Ch 5—Academics


Odds are that if you opened the Explore courses website, you’d find a lot of classes that interest you. The best thing you can do is to sample classes that seem appealing to you. Maybe you’ve known from the tender age of three that you’d really like to be an astrophysicist, but you’ve still got nothing to lose by taking that really cool HumBio class or enrolling in Social Dance. While some classes are commonly accepted as difficult, for the most part, you’ll get as much out of a class as you put in. For a comprehensive view of academic programs available to you, visit:



You can find out about grants and fellowships through individual academic departments, Undergraduate Advising and Research, and the Haas Center ( Applications for summer research scholarships can be due up to six months prior to the summer, so plan ahead! The best way to land a research gig is to talk to professors leading your classes or by just looking through your department’s website and emailing professors who seem to be working on projects you find interesting. Many departments have research mailing lists or lists for prospective majors that will also send out information about labs or organizations looking for students.

Study Abroad

Also, don’t forget to look into studying abroad, available through the Bing Overseas Study Program (at Stanford has programs on every continent except Antarctica. If these opportunities don’t float your boat, you can always do a program at another school or just take a quarter off and do something on your own time.



You may want to consider Alternative Spring Break, if you’re interested in using your Spring Break to address social and cultural issues. ASB is student-run and centers on taking a trip during Spring Break with other Stanford students to focus closely on a particular issue, such as immigration, human rights, or the environment. Locations for trips have included such diverse destinations as Hawaii, South Dakota, and Guatemala.


If you need advising guidance, you can always go to Undergraduate Advising and Research, located in Sweet Hall. The advisors there are always kind and helpful, and can also refer you to specific pre professional advisors if necessary too. You can also ask upperclassmen—or any of your professors. Most people at Stanford, you will find, are willing to help you out. Talking to your Academic Director isn’t a bad idea either. The Academic Director, or AD, is a full-time, professional staff advisor with UAR (Undergraduate Advising & Research). ADs can also assist you investigating opportunities beyond a major, including research, fellowships, and post-graduate study. ADs also support students who face difficulty with academic performance/progress, and those who seek an exception from academic deadlines and policies. Typically every dorm has an assigned AD. Add the PMA (Pre Major Advisor) assigned to you when you first got here and the Major Advisor you’ll get when you declare a major, and that’s a lot of people looking out for you.


Green library—Stanford’s main research library with resources in the humanities, social sciences,area studies and interdisciplinary areas as well as a Media Microtext Center.

Lathrop library—Tech support, East Asia Library, 24-hour study spaces. The Tech Desk lets you check out any type of technology you need for free like chargers, camcorders or laptops.


A few other libraries include:

  • Art and Architecture Library
  • Biology Library (Falconer)
  • Business Library
  • Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (Swain) 
  • Classic Library
  • Earth Sciences Library and Map Collections  (Branner) 
  • Education Library  (Cubberley) 
  • Engineering Library  (Terman) 
  • Hoover Institute Archives
  • Law Library (Crown) 
  • Marine Biology Library (at Hopkins Marine Station) 
  • Mathematics and Statistics Library
  • Medical Library (Lane)
  • Music Library
  • SLAC National Accelerator Lab Research Library
  • Tanner Philosophy Library

(Visit for a complete list of library hours and resources.)



Bender Room—Take the elevator to the 5th floor of Green Library and find a comfy, well-lit room. Not too shabby other areas include the Lane Reading Room (reminds people of big public libraries), and the West stacks (reminds people of 19th century industrial factories).

Outside—Warning: “studying” usually “devolves” into napping.

Rodin Sculpture Garden. Picnic tables. Famous art. Inspiring, though it is outside (see previous warning).

Old Union—Go here if you want to be distracted by friends and a warm chocolate chip cookie from the Axe and Palm while feeling slightly uncomfortable with the extremely sterile, mental-health-institution-y feeling inside the building. There are tons of rooms if you need to have a study group meeting, and you can reserve rooms online.

Coupa cafe downtown in Palo Alto—Getting off-campus is nice and sometimes makes you productive. Other times, it doesn’t.

The Law Library—When you look around and see everyone else working extremely intently, it’s either inspiring or demoralizing. Either way, the Law Library has comfy chairs—and that’s inspiring.


The following places are open for 24 hours a day, everyday:

  • Study Area/UNIX Cluster

Sweet Hall, 1st Floor, Room 160

  • Sweet Hall Computer Cluster

Sweet Hall, 2nd Floor

  • Lathrop 24 hour Study Room

Lathrop Library, 1st Floor

  • Tresidder Union

Computer Cluster (LAIR), 2nd Floor

While some classes are commonly accepted as difficult, for the most part, you’ll get as much out of a class as you put in.

Arts on Campus

You can engage with the arts at Stanford at any level – from sharpening your piano skills on your dorm piano, to watching friends perform in the Original Winter One Acts, to majoring in art history. Stanford is a space to be experiment, be creative and be supportive of lifestyles that involve the arts.

Arts Immersion

Go to New York or Los Angeles for a fast paced, exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go behind the scenes and immerse yourself in dance troupes, Broadway musicals, art schools, galleries, actions houses, major museums, and more.

Arts Intensive

Three dedicated weeks expanding and deepening yours arts practice with other artists as your teachers and classmates.

Summer Arts Internships

Get paid for an internship in the arts, with placements across the country; everything from Mcsweeney’s to the MoMA.

Honors in the Arts

No matter what your major, you can apply to receive Honors in the Arts by completing a senior capstone project.

Creative Expression

Part of the WAYS academic requirements; possibly the greatest requirement you’ll ever fill. undergrad.


freshman who participate in this year long academic program will be part of a tight knit community, living together and attending classes in Stern Hall’s Burbank House residence. If you want a similar experience, but aren’t a freshman, check out Kimball Hall, the other arts dorm on campus.

Stanford Live/Bing Concert Hall

Stanford Live is your one stop shop for live music, dance, and theater in the sleek and luxurious Bing Concert Hall. Since its opening in January 2013, the Bing has transformed the practice, study, and experience of the performing arts on Stanford campus. Its 842 seats wrap around the stage in a tight circle, bringing you no further than 75 feet from the artist(s). Featured performers this season include Chick Corea and Béla Fleck, Anna Deavere Smith, DJ Kid Koala, Midori, Bernadette Peters, and more. In addition to providing insanely discounted tickets ($15 for current students), Stanford Live brings the arts to you through master classes, coachings, and dorm concerts. Don’t wait – grab a ticket today!

Anderson Collection at Stanford University

Featuring 121 modern and contemporary pieces from one of the best private collections in the world, you will now have the chance to see incredible works of art that up until now have been hidden away in boardrooms and bedrooms. The collection is pretty mind boggling, with works by Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. It’s a must see.

McMurtry Building for the Department of Art & Art History

The McMurtry Building is the new home of the Department of Art & Art History, a diverse academic environment incorporating art and film making with the study of art and its history. Most spaces are reserved for academic purposes and students are also invited to visit the Penny & Jim Coulter Art Gallery, eat at C2 The Fetter Family Café and enjoy views from the rooftop garden.


  • Cantor Arts Center—Try to find Slab man (aka Dave) the creepily realistic sculpture that looks like your future landlord.
  • Anderson Collection—Go see what all the fuss over modern art is about.
  • Stanford Live/ Bing Concert Hall—We saw Yo-Yo Ma for $15.
  • TAPS shows—Calling it the drama department would just be too plebian.
  • Dance performances—Some people were just born with all the rhythm. Yeah we’re not jealous. Who would be jealous?
  • Student Theatre performances—Go watch your friends sing about various life maladies
  • Sculpture—Everywhere. Pick up an arts map (or go to and try to find them all
  • Department of Music concerts—There’s a nine-foot steinway called George.
  • Green Library—They’ve got the second largest collection of DVDs under Netflix.
  • Music Library at Braun—Bring home stacks of music books or CDs. Return them eventually.
  • Student groups—There are nearly a 100 student arts groups on campus. Find your people at
  • Viennese Ball—Prepare with a social dance class for the 21st century version of a Jane Austen Ball. Marriage proposal not required.

Checklist for Choosing Classes Cleverly

  • Ask upperclassmen for advice.
  • Explore Courses ( This is the official Stanford class search.
  • Read The Unofficial Stanford Blog’s Course Preview every quarter, showcasing the most interesting-sounding and highly recommended classes available.
  • Take Introductory Seminars and Freshman/Sophomore Seminars. These classes are GREAT ways to meet professors and other students in a small class, get involved in research, boost your GPA, and find an advisor.
  • Take Athletics classes for units. A total of eight activities units will count toward graduation. You can learn invaluable skills like how to tighten your abs and glutes, how to golf, or how to rock climb.
  • Explore Student Initiated Courses, also taught by fellow students. This program allows students to design and lead a one to two unit class on an area of interest.
  • Participate in Sophomore College (SoCo) prior to sophomore year, an intensive 3-week residential program where students live on campus with other students in their course.



  1. Alison

    Nothing says romance more than Steam Tunneling ;)

  2. Kirsty

    Ah, the mausoleum party. Legendary. More than a decade on and it still brings multi-colored tear to my eye.

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