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Undergraduate planning for the upcoming academic year

Categories: Academics, Campus, Provost

UPDATE: On August 13, 2020, Stanford announced adjustments to its planning for undergraduate housing and education in the autumn quarter due to the ongoing public health situation. Read the updated information here.

Dear Stanford community,

On June 3, President Tessier-Lavigne and I announced the first in a series of decisions about academic planning for autumn quarter and the 2020-2021 academic year. As we communicated then, we will be inviting about half of our undergraduates to campus for each quarter in academic year 2020-2021, and frosh will be invited back in the autumn and seniors in the spring, assuming that this is allowed by health officials at the time.

I am writing today to share additional decisions that have now been made about the coming year for undergraduates. In our decision-making, our primary priority continues to be ensuring the health of our faculty, staff and student communities. 

Below are some of the key points from a message that Sarah Church, vice provost for undergraduate education, and Susie Brubaker-Cole, vice provost for student affairs, sent to our undergraduate students today. For details, I invite you to read their full message here.

Consultation and feedback

Many students, faculty, staff and family members contributed to our thinking. The following factors were particularly important in determining the plan below:  

  • Ensuring that students who need to be on campus for their personal safety, academic success or other special circumstances are able to have the support the campus provides.
  • Most students asked to be on campus with students in their cohort year, rather than organized by some other rubric.
  • Many students also asked to be on campus with students in close proximity to their cohort year.
  • Because of their proximity to graduation, seniors and many juniors have the least flexibility in course choices.  
  • Summer following junior year is a critical time for internships, research, public service projects, or honors thesis work.   
  • Spring graduation makes it impractical for seniors to be on campus in summer. 

Class cohorts in residence

Based on these considerations, we have made the decision to invite two class cohorts each quarter, with the following four-quarter plan:

Autumn 2020Winter 2021Spring 2021Summer 2021
New Transfer Students*
Juniors Seniors  Juniors SeniorsFrosh Sophomores  

*New transfer students entering as sophomores will be on campus in the autumn and summer. New transfer students entering as juniors will be on campus in the autumn and can select winter or spring as their second in-person quarter. Those transfer students and non-traditional undergraduates who are approved to live in graduate housing will be able to live on campus for all four quarters.

In addition, we will ensure that there is space in campus housing for students facing challenges that necessitate living on campus, or with unique needs to be present in a particular quarter. These plans are, of course, dependent on our ability to safely reopen next year in alignment with county orders. We may need to change this plan if there is a surge in COVID cases, or if public health officials implement new requirements.

As previously announced, autumn quarter will begin on September 14, 2020. Other dates in the academic calendar, including the end of autumn, and the start and end dates for winter, spring and summer, will be announced shortly, pending Faculty Senate approval.

Student choices

Our undergraduate students will have the following choices as they consider next academic year:

  • Students can choose any three quarters in which to enroll, with the exception of frosh and new transfer students who must enroll in autumn quarter.
  • Unless they have been approved as an exception, students may only come to campus during their two assigned in-person quarters and they must be enrolled during these quarters. No student is required to return to Stanford for an in-person quarter.  
  • Undergraduate students must live on campus in student housing in order to attend on-campus classes or participate in any on-campus activities. 
  • For students who are eligible, financial aid will be available for three quarters of enrollment.

We value your feedback

I anticipate that you will have many questions, and information will continue to be provided in the coming days. If you wish to provide further input on our planning for the coming year, please reach out using the following: 

Students and Parents: Service Now

Faculty and

I’d like to thank Susie and Sarah for their leadership in this work. We can all anticipate that the year ahead of us will be like no other we have experienced. I deeply appreciate your collective hope and courage as we face these unusual circumstances.