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Departments & Programs

Humanities and Arts

  • Art & Art History

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    Art & Art History The Department of Art & Art History at Stanford encompasses the history of art, the practice of art in a studio, and film and media studies. Courses investigate the historical development of images and media and their influence on society, as well as their relationship to other disciplines such as literature and music. Critical thinking and technical skills learned in the classroom inform the creation of artwork in studios, labs, screening rooms, and galleries on campus. Between lecture series, symposia, gallery exhibits, film screenings, and design presentations, the department participates in more than 60 events a year.

    The department offers bachelors degrees and minors in art history, studio art, and film and media studies. MFA degree programs include art practice, design, and documentary film & video. Students can also earn a PhD in art history and a joint PhD in art history and humanities. Learn More »

  • Cantor Arts Center

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    The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford presents art in 24 galleries plus sculpture gardens, terraces, and courtyards. The center’s diverse collections span 5,000 years and the world’s cultures and number some 30,000 objects, including the largest collection of Rodin bronzes outside Paris. Presenting a wide range of changing exhibitions, docent tours, lectures, gallery talks, symposia and classes, the Cantor Arts Center is a cultural hub for the community and a teaching resource for Stanford.
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  • Classics

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    Classics One of the largest and most diverse classics programs in the country, Stanford’s Department of Classics takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying the literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. Students examine history, language, literature, art, philosophy, and archeology, frequently in relation to other ancient cultures and societies.

    At Stanford, classics is a dynamic field in which faculty and students employ methods of study across media, genre, and time. Coursework delves into specialized fields such as ancient economics, law, and science, illuminating the interactions of various cultures, as well as the influence of the ancient world on the contemporary one. Classics also collaborates with the Department of Philosophy to offer undergraduate and graduate joint programs in ancient philosophy. Learn More »

  • Comparative Literature

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    The Department of Comparative Literature provides students the opportunity to study imaginative literature in all its forms. While other literary disciplines focus on works of literature as parts of specific national or linguistic traditions, Comparative Literature draws on literature from multiple contexts in order to examine the nature of literary phenomena from around the globe and from different historical moments. We study literary forms such as fictional narratives, performance and poetry, as well as cinema, music, and emerging aesthetic media.

    Along with the traditional model of comparative literature that juxtaposes two or more national literary cultures, the department supports teaching and research that examine literary phenomena with additional tools of inquiry such as literary theory, the relationship between literature and philosophy, and the enrichment of literary study with other disciplinary methodologies. Students emerge from the program with enhanced verbal and writing skills, a command of literary studies, the ability to read analytically and critically, and a more global knowledge of literature. Learn More »

  • East Asian Languages and Cultures

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    In Stanford’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, students closely study China, Japan, and Korea through coursework on language, linguistics, literature, film, cultural studies, and visual arts. Small classes are led by faculty and visiting scholars whose specialties span traditional poetry to modern politics.

    Intense language training and cultural immersion are cornerstones of the department. The opportunities for learning range from classes in the department’s new Confucius Institute—dedicated to research and instruction in Chinese language and culture—to a Stanford overseas program in Kyoto. Learn More »

  • English

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    English In Stanford’s Department of English, students deeply explore the rich legacy of literature written in English, past and present. Coursework emphasizes critical thinking and interpretation. A wide range of classes are offered on individual authors, the history of literary genres, literary theory, new media, and creative writing.

    The graduate program involves intensive training in the research and analysis of British, American, and Anglophone literary histories and texts, preparing students to produce original scholarship and teach literature at the highest levels. The department also hosts Stanford’s renowned Creative Writing Program, which offers workshops and tutorials in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in addition to a reading series featuring prominent contemporary writers. Learn More »

  • French and Italian

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    The Department of French and Italian offers students the opportunity to pursue course work at all levels in the languages, cultures, literatures, and intellectual histories of the French and Italian traditions. The undergraduate majors in French or Italian provide a comprehensive study of their respective literatures and cultures, establishing a solid basis for potential further study in literature or history.

    At the graduate level, a terminal MA and a PhD (with various possible minors and combined degrees) are offered. In addition, a minor in French or Italian for both undergraduate and graduate students is offered. The curriculum is also designed to benefit students with varying interests and levels of language proficiency. Students interested in international relations, European history and literature, film studies, philosophy, and post-colonial studies will find relevant course offerings. Learn More »

  • German Studies

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    The undergraduate program equips students with language skills and analytic capacities to understand the cultures of German-speaking Europe. Students learn how to interpret complex literary and philosophical works, evaluate historical processes, and understand another culture and society. Students majoring in German normally combine courses in the department with offerings from other fields in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.

    The doctoral program provides training in the full range of German literary history, combined with opportunities for students to pursue specialized research topics. All students participate in an on-going colloquium to share work as well as in language teaching and other professionalization opportunities. Learn More »

  • History

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    Through courses ranging from Africa Until European Conquest to Food Ways: The Politics, Culture, and Ecology of Food in American History, Stanford’s Department of History teaches the analytic, interpretive, and writing skills necessary to understand connections between the past and present. Students also learn how to weigh historical sources and transform their research into persuasive analysis.

    In addition to the general undergraduate major, four interdisciplinary undergraduate programs are offered: history, literature, and the arts; history, science, and medicine; public history/public service; and history and the law. An intensive graduate program trains scholars, most of whom go on to teach in higher education. Learn More »

  • Iberian and Latin American Cultures

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    Studying Iberian and Latin American cultures means engaging in a deep and compelling exploration of the languages, literatures, cinema, and cultures of the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America (including Brazil), and Latina/o populations in the United States. To achieve our goal of training students as experts in these areas, we balance an emphasis on literary studies with philosophical, historical, and social approaches to cultural issues.

    As a result of our focus on critical thinking, open discussion, and close textual analysis, our undergraduate majors provide excellent preparation for a large number of professional fields, including business, education, international relations, law, and medicine. Our graduate program provides rigorous and highly individualized advanced training in the analysis of Iberian, Latin American (including Brazil), and Latina/o literatures, and our students go on to produce innovative original research and find excellent jobs, both in academe and beyond. Learn More »

  • Linguistics

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    Linguistics In Stanford’s undergraduate program in linguistics, students analyze the structure of language, including sound, meaning, words, and sentences, and how these structural patterns vary over time. Courses also draw on anthropology, psychology, and cognitive and computer sciences, among other disciplines.

    The graduate program emphasizes theoretical work based in empirical language data. Research and teaching include the following topics: computational linguistics, historical linguistics, language acquisition, morphology, phonetics, phonology, psycholinguistics, semantics, and sociolinguistics. The program also collaborates with Stanford’s departments of computer science, philosophy, and psychology to offer interdisciplinary doctoral study in cognitive science. Learn More »

  • Music

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    Music Through courses based in theory, musicianship, analysis, and history, the Stanford Department of Music trains students for careers as composers, performers, teachers, and scholars. The department supports a culture that is both firmly rooted in history and tradition and vigorously engaged with the technological and artistic evolution of sound. Resources include the Archive of Recorded Sound—where students can explore the progression of music on formats from wax cylinders to CDs—and the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, a multidisciplinary facility of composers and researchers collaborating at the crossroads of technology and art.

    Campus-wide, the department also promotes the enjoyment and understanding of music through private lessons, as well as the opportunity to participate in ensembles, chamber groups, and major productions. Learn More »

  • Philosophy

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    The Stanford Philosophy Department teaches students to think critically about questions of being, knowledge, and value and their application in society. Its rigorous undergraduate and graduate programs train students in traditional core areas of philosophy and also provides them with opportunities to explore subfields such as the philosophy of literature. Students acquire skills involved in critical reading, analytical thinking, sound argumentation, and the clear expression of ideas.

    The department has a strong focus on the history of philosophy, with one of the best programs in Kant studies in the world. It also maintains a tradition as a leading research center in logic and the philosophy of science. Learn More »

  • Religious Studies

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    Religious Studies Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies provides a range of perspectives on religion and on the history, literature, thought, and practice of religious traditions. Courses range from Religion in Popular Narratives to Crypto-Muslim Culture in Early Modern Spain. In addition to housing core faculty with strengths in the study of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam, the department works with several programs on campus. These include the Department of Philosophy, with which it offers a joint undergraduate major; the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies; the Taube Center for Jewish Studies; the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies; and the Program in Medieval Studies.

    The department also supports the acquisition of languages needed to understand sacred texts and interpretive traditions, as well as study abroad at Stanford’s overseas centers, where religions can be observed and experienced in their original cultures. Learn More »

  • Slavic Languages and Literatures

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    The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures teaches Russian language, literature, literary and cultural history, as well as literary theory and criticism. From Freshman and Sophomore Seminars that do not require specialized knowledge to research seminars for graduate students, courses at all levels are offered. Our students master a difficult language and rich literatures and cultures. They are rewarded by gaining entry into a unique, powerful and diverse civilization that defined major trends of the past century and plays a significant role in the world today. Learn More »

  • Stanford Arts Institute

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    The Stanford Arts Institute integrates art into Stanford life by hosting artists-in-residence, developing undergraduate arts programs, administering new multidisciplinary graduate programs, awarding grants for arts research and teaching, and fostering collaborative performances and exhibitions.

    Programming is organized around three areas that explore the role of art at Stanford and beyond: The Center for Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), Programming in Arts and Humanities, and Programming in Global Arts. In addition to providing a platform for cross-disciplinary dialogue, the Stanford Arts Institute bridges the campus arts community and its off-campus counterparts.
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  • Stanford Live

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    Stanford Live Stanford Live produces and presents music, theater, dance, spoken word, and multimedia events across the university. With a focus on innovation and risk-taking, the program has emerged as an incubator and destination for new work by artists outside the Stanford community.

    Stanford Live plays a leading and collaborative role in the university’s thriving culture of creativity—one in which the arts mingle with academic disciplines and flourish as a vital part of campus and community. Learn More »

  • Theater and Performance Studies

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    Theater and Performance Studies At Stanford’s Department of Theater and Performance Studies, students receive instruction from faculty and artists-in-residence in the classroom and onstage. The curriculum integrates theory, criticism, and a historical study of drama with the experience of live performance in six theater spaces on campus. Students apply analytical skills honed in courses to artistic endeavors that range from performing canonical plays and stage managing musicals to creating costumes for period pieces and directing experimental one-acts.

    The department also houses a Dance Division, in which students study movement both as performance and as a cultural, political, and social lens for understanding the body and the world. Courses covering the critical and historical perspectives of dance complement movement and performance studio classes that teach forms from ballet to hip-hop. Learn More »

Featured Department: Music


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