Selecting Courses

Stanford operates on the quarter system, which means that the academic year at Stanford is divided into four terms. Summer Quarter is eight weeks in length, which is two weeks shorter than the other academic terms. Courses are condensed to fit the shorter period, so they are fast passed and academically challenging.

Enrollment Requirements by Program

Students have differing academic enrollment requirements, depending on their visa status and program affiliation. In some cases, students will be required to meet with an academic advisor to discuss their enrollment plans. Information about academic advising is available here.

Commuting students who do not require a Stanford-sponsored I-20: 

Students are required to enroll in 3 to 12 units.

Commuting students who require a Stanford-sponsored I-20: 

Students are required to enroll in 8 to 12 units.

Residential students, regardless of visa status:

Students are required to enroll in 8 to 12 units, 6 of which must be from academic departments.

Viewing Courses and Course Information

Axess will allow students to view additional information for each course, including the meeting schedule, instructor, location, grading options, and more. Prospective students who do not yet have the ability to log in to Axess should use the Explore Courses interface to view Axess as a guest. In Explore Courses, students should locate the name of the department offering their course of choice and then click on the link to open the full course listing. Then students should use the “Filter Results” box on the right side of the page to select the “Summer” term. Any text that appears in blue on this site is a clickable link.

Courses and schedules are subject to change

The majority of summer courses at Stanford are taught as part of the regular 8-week Summer Quarter; however, a handful of courses follow a different schedule. Axess displays the start and end date for most courses. A few of the special schedule courses have their dates noted within the course description or course notes. A list of these non-standard courses and their corresponding Add/Drop deadlines is available on the Registrar's website. Please note that students who wish to make enrollment changes to any of these non-standard courses after the regular Add/Drop deadlines in Axess must do so by filing a "Blue Card" at the Student Services Center. High School Summer College Academic Advisors have blue cards available as well.

Choosing Courses

The courses listed on the Summer College website are the only courses open to Summer College students. Other courses found in Axess or on Explore Courses are only open to matriculated Stanford students. An academic advisor will verify student enrollment.

As mentioned above, a few Summer Quarter courses that follow a special schedule. These courses are often components of course sequences where each individual component is less than the normal eight-week term. The component courses are usually taken together to complete the sequence. Students must take these courses in sequential order. For assistance with special schedule courses, confirmed students can contact a High School Summer College Academic Advisor.

Two guidelines will assist students as they choose courses.

Prerequisites: In general, three years of high school coursework is roughly equal to one year of college coursework (AP level courses are exceptions). Students should use this formula when evaluating whether or not they meet the requirements for a particular course.

Workload: Typically one course unit represents approximately three hours of work per week for the average student. An 8-unit schedule comprised of lecture-based courses equates to roughly 24 hours a week of class time, preparation, study time, and homework.

High School Summer College students choose from a subset of Stanford courses that are chosen by their respective departments as appropriate for advanced high school students. University courses generally do not meet every day of the week. The pace of instruction will differ from most high school courses, and may require more work be done outside of class. When considering which course(s) to take, students should review  all prerequisite information in the course description. Students should not enroll in a course for which they are not adequately prepared. Students can change course enrollment during the first week of the quarter. If a course does not meet expectations, e students can drop that course and add another during the first week.