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Standard 1. Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives

The institution defines its purposes and establishes educational objectives aligned with those purposes. The institution has a clear and explicit sense of its essential values and character, its distinctive elements, its place in both the higher education community and society, and its contribution to the public good. It functions with integrity, transparency, and autonomy.

1.1  The institution’s formally approved statements of purpose are appropriate for an institution of higher education and clearly define its essential values and character and ways in which it contributes to the public good.


The Stanford University Founding Grant outlines the founding principles of the University. Each of its seven schools has its own mission statement and those can be found on the links below.

School of Earth Science Mission Statement

Graduate School of Business Mission Statement

School of Humanities and Sciences Mission Statement

School of Engineering Mission Statement

School of Medicine Mission Statement

Graduate School of Education Mission Statement

Stanford Law School Mission Statement


1.2  Educational objectives are widely recognized throughout the institution, are consistent with stated purposes, and are demonstrably achieved. The institution regularly generates, evaluates, and makes public data about student achievement, including measures of retention and graduation, and evidence of student learning outcomes.

The Stanford Bulletin is the annual publication that outlines University policies, courses, and degree requirements for programs in four of our seven schools. Degree requirements for Business, Law and the MD program in the School of Medicine are contained in separate school handbooks and websites (see below). The contents are organized by school and department. Here is a link to the Classics Department’s page from the Bulletin, as an example.

Stanford MBA Program: First Year Curriculum

Stanford MBA Program: Second Year Curriculum

Stanford Law School: First Year Curriculum

Stanford Law School: 2nd/3rd Year Program

Stanford School of Medicine Curriculum

Overview of MD Curriculum

In addition to school oversight committees, the Senate of the Academic Council has two committees responsible for overseeing undergraduate academic programs, the Committee on Review of Undergraduate Majors (C-RUM) and the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy (C-USP). The committee  charged with implementation of the new breadth requirements is beginning work in Fall 2012. The Committee on Graduate Studies (C-GS) has similar oversight responsibility for graduate degree programs.

Undergraduate majors have developed assessment plans that are part of their periodic reviews. Assessment in the School of Engineering has been linked to ABET accreditation. Sample assessment plans and the assessment manual can be found here: Stanford University Institutional Research & Decision Support.

The Common Data Set provides information to the community about undergraduate student retention and completion.


1.3  The institution publicly states its commitment to academic freedom for faculty, staff, and students, and acts accordingly. This commitment affirms that those in the academy are free to share their convictions and responsible conclusions with their colleagues and students in their teaching and in their writing.

Stanford’s statement on academic freedom was most recently adopted by the Faculty Senate in 1974. It begins, “Stanford University's central functions of teaching, learning, research, and scholarship depend upon an atmosphere in which freedom of inquiry, thought, expression, publication and peaceable assembly are given the fullest protection. Expression of the widest range of viewpoints should be encouraged, free from institutional orthodoxy and from internal or external coercion. Further, the holding of appointments at Stanford University should in no way affect the faculty members' rights assured by the Constitution of the United State . . ." The complete policy statement can be found in the Research Policy Handbook Statement on Academic Freedom, and the University’s Faculty Handbook Section 4.2 Statement on Academic Freedom.


1.4  Consistent with its purposes and character, the institution demonstrates an appropriate response to the increasing diversity in society through its policies, its educational and co-curricular programs, and its administrative and organizational practices.

Stanford is committed to diversity among its students, faculty and staff. In May 2001, President Hennessy and Provost Etchemendy issued a Statement on Faculty Diversity that was later affirmed by the University’s Board of Trustees. This statement was reaffirmed in April 2007. Data about the University’s diversity are provided by the University’s Office of Diversity and Access. In addition, specific policies and programs are listed on several other sites below:

Diversity & Equal Opportunity at Stanford - Diversity Facts

Diversity in Graduate Education

Graduate Admissions - Policy Statements

Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures Handbook: Section 2.5 Commitment to Graduate Student Diversity

Diversity Works at Stanford University

VPUE Diversity Outreach

School of Humanities and Sciences Diversity Programs

School of Engineering Diversity Programs

Building on Excellence: Guide to Recruiting and Retaining an Excellent and Diverse Faculty at Stanford University


1.5  Even when supported by or affiliated with political, corporate, or religious organizations, the institution has education as its primary purpose and operates as an academic institution with appropriate autonomy.

Stanford has been non-denominational from its founding as described in the  Founding Grant. In addition to the policies described under 1.4 above, the Administrative Guide includes our policy on political activities.


1.6  The institution truthfully represents its academic goals, programs, services, and costs to students and to the larger public. The institution demonstrates that its academic programs can be completed in a timely fashion. The institution treats students fairly and equitably through established policies and procedures addressing student conduct, grievances, human subjects in research, disability, and financial matters, including refunds and financial aid.

As described under CFR 1.2, the Stanford Bulletin is the most comprehensive source of information on academic programs and policies of relevance to students. For example, described there are the University’s Honor Code and Fundamental Standard, stating our expectations for student honesty and integrity. The Bulletin also describes the grievance process, both academic and non-academic. Information on retention, time-to-degree, and so forth, are published annually in the Common Data Set.

Two offices are responsible for providing support and oversight of disability resources. The Office of Accessible Education is the support arm providing academic resources to students with disabilities. The Office of Diversity and Access provides non-academic services to students, faculty and staff and also manages the appeal process for students who wish to bring concerns forth under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The University’s Research Compliance Office is responsible for oversight of Human Subjects Research at Stanford. This office promulgates policy and manages the IRB process with regard to such activity.

For a list of all policies, please see the updated  Stipulated Policies from the CPR.


1.7  The institution exhibits integrity and transparency in its operations, as demonstrated by the adoption and implementation of appropriate policies and procedures, sound business practices, timely and fair responses to complaints and grievances, and regular evaluation of its performance in these areas. The institution’s finances are regularly audited by qualified independent auditors.

As noted earlier, all University administrative policies are outlined in the University’s Administrative Guide. University policies outlining grievance and appeal procedures for students are outlined in the Stanford Bulletin; policies concerning grievances and appeals for faculty are found in the Faculty Handbook; policies concerning grievances and appeals for staff are found in the Administrative Guide, as well as special policies for academic staff found in the research policy handbookthe academic staff section of the faculty handbook and the handbook for academic staff libraries. The University also has an Ombudsman, whose services are available to students, faculty, and staff.


1.8  The institution is committed to honest and open communication with the Accrediting Commission, to undertaking the accreditation review process with seriousness and candor, to informing the Commission promptly of any matter that could materially affect the accreditation status of the institution, and to abiding by Commission policies and procedures, including all substantive change policies 

We routinely submit our Annual Report and comply with all WASC policies.