Frequently Asked Questions About Ways

Get answers to frequently asked questions about Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing

I'm taking, or have taken, a course that I believe should be Ways certified, how do I petition it to be reviewed?

The Ways program does not have a petition process. Certifying a course for Ways is not mandatory.

I took a course that was certified for both Way X and Way Y. On Degree Progress, it shows up as Way X, however, I want it to fulfill Way Y instead.

The Registrar's Office manages how Ways assignments are made, so please submit a HelpSU request to make the change.

I took a course that was previously not certified for Ways, but it has now been certified. Can I still get Ways credit for it?

Yes, it should automatically show on Degree Progress. If not, submit a HelpSU request to make the change.

How do I figure out which Way(s) the course fits?

It is a common mistake to classify a course by only the course name. The key to identifying classes for Ways is to review the Way Syllabus Guidelines which details each Way. Submitting insufficient documentation and/or applying for the incorrect Way may result in a delay in the review process and/or a denial of certification. 

Can I submit a course outline or course description rather than a syllabus?

No, the Board needs detailed information to understand how you experienced the "thinking" and "doing" of the Way in each course. 

Can I submit my syllabus in Word?

No Word documents are not always accessible, so only PDFs can be submitted.  Each syllabus must be submitted as an individual PDF . Please label each syllabus PDF file with the catalog ID, then with the name of the course, example: “Math 150 - Calculus II.pdf”

I took a course in another country and the syllabus is not in English, can I submit it?

All syllabi must be submitted in English. If a syllabus is in a language other than English, please translate it prior to submission.

I took a course at another institution, can I get Ways credit for it?

If you took the course before Autumn 2015 and were enrolled at Stanford, you can request Ways transfer credit without pre-approval.   You can submit a Request for Transfer Credit Evaluation for review. The deadline to submit this request is December 31, 2015. No transfer credit requests after the deadline will be reviewed.  Beginning Autumn 2015, all non-Stanford courses must be pre-approved to earn Ways transfer credit.

I received Ways transfer credit and it’s already posted on Degree Progress, can I change it to another Way?

No, once Ways transfer credit is posted, it is final and may not be changed.  

Can I submit any coursework taken prior to matriculation for Ways transfer credit?

No, the courses are not eligible for Ways credit but you may be eligible to earn unit credit for the courses (excludes units earned towards a high school diploma). Once a student matriculates (freshmen), you can request pre-approval of Ways courses.

What are the deadlines to have a course certified?

Please check the For Faculty page for the most up-to-date deadline. In general, the deadlines are set as follows: 

  • For Winter quarter courses, please submit courses prior to first Monday in October.   Next deadline: October 5, 2015
  • For Spring quarter courses, please submit courses prior to second Monday in January.   Next deadline: January 11, 2016 
  • For Autumn quarter courses, please submit courses prior to first Monday in May. Next deadline for 2016-17: May 10, 2016

It's a good idea to submit early since the Breadth Governance Board receives a large number of Ways requests around the deadline time frame, which can cause delays. In case the Board needs additional information before making a decision, this will provide you time to respond appropriately prior to the deadline. Courses submitted after a deadline will be reviewed and uploaded to Explore Courses on a periodic basis, and will be unlikely to be certified prior to the quarter’s open enrollment Bulletin release.

How do I figure out which Way(s) category my course best fits?

There are many nuances to the different type of Ways, please review the Ways Syllabus Guidelines to help identify the best Ways fit for your course.

What if I don’t have a syllabus for a course yet? Can I still register it? Can I submit something less prescriptive than a syllabus?

Generally, a full syllabus is needed for the Board to see sufficient information about the course to make a determination if it fits the rationale and spirit of the Way, however, a preliminary syllabus may be submitted with examples of how students will demonstrate the “doing” component of the Way.  Please review the Ways Syllabus Guidelines to understand the elements included in a Ways certifiable course.

Who can submit a course for certification? 

Faculty and staff have online access to submit proposals, however, graduate students may also submit course proposals although they do not have access to the online site.  The department administrator or faculty member may submit a course for a graduate student.

What if I don’t see my course listed in the drop down menu on the Ways submission site? 

Typically, this is because the course has not been created in Axess/ PeopleSoft yet. Please note there is a 1-2 day delay before it will accessible in the Ways system.  

How many of the sample learning outcomes should a course cover?

It requires at least one from the pre-populated list or you may submit custom outcomes.

How do I know if my course was approved?

Generally, within 4 weeks, you will be notified via email.  You may also check Explore Courses or in “View/Edit” mode to confirm course(s) have been approved by the BGB.

I am teaching a course that was previously certified for Ways, however, the course has a new course ID and/catalog number than the one that was approved. How can I get my new course certified?

Please email with the syllabus, the new course ID and the catalog number and  we will assist you.

My course was certified for Ways, but the certification is not reflected in Explore Courses. 

Courses which have been certified for Ways will appear in Explore Courses within one week after certification. If after one week it does not appear in Explore Courses, please email   

Please note that Ways are certified for undergraduate-level courses and will not apply to graduate-level courses, so if a course is cross-listed as both an undergraduate and graduate-level class, the certification will only appear in the undergraduate course listing.  

My course was not certified. Can I revise my course and submit it again?

If there is pertinent information missing from the original syllabus, the BGB welcomes a resubmittal of a revised syllabus or additional supporting documentation.  Please review the Ways Syllabus Guidelines to understand the elements sought in a Ways certifiable course. Should you choose to do so, please email so that we can change a system setting allowing you to upload a revised syllabus.  

Can I consult with someone about developing a new course or revising an old one to fit a Way?

Yes, please email with your request and someone will contact you.

Can I see courses that have been submitted by my department?

Login to Once there, click on “View/Edit” on the left hand side of the screen. From there, you can search for courses that have been submitted by any of the following criteria:  Department, Course, Requirement or Course ID.  You may view the submission(s), however, only the original submitter can edit a course.

What if a course is taught by more than one instructor or the instructor changes?

The BGB certifies courses based on syllabus and not instructors. If the course meets the rationale and spirit of the Way for which it is designated, changes in instructor or details of the syllabus are fine.  If, however, a course is substantially different from offering to offering, the department will need to resubmit the course.

How do I certify a course with two sections, with each section taught by a different instructors? 

The Board certifies courses (course name, catalog number, and most importantly, the course ID number).  It does not certify sections nor instructors.  The expectation is that both sections will adhere to the core elements of the syllabus which has been Ways certified.  

My department or program doesn't have an undergraduate major, though we offer undergraduate courses, a minor, or honors program. Do we need to worry about the Ways?

Since Ways-certified courses are desirable to students, it's a good idea to consider, if appropriate, certifying your course for Ways.

What is the responsibility of an Interdisciplinary Program (IDP) for registering courses listed in our program? 

IDPs will be responsible for registering courses that they own. For cross-listed courses, the owning department or program will be responsible. We encourage IDPs to consult with their affiliated faculty about which Ways are appropriate not only to the course and departmental major, but also to IDP aims.

Do I have to submit my course for Ways certification? 

 No, it is and faculty and the departments’ decision whether to submit a course for Ways certification.

How do I know what courses I’ve taken already fulfill the Ways requirement?

You should run the Degree Progress Report in Axess to determine what courses you have taken, then use Explore Courses to determine which Ways these courses meet.

After I submit my application, how do I know when the change has been made?

After you submit your application to the Student Services Center, wait 2-3 weeks and then run a Degree Progress Report in Axess. Ways should show as your new breadth requirement.

What if, 3 weeks after submitting the application, my degree progress report doesn’t reflect the change?

Please submit a HelpSU ticket to the Student Services Center.