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What are the Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing Requirements?

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The Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing (Ways) are Stanford's unique "breadth" requirement, and form the core of your General Education Requirements.  The Ways comprise a total of 11 courses across 8 broad areas.  Ways courses both complement the classes required for a major and may also count towards your major.

Student Services: General Education Requirements
Ways of Thinking/Ways of Doing

Ways Categories

The Ways system requires that classes be taken from 8 broad categories:

  • Aesthetic and Interpretive Inquiry (AII - 2 courses)
  • Social Inquiry (SI - 2 courses)
  • Scientific Method and Analysis (SMA - 2 courses)
  • Creative Expression (CE - 2 units in 1 or 2 courses)
  • Applied Quantitative Reasoning (AQR - 1 course)
  • Formal Reasoning (FR - 1 course)
  • Ethical Reasoning (ER - 1 course)
  • Exploring Difference and Power (EDP - 1 course)

Check out the Ways website for a more detailed description of each of these categories.

This system provides a great deal of flexibility in that various classes from a range of departments can fulfill each requirement. For instance, the AQR requirement could be fulfilled by taking a Way-AQR certified course in departments such as Engineering, Economics, Anthropology, or Political Science (among others).

Rules for fulfilling Ways requirements

Generally speaking, Ways requirements must be taken for a Letter grade.  The exception to this is a class is Ways certified and offered ONLY for a Satisfactory/NC grading option.  In that case, the class will fill that Ways category.

The other thing to watch out for is if the course is a variable unit course, it must usually be taken for at least 3 units.  The one exception to this rule is Creative Expression (Way-CE).  A Way-CE course may be taken for fewer than 3 units (note that if you take a Way-CE class for only 1 unit you will need to take another unit of Way-CE from the same department, as you need at least 2 units of Way-CE).

Some courses may be certified to fulfill more than one Way: for example, a class might be certified for both Way-AII and Way-ED.  But each course can only be counted towards fulfilling one Ways requirement.  If you take a course that is certified for more than one Way, Axess will automatically choose which Way it is being used to fulfill.  Later on you can request that this course be switched to a different Way if necessary.  You can read more about seeing which Ways you've fulfilled and switching how they're allocated on this Check Your Ways page.

A single course can be used to fulfill both a Ways requirement and a major requirement at the same time, or a Ways requirement and some other General Education Requirement at the same time.  For example, you could use the same course to fulfill both your COLLEGE requirement as well as Way-SI.  

Can I request to have a course count for Ways?

There is no student-led process for requesting a Ways certification for a course.  Only instructors can request to have their course certified for a particular Way. Instructors apply for certification in a particular Way and then must submit course information and materials for review by the Breadth Governance Board.  Once a course is Ways certified, it is certified from that year onwards; the certification is not usually retroactive to prior years.

Finding Ways Courses

The front page of ExploreCourses links to lists of Ways-certified courses; just scroll down the page to filter for classes that fulfill a particular Way.  You can also check out our guide to Choosing Courses for General Education Requirements.

See Also

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