    • SLE (Structured Liberal Education)
      • 91 = AII
      • 92 = both AII and ER
      • 93 = ED
    • SIMILE (Science in the Making Integrated Learning Environment) no longer available
      • 91 = AII
      • 92 = AII
      • 93 = both SI and ER

Additional Information

More information about Stanford's General Education requirements

Learn more about the Breadth Governance Board and the history of Ways