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Bulletin Archive

This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Limits of the Major

In order to achieve the values of study in depth, a well-structured major should constitute at least one-third of a student's program (55-65 units). To ensure the values of breadth, a major should comprise no more than two-thirds of a student's program (115-125 units); and, to avoid intellectual parochialism, a major program should not require a student to take more than about one-third of his or her courses from within a single department.

Major requirements in cognate subjects essential to the structure of a given major should be counted as part of the major program in applying these guidelines. Department or school requirements designed to provide extra disciplinary breadth should not be counted.

For a limited number of qualified students, many departments and programs offer special programs leading to degrees with honors. A student may apply to the major department or program for acceptance into the honors program. Demands on the student may vary, but all honors programs encourage creative, independent work at an advanced level in addition to the major requirements.

The guidelines set forth here are deliberately general; implementation must take into account the specific needs of a student's program and the nature of the discipline or disciplines involved. The exercise of responsibility in achieving the desired educational balance belongs first with the student, who, after all, has the strongest interest in the value of his or her education. It belongs secondarily to departments and major programs, which must set the requirements of competence in the many majors offered.

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