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How IntroSems Fit into Your Stanford Education

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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 and are an alternative to a PWR2 section. 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.

  • Students admitted in 2013-14 and later, must fulfill the Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing requirement. The certification process continues through the academic year. Check for the latest information at ExploreCourses.stanford.edu.  ExploreIntroSems.stanford.edu will show you Introductory Seminars that are certified to fulfill Ways.
  • Students admitted before 2013-14 may be required to fulfill the previous general education requirements. Courses offered before 2013-14 academic year continue to satisfy a variety of Disciplinary Breadth and Education for Citizenship categories. Look for this information in ExploreCourses.stanford.edu and vcais.stanford.edu.