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Requirements & Policies

STS students take a set of Core STS Courses and a set of Socio-Cultural (including Concentration Core) and Technical Courses in a selected Concentration Area. In putting their program together (on a B.A. or B.S. Form), students are advised to review the STS Program Policies below. Students are encouraged to select courses in both the Core and Concentration Area around an identifiable set of topics and issues in STS, as well as at least one technical set of skills to develop a greater sense of expertise and application for their program. A student’s curriculum plan, initially and with any changes, must be reviewed and approved by the STS Associate Director and Student Services Officer. The goal of that review is to help students maximize the intellectual coherence of their engagement with foundational ideas and approaches in STS, while developing strengths in the social sciences, humanities, science, and engineering. Information about pursuing a self-designed Concentration Area can be found here.

STS Program Core courses (PC)

  • Employ analytical approaches commonly used in STS

  • Expose students to topics, theories, methods, and ways of thinking important in STS, including (but not limited to) sociotechnical systems, infrastructure, path dependence, social constructivism, ethics, constitutionalism, ethnography, actor-network theory, or history and politics of science, technology, and medicine

  • Cannot be substituted or petitioned

STS CORE REQUIREMENTS (26+ units; 8 course minimum with C grade minimum)

  1. Gateway Requirement: STS 1 (strongly recommended prior to declaring)

  2. Disciplinary Requirement: Should include at least one Writing in the Major (WIM) course and one STS Global course.

    • Engineering and Science PC (Program Core) Courses (complete 2 courses)

    • Social Science and Humanities PC (Program Core) Courses (complete 4 courses)

  3. Senior Requirement:

           1.STS 200: Senior Capstone (4 or 5 units) or

            2. STS 299: Honors Program (10+ units)

STS Concentration Core courses (CC, formerly called Foundational)

  • Are specifically designated sociocultural courses directly relevant to the chosen STS concentration 

  • Provide students with tools to critically engage with the knowledge and skills they are learning in their technical courses

  • Cannot be double-counted with student’s choice of Program Core courses

  • Cannot be substituted or petitioned

Your concentration must:

  • Have a cohesive overall theme or two that you can articulate

  • Include Concentration Core courses and Sociocultural Electives that allow you to critically examine a sequence of your Technical Electives

  • Be approved as a whole by the STS Program: Note that approved courses may not be approved for your specific concentration, if your curriculum does not achieve the above requirements as a whole. 

STS CONCENTRATION AREA (50+ units; 12 course minimum)

1. B.A. degree requirements for the concentration areas

  • 8 Socio-cultural courses from the approved course list for the selected concentration area, including 3 CC (Concentration Core) courses.

  • 4 Technical courses from the approved course list for the selected concentration area.

**Note that the 50-unit requirement may require taking additional courses**

2. B.S. degree requirements for the concentration area

  • 8 Technical courses from the approved course list for the selected concentration area.

  • 4 Socio-cultural courses from the approved course list for the selected concentration area including 3 CC (Concentration Core) courses. 

**Note that the 50-unit requirement may require taking additional courses**


STS Sociocultural Electives

  • Provide historical, social, cultural and/or political context for specific areas of science and technology in each concentration

  • May include STS Program Core or Concentration Core courses not used to fulfill those requirements

  • Electives must be part of a cohesive plan approved by the STS Associate Director

  • See major requirements for more information


STS Technical Electives

  • Courses involving lab work, engineering problems, coding, or other technical work in science, technology, or medicine

  • Help build technical knowledge and skills relevant to the chosen concentration

  • Students seeking the B.S. degree take more of these

  • The majority of Technical Electives should be a sequence (or two sequences) of increasingly advanced levels. In general, introductory courses with little technical content will not be approved. 

  • At least one sequence should be accompanied by either Concentration Core or Sociocultural Electives that allow you to examine and analyze its context and social consequences


  • All degree courses must be taken for a letter grade if offered. If declared after 8/31/2013, must receive a minimum grade of C in all Program Core (PC) courses.

  • Courses cannot be taken for less than the minimum number of units listed in the course menus, even if the course is offered for fewer units.

  • Courses may not be double-counted toward both Core and Concentration Area requirements.

  • AP credit does not count toward the STS major.

  • Students may use only one introductory computer science course, CS 105 OR CS 106A, toward STS Core & Concentration Area requirements if declared after 8/31/2013.

  • Students may not use similar or variations of the same course including: 1) MS&E 152 and MS&E 52   2) HISTORY 140A and HISTORY 232F   3) HISTORY 144 and HISTORY 44Q  4) BIO 109A and BIO 109B  5) BIO 41 and HUMBIO 2A and  6) BIO 42 and HUMBIO 3A.

  • Students are responsible for any prerequisites. It is recommended that STS majors take the Math Calculus sequence (or have AP credit), as many Technical Courses approved for Concentration Areas require it.

  • Students may count no more than two approved course petitions (subject to STS staff approval) toward their individual STS Concentration Area requirements (courses may not be petitioned for Program Core or Concentration Core requirements). Freshmen seminars are not eligible for petition.  

  • Transfer students may petition equivalent and/or relevant STS coursework from institutions outside Stanford University, provided the Registrar has already awarded transfer credit. All such petitions are subject to approval by the STS staff approval.

  • All courses must be taken for minimum of 3 units. Core requirements should be taken for 4+ units where offered.

  • Note that the Human Biology department typically requires students taking any of the HUMBIO core courses (HUMBIO 2A, 3A, 4A, 2B, 3B, and 4B) to take the entire coure sequence.

  • STS 51 must be taken as a complete series (A, B, C) to count a concentration core (formerly foundational) course. 


View Requirements from previous academic years on Box™.