Stanford University, California, United States

Stanford University, located between San Francisco and San Jose in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, is one of the world’s leading teaching and research universities. Since its opening in 1891, Stanford has been dedicated to finding solutions to big challenges and to preparing students for leadership in a complex world.

fter Leland Stanford’s death in 1893, the university entered a period of financial and legal uncertainties resulting from federal challenges to his estate. During that time, Jane Stanford took over the responsibility of ensuring that the new university would prosper.

The estate was released from probate in 1898 and the following year, after selling her railroad holdings, Jane Stanford turned over $11 million to the university trustees. What President Jordan termed “six pretty long years” had come to a close. During that time, he said, “the future of a university hung by a single thread, the love of a good woman.”

In 1876, former California Governor Leland Stanford purchased 650 acres of Rancho San Francisquito for a country home and began the development of his famous Palo Alto Stock Farm. He later bought adjoining properties totaling more than 8,000 acres.

The little town that was beginning to emerge near the land took the name Palo Alto (tall tree) after a giant California redwood on the bank of San Francisquito Creek. The tree itself is still there and would later become the university’s symbol and centerpiece of its official seal.

Leland Stanford, who grew up and studied law in New York, moved West after the gold rush and, like many of his wealthy contemporaries, made his fortune in the railroads. He was a leader of the Republican Party, governor of California and later a U.S. senator. He and Jane had one son, who died of typhoid fever in 1884 when the family was traveling in Italy. Leland Jr. was just 15. Within weeks of his death, the Stanfords decided that, because they no longer could do anything for their own child, “the children of California shall be our children.” They quickly set about to find a lasting way to memorialize their beloved son.

The Stanfords considered several possibilities – a university, a technical school, a museum. While on the East Coast, they visited Harvard, MIT, Cornell and Johns Hopkins to seek advice on starting a new university in California. (See note regarding accounts of the Stanfords visit with Harvard President Charles W. Eliot.) Ultimately, they decided to establish two institutions in Leland Junior’s name – the University and a museum. From the outset they made some untraditional choices: the university would be coeducational, in a time when most were all-male; non-denominational, when most were associated with a religious organization; and avowedly practical, producing “cultured and useful citizens.”

On October 1, 1891, Stanford University opened its doors after six years of planning and building. The prediction of a New York newspaper that Stanford professors would “lecture in marble halls to empty benches” was quickly disproved. The first student body consisted of 555 men and women, and the original faculty of 15 was expanded to 49 for the second year. The university’s first president was David Starr Jordan, a graduate of Cornell, who left his post as president of Indiana University to join the adventure out West.

The Stanfords engaged Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who created New York’s Central Park, to design the physical plan for the university. The collaboration was contentious, but finally resulted in an organization of quadrangles on an east-west axis. Today, as Stanford continues to expand, the university’s architects attempt to respect those original university plans.

Graduate School of Business

  • Accounting (ACCT)
  • Economic Analysis & Policy (MGTECON)
  • Finance (FINANCE)
  • GSB General & Interdisciplinary (GSBGEN)
  • Human Resource Management (HRMGT)
  • Marketing (MKTG)
  • Operations Information & Technology (OIT)
  • Organizational Behavior (OB)
  • Political Economics (POLECON)
  • Strategic Management (STRAMGT)

School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences

  • Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences (EARTH)
  • Earth Systems (EARTHSYS)
  • Earth, Energy, & Environmental Sciences (EEES)
  • Energy Resources Engineering (ENERGY)
  • Environment and Resources (ENVRES)
  • Earth System Science (ESS)
  • Geological Sciences (GS)
  • Geophysics (GEOPHYS)
  • Woods Institute for the Environment (ENVRINST)

School of Education

  • Education (EDUC)

School of Engineering

  • Aeronautics & Astronautics (AA)
  • Bioengineering (BIOE)
  • Chemical Engineering (CHEMENG)
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE)
  • Computational & Mathematical Engineering (CME)
  • Computer Science (CS)
  • Design Institute (DESINST)
  • Electrical Engineering (EE)
  • Engineering (ENGR)
  • Management Science & Engineering (MS&E)
  • Materials Science & Engineer (MATSCI)
  • Mechanical Engineering (ME)
  • Scientific Computing & Comput’l Math (SCCM)

School of Humanities & Sciences

  • African & African American Studies (AFRICAAM)
  • African & Middle Eastern Languages (AMELANG)
  • African Studies (AFRICAST)
  • American Studies (AMSTUD)
  • Anthropology (ANTHRO)
  • Applied Physics (APPPHYS)
  • Arabic Language (ARABLANG)
  • Archaeology (ARCHLGY)
  • Archaeology (ARCHLGY)
  • Art History (ARTHIST)
  • Arts Institute (ARTSINST)
  • Art Studio (ARTSTUDI)
  • Asian American Studies (ASNAMST)
  • Asian Languages (ASNLANG)
  • Astronomy (ASTRNMY)
  • Biology (BIO)
  • Biology/Hopkins Marine (BIOHOPK)
  • Biophysics (BIOPHYS)
  • Catalan Language Courses (CATLANG)
  • Chemistry (CHEM)
  • Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies (CHILATST)
  • Chinese General (CHINGEN)
  • Chinese Language (CHINLANG)
  • Chinese Literature (CHINLIT)
  • Classics (CLASSICS)
  • Communication (COMM)
  • Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
  • Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity (CSRE)
  • Dance (DANCE)
  • Division of Literatures, Cultures, & Languages (DLCL)
  • Drama (TAPS)
  • East Asian Studies (EASTASN)
  • Economics (ECON)
  • English (ENGLISH)
  • English for Foreign Students (EFSLANG)
  • Ethics in Society (ETHICSOC)
  • Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies (FEMGEN)
  • Film Production (FILMPROD)
  • Film Studies (FILMSTUD)
  • French Language (FRENLANG)
  • French Studies (FRENCH)
  • German Language (GERLANG)
  • German Studies (GERMAN)
  • Global Studies (GLOBAL)
  • History (HISTORY)
  • History & Philosophy of Science (HPS)
  • Human Biology (HUMBIO)
  • Humanities & Sciences (HUMSCI)
  • Iberian & Latin American Cultures (ILAC)
  • Institute for International Studies (FSI) (IIS)
  • International Policy Studies (IPS)
  • International Relations (INTNLREL)
  • Italian Language (ITALLANG)
  • Italian Studies (ITALIAN)
  • Japanese General (JAPANGEN)
  • Japanese Language (JAPANLNG)
  • Japanese Literature (JAPANLIT)
  • Jewish Studies (JEWISHST)
  • Korean General (KORGEN)
  • Korean Language (KORLANG)
  • Korean Literature (KORLIT)
  • Latin American Studies (LATINAM)
  • Linguistics (LINGUIST)
  • Mathematical & Computational Science (MCS)
  • Mathematics (MATH)
  • Medieval Studies (MEDVLST)
  • Modern Thought & Literature (MTL)
  • Music (MUSIC)
  • Native American Studies (NATIVEAM)
  • Philosophy (PHIL)
  • Physics (PHYSICS)
  • Political Science (POLISCI)
  • Portuguese Language (PORTLANG)
  • Psychology (PSYCH)
  • Public Policy (PUBLPOL)
  • Religious Studies (RELIGST)
  • Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies (REES)
  • Science, Technology, & Society (STS)
  • Slavic Language (SLAVLANG)
  • Slavic Studies (SLAVIC)
  • Sociology (SOC)
  • Spanish Language (SPANLANG)
  • Spanish, Portuguese, & Catalan Literature (ILAC)
  • Special Language Program (SPECLANG)
  • Stanford in Washington (SIW)
  • Statistics (STATS)
  • Symbolic Systems (SYMSYS)
  • Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS)
  • Tibetan Language (TIBETLNG)
  • Urban Studies (URBANST)

Law School

  • Law (LAW)
  • Law, Nonprofessional (LAWGEN)

School of Medicine

  • Anesthesia (ANES)
  • Biochemistry (BIOC)
  • Biomedical Informatics (BIOMEDIN)
  • Biosciences Interdisciplinary (BIOS)
  • Cancer Biology (CBIO)
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery (CTS)
  • Chemical & Systems Biology (CSB)
  • Community Health and Prevention Research (CHPR)
  • Comparative Medicine (COMPMED)
  • Dermatology (DERM)
  • Developmental Biology (DBIO)
  • Family and Community Medicine (FAMMED)
  • Genetics (GENE)
  • Health Research & Policy (HRP)
  • Immunology (IMMUNOL)
  • Medicine (MED)
  • Medicine Interdisciplinary (INDE)
  • Microbiology & Immunology (MI)
  • Molecular & Cellular Physiology (MCP)
  • Neurobiology (NBIO)
  • Neurology & Neurological Sciences (NENS)
  • Neurosciences Program (NEPR)
  • Neurosurgery (NSUR)
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology (OBGYN)
  • Ophthalmology (OPHT)
  • Orthopedic Surgery (ORTHO)
  • Otolaryngology (OTOHNS)
  • Pathology (PATH)
  • Pediatrics (PEDS)
  • Psychiatry (PSYC)
  • Radiation Oncology (RADO)
  • Radiology (RAD)
  • School of Medicine General (SOMGEN)
  • Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (STEMREM)
  • Structural Biology (SBIO)
  • Surgery (SURG)
  • Urology (UROL)

Office of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

  • Education as Self-Fashioning (ESF)
  • Immersion in the Arts (ITALIC)
  • Leadership Intensive (LEAD)
  • Oral Communications (ORALCOMM)
  • Overseas Studies General (OSPGEN)
  • Overseas Studies in Australia (OSPAUSTL)
  • Overseas Studies in Barcelona (CASB) (OSPBARCL)
  • Overseas Studies in Beijing (OSPBEIJ)
  • Overseas Studies in Berlin (OSPBER)
  • Overseas Studies in Cape Town (OSPCPTWN)
  • Overseas Studies in Florence (OSPFLOR)
  • Overseas Studies in Istanbul (OSPISTAN)
  • Overseas Studies in Kyoto (OSPKYOTO)
  • Overseas Studies in Kyoto (KCJS) (OSPKYOCT)
  • Overseas Studies in Madrid (OSPMADRD)
  • Overseas Studies in Oxford (OSPOXFRD)
  • Overseas Studies in Paris (OSPPARIS)
  • Overseas Studies in Santiago (OSPSANTG)
  • ROTC Air Force (ROTCAF)
  • ROTC Army (ROTCARMY)
  • ROTC Navy (ROTCNAVY)
  • Structured Liberal Education (SLE)
  • Thinking Matters (THINK)
  • Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR)
  • Writing & Rhetoric, Program in (PWR)

Office of Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning

  • Teaching and Learning (VPTL)

Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation

  • Athletics, Club Sports, Martial Arts (ATHLETIC)
  • Outdoor Education (OUTDOOR)
  • Physical Education (PE)
  • Wellness Education (WELLNESS)

Stanford Continuing Studies

  • Master of Liberal Arts (MLA)

Undergraduate General Education Requirements

  • WAY-A-II: Aesthetic and Interpretive Inquiry
  • WAY-AQR: Applied Quantitative Reasoning
  • WAY-CE: Creative Expression
  • WAY-ED: Engaging Diversity
  • WAY-ER: Ethical Reasoning
  • WAY-FR: Formal Reasoning
  • WAY-SI: Social Inquiry
  • WAY-SMA: Scientific Method and Analysis
  • DB-EngrAppSci: Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • DB-Hum: Humanities
  • DB-Math: Mathematics
  • DB-NatSci: Natural Sciences
  • DB-SocSci: Social Sciences
  • EC-AmerCul: American Cultures
  • EC-GlobalCom: Global Community
  • EC-Gender: Gender Studies
  • EC-EthicReas: Ethical Reasoning
  • EC-EthicReas: Ethical Reasoning

More Course Lists

  • Introductory Seminars
  • Arts Intensive Program
  • Community Global Health
  • Service Learning Courses (certified by Haas Center)
  • Design Institute

General Contact Information
Telephone (campus operator)
650-723-2300

Primary address
Stanford University
450 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305–2004

Website: www.stanford.edu


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