Choosing Courses within Your Major

Each major or field of study is structured differently. Whether you have already declared a major or are exploring various possibilities, it is important to refer to the Stanford Bulletin and read the information about the major carefully to make sure that you are progressing through your coursework in a timely, organized fashion.

Other recommended things to do include:

  • Check out the department or program website.
  • For engineering majors, read through the Engineering Undergraduate Handbook.
  • Consult with your major advisor. In addition, the director of undergraduate studies, the student services administrator, and peer advisors in your department can be very helpful. They can advise you about how best to shape the major according to your interests. Many majors have multiple tracks within them and some require you to develop a personalized area of concentration. 
  • In some majors it is important to take prerequisites as soon as possible to open the possibility for more advanced courses.
  • Draft a tentative four-year plan for fulfilling your major requirements and arrange when it is best to take different courses in your major. But note that not all courses are offered every quarter or even every year, so check with ExploreCourses and the departmental student services administrators.
  • Read faculty profiles on the departmental website to explore faculty research and find faculty who offer classes that coincide with your interests.
  • Take classes offered by your faculty advisor to help build a strong working relationship.
  • If you intend to participate in the Summer Research College or another research project, prepare yourself by selecting classes that give background knowledge and research skills.
  • If you expect to pursue an Honors thesis or senior project, choose classes that give you the necessary background, that is, classes whose projects help you build toward the larger endeavor, particularly research methodology courses.