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Winter's Calling!

Winter application status now released! Preview IntroSems with Space Available now and enroll starting this Thursday, November 30th at 9AM—first come, first served! This year, be a curious animal. Be You in an IntroSem.

Enrollment and Application

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Priority Enrollment


The IntroSems priority enrollment process communicates your interest in the seminar topic and allows the faculty member to begin to get to know you. One of the purposes of an IntroSem is to promote formulation of mentoring relationships between faculty and students around common intellectual interests. Many faculty use students' statements of interest to customize their IntroSem for the students they select during the priority enrollment process. 

To apply for priority enrollment in IntroSems, frosh, sophomores, and new transfers may rank up to three seminars each quarter and then submit a short statement of interest for at least their first choice in the sign-up system, the IntroSems' VCA. IntroSems instructors assemble their classes from these sign-ups and selected students are priority enrolled before Axess opens for course registration (Autumn Quarter an exception; admitted students enrolled by Sept. 20). Following priority enrollment, IntroSems that still have Space Available open to student self-enrollment in Axess. For more details, review Dates and Deadlines.

Application Steps


Step 1 Browse course descriptions and faculty bios on this catalog site, Explore IntroSems, and note or bookmark the seminars that interest you for priority enrollment. You get to request priority enrollment in up to three IntroSems each quarter in your first two years at Stanford. Check out Dates and Deadlines and plan ahead. Tip: The date that appears above each seminar card in the catalog is the application deadline for that course.

Step 2  Go to the IntroSems' VCA to sign up for priority enrollment. In a brief paragraph or two, respond to the following prompt for your first choice. Written comments are required for your first choice IntroSem each quarter. Statements of interest for your second and third choices are optional. The prompt: Pick something in the seminar description and explain why it grabs your attention. Perhaps it reminds you of a prior experience, inspires you to tell a story about yourself, or unearths a curiosity you didn’t know you have. Don’t worry if the story doesn’t seem relevant to the IntroSem. The purpose is for the professor to learn more about you as they assemble the class. 

Enrollment Process


Students who sign up for and are admitted into an IntroSem will be automatically enrolled. Units are pre-loaded on students' study lists before Axess opens for general course registration each quarter (Autumn Quarter an exception; admitted students enrolled by Sept. 20). Faculty may create waitlists for oversubscribed seminars. It is possible for students to be placed into more than one IntroSem or no IntroSems each quarter depending on the overall popularity of your selections.

When Axess opens, you may drop a pre-enrolled seminar yourself should your schedule change or you change your mind. In other words, you are not obligated to stay in your IntroSem enrollment(s). No need to email the program– you can make this change yourself once you can enroll in your other classes. (Sophomore IntroSems that fulfill Writing 2 are an exception; they require an email to the program to drop because you can't drop yourself.)

IntroSems that still have space available after the application and priority enrollment process will open for student self-enrollment in Axess. Visit the Space Available page for the latest updates.

Insider Tips

Are IntroSems required?

Although enrollment in an IntroSem is not required, many IntroSems satisfy university breadth requirements (Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing) and in some departments, an IntroSem can fulfill a major requirement. All IntroSems count toward the 180 units required for an undergraduate degree.

Why do IntroSems have a special application process different from other departmental classes in Axess?

The informal application process communicates your interest in the seminar topic and allows the faculty member to begin to get to know you–they may even use the statements to try and tailor their course to the student interests that year. One of the purposes of an IntroSem is to promote formation of relationships between faculty and students around common intellectual interests.

Can Frosh sign up for Sophomore IntroSems? (or vice versa)

Faculty will typically prioritize sophomores and new transfer students over frosh for Sophomore IntroSems, while frosh receive first preference for Frosh Seminars. Nevertheless, if a topic really interests you, do apply as faculty are often open to enrolling either frosh, sophs, or new transfers in their classes. And in general, faculty give priority to frosh, sophs, and new transfers in all IntroSems over juniors and seniors. Tip: Frosh-preference IntroSems catalog numbers end in ‘N’ (e.g., BIO 12N). Sophomore-preference IntroSems catalog numbers end in ‘Q’ (e.g., COMPLIT 11Q).

Heads-up, Frosh!—Please don't waste one of your three quarterly selections by applying for a Sophomore WRITE 2 in the IntroSem's VCA. Wait until you are a sophomore when you will be eligible to receive priority enrollment. Check out this year's Sophomore WRITE 2 IntroSems here.

Do all seminars fill to capacity during priority enrollment?

Most seminars do not fill completely, but about one-third of IntroSems do generate more demand than space and fill to capacity. High-demand subjects in the past have included psychology, economics, computer science, chemistry, business, and law. When there are more students than space, classes are assembled based on your written statements of interest. Faculty choose a mix of students who bring different perspectives and levels of expertise. There may be waitlists for oversubscribed classes. Tip: Maximize your options by signing up for a variety of topics and disciplines.

Should I rank more than one high-demand course each quarter?

On some course pages, we have included a note indicating which IntroSems have had historically high demand during the priority enrollment process. A high-demand course is one where far more students have ranked the course first than there are spots. That means as the faculty of a high-demand class reviews statements of interest, they will be able to assemble their class looking at only the pool of students who ranked their course first. Tip: If you are going to rank a high-demand class, rank it first for that quarter and then select non-high-demand classes for your 2nd and 3rd choices to increase your chances of being admitted to at least one IntroSem through the priority enrollment process. 

Should I apply now or later?

Spaces in IntroSems are NOT allocated first come, first served. Faculty consider all sign-ups after the quarterly deadlines—August 31st for Autumn IntroSems, November 8th for Winter IntroSems, and February 20th for Spring IntroSems.

The quarter system moves quickly and gets busy with coursework and extracurricular activities so consider entering your seminar selections for all of academic year 2023-24 in the IntroSems' VCA when it opens in August. You can continue to revise your statement or change your selections up until the quarterly deadline corresponding to your course selections.