The Center for Human Rights and International Justice offers an undergraduate minor in human rights open to students in any major or program. At Stanford and throughout the world, the center works to advance the cause of justice and human dignity. Students who pursue the minor work closely with experienced scholars and practitioners in the field of human rights in courses that apply history, philosophy, and political science to advocacy and experiential learning. For a capstone project, students may write a research paper, develop practical tools for the collection and analysis of data, or undertake creative work.
Human Biology offers an interdisciplinary approach to understanding human beings from biological, behavioral, social, and cultural perspectives. Through teaching and research on topics such as environmental policy, genetics, and child development, the program promotes the welfare of humans as well as the world at large.
Students take courses in many departments, developing a strong, integrated foundation in the biological and social sciences, as well as statistics. Capstone projects in research or community service allow students to pursue an area in great depth. In addition to offering a major and a minor, the program also awards honors to undergraduates who write a thesis based on their own research.
Undergraduates may earn a certificate or minor in humanities by taking courses that are part of the Humanities Core, which introduces fundamental questions about the meaning of human experience. The core offers opportunities to explore cultures and civilizations in depth through integrated sequences of courses on East Asian and European civilization, among other areas. Studying the humanities offers all Stanford students valued skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, and effective communication, along with the chance to discover their intellectual interests and gain a broader view of the world.
Stanford’s Department of Anthropology focuses on the study of human beings and societies through the examination of social, historical, ecological, and biological change across time. Known for its innovative approaches, the department focuses on the full span of human history and full range of human societies and cultures, including those in marginalized parts of the world.
Students are encouraged to integrate theory and research methods as they explore a range of related subfields that include archaeology, ecology, evolution, linguistics, medical anthropology, political economy, and science and technology. Areas of faculty and student research include questions of social, cultural, and biological diversity and issues of power, identity, and inequality.
Drawing methods and ideas from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, archaeology introduces students to robust, multifaceted analyses of material culture and human societies. Coursework intersects with history, biology, earth systems, classics, anthropology, and other disciplines.
Stanford archaeology advances innovative research across the globe. The Archaeology Center on campus supports interdisciplinary collaboration as a venue where Stanford faculty and visiting scholars work to make the experiences of people, from the ancient past to the modern era, accessible in new ways. Students can apply what they learn in the classroom by participating in summer field schools in Europe, South America, and California.
The Stanford Biophysics Program is an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental graduate training program that leads to a doctoral degree. It brings together faculty from more than a dozen departments in the Schools of Humanities and Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering, as well as the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. Research in Biophysics applies the principles of chemistry and physics to solving biological problems with the help of the latest methodologies, such as computational biology and molecular analysis.
The program trains students to approach biological problems quantitatively. With the benefit of advanced coursework and exceptional facilities—including the Lucas Center for Imaging, which houses multiple whole-body MRI systems—students develop the skills needed to direct their own research to address critical problems in the field.
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to investigate the significance of gender and sexuality in all arenas of human life. Students learn to think critically about gender roles, relations, and identities and also how gender intersects with other social constructs such as class and ethnicity. The program offers outstanding support and opportunities through close partnerships with the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Stanford Women’s Community Center.
The program offers an undergraduate major and a minor, as well as the opportunity for students in any major to earn honors with a research paper or creative project. A doctoral minor is also available for students who desire a rigorous foundation in the field. Students are encouraged to design their own plans of study to align with their identities, interests, and goals.
The undergraduate program in German equips students with the language skills and analytic capacities needed to understand the cultures of German-speaking Europe. Students learn how to interpret complex literary and philosophical works, evaluate historical change, and immerse themselves in new cultures and societies. Students majoring in German often combine courses in the department with offerings from other fields in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
The doctoral program provides training in the full range of German literary history, along with opportunities to pursue specialized research topics. All students participate in an ongoing colloquium for sharing writing and research, as well as in language teaching and other professionalization opportunities.
Stanford’s top-ranked Department of History teaches students to make sense of humanity’s past, present, and future while developing critical analytical skills and sophisticated ways of thinking. Courses teach students to evaluate original source material as well as synthesize information from multiple sources and formats in order to communicate its importance in clear, persuasive writing.
The department’s faculty has expertise in a wide range of historical periods, national histories, and regional studies. Its research explores such topics as law, race and ethnicity, and science and medicine in many historical contexts. The graduate program trains scholars who earn distinction in teaching and research, while undergraduates go on to pursue careers in law, government, medicine, and technology.
Modern Thought and Literature (MTL) is an interdisciplinary graduate program directed by faculty in English, theater and performance studies, comparative literature, and law. The program, which explores critical approaches to modernity, supports research in literature, film, popular culture, technology, ideology, and more.
MTL students are trained in literary and cultural studies as well as disciplines such as anthropology, gender studies, or sociology. The program expects that many of its alumni will go on to become innovative teachers and scholars in all areas of the humanities.
Stanford’s renowned top-ranked Department of Psychology has a long-standing tradition of groundbreaking theoretical research that also has a powerful impact in the real world. The department supports teaching and research devoted to a better understanding of human nature and behavior. Areas of research include cognitive and developmental psychology, neuroscience, social psychology, and the study of emotion.
The undergraduate program offers excellent training in understanding human behavior using scientifically rigorous methods. Students have opportunities to become research assistants in faculty labs and also work at Stanford’s Bing Nursery School and SPARQ (Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions), the department’s “do tank” that creates and shares social psychological insights to help improve society.
The Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES) advances interdisciplinary approaches to a vast region stretching from the Berlin Wall to the Bering Strait. In addition to supporting undergraduate and doctoral students, it offers a one-year master’s program providing intensive study for students with an academic background in the region.
Degree programs in CREES combine language and area courses with work in the social sciences and humanities. Students' professional interests include government, journalism, business, and non-governmental organizations. CREES also attracts students pursuing doctoral or professional degrees who desire intensive area studies and language training.
The interdisciplinary program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) offers a modern liberal arts education by bringing together scholars from fields such as anthropology, computer science, and sociology to explore the impact of scientific discoveries and how people understand their relationship to technology.
Through courses in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, students acquire technical skills along with an understanding of the history of science as well as the values and economic forces that guide technological change.
The Department of Sociology, one of the best in the nation, teaches students how to understand and address social issues that affect everything from interpersonal relations to global warming. Students develop a broad grasp of fundamental sociological theories and the methodological skills used to evaluate human behavior and social organizations.
The faculty also lead respected university centers such as the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.
Stanford’s top-ranked Department of Statistics gives students a foundation in the role of probabilistic and statistical ideas and methods in science, medicine, technology, and the humanities. Faculty provide instruction in the theory and application of commonly used techniques in the field, while offering training through innovative programs. The department administers a mathematical and computational science major for undergraduates,* a data science track through its master’s program, and a doctoral training program in biostatistics for personalized medicine.
To foster the relationship between theory and application, the department also promotes interdisciplinary collaboration through faculty appointments in economics, education, political science, and other fields.
*The MCS program will no longer be accepting students for the major and minor as of Aug. 31, 2022. The Data Science major replaces MCS effective Sept. 1, 2022. Currently enrolled MCS majors and minors will be able to complete their degrees.
Symbolic Systems is an interdisciplinary program that investigates both the computer and the human mind as systems that use symbols to communicate and represent information. Faculty approach the relationship between humans and computers by way of theoretical and technical expertise in cognitive science, linguistics, philosophy, and other fields.
Students learn technical skills in mathematics and computer programming, along with a foundation based on humanistic perspectives and empirical research. Many students go on to pursue advanced studies in artificial intelligence, neuroscience, or the philosophy of language.
The Urban Studies program uses theoretical and practical approaches to understand the nature of cities. Research and teaching focus on why people live in cities and how urban environments affect human development, addressing contemporary problems related to poverty, education, and transportation. Faculty in law, economics, business, communication, engineering, and literature work closely with the program.
Undergraduates learn about the history of urbanization as a political and social phenomenon and study the methods of qualitative and quantitative research. The program also encourages community service and internships in government or the private sector. Stanford’s programs in New York City and Washington, D.C. both offer outstanding opportunities for urban studies students.