Course enrollment rankings: STEM dominates the most popular winter quarter courses

Feb. 15, 2023, 10:11 p.m.

The 10 most-enrolled courses for the 2023 winter quarter consist mostly of science and engineering subjects, according to data from Stanford’s Explore Courses website. Six of the 10 are computer science courses.

COLLEGE 102: “Citizenship in the 21st Century” is the course with the highest enrollment this quarter. Divided across 78 sections with an average of 15 students per section, this class fulfills the first-year Civic, Liberal and Global Education requirement and is currently being taken by about two-thirds of the frosh class.

The most popular computer science class and second most-enrolled course this quarter is CS 224N: “Natural Language Processing with Deep Learning,” with 651 students taking the lecture course. CS 224N explores “methods for processing human language information and the underlying computational properties of natural languages,” according to the course description.

MATH 51: “Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calculus and Modern Applications” and CS 106A: “Programming Methodology” were the fourth and fifth most-enrolled courses, respectively. These classes are required for many of the University’s most popular majors — including Computer Science and Economics — and therefore typically see high enrollment.

CS 103: “Mathematical Foundations of Computing” took the sixth spot for most popular course overall and fourth most popular computer science course. This theory class explores discrete math, computability theory and complexity theory and is part of the CS core.

The other computer science classes in the top 10 were CS 238: “Decision Making under Uncertainty,” an introduction into computational perspectives of uncertainty, CS 124: “From Languages to Information,” an extraction of the meanings behind human speech, text and social networks and CS 499: “Advanced Reading and Research” a independent study class for computer science PhD students.

With the exception of COLLEGE 102, the top 17 most enrolled courses are all STEM courses.

The 18th most-enrolled course and most-enrolled non-STEM course for winter quarter is POLECON 231: “Strategy Beyond Markets.” This is the largest course under Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and focuses on strategic interactions with “nonmarket players, like politicians, regulators and bureaucrats,” according to the class description.

PSYCH 1: “Introduction to Psychology” was the 22nd most-enrolled course and the second most-enrolled non-STEM course for the winter quarter. This popular undergraduate course touches on topics such as intelligence, perception, memory and happiness.

SPANLANG 2: “First-Year Spanish, Second Quarter” counted 123 students on its roster, making it the most popular language course this quarter.

The most popular wellness course this quarter is WELLNESS 183: “Financial Wellness for a Healthy, Long Life,” with 56 students looking to develop the knowledge and skills to achieve their financial goals.

Stanford Law School’s (SLS) most popular winter quarter course is LAW 203: “Constitutional Law,” with 177 law students taking the class as a part of the first-year J.D. curriculum. The class covers an introduction to American constitutional law and the federal government and is only open to SLS students.

This article has been corrected to include the the cross-listing enrollment of CS238. The Daily regrets this error.

Mark Allen Cu ’26 is the Staff Development & Data Director for The Daily. He is currently studying Education and Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. Contact him at mallencu ‘at’

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