Choosing Courses that Fulfill GERs

Although the General Education requirements are requirements, the courses you select to fulfill them can help personalize your education in meaningful ways. They can give you license to explore areas you would not otherwise think to pursue, as well as helping you refine your eventual major direction. General Education requirements are an integral part of a liberal education, which Stanford faculty have designed in order to:

  • Broaden students’ knowledge and awareness in the major areas of human knowledge.
  • Significantly deepen understanding of one or two of these areas.
  • Prepare students for a lifetime of continual learning by applying knowledge to career and personal life.

The General Education requirements are described in detail in the Stanford Bulletin. Be aware that the specific requirements that apply to you depend on the year in which you entered Stanford—some students are following the Ways of Doing/Ways of Thinking requirements, while others are completing Disciplinary Breadth and Education for Citizenship requirements. In Axess, your Degree Progress Report will list your General Education requirements and track their completion. There is no need to cram the General Education requirements into the first two years. Many students find that they have completed several requirements merely by taking classes within their interests.  

In selecting courses that fulfill General Education requirements, you should:

  • Consider taking Introductory Seminars to fulfill General Education requirements in fields that are relatively new to you.
  • Seek out General Education requirement courses that complement or build upon your major. A physics major may fulfill a humanities requirement with a philosophy of science course. Students who study developmental psychology may benefit from an English class on children’s literature. Use keyword search in ExploreCourses to find such classes.
  • Use General Education requirements to create a balanced workload for the quarter.
  • In ExploreCourses, enter a % in the search box to find all classes, and then use the filters in the right-hand column to browse all courses in a given quarter that fulfill a specific GER; or see the links from the Stanford Bulletin.

Detailed Description of the General Education Requirements

Stanford Bulletin's Explore Degrees: Undergraduate Degrees and Programs