Notation in Science Communication


The Notation in Science Communication (NSC) provides undergraduates with a new opportunity to develop their ability to communicate technical information to a variety of audiences. Through a combination of coursework, advising and reflection, selected students can earn a special designation on their official transcripts that indicates their advanced work in science communication.

The Notation in Science Communication reflects Stanford’s commitment to addressing society’s compelling need for strong communicative literacy among its scientists and engineers.  It gives students the opportunity to develop as specialists capable of explaining science in clear and compelling ways to a range of audiences.  Through the NSC coursework, students also develop collaborative problem-solving skills and strategies for communication across media that will benefit them here at Stanford and in their future professional careers.

Curricular requirements

To receive the notation, NSC students must take 5 courses, for a total of 14-16 units:

  • PWR 99A (1 unit)
  • PWR 99B (2 units)
  • 2 Advanced PWR Courses: PWR 91 (4 units) and/or PWR 194 (4 units). Note: Students admitted to the Notation after January 2015 must complete PWR 91 "Introduction to Science Communication" as one of their 2 Advanced PWR Courses.
  • 1 Non-PWR Elective Course with a significant science communication component

As a capstone requirement for the Notation, students will produce an electronic Portfolio (ePortfolio) that showcases students’ ability to communicate effectively across disciplines, audiences, and genres.  It will be assessed by a committee as the final requirement of the Notation. 


Admittance to the Notation is competitive; applications are accepted during the fall and the spring quarters of each academic year.  To apply, students fill out an online application form that is then reviewed by the NSC committee. 

  • Fall 2015: Application opens September 30 at 9am; Deadline Extended: Monday, October 19 at 5pm
  • Spring 2015: Application opens April 8 at 9am; Deadline April 22 at 5pm *Priority given to Freshmen or Sophomores


Students will typically be admitted to the Notation any time between the end of their freshman year and the beginning of their junior year. Once accepted into the Notation, students will select advisors who will mentor them throughout the Notation process: A faculty advisor from their major (or a related discipline) and an NSC advisor from PWR. See details on the NSC Major Advisors page.

Students typically should take PWR 99A: Portfolio Preparation I at the earliest opportunity after they have been admitted into the Notation.  They must take PWR 99B in the winter quarter of their senior year.

Students will submit ePortfolios for approval at the beginning of the spring quarter of their senior year and will be informed if they have earned the Notation designation by the end of April.

NSC Dates and Deadlines

For questions visit NSC FAQs or email:

See Also