Frequently Asked Questions About Ways

Get answers to frequently asked questions about Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing

I am taking, or have previously taken, a course that I believe should count for Ways, how do I petition the course to be certified for Ways?

The Ways program does not have a process whereby students may petition a course to be reviewed for Ways certification. It is not mandatory to have all courses certified for Ways, so it is an “opt-in” program. Instructors and departments decide whether they want to submit a course for Ways and they sometimes choose not to for various reasons.

I took a course that was previously not Ways-approved, but it has now been approved. Can I get Ways credit for it?

It depends. If you took the course this academic year, then it was approved later in the year, then you would earn Ways credit. However, if you took the course in a prior year, then you would not earn Ways credit. The effective date for any Ways approval is fall of the current academic year, so courses taken in a previous year cannot be retroactively approved for Ways.

When a course is certified for more than one Way, how do I change which one I get credit for?

You may submit an online Request to Update Ways Designation Form; however, it makes sense to do this later in your academic career since it requires you to map out how you have or are planning to fulfill your Ways over your academic career. If it’s earlier in your career, you can submit a HelpSU to the Registrar’s Office. Please note that you can only change the Ways designation once.

Do I need to take Ways classes for a letter grade?

Yes, all Ways courses must be taken for a letter grade unless, a letter grade is not given as an option. Courses offered as “letter grade or credit/no credit” must be taken for a letter grade to earn Ways credit. If a course is only offered as Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC), then you will earn Ways credit.

Do Ways courses have to be a minimum of 3 units?

Ways courses must be a minimum of 3 units except CE, which is a 2-unit requirement. When a course is offered for variable units and is certified for Ways, you must take it for a minimum of 3 units to earn Ways credit. Please see for more details on how to fulfill the CE requirement.

How do I see which Ways I have already completed?

Run your Degree Progress Report in Axess. Also, visit Check Your Ways on the Ways website for tools to track your Ways over your academic career.

I want to take a course that is offered for variable units (e.g., 2-5 units) and it states that it is a Ways course. Can I earn Ways credit for the 2-unit version of the course?

No, the course must be taken for a minimum of 3 units to earn Ways credit.

Will an alternative section of a course satisfy a Way even though it is not listed as such in Explore Courses?

Probably not. Ways certifies courses, not sections. Explore Courses will reflect which courses qualify for Ways credit. If you have questions, you can ask the instructor or the student services administrator for that department.

When a course is "repeatable for credit", can I take it again and fulfill Ways too? For example: I took Course 1 last year; it is a class that fulfills the AII requirement. If I take it again this year, can I count it towards my second AII required class? Or, if it was dual-certified for ED, can I fulfill that Way?

A course may only count for one Way requirement even though the course may be "repeatable" for general university credit. CE credit is an exception, students can repeat the same class twice and earn Ways credit, such as Music or Dance.

If a course is cross-listed (same course ID number) with another course, can I take the cross-listed course to fulfill my second Way requirement in a course that is certified for two Ways, such as AII, SI, and SMA?

You cannot take a cross-listed course and have it count for an additional Way, either same Way type (e.g., two AII) or for a second Way in a dual-certified course (e.g., AII and ED).

Should I be focusing on fulfilling Ways requirements during my first year? When do I need to focus on fulfilling Ways requirements?

During your freshmen year, there is no urgency to immediately complete your Ways requirement. Your first year is a time to explore new experiences and courses although you can still keep Ways on the radar. Most Thinking Matters courses, many Introductory Seminar courses, and some courses in your major are Ways-certified. You may want to map out your Ways course-taking during winter or spring of your sophomore year.

Can Ways be double counted with other general education requirements?

Yes, many courses can count for both Ways and other general education requirements. Check out the About section of the Ways site for details on which type courses may double count, such as Thinking Matters.

Can I submit a course outline or course description rather than a syllabus?

No, the Board needs detailed information to understand how a student will experience the "thinking" and "doing" of the Way for each request course. You need to reach out to the other university to get the most recent syllabus. Your request will be denied or we may ask for you to furnish the syllabus. This will delay the review and decision of your request.

I previously took a course at another institution, can I get Ways credit for it?

No. All non-Stanford courses must be submitted for review and “pre-approved” to earn Ways transfer credit.

Can I take an online course at another university to count for Ways?

No, online transfer courses are ineligible for Ways credit. Ways is about the “practice” of “doing” the skills and capacities of the particular Way. An online course does not provide the rigor and interaction of the Way skill.

I received Ways transfer credit and it’s already posted on Degree Progress, can I change it to another Way?

No, once Ways transfer credit is posted, it is final and cannot be changed.

Can I submit a course taken prior to coming to Stanford and earn Ways credit?

No, all Ways transfer courses must be pre-approved, so courses taken prior to becoming a Stanford student are ineligible for Ways credit, but they may be eligible for standard university transfer credit (excludes units earned towards a high school diploma). Once a student matriculates (frosh), you can request pre-approval for non-Stanford courses to qualify for Ways transfer credit.

How do I figure out which Way(s) the course fits?

The key to identifying classes for Ways is to review the Way Syllabus Guidelines which details each Way. It is a common mistake to classify a course by only the course name. If you did not select the Way that best fits your course, the request will be denied and you may not have the answer you needed prior to enrollment.

For a Way requirement that requires that I two courses (AII, SI, SMA), can I fulfill it with two transfer courses?

No. Only one course may fulfill a Way. You will need to fulfill the other requirement at Stanford.

I took a course in another country and the syllabus is not in English, can I submit it?

The syllabus must be submitted in English. If a syllabus is in a language other than English, please have it translated prior to submission.

How do I figure out which Way(s) category my course best fits?

There are many nuances to the different type of Ways. Please review the Ways Syllabus Guidelines to help identify the best Ways category that fits your course.

What if I don’t have a syllabus for my course yet? Can I still register it? Can I submit something less prescriptive than a syllabus?

Generally, a full syllabus is needed for the Board to see sufficient information about the course to make a determination if it fits the rationale and spirit of the Way; however, a preliminary syllabus may be submitted with examples of how students will demonstrate the “thinking” and “doing” component of the Way. Please review the Ways Syllabus Guidelines to understand the elements sought in a Ways-certifiable course. If you have some ideas based on a past course you taught or a couple of examples of what you plan, then share them with us.

Who can submit a course for certification?

Faculty and staff have online access to submit proposals; however, graduate students do not have access to the online course submission portal. The student services administrator, department course administrator, or faculty member must submit a course for a graduate student. Also, the system requires WebAuth, so a new instructor who does not have a SUNet ID yet, will be unable to submit a course. S/he will require assistance, too.

What if I don’t see my course listed in the dropdown menu on the Ways site?

Typically, this is due to the course having not been created in Axess/PeopleSoft yet. Once created in PeopleSoft, it will appear in the Ways system 1-2 days later. Also, graduate courses are ineligible for Ways, so they will not appear in the dropdown menu. If desired, an undergraduate cross-listing course number can be created for a graduate course.

How many of the sample learning outcomes should a course include?

It requires at least one from the pre-populated sample list or you must submit at least one custom learning outcome.

How do I know if my course was approved?

Typically, you will be notified via email within 4-6 weeks after course submission. You may also check Explore Courses to see if the course has been approved and the Ways-designation listed.

I am teaching a course that was previously certified for Ways. However, the course has a new catalog number and course ID number than the one that was approved. How can I get my new course certified?

You must submit the new course on the Ways system. Then, email and let us know that you have submitted the new course with the “identical” syllabus, the new course ID number, and the catalog number. We will assist you. If the course is almost identical to the previously approved course, we can expedite the approval.

My course was certified for Ways, but the certification is not reflected in Explore Courses.

Courses which have been certified for Ways will appear in Explore Courses in approximately one week after certification. If after two weeks it does not appear in Explore Courses, please email Please note that Ways are certified for undergraduate-level courses and will not apply to graduate-level courses, so if a course is cross-listed as both an undergraduate and graduate-level class, the certification will only appear in the undergraduate course listing.

My course was not certified. Can I revise my course and resubmit it again?

Absolutely! If there is pertinent information missing from the original syllabus, the board welcomes the resubmission of a revised syllabus or additional supporting documentation. Please review the Ways Syllabus Guidelines to understand the elements sought in a Ways-certifiable course. If you choose to do so, please email so we can assist you with the resubmission.

Can I consult with someone about developing a new course or revising an old one to fit a Way?

Of course, please email with your request and someone will contact you.

Do I have to submit my course for Ways certification?

No, Ways is an opt-in program, so instructors and/or departments decide whether to submit a course for Ways certification.

Can I offer my course for Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC) grading?

No, all Ways courses must be taken for a letter grade with the exception of Creative Expression (CE), and only for a rare few courses that are a large collaborative-structured type course where grading individual work would be highly difficult. Offering a Ways course for S/NC must also be approved by the Breadth Governance Board who oversees the Ways program. You can offer the course for "Letter or CR/NC" allowing students who want Ways credit to select the letter grade option.

Can I see courses that have been submitted by my department?

Login to Once there, click on “View/Edit” on the left hand side of the screen. From there, you can search for courses that have been submitted by any of the following criteria: Department, Course, Requirement or Course ID. You may view the submission(s), however, only the original submitter can edit a course. You can also view all active courses in your department by searching in Explore Courses using the “UG Requirement” filter.

What if a course is taught by more than one instructor or the instructor changes?

The Board certifies courses based on the syllabus and not instructors. If the course meets the rationale and spirit of the Way for which it is designated, changes in instructor or details of the syllabus are fine. If, however, a course is substantially different from offering to offering, the department will need to resubmit the course.

How do I certify a course with two sections, with each section taught by a different instructors?

The Board certifies courses (course name, catalog number, and most importantly, the course ID number). It does not certify sections nor instructors. The expectation is that both sections will adhere to the core elements of the syllabus which has been Ways certified.

My department or program doesn't have an undergraduate major, though we offer undergraduate courses, a minor, or honors program. Do we need to worry about the Ways?

Since students must fulfill their Ways general breadth requirement (11 courses), they find Ways-certified courses desirable. If appropriate, it's a good idea to certify your course for Ways.

What is the responsibility of an Interdisciplinary Program (IDP) for registering courses listed in our program?

IDPs will be responsible for registering courses that they own. For cross-listed courses, the owning department or program will be responsible. We encourage IDPs to consult with their affiliated faculty about which Ways are appropriate not only to the course and departmental major, but also to IDP aims.

How do I know what courses I’ve taken already fulfill the Ways requirement?

You should run the Degree Progress Report in Axess to determine what courses you have taken, then use Explore Courses to determine which Ways these courses meet.

After I submit my application, how do I know when the change has been made?

After you submit your application to the Student Services Center, wait 2-3 weeks and then run a Degree Progress Report in Axess. Ways should show as your new breadth requirement.

What if, 3 weeks after submitting the application, my degree progress report doesn’t reflect the change?

Please submit a HelpSU ticket to the Student Services Center.