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Self-Designed Concentration Areas

This concentration allows students to design their own curriculum that addresses pertinent topics from STS perspectives. Students need to have or develop a strong sense of why a self-designed concentration is better suited for them than the five STS concentrations and other majors, as well as what it means to pursue their particular interests as an STS major. This is not a collection of any classes — it has to have a coherence and strong STS analytical frameworks.

Students interested in designing their own concentration must work with the associate director and have their proposal approved at least 2 quarters prior to your graduating quarter. A proposal (5 to 10 pages) should (a) describe your intellectual objectives in detail, (b) explain why a self-designed concentration is the optimal way to pursue these objectives (as opposed to the five STS concentrations or other majors at Stanford), and (c) list at least 12 courses and 50 units that comprise the plan of study.

B.S. students must include at least 8 Technical courses and at least 4 Social-Cultural courses, while B.A. students must include at least 8 Socio-Cultural courses and at least 4 Technical courses. As with other concentrations, these courses should (a) be clearly related to the intellectual objectives of the concentration, and (b) include sequences of classes that build on one another. Students with a self-designed concentration must fulfill the same core requirements as other STS students as well as courses equivalent to Foundational ones (found in each concentration) in their STS content.

Please note that the approval of a self-designed concentration often requires multiple meetings with the associate director, and could take several weeks. Interested students should take the following steps:

  1. Talk to a peer advisor during their office hours.
  2. Carefully examine the examples of approved self-designed proposals on file in the STS office. This will help you familiarize yourself with what is possible and expected in this unique option for a concentration.
  3. Prepare a paragraph that describes your academic interests and a list of courses you plan to take. This list should (a) clearly indicate 8 or 4 Socio-Cultural courses and 4 or 8 Technical courses; and (b) include descriptions from ExploreCourses for each course, copied and pasted. Where available, also attach syllabi for courses that are not part of the STS curriculum.
  4. Meet with the associate director during office hours, or set an appointment via email. For this meeting, bring hardcopies of the paragraph and the list of courses. 
  5. Upon review of your materials, if your interests are deemed appropriate and productive as a self-designed concentration in STS, you will work with the associate director to finalize your proposal and curriculum in the following weeks.