Standard 2. Achieving Educational Objectives Through Core Functions
The institution achieves its purposes and attains its educational objectives at the institutional and program level through the core functions of teaching and learning, scholarship and creative activity, and support for student learning and success. The institution demonstrates that these core functions are performed effectively by evaluating valid and reliable evidence of learning and by supporting the success of every student.
The institution’s educational programs are appropriate in content, standards, and nomenclature for the degree level awarded, regardless of mode of delivery, and are staffed by sufficient numbers of faculty qualified for the type and level of curriculum offered.
Undergraduates complete at least 180 units, including major courses, writing and rhetoric requirements, first-year COLLEGE courses, and one year of a foreign language.
While, three of Stanford’s seven schools award undergraduate degrees (the School of Humanities and Sciences, the Doerr School of Sustainability, and the School of Engineering), faculty across the university, including those in the medical and business schools, participate in undergraduate education through undergraduate course teaching, leading research, and mentoring.
Stanford degree programs are outlined in the Stanford Bulletin. The authority for awarding degrees is granted to departments and programs by the Senate of the Academic Council (Stanford’s faculty senate). The senate has separate committees that review undergraduate and graduate degree programs. These committees are:
- Committee on Review of Undergraduate Majors (C-RUM)
- Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policies (C-USP)
- Committee on Graduate Studies (C-GS)
With an approximate 5-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio (restricted to undergraduates and faculty who teach undergraduate courses), Stanford emphasizes close student and faculty interaction. In 2021-22, our total count of faculty was 2,288 (of whom, 99% hold doctorates or other terminal degrees, and 1,411 teach undergraduates) and we had 7,645 undergraduates and 9,292 graduate students. In addition to the professoriate, 2,182 academic staff support the teaching mission. The IR&DS dashboards include data on the professoriate (by school and tenure status), academic teaching staff, and student populations (by school, field and degree level). The IDEAL Diversity Dashboard for faculty shows demographics by sex, race and ethnicity, and URM at the department level. (Note: departments do not correspond to degree programs; e.g. many interdisciplinary programs are taught by faculty across Stanford departments and will not appear in these data.) Student enrollment and instructional faculty headcount is also reported through the Common Data Set.
Eight degree programs are specially accredited by professional or state accrediting bodies.
School of Engineering
Stanford Law School
School of Medicine
Physician Assistant Studies (M.S.)
School of Medicine
School of Medicine
Stanford Teacher Education Program (M.A.T.)
Graduate School of Education
Graduate School of Business
All degrees—undergraduate and graduate—awarded by the institution are clearly defined in terms of entry-level requirements and levels of student achievement necessary for graduation that represent more than simply an accumulation of courses or credits. The institution has both a coherent philosophy, expressive of its mission, which guides the meaning of its degrees and processes that ensure the quality and integrity of its degrees.
The Stanford Bulletin, which outlines all undergraduate and graduate degree programs, includes clearly defined requirements and learning objectives. Degree requirements and missions for Business, Law and the MD program in the School of Medicine are contained in separate school handbooks. (See also CFR 1.2)
The Bulletin describes the general education requirements of the undergraduate degree and its purpose of providing a liberal education. The aims of a Stanford undergraduate education as well the graduation requirements are described in greater detail in the SUES report (pp. 11-42), which continue to inform the university's understanding of the meaning of the undergraduate degree.
In 2019 the faculty adopted a capstone experience as a requirement for all undergraduate majors (see Theme 1 of the institutional report). As the Future of the Major design team reported, a robust capstone experience "integrates important elements of the undergraduate educational experience and culminates the student’s intellectual development at Stanford." The reforms to the major also included a fixed range of units that can be required in each program. The unit-cap aims to ensure that the major requirements are "compatible with the other goals of liberal education, including first-year general education, global exposure, and robust educational breadth." (See also CFR 2.2a)
Policies governing requirements for advance degrees are stated in Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures Handbook. These include requirements for master's and doctoral degrees. Additional requirements for graduate degrees are set by each department as described in the Bulletin.
Two faculty senate committees oversee policy, implementation and review of the undergraduate degree. In addition, a number of boards are delegated by the senate to oversee the undergraduate general education requirements. Policies related to graduate degrees and processes for evaluation of graduate achievement are set and overseen by the faculty senate's Committee on Graduate Studies. The committee charges are linked below. (See also CFR 2.7)
Baccalaureate programs engage students in an integrated course of study of sufficient breadth and depth to prepare them for work, citizenship, and life-long learning. These programs ensure the development of core competencies including, but not limited to, written and oral communication, quantitative reasoning, information literacy, and critical thinking. In addition, baccalaureate programs actively foster creativity, innovation, an appreciation for diversity, ethical and civic responsibility, civic engagement, and the ability to work with others. Baccalaureate programs also ensure breadth for all students in cultural and aesthetic, social and political, and scientific and technical knowledge expected of educated persons. Undergraduate degrees include significant in-depth study in a given area of knowledge (typically described in terms of a program or major).
Undergraduate general education requirements are aimed at core competencies including, but not limited to, college-level written and oral communication; college-level quantitative skills; information literacy; and the habit of critical analysis of data and argument. Our undergraduate programs actively foster an understanding of diversity, civic responsibility, the ability to work with others, and the capability to engage in lifelong learning (see CFR 2.2 above).
As part of their degree requirements, undergraduates complete a first-year Civic, Liberal and Global Education requirement (COLLEGE), Writing and Rhetoric required courses, a language requirement, and fulfill eleven courses towards their Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing breadth requirement. The Ways system was designed so that students will fulfill breadth requirements throughout their undergraduate career, including at the upper division level; data has confirmed that they do so.
Students major in a program of their choice as a way to specialize in and gain in-depth knowledge in an academic discipline. As part of the recent reforms to the major (SenD#7906), all undergraduate majors programs comprise at least 60 units (but no more than 100 units) of required courses and include an integrative capstone project.
Faculty adopt a variety of approaches and methods to assess the achievement of learning outcomes and determine the effectiveness of aspects of the curriculum that further core competencies. Recently, core competency assessments have included:
- direct assessments of courses taken by students to fulfill Ways requirements aimed at developing critical thinking and quantitative reasoning
- studies into student writing behaviors conducted by assessment and program evaluation staff as well as reviews by faculty committees, such as the Stanford Study of Writing that is currently underway
- instructor workshops and training in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric that include, e.g. calibrating expectation for teaching and evaluation of student oral communication and information literacy skills as part of required writing and rhetoric courses
The institution’s graduate programs establish clearly stated objectives differentiated from and more advanced than undergraduate programs in terms of admissions, curricula, standards of performance, and student learning outcomes. Graduate programs foster students’ active engagement with the literature of the field and create a culture that promotes the importance of scholarship and/or professional practice. Ordinarily, a baccalaureate degree is required for admission to a graduate program.
General graduate admissions requirements as well as specific requirements for master's and doctoral degree programs are described in the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures handbook. The Committee on Graduate Studies is charged with overseeing graduate programs. (See CFR 2.2 and 2.7)
Individual graduate programs' admissions criteria, degree requirements and program descriptions can be found in the Stanford Bulletin (which also includes learning outcomes) as well as department websites and student handbooks. Examples from graduate programs across schools are linked below.
- History: graduate learning outcomes and PhD requirements in the Stanford Bulletin, department website, and student handbook
- Electrical Engineering: Stanford Bulletin page, department website, student handbook
- Professional programs: Business, Law and the MD program
The institution’s student learning outcomes and standards of performance are clearly stated at the course, program, and, as appropriate, institutional level. These outcomes and standards are reflected in academic programs, policies, and curricula, and are aligned with advisement, library, and information and technology resources, and the wider learning environment.
At the program level, student learning outcomes are published in the Stanford Bulletin, department websites, and student handbooks (see CFR 2.2). Work on developing written and publicly posted learning outcomes for each program began during the previous accreditation cycle in 2011-12. Over the course of the past decade, the faculty throughout the university have continued to articulate, update, and reflect on the goals of each of their degree programs, and ensured that these are integrated into the program review process and are aligned with plans for assessing learning outcomes.
Individual faculty develop learning outcomes and assessments for courses, which are shared through syllabi, of which a few examples are listed below. Many syllabi can also be found through syllabus.stanford.edu (may require authorization to access individual syllabi).
Faculty may also enter course learning outcomes when customizing their course evaluation forms, which allow students to provide feedback on each of the stated course learning goals.
Cardinal Courses provide undergraduate students with community-engaged learning and research opportunities. Guidelines and resources for faculty to support these offerings are described on the Haas Center for Public Service website.
A number of professional programs incorporate clinical or experiential learning as part of training. These include clerkships (clinical rotations) as part of the MD program in the School of Medicine and are described in the program handbook; legal clinics for JD students provided by the Mills Legal Clinic program in the Stanford Law School; and teaching placements part of the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP). All of these programs include faculty mentorship and advising as students engage in their training.
The institution’s student learning outcomes and standards of performance are developed by faculty and widely shared among faculty, students, staff, and (where appropriate) external stakeholders. The institution’s faculty take collective responsibility for establishing appropriate standards of performance and demonstrating through assessment the achievement of these standards.
Faculty are responsible for setting learning outcomes and standards at all levels of learning at Stanford (see CFR 2.3).
Stanford communicates about the rationale for undergraduate requirements and expectations of students through student-facing web pages and during New Student Orientation.
For doctoral students, individualized expectations and goals are also developed by faculty advisors, together with the student, through shared advising expectations. Students in the 14 PhD programs in the Biosciences complete annual individual development plans (IDPs).
Faculty develop learning outcomes for majors and degree programs. These outcomes are developed as part of the regular learning assessment reports as well as review process for degree programs and are shared on departmental websites and the Stanford Bulletin. (See CFR 2.6 and 2.7 below.) Qualifying and candidacy exams for doctoral programs are also set and assessed by faculty within departments (see examples below). Per the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures handbook, candidacy is a judgment by faculty that a student will be able to successfully complete their degree.
Committees of the Faculty Senate have oversight into undergraduate majors and degree programs and general education requirements(see CFR 2.2). Additionally, certain faculty committees and boards are charged with setting and evaluating learning outcomes for courses that count towards general education requirements.
- First-Year Governance Board (SenD#7805) (oversight of the COLLEGE first-year sequence including course certification)
- Writing and Rhetoric Review Board (SenD#5218) (oversight of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and certification for Writing in the Major courses additional second-year writing courses)
- Breadth Governance Board (oversight and certification for courses to satisfy Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing breadth requirement)
The Breadth Governance Board develops guidelines for, and meets to decide on, certification of courses for Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing. The BGB reviews course proposals and deliberates on the required elements for each Way. Certification rates for courses under each Way range from 74% to 91%, showing that the faculty review process is selective. In 2020, in response to student concerns, the BGB undertook a thorough review and recertification of courses certified to fulfill what was previously called the Engaging Diversity Way. They reviewed 100 courses to ensure full alignment with the learning objectives of the requirement, ultimately re-certifying 67 of these courses. They recommended changing the title of the Engaging Diversity Way to more accurately reflect its learning goals to Exploring Difference and Power.
Faculty committees at the university also conduct in-depth investigations into specific areas within their purview. Recent examples of such study that were led by faculty in the senate include an investigation by the Committee on Graduate Studies into graduate advising that resulted in legislation of a policy on graduate advising expectations in 2018 (minutes of the committee's presentation to the senate, SenD#7479, p. 34ff.); and a study by the Breadth Governance Board into the Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing undergraduate requirement presented to the faculty senate in 2017 (SenD#7305, pp. 41-62) and 2019 (SenD#7760, pp. 46-65).
Furthermore, from time to time, university-wide committees convene and spend a year or more deliberating on the state of education at Stanford. The faculty teams charged as part of the Long-Range Planning Process provided recommendations on redesign of the undergraduate experience.This process resulted in two extensive reports on the First-Year Shared Intellectual Experience and Exploration and the Future of the Major. The reports were presented at a widely-attended meeting of the Faculty Senate in October 2019. Prior to this a similar two-year process was undertaken with a complete overhaul of undergraduate education (SUES).
The institution’s academic programs actively involve students in learning, take into account students’ prior knowledge of the subject matter, challenge students to meet high standards of performance, offer opportunities for them to practice, generalize, and apply what they have learned, and provide them with appropriate and ongoing feedback about their performance and how it can be improved.
Undergraduate courses across disciplines and formats regularly require active student engagement through class participation, coursework and assignments to apply their learning. A selection of syllabi are listed above (see CFR 2.3) and on syllabus.stanford.edu.
Teaching and course development programs and resources encourage active student learning in a variety of ways. Stanford regularly engages faculty and instructors in evidence-based course design, and offers the TEACH Symposium/Conference, with workshops and sessions to support instructors developing and implementing student-centered approaches. The Center for Teaching and Learning also provides student learning programs such as one-on-one academic coaching for students to develop learning strategies, subject tutoring and language conversations partners, and a drop-in peer tutoring program.
In addition, the university's course evaluation system is designed to incorporate student reflection on their learning experience through end-term and mid-term surveys. This system was informed by the work of a faculty-led committee on Course Evaluation, whose report was published in 2013. The committee was charged to investigate how best to align course evaluations to student learning and how to engage students in the learning process. Reports and data from students' course feedback are shared with course instructors and teaching assistants as well as other stakeholders, such as school deans.
Individual development plans (IDPs) in the 14 PhD programs of the Biosciences essentially involve graduate students in engaging with their professional development and learning goals. (See CFR 2.4 above.
The institution demonstrates that its graduates consistently achieve its stated learning outcomes and established standards of performance. The institution ensures that its expectations for student learning are embedded in the standards that faculty use to evaluate student work.
Program learning outcomes and standards are posted for each degree in the Stanford Bulletin. (See CFR 2.3.) The Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES) Report describes the aims of a Stanford undergraduate education and requirements for graduating. The Graduate Academic Policy Handbook contains degree-specific requirements for Master's, Coterminal, Professional, and Doctorate degrees.
Assessments of student learning outcomes are regularly conducted by faculty. Each school develops its own learning outcomes assessment process, with support of the Assessment and Program Evaluation in IR&DS, specific to the needs of their faculty and context of their degree programs. IR&DS support includes web-based tools and staff available for consultation. Schools have integrated learning assessments into the program self-review process (see CFR 2.7). Recent learning assessment reports can be found on the Student Achievement page.
The institution ensures that general education learning objectives are achieved through the work of the Breadth Governance Board, the First Year Governance Board, and the Writing and Rhetoric Requirement Board (see CFR 2.4).
Further assessments are regularly conducted under the direction of faculty senate committees that oversee various components of the undergraduate curriculum. Many of these studies into the effectiveness of the general education curriculum include:
- Core Competencies (mentioned above, CFR 2.2a)
- Evaluation of the Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing breadth requirements (see appendix 12 of the 2023 institutional report to WSCUC)
- Evaluation of Thinking Matters and ILEs (see appendices 8-13)
- Ongoing assessment of COLLEGE (see Theme 1 of the report)
All programs offered by the institution are subject to systematic program review. The program review process includes, but is not limited to, analyses of student achievement of the program’s learning outcomes; retention and graduation rates; and, where appropriate, results of licensing examination and placement, and evidence from external constituencies such as employers and professional organizations.
At Stanford the final authority for granting degrees rests with the Faculty Senate. After review at the school level, new programs at the undergraduate level come to the Senate through the Committee on Review of Undergraduate Majors (C-RUM); programs at the graduate level come through the Committee on Graduate Studies (C-GS). The degree proposals for all new programs must then receive approval by the Senate as a whole.
- The Committee on the Review of the Undergraduate Major (C-RUM) is the university-wide board charged with overseeing and aligning the majors of the undergraduate degree, and the implementation of the reforms to the major such as the capstone requirement. C-RUM is responsible for reviewing and approving any new degree programs. In addition, C-RUM delegates responsibility for periodic review of degree programs (every five to eight years) to the schools; these processes are described below. C-RUM publishes memos to guide the comprehensive review of degree programs (SenD#5081) and interdisciplinary programs (SenD#6610). These guidelines address course sequencing, curricular coherence and meaning of the degree, teaching quality, advising resources and other areas for review and evaluation. Recently, the guidelines are currently being revised and updated to better support schools and departments in meeting expectations set out in the Future of the Major reform (described in Theme 1 of our 2023 institutional report to WSCUC).
- The Committee on Graduate Studies reviews newly proposed graduate degree programs and also reviews interdepartmental/interdisciplinary degree programs on a schedule (usually every five years). C-GS provides guidelines for the review of interdisciplinary programs (SenD#6610).
Stanford's schools oversee preparation of their departments for program review by the cognizant senate committees.
- The School of Humanities and Sciences regularly reviews undergraduate majors, interdisciplinary undergraduate programs, and interdisciplinary graduate programs. Prior to a school-level review, programs conduct an in-depth self-study and prepare a report summarizing their findings; the self-study typically takes one year to complete. Following submission of the self-study report, the program meets with a school curriculum committee to discuss their findings, including challenges, initiatives, and achievements. The curriculum committee prepares a memo to the program summarizing the meeting’s discussion and makes recommendations for consideration. This memo and the self-study report are sent to the C-RUM or C-GS for further review.
- The School of Engineering has an Undergraduate Education Council composed of dean’s office staff and faculty across the school that oversee their curricular review and learning assessment process for undergraduate degree programs. Departments conduct a study of their major that is then presented to the Undergraduate Education Council. Either the year before or during their curriculum review, majors engage in a learning assessment of the capstone course. Annual memos summarizing the department and school level review are shared with C-RUM, and full reports are made available. Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering are, in addition, both specially accredited by ABET (see CFR 2.1).
- The Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability launched September 1, 2022. One of its first priorities is to develop a process for reviewing degree programs, to implement by 2023-24. All of the departments and programs from the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences joined the Doerr School of Sustainability. Examples of recent reviews under Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences:
- Individual schools at Stanford also engage on their own schedule with programs of external review by external advisory boards. For example, departments in H&S undergo an external review process every 8 years.
Graduate professional programs in the Graduate School of Business, Stanford Law School, the Graduate School of Education, and the School of Medicine undergo specialized program review as part of their professional accreditation processes (see CFR 2.1).
The institution clearly defines expectations for research, scholarship, and creative activity for its students and all categories of faculty. The institution actively values and promotes scholarship, creative activity, and curricular and instructional innovation, and their dissemination appropriate to the institution’s purposes and character.
Stanford is one of the world’s foremost research institutions. Stanford faculty are leaders in their fields with their accomplishments recognized across the disciplines. Our community of scholars includes 20 Nobel laureates, 35 MacArthur fellows, 4 Pulitzer prize winners, and over 700 national academy members.
Stanford’s research programs reflect the expertise, creativity and initiative of the faculty who set the research agenda. There are more than 7,900 externally sponsored projects throughout the university, with the total budget for sponsored projects at $1.69 billion for 2020-2021, including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC). Of these projects, the federal government sponsors approximately 79 percent, including SLAC.
The arts are integral to a Stanford education. The campus is home to two art museums and several smaller galleries, multiple performance venues, as well as departmental programs in art and art history, creative writing, dance, film and media studies, music, and theater and performance.
Policies governing the research enterprise at the university for faculty, research staff, and students, are found in the Research Policy Handbook.
Criteria for evaluating scholarship and teaching for faculty appointments and promotion are set out in the Faculty Handbook (the list of criteria for each rank and line in the professoriate is found in Appendix B of the Faculty Handbook). A prime criterion for tenure is "true distinction in scholarship" placing the faculty member as one of the best in their field. Factors considered in assessing research performance include scholarly activity and productivity, impact, innovation and creativity, institutional compliance and ethics, among others. The Handbook is explicit in stating that appropriate criteria be applied when the candidate’s work involves creative writing, dramatic or musical composition or performance works of art and the equivalent.
Doctoral students are required to complete and submit a dissertation as part of their degree requirements. The dissertation is "an original contribution to scholarship or scientific knowledge, to exemplify the highest standards of the discipline, and to be of lasting value to the intellectual community" (GAPP 4.8.1).
In addition to research through coursework and within their majors and honors programs, undergraduate research is encouraged through support by programs such as the Undergraduate Research and Independent Projects, which sponsors students to pursue independent research with faculty, as well as through fellowship opportunities such as the Goldwater Scholarship for outstanding juniors and sophomores who intend to pursue basic research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. Some of the scholarships available, such as the VPUE STEM Fellows program and the Mellon Hays fellowship, are also aimed to encourage access and diversity in research fields.
Schools, centers and programs also offer students summer research programs and grants, such as the Stanford Earth Undergraduate Research Program or Global Studies Research Grants; many of these opportunities are listed as part of the SOLO database. Student scholarship is also recognized by several awards. The Golden, Firestone and Kennedy Awards are university-level awards given annually to the top honors theses and senior projects across arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, and engineering. Students are nominated for membership in honor societies such as Phi Beta Kappa. Many additional university awards and honors, as well as those made at the school and department level for excellence in scholarship, research and creative arts, are recognized each year at graduation. These, as well as the names of recent awardees, are listed here.
The Center for Teaching and Learning offers a number of opportunities and resources to support teaching for all instructors, including faculty and graduate student teaching assistants. Throughout the year, CTL offers a self-paced, online course on learner-centered course design, intensive institutes for primary instructors and for graduate assistants, workshops and other events, such as a quarterly TA orientation and the monthly Experiments in Learning series, and on-demand consultations and workshops. CTL has also developed the IDEAL Pedagogy program to departments and individual instructors to support inclusive and equitable teaching practices. Teaching Commons is Stanford's central hub for resources and guides for learning and teaching. Course innovation, teaching and program development support is available to faculty through a number of sources, including the Teaching Advancement Grants offered by CTL and Undergraduate Program Enhancement Grants offered by VPUE to support integrating students into program and department communities.
The institution recognizes and promotes appropriate linkages among scholarship, teaching, assessment, student learning, and service.
Tenure and appointment policy and criteria (stated in Chapter 2 and Appendix B of the Faculty Handbook; see CFR 2.8) regarding teaching specify that faculty are required to demonstrate capacity to sustain "a first-rate teaching program" during their career at Stanford. Evaluation of teaching performance takes into account factors such as clarity of exposition, effective communication skills, helpfulness in learning, and ability to stimulate further education.
In addition to careful scrutiny of teaching during the appointment and promotion process, the university recognizes outstanding faculty and teaching assistants through a number of teaching and service awards. Some examples are below.
- Gores Awards (the university's highest recognition for teaching and is given each year to senior and junior faculty as well as teaching assistants)
- Dinkelspiel Awards (given to faculty or staff for "distinctive and exceptional contributions to undergraduate education or the quality of student life")
- Bass University Fellows (recognizes faculty for extraordinary contributions to undergraduate education)
- Roland Volunteer Service Award (recognizes faculty "who engage and involve students in integrating academic scholarship with significant and meaningful volunteer service")
- Kennedy-Diamond Award for Excellence in Community-Engaged Learning and Research (for graduate students who "demonstrated exemplary and mutually-beneficial engagement with the community through teaching or community-based research")
- Centennial Teaching Assistant Awards (given to outstanding TAs for "service and dedication in providing excellent classroom instruction for Stanford students")
Stanford schools also have established teaching and service awards and other recognition, such as the Dean's Teaching Award in the Humanities and Sciences, the Stanford Engineering Heroes program, and various teaching and service awards in the Graduate School of Business and the School of Medicine.
The university also values and promotes faculty service and engagement with the community through a number of opportunities such as the Scholars in Service Program offered by the Haas Center and the Stanford Impact Labs, and through many programs the School of Medicine Community Engagement.
Student service also, as embodied by the Cardinal Service initiative, is central to Stanford education. Cardinal Course Grants offered through the Haas Center for Public Service provide funding for faculty to develop and operate courses that involve students in community-engaged learning and research. The Haas Center's Cardinal Quarter fellowship provides funding for undergraduate students to engage in a quarter-long public service experience, and for graduate students, Public Service Fellowships are also available.
Student excellence in service is recognized through a number of awards, such as the Haas Center's Walk the Talk Service Leadership Award. For the first time at the 2022 Commencement, the President's Award for the Advancement of the Common Good was presented to alumni who exemplify the university’s mission and values and who demonstrate a commitment to learning, social responsibility, and ethical and effective service.
The institution demonstrates that students make timely progress toward the completion of their degrees and that an acceptable proportion of students complete their degrees in a timely fashion, given the institution’s mission, the nature of the students it serves, and the kinds of programs it offers. The institution collects and analyzes student data, disaggregated by appropriate demographic categories and areas of study. It tracks achievement, satisfaction, and the extent to which the campus climate supports student success. The institution regularly identifies the characteristics of its students; assesses their preparation, needs, and experiences; and uses these data to improve student achievement.
Four- and six-year undergraduate graduation rates are published on our Student Achievement page and the IR&DS Data and Findings website. On average, over 94% of all students and 93% of URM students complete their degree in 6 years. In recent years, about 30% of undergraduate students enroll in one of Stanford's Coterminal Bachelor's and Master's Degree programs. The Coterminal Program permits Stanford undergraduates to study for a bachelor's and a master's degree simultaneously. Students in this program may take additional time to complete the bachelor's degree, yet overall, they graduate at a rate higher than the average for the class as a whole. On average, 74% of all undergraduate students and 72% of all URM students complete their undergraduate degree in 4 years. Disaggregated retention and graduation data is annually reported to IPEDS and available through the WSCUC Key Indicators Dashboard.
Stanford regularly surveys its students. There are annual surveys such as those given to frosh, seniors and all enrolled students, as well as those to graduate students exiting the university. These surveys provide deans and administrative staff information about student needs and experiences. Our membership in peer consortia provides us with access to comparative data on groups of students and alumni and affords us the opportunity to assess our position on a variety of indicators to be sure that we are meeting student needs in an appropriate way.
All reviews of undergraduate majors include surveys of current and former students, and this information is considered as part of the program review process (see CFR 2.7). Finally, data on student success is found on our Student Achievement page (see also CFR 1.2).
Academic leadership at the university regularly examines graduation rates for students at all degree levels. As part of this assessment, we use survey responses from students at various points of their careers, including exit surveys (see CFR 4.1.) Additional information on student success and characteristics is collected and reviewed as part of departmental program review and external department review processes. Decanal leadership regularly reviews course evaluations and solicits input from students for faculty promotion cases. VPUE assessment staff regularly study programs for undergraduates; VPGE assessment team focuses on graduate student achievement and support in areas such as advising and mentoring, and the DARE and EDGE programs.
Consistent with its purposes, the institution offers co-curricular programs that are aligned with its academic goals, integrated with academic programs, and designed to support all students’ personal and professional development. The institution assesses the effectiveness of its co-curricular programs and uses the results for improvement.
First-year and transfer undergraduate students enroll in Frosh 101 or Transfer 101, a residential-based small-group discussions to help newcomers navigate their transitions to Stanford. Residential life, more generally, is closely aligned with the education goals of the undergraduate curriculum.
The recently revamped residential neighborhoods and residential experience for undergraduates, ResX, was designed in part with the goal of helping promote civic and ethical engagements in the communities. As the task force that studied the ResX redesign noted in their report for the university's Long-Range Vision, “Experiential and integrated learning in the residences plays a central role in how our students become ethical citizens and critical thinkers.”
The student programs, courses, and initiative offered through the Haas Center for Public Service, are informed and guided by a mission to cultivate civic identity, a goal that is central to the principles of liberal and civic education that guides the Stanford undergraduate experience.
Stanford's Centers for Equity, Community and Leadership provide a gateway to intellectual, cultural and leadership opportunities for all Stanford students. Each of the centers, linked below, has its own mission. Students seeking academic enrichment, connection to a broader community or individual services and support will find excellent resources in these community centers listed below.
- Stanford Asian American Activities Center
- Stanford Black Community Services Center
- El Centro Chicano y Latino
- The Markaz: Resource Center
- Native American Cultural Center
- Queer Student Resources
- Women's Community Center
In addition, Stanford recently opened DisCo, a community space for students with disabilities. Moreover, the FLI Office serves first-gen and/or low-income students and the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities serves student veterans and ROTC cadets.
Stanford offers a number of co-curricular courses and programs that support students' personal and professional development. Designing Your Stanford, Designing Your Life and Designing the Professional are courses that support students in their educational exploration while at Stanford and to help them connect their academic journeys to their goals beyond the university. The Stanford Summer Graduate Institute offers immersive, weeklong courses prior to the start of the academic year that are designed to aid the academic and professional development of graduate students across disciplines.
Grad Grow, a toolkit for graduate students, enables students to explore and plan their professional development by searching the university's vast learning opportunities, resources, workshops, and tools. The search is organized around six core professional competencies: communication, teaching and mentoring, leadership and management, diversity, equity and inclusion, professionalism, and career development.
Co-curricular programs have been intensively assessed. For example, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs articulates key priorities through the Our Most Important Work initiative. Each of these priorities is periodically evaluated and/or assessed to determine effectiveness and to inform relevant change initiatives.
Community & Belonging
- ResX Task Force (2019): A group of faculty, students, and staff that evaluated the Stanford residential system and made recommendations for change that have formed the foundation for the new neighborhood model implemented in 2021.
- Alcohol Solutions Group (2020): A group of faculty, students, and staff who evaluated the current state of alcohol use on campus and made recommendations for change which has informed action steps for the last two years on campus.
- Social Life Accelerator Task Force (2022): A group of alumni, students, and staff that evaluated the current state of community and social opportunities on campus and is in the process of making recommendations for improvement.
- The Stanford Communities Project (on-going): a partnership with Dr. Jamil Zaki, associate professor in psychology, to measure the effectiveness of the Stanford Neighborhoods in achieving their core principles.
Equity & Inclusion
- Office of Accessible Education External Review (2018)
- Community Center Survey (2019): In collaboration with the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center, created and distributed a survey on the impact of the seven campus community centers.
- Students with Disabilities Task Force (2022): A group of faculty, staff, and students reviewed the current state of disability accommodation on campus and made recommendations for improvement.
House in Order
- Student Services Center Space Needs Assessment (2019) Stanford conducted a service quality and space assessment of our one-stop Student Services Center (SSC). The report provided a comprehensive assessment of the SSC’s functions, needs of our students and families, and the current physical space. The report includes assessment metrics and concludes with recommendations.
- Billing & Payments Experience Discovery (2019): Stanford conducted a review of the payment and billing system and experience of our students and families in an effort to determine areas for improvement. The result was the implementation of a new system and an undergraduate payment plan, both launched in 2022.
- International Student Systems Discovery (2019) Stanford conducted a review of the current systems used to process and manage visas for Stanford’s 8,000 international students and scholars. This assessment resulted in replacing the old system and launching new international student and scholar portals.
- Review of Acts of Intolerance Protocol (2021)
- C-12: Examination of Honor Code & Judicial Charter (in process)
Mental Health & Well-being
- JED (2022): Stanford is in year one of becoming a JED campus, which includes distribution of the Healthy Minds Survey (HMS). HMS was administered in 2022 and will be administered again in 2024.
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement (on-going): Stanford joined the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Triple Aim Initiative which includes the implementation of process improvement cycles.
- Action Network for Equitable Well-being (on-going): Stanford’s BIPOC Flourishing Initiative is participating in the inaugural ANEW Action Lab to instill process improvement practices into efforts to address equity gaps in student well-being and flourishing.
- Vaden Student Experiences Surveys (on-going): All Vaden service units (Counseling and Psychological Services, Medical Services, Confidential Support Team, Weiland Health Initiative, and Well-Being at Stanford) administer annual user surveys to students to assess experience and satisfaction.
- Alcohol & Other Drug Survey (annual): Stanford annually distributes and analyzes a survey on student alcohol and other drug use to inform on-going prevention and intervention efforts.
Integrative Learning & Supporting Academics
- Degree Audit Discovery (2017): Stanford initiated a degree audit discovery project to address the shortfalls in how we track degree progress and conferral. Decentralized degree review and conferral process consists of a number of unique homegrown school and department solutions, manual processes, and partial use of PeopleSoft’s Academic Advisement module. Students, advisors, and staff coordinate using information from multiple sources as they try to get a complete picture of student academic progress. Results are often unreliable and result in an over-reliance on after-the-fact investigations and exceptions to clear students for graduation. Our assessment of Stanford’s degree tracking and conferral process resulted in securing commitment to invest in a full-scale enterprise degree audit solution for every academic program—undergraduate, graduate, and professional—launching December 2022.
- Connected Curriculum (2019 to present): Stanford has embarked on an integrated, multi-year program, to assess current practices, policies and tools with the aim of improving the entire ecosystem that supports academic planning and advising, curriculum management and enrollment.
- Curriculum Management Discovery (2019): The project goal was to assess the current state of Stanford’s curriculum management practices and to better understand the numerous solutions used across a decentralized campus to manage these processes. Resulted in funding and successful implementation of a curriculum management system that collects, manages, and stores structured curricular data including academic degree programs & requirements, courses, classes and academic policies.
- Student Services Officer Onboarding Discovery (2019): Stanford is dedicated to developing an effective and efficient way to onboard staff who work with students along with a method to support them on an ongoing basis. The discovery included identifying the common processes, policies, systems, and information new student services staff need to be successful when they begin working at Stanford. Based on the results of the assessment, we have designed and implemented an onboarding and training curriculum for department staff and are developing tools, policies and processes to support their ongoing professional development
- Graduate Admissions Discovery (2020): Graduate admissions across Stanford was made up of a multitude of separate systems and tools that did not talk to each other and included multi-step, highly manual variations in processes and timing. As a result of this assessment in September 2022 we launched a new Graduate Admissions System that provides a central automated platform with workflow, tracking and end-to-end functionality that is eliminating departments’ reliance on supplemental systems and manual processes.
- Academic Planning and Enrollment Discovery (2020): In 2020, Stanford conducted an assessment to understand gaps and requirements for an improved class search and planning tools for students. The scope of inquiry expanded to look holistically at student experiences navigating academic planning and enrollment with current tools and resources. The discovery research included a vision and recommendation for an integrated one-stop platform. Students and their advisors have similar needs in navigating search and planning tools. The findings and recommendations, however, were centered on the significant experience gaps of students. Many of those gaps are also experienced by advisors and in 2021, a follow-up addendum focused on particular needs for advisors rather than the overlap, already described in the original discovery effort.
- Classrooms Reimagined (2021): Assessment of all campus classrooms to determine action plan for classroom upgrades.
- Canvas Assessment (on-going): Quarterly survey of all students and instructors on their experiences using the Canvas learning management system.
The institution ensures that all students understand the requirements of their academic programs and receive timely, useful, and complete information and advising about relevant academic requirements.
The university has embarked on an integrated, multi-year program—the Connected Curriculum—to improve the entire ecosystem that supports academic planning, curriculum management, and enrollment. It’s a comprehensive solution that addresses policies, practices, and tools. It will deliver a more integrated, accurate and effective set of systems to support academic planning, curriculum and enrollment, and lead to administrative efficiencies. Ultimately, Connected Curriculum is about improving the student academic experience by building the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that enables us to make the student experience as effective and efficient as possible. Connected Curriculum is designed to support student success by clearing obstacles to information and opportunity, so that every student can access the riches of the curriculum and the benefits of a liberal education.
Four projects, the first three of which are in-flight, are designed to enhance the student experience at Stanford:
- Degree Audit: A system to help students track degree progress, prepare for course selection, and plan for graduation. It works by encoding degree requirements with hundreds of optimization rules that together give students a personalized roadmap to graduation. It will also improve the degree clearance processes for departments, schools, and the Registrar's Office, and provide rich data for reporting purposes on time-to-degree completion, interest in course offerings, and student paths to degree conferral.
- Curriculum Management: A new framework and system for curriculum management to improve the student experience. This campus-wide effort provides a curriculum management system that for the first time enables consistent and timely management of curriculum across all of Stanford’s schools. In addition to benefiting the student experience, it will provide faculty and staff with modern tools to manage their academic offerings.
- Stanford Bulletin: In a two-part project, Student Academic Services is introducing a new approach to the Stanford Bulletin. 1) The Basic Bulletin organizes information through consistent formatting and will provide students, faculty, and academic advisers with a single comprehensive and reliable source of degree requirements and course listings. 2) The Enhanced Bulletin will integrate class-search functionality, a rich user interface (UI), and include related interdisciplinary programs and activities, academic and co-curricular opportunities, and internships and career opportunities. This project replaces two dated systems in existence for more than a decade each – the existing Stanford Bulletin and Explore Courses class search – with the latest in technology to give students a dynamic, modern and easy way to explore academic and enrichment opportunities and easily find when courses are offered.
- Class Scheduling System: The final planned implementation project of Connected Curriculum, is to replace the class scheduling system. The new tool will enhance the current scheduling experience by visualizing the concentration of courses by quarter, day of the week, and time of day with the ability to easily see potential scheduling conflicts. It will leverage information from the course management component of the curriculum management system. This project will allow us to improve space utilization to address insufficient classroom inventory.
New students receive a variety of information to understand the academic requirements and to help them navigate campus life. Before arriving to campus, students receive information through Approaching Stanford to aid their transition. Once they arrive, New Student Orientation provides a program of events for new students and their families. Undergraduate Advising Directors, professional advising staff within Academic Advising, guide undergraduates throughout their four years at Stanford, in addition to faculty advisors within each of the major departments. Specialized professional advisors also support students with specific needs, including transfer students, co-terminal master’s degree students, student athletes, students on special academic progress status (e.g., academic probation or suspension), and students interested in graduate study in medicine, law, or business. (Advising is one of the criteria evaluated as part of the regular review of majors; see CFR 2.7).
To support graduate student advising, which happens within the academic departments, the Faculty Senate mandated that all programs set out advising expectations for both advisors and advisees. This policy (GAPP 3.3.1) was the result of a study of graduate advising led by the Committee on Graduate Studies and presented to the senate in 2018. These advising expectations are shared in the Stanford Bulletin page for each program as well as through department websites and program handbooks and cover questions such as how advisors will be assigned and changed, the frequency of meetings, and how degree progress and dissertation supervision will be conducted. Postdoctoral scholars complete and discuss an annual Individual Development Plan together with their faculty sponsors.
For prospective students and their families, Stanford's Admissions website shares information on the selection process, application procedures, university policies, and costs and financial aid. Information and guidance on educational costs is available through the Financial Aid Office. General application information and estimated costs and expenses for graduate programs is available on the Graduate Admissions website. (See also CFR 1.6).
The institution provides academic and other student support services such as tutoring, services for students with disabilities, financial aid counseling, career counseling and placement, residential life, athletics, and other services and programs as appropriate, which meet the needs of the specific types of students that the institution serves and the programs it offers.
The Vice Provost for Student Affairs (VPSA) oversees many of the services, resources and specialized offices to support the student experience at Stanford, some of which are listed below. Since 2017, VPSA has been guided by Our Most Important Work, a framework that identifies priorities in key areas such as mental health and well-being, community and belonging, equity and inclusion, integrative learning, and others. VPSA services include:
- Vaden Health Services
- Office of Accessible Education
- Stanford Career Education
- Centers for Equity, Community and Leadership (see also CFR 2.11)
- Bechtel International Center
- First-Gen and/or Low Income Office
- Office for Military-Affiliated Communities
- Graduate Life Office
One crucial resource developed by VPSA to support student-well being is the Red Folder, which contains guidance for faculty and staff on how to respond to students in distress and how to connect students to appropriate professional resources and offices. The Red Folder is shared with the entire community, especially those who interact with students, and is regularly updated. A companion to the Red Folder, our WARM trainings are designed specifically for student, staff, and faculty community leaders, offering a deeper exploration of topics such as building community, well-being, and responding to students in need of support.
Stanford measures and monitors student well-being through surveys, qualitative data collection. We participate in the JED Foundation programming and national studies to ensure we have adequate data regarding student health and well-being to inform policy and resource delivery. Recent findings show that a concerning number of our students struggle with mental health challenges.
Students, post-doctoral scholars, faculty and staff gathered for two days in February 2020 to focus on issues of mental health at a first-time event called Community Conversations on Mental Health and Well-being. Stanford experts and others led workshops and presentations on topics ranging from addiction, caregiving and gender inclusivity to grieving, belonging and building resilience.
Vaden Health Services is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) and engages in re-accreditation every three years.
Outside of the classroom, residential life is a defining aspect of the student college experience at Stanford. As part of the Long-Range Vision, Stanford has recently reimagined and has made significant investments in student residential living and learning. A task force to study undergraduate residential learning released its report in 2018, which became the basis of the ResX, Stanford's newly structured residential communities. ResX organizes existing residences into eight neighborhoods, with a goal that each will have a central gathering place with access to advising, meeting and dining spaces. New students are assigned to all-frosh dorms in their first year, or they may apply to an academic or ethnic themed house. Following their first year, groups can request assignments in proximity to each other, still within the same larger neighborhood of dorms and houses. ResX was developed in part with the intention of fostering a sense of belonging and community throughout students' time at Stanford, and not just in the first year. This was informed by the work of Jamil Zaki, associate professor of psychology, whose research demonstrated that students in all-frosh dorms have more interconnected social networks, and also report greater well-being than first-year students in other residential environments.
Major investments have also been made in graduate residential life. Escondido Village Graduate Residences (EVGR) was the culmination of more than five years of planning, collaboration and construction to create much-needed on-campus housing for more than 2,400 additional graduate students. With community gathering spaces, wellness and exercise rooms on every floor, EVGR is built with student well-being and community in mind and represents a major investment in supporting graduate students. In 2021-22, we had more than 70% of our graduate students housed on campus. The university has also just completed a purchase of the 759-unit Oak Creek apartment complex adjacent to the campus with priority for postdoctoral scholars. This is yet another effort to support affordability in the local housing market.
Institutions that serve transfer students provide clear, accurate, and timely information, ensure equitable treatment under academic policies, provide such students access to student services, and ensure that they are not unduly disadvantaged by the transfer process.
Stanford accepts a small number of undergraduate transfer students each year, typically between 30-45 students. Requirements for admission are described as part of the application process. The transfer credit policy and procedures are posted publicly on the Student Services website. Once admitted, transfer students have a dedicated Transfer Advising Coordinator available to them beginning the summer prior to arrival and throughout their time at Stanford. Transfer students also enroll in Transfer 101, a student-led, discussion-style course (which mirrors Frosh 101 for non-transfer students) designed to support transfer students’ transition to Stanford.