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How IntroSems Fit into Your Stanford Education

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IntroSems and the GER | IntroSems and Writing 2

Frosh Intro Seminars offer a preview of potential majors and invite you to explore options, whether you have narrowed your focus to a few related fields or are entirely open to discovery.

Frosh Seminars can give you a taste of what advanced students are doing before you make a commitment. Taking an IntroSem may be a better way to get started in a major than taking a prerequisite course because you meet a faculty member in the department who can provide you with an insider’s perspective and who might be interested in becoming your major advisor. Professors get to know you as an individual and can serve as a supportive resource throughout your undergraduate years. Frosh Seminars serve as a gateway to Stanford’s research mission by connecting you with Academic Council (tenure-line) faculty in a class related to their research and scholarship.

Frosh IntroSems are equally valuable both as a place to experiment with something entirely new and to build on existing knowledge. They are designed to be accessible to first-year students regardless of prior high-school background. They rarely have prerequisites, except curiosity and an open mind. 

Sophomore Introductory Seminars aim to personalize education for students who are closer to declaring their major in their second year, and encourage a spirit of mentorship between students and instructors. Sophomore IntroSems may have minimal prerequisites, but are still targeted to an audience of non-specialists, keeping in the spirit of intellectual exploration.

Although enrollment in an Introductory Seminar is not required, many IntroSems satisfy university breadth requirements (Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing) and in some departments, an IntroSem can fulfill a major requirement. Some Sophomore IntroSems fulfill the university’s second-level writing requirement, Writing 2, and are an alternative to a PWR2 section. (See this year's WRITE 2 IntroSems in the catalog.) All IntroSems count toward the 180 units required for an undergraduate degree.

Introductory Seminars and the General Education Requirement (GER)

Taking an IntroSem to meet a Way combines intellectual exploration with completion of a degree requirement. Many IntroSems are certified to satisfy University GERs when taken for a letter grade and at least 3 units.

Introductory Seminars and Writing 2

  • Completion of a WRITE 2 IntroSem will satisfy the University's second level Writing and Rhetoric requirement (Writing 2).
  • If the WRITE 2 IntroSem is certified to satisfy a Way, the course may count towards fulfilling the Way in addition to the WRITE 2 requirement.
  • WRITE 2 IntroSems for Sophomores are limited to students who have completed the first level Writing and Rhetoric requirement, Writing 1 (most commonly through a PWR1), and have not yet fulfilled Writing 2, or WRITE 2 (most commonly through a PWR2). 
  • Please note that frosh are not eligible to apply for priority enrollment in Sophomore WRITE 2 IntroSems. Frosh are strongly discouraged from selecting Sophomore-preference WRITE 2 seminars in the IntroSems' VCA as these popular classes (and their waitlists) fill with sophomore and new transfer students who need to complete the requirement in their second year. There are periodic offerings of WRITE 2 IntroSems for Frosh where they can apply for priority enrollment. Check Explore IntroSems to see if Frosh-preference WRITE 2 IntroSems are being offered in a given academic year.
  • The class rosters (ADD/DROP) for WRITE 2 IntroSems are managed by IntroSem administrators. If you are enrolled in a WRITE 2 IntroSem and subsequently decide to drop, please send your drop request to as soon as you decide to drop so another student can enroll in the class.