Stanford’s Undergraduate Degree-Granting Schools

Like most universities, Stanford consists of schools specializing in different academic disciplines. Undergraduates at Stanford earn bachelor’s degrees from the schools of Humanities and Sciences, Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, and Engineering. Undergraduate degrees are not offered in Stanford’s Business, Education, Law, or Medical schools, although faculty from each of these schools teach undergraduate students.

School of Humanities and Sciences

The School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S) is the largest of Stanford’s seven schools and the heart of the University’s liberal arts education. The departments within H&S are divided into three academic clusters—Humanities and Arts, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences. The School offers numerous interdisciplinary degree-granting programs (IDPs) that bridge traditionally disparate fields, including African and African American Studies; American Studies; Archaeology; Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Human Biology; International Relations; Mathematical and Computational Science; Public Policy; Science, Technology, and Society; Symbolic Systems; and Urban Studies. New joint majors also provide exciting opportunities to create projects that fuse computer science and the humanities (e.g., CS + English, CS + History, CS + Linguistics.)

Humanities and Arts

Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. In humanities and arts courses, students investigate how people have documented and interpreted the human experience across time. This exploration provides the ideal foundation for understanding not only our past, but also our present and future. As students pursue these subjects, they learn skills of logical thinking, effective writing, cultural awareness, and ethical reflection.

Languages and Literatures

Learning languages enables students to step inside other cultures and understand diverse peoples and regions on their own terms. In literature courses, students learn to analyze how people use language to make sense of the world. Departments in this cluster include East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, and the programs that make up the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages: Comparative Literature, French and Italian, German Studies, Iberian and Latin American Cultures, and Slavic Languages and Literatures.


In the departments of Art and Art History, Music, and Theater and Performance Studies, students analyze and participate in the rich world of imagination in critical and creative ways. Film and media studies, sculpture, set design, and computer-generated sound are just a few of the wide-ranging areas that can be explored in the arts at Stanford.

Core Humanities

What is a human right? Why do societies have religions? How did the ancient world shape our modern time? The departments of Classics, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, English, and Religious Studies address these and other fundamental questions about the human condition. Students develop an understanding of how knowledge is created, think critically about diverse beliefs and traditions, and explore how languages and societies develop over time.

Social Sciences

The social sciences focus on the systematic examination of the human experience and seek to explain why people behave as they do over time. They look at questions ranging from the causes of economic growth to the reasons for social stratification to the explanation of psychopathologies. Social scientists examine human behavior in all its facets. How do we learn? How do we organize ourselves into families, communities, organizations, and societies? What are the economic, political, and social issues surrounding health care? Why are some countries rich and others poor? Why do people vote the way they do? The core social science departments consist of Anthropology, Communication, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

The natural sciences include the core physical and biological fields of study: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and related programs. Traditionally, physics is the domain of the inorganic world, biology the domain of the organic world, and chemistry the bridge between the two. In recent years, however, study in any of the natural sciences has become more interdisciplinary, with some new areas of study defined by the intersection of two or more fields, such as biophysics and biochemistry. Mathematics is considered the language of the sciences, but it is also a fundamental discipline in which the world is understood quantitatively. Broadly, the goal of studying the natural sciences is to achieve understanding of how the natural world works.

School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences

The School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences offers students the opportunity to learn about our planet’s history and future, and prepares them to contribute solutions to the complex challenges facing our society, including those related to climate change, geologic hazards, energy resources, and food and water security. Classes in the School will teach you how to approach these problems with an interdisciplinary mindset while applying principles of physics, geology, chemistry, biology, engineering, and social science. Many undergraduates in the School do research in collaboration with faculty mentors, who use a variety of methods and tools in their investigations of our planet, such as fieldwork, laboratory experiments, and computational analysis and modeling.

There are four degree-granting undergraduate programs: Students majoring in Geological Sciences study the physical and chemical makeup of the Earth and the dynamic processes that shape our planet through time. Geophysics majors learn quantitative methods for investigating the behavior of Earth materials at all scales. Energy Resources Engineering allows students to explore the complex and changing nature of energy production and consumption. The Earth Systems Interdisciplinary Program (IDP) engages students in an investigation of the causes and consequences of sustainability challenges and potential societal responses to them. All of these programs provide opportunities to evaluate environmental issues, and all further an understanding of the planet we share.

School of Engineering

Engineering students at Stanford gain an unrivaled education in the fundamentals of their chosen engineering disciplines, enjoy opportunities to learn and conduct research in a multidisciplinary environment, pursue solutions to global challenges, and benefit from the University’s proximity to Silicon Valley. Students can reach far beyond traditional areas of engineering to address challenges of health, energy, and environmental sustainability. Stanford engineers are developing better ways to pinpoint clean water, diagnose and treat diseases, and create energy-efficient energy sources.

Stanford’s School of Engineering offers nine departmental majors and eight interdisciplinary major programs. It is worth exploring the details of more than one program since many of these majors offer specialty areas that incorporate aspects of design, energy, biology, medicine, computing, business process, physics, or even music to allow students to focus on frontline issues of the 21st century. All sixteen majors, plus the Individually Designed Major in Engineering, are described in detail in the Handbook for Undergraduate Engineering Programs. The School of Engineering provides the fundamental scientific and technical education necessary for basic engineering practice and for advancement to graduate study.