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About Ways

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Ways Quickstart Guide

Download the Ways Quick Reference Flyer for Students


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 except when a letter grade option is not offered and only “Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC)” is available. Courses offered “Letter or Credit/No Credit” must be taken for a letter grade. The CE requirement must be fulfilled by a minimum of 2 units. 

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.

*The CE unit requirement is 2-units and may be fulfilled by doing one of the following:

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

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 Civic, Liberal, and Global (COLLEGE) Requirement: Typically most COLLEGE 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 fulfill 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:
    • 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 = EDP

       * SLE program can fulfill up to four Ways when the full 3-quarter residential program is completed

Additional Information

More information about Stanford's General Education requirements

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