Students Walking on the Stanford Campus


Answers to the most common questions.

General Questions

What is the nature of continuing studies credit?

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The Stanford Continuing Studies unit issues credit and transcripts for a variety of Stanford programs that serve non-matriculated students, including the University-Level Online program. Continuing Studies credit is not the same as Stanford University credit. Transferability of credit is at the discretion of the receiving institution.

Will universities accept university-level online courses for credit?

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This is one of the most common questions we receive, however, there is no single answer. Various schools, universities, districts, etc. have differing policies regarding credit issued by CSP. Most commonly, credits for University-Level Online courses are used to place out of required courses in college, while a smaller number actually provide transfer credit. Prospective students should inquire with institutions themselves regarding policies regarding credit.

Are university-level online courses UC A-G approved?

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As all University-Level Online courses are considered post-high school, they do not fall in line with the UC's subject requirements which is related to high school courses. The University-Level Online program has not gone through the accreditation process for UC C subject material.

What is the relationship/difference between the University-level Online program and Stanford Online High School?

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Stanford Online High School (OHS) offers the same university-level courses within University-Level Online. When the OHS was formed in 2006, it centered on Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) courses in addition to basic core courses. Thus, the university-level courses were used, as they were, for the OHS for several years. Over time, the OHS enrollment in the entry-level UL courses (Multivariable Calculus, Linear Algebra) increased and it was deemed necessary to create distinct OHS courses, though these are essentially the same curriculum. The high-level courses and physics courses (e.g. Real Analysis, Complex Analysis, etc.) have small OHS enrollment and are handled by the University-Level Online program. Here students in both programs sit in the same class, though OHS students have access to all the amenities that the OHS offers in addition to more instructor support. University-Level Online students receive credit through the Continuing Studies Program while OHS students receive credit through the OHS itself. OHS is a WASC accredited institution and students can easily transfer these credits to their brick and mortar schools. By offering Continuing Studies credit, the University-Level Online program emphasizes that these courses are at the university-level.

Is there any lab component to the physics courses?

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At the current time, there are no lab components to University-Level Online courses. 

How do these courses compare with Stanford’s equivalent courses?

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The university-level courses were created out of existing Stanford math and physics courses. As Stanford courses can fluctuate based on current instructors’ styles and interests, there is no single benchmark to compare.

Math Courses

How do University-Level Online math courses differ from those offered in the math department?

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It has been stated that the University-Level Online math courses are, at times, more challenging than those offered in the math department. The mathematics courses are directed towards potential mathematics majors and the courses differ (i.e. are more challenging than) mathematics courses intended for scientists or engineers.

Physics Courses

XP710/XP711 Intermediate Mechanics

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The courses were developed directly from the curriculum of Professor Peter Michelson’s courses.

XP645 Light and Heat

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Originally developed for EPGY by Professor Mason Yearian in 1995. The thermodynamics portion of the course is now drawn mainly from Nobel-prize Winner Professor Douglass Osheroff’s course from about 10 years ago. The optics half of the course has been revamped to include a rigorous introduction to electromagnetic waves as well as interference in addition to elements of Professor Osheroff’s course.

XP670 Modern Physics

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The Stanford University modern physics courses to focus on the two fundamental revolutions, relativity and quantum mechanics, and this course was created with this pedagogy in mind. The modern physics course provides a rigorous foundation to later explore applications of these core theories.

XP730 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

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This course is the most advanced course in the University-Level Online sequence. In 1998, Professor Leonard Susskind created and recorded the initial set of lectures and assignments. Professor Susskind later went on to have a very successful series of lectures for Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program (all available on iTunes U) and his later successful “Theoretical Minimum” books. We are proud to offer this early effort to revamp the pedagogy of quantum mechanics.


What are the origins of the University-level Online courses?

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The nine math and five physics courses within the University-Level Online program have their origins in the Education Program for Gifted Youth (1989 - 2013) at Stanford University. EPGY was formed out of the research efforts in computer-based education of Professor Patrick Suppes (1922 -2014) stemming from the early 1960s. The course curricula were created between the years of 1994 and 2003 and were originally computer-based, delivered via the EPGY system software. The initial grant was to create a suite of lower and upper division courses equivalent to those offered in Stanford’s math and physics department. The math sequence involved professors Ralph Cohen and Rafe Mazzeo (former chair of the mathematics department). Their voices appear on the Number Theory, Modern Algebra, and Partial Differential Equations respectively. The courses were created by Dr. Marc Sanders (now at Vice Provost for Learning and Technology) and is the voice of the remaining math courses. The physics sequence involved Professors Mason Yearian (emeritus), Michelson, Scott Thomas (now at Rutgers University), and Leonard Susskind. The physics courses were created by Dr. Gary Oas, director of University-Level Online, and is the voice on all courses except XP730 for which Professor Susskind recorded the core set of lectures 

In 2013 the bulk of EPGY’s curriculum (K-8, writing, and AP courses) were transferred to Redbird Learning to continue the delivery and maintenance of those courses. The EPGY university- level courses remained at Stanford under the newly formed Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies program (SPCS). The set of 15 courses were ported to the Stanford Online platform, now Lagunita at The University-Level Online program now leverages some of the strategies and technologies that have been perfected at the OHS (proctoring, live session environment, Powerschool integration).

The University-Level Online program is currently headed by Dr. Gary Oas, who has been associated with these courses since 1995 and is the instructor for the physics courses. Dr. Oas has been involved with most of the programs within SPCS: he is an instructor for the Online High School, Summer Institutes, and Summer College Academy. Dr. Margarita Kanarsky is the instructor for the mathematics courses and does the bulk of instruction. Dr. Kanarsky is also an instructor for the Online High School. Administrative support is provided by Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies.