Who are the University-Level Online courses for?

As the university-level courses were created to be equivalent to Stanford's math and physics courses, they are intended for high school students who are passionate in mathematics and physics and have demonstrated talent in these areas. The course are quite rigorous and demand serious effort by enrolled students, they should not be thought of as simply extensions of Advanced Placement courses. Though challenging, the instructors (Dr. Kanarksy and Dr. Oas) are passionate about these topics and exert much effort to ensure students succeed in these courses.

Mathematics students should have completed the equivalent of AP Calculus BC. However, two courses, Number Theory and Linear Algebra, can be considered without completing calculus. For physics, students need to have completed the equivalent of AP Calculus BC and AP Physics C Electricity & Magnetism.

University-level Mathematics

  • Successful completion of precalculus, but not calculus.
    There are two options here, for most XM511 Linear Algebra is an appropriate starting point, however, those who have a strong interest in formal mathematics, and have experience in writing formal proofs, can consider XM452 Number Theory. Though Number Theory seems to come before Linear Algebra, it is actually a more challenging course.
  • Successful completion of AP Calc BC or equivalent.
    The most natural option is XM521 Multivariable Differential Calculus as this follows on from AP Calc. BC. The two options above can also be considered.
  • Other high-level courses
    If you have completed equivalent courses to those listed on the Mathematics page, you should follow the prerequisite chart there to determine which optionsare available.

University-level Physics

The physics sequence has only one entry point and that is XP645 Light and Heat. This requires completion of AP Physics C E & M as well as AP Calc. BC. The later courses require Light and Heat and the sequence should be pursued in turn.

Technical requirements

University-Level Online courses are mostly online and require an internet connection to participate. The core curriculum resides within the Stanford Online portal and as long as one’s internet connect can support viewing Youtube videos, one can proceed through the course. This material can be accessed from mobile devices.

The live sessions use the Adobe Connect platform and requires a relatively robust internet connection. Although the platform does allow one to attend through mobile devices, we recommend against such usage because of the reduced interactivity. All live sessions are recorded and can be viewed afterwards. If you are unable to access Youtube, certain materials (e.g. lectures) may not be available. Also, please make sure that the email you submit your application with will be the one you use to communicate with University-Level Online(e.g. certain mail providers are blocked in certain areas).

How the course functions

Core curriculum

Once enrolled in a class, students can proceed through the materials on the Stanford Online (lagunita.stanford.edu) platform at their own leisure. The pace is essentially up to the student, however, there are set windows within which the midterm and final must be taken. On the Lagunita platform, there are (ungraded) practice problems. In some courses (e.g. physics courses) there are homework assignments to be submitted. Though each student’s performance will vary, it is expected that students will spend in the area of 8-12 hours per week on each course.

Online Sessions

Online sessions tend to follow along the posted schedule, although students are free to ask questions from any segment of the course. For large enrollment courses (usually XM511, XM521, XM522, XP645, XP670) there are dedicated course sessions, while low enrollment courses have a common office hour available each week. The precise times for online sessions is fixed at the start of each term, they usually fall in the range of 1 - 6 PM, Stanford time. Online sessions are not mandatory to attend, however, we highly encourage students to attend if possible. Recordings of sessions are available.


The core assessments are exams that need to be proctored to receive a letter grade. Students should arrange with their school to obtain a proctor to be registered into University-Level Online’s system. These exams are standard paper/pencil exams that are all set at 3 hours’ completion time.Note well, in order to receive a letter grade on your transcript, all exams must be proctored by an appropriate, independent proctor (e.g. teacher, school staff, proctoring service, etc.).If a relative proctors the exam, the course will be graded on a credit/no-credit basis.


When a student completes a course and all exams are graded, their results are reported to the Stanford Continuing Studies Program (CSP) within a month of completion. At that time, one can request transcripts from CSP. All courses carry 3 units of credit.

Transcripts can only be made available at the end of the term enrolled, it is not possible to obtain a transcript prior to the end of the term in which you are enrolled.

Textbooks for University-Level Online Courses

University-Level Online courses have required texts. To assist with availability and cost, most courses allow various editions to be used. In addition, some courses allow alternative texts. The desired goal is to end reliance on expensive textbooks and move towards free textbooks. Here we list the titles and authors for entry-level courses (more details are available once enrolled).

Course Textbook Author Allowed Editions
XM452 Number Theory An Introduction to Number Theory Stark  
XM511 Linear Algebra Linear Algebra Bronson  
XM521 Multivariable Differential Calculus

XM522 Multivariable Integral Calculus
Calculus; A New Horizon   6th - 9th (vol 3)
XM531 Differential Equations Elementary Differential Equations Boyce and DiPrima 6th or later
XM606 Complex Analysis Complex Variables and Applications Brown and Churchill 6th
XM609 Modern Algebra Modern Algebra and Applications Gilbert  
XM615 Real Analysis Elementary Analysis: The Theory of Calculus K. Ross  
XP645 Light and Heat Physics; For Scientists and Engineers

OR Physics; For Scientists and Engineers

OR Fundamentals of Physics

OR others upon instructor consent
P. Tipler

R. Knight

Halliday, Resnick

5th, 6th


7th or later

XP670 Modern Physics Spacetime Physics

Quantum Mechanics

Six Quantum Pieces
J. Wheeler, E. Taylor

L. Susskind

V. Scarani


XP710 Intermediate Mechanics I

XP711 Intermediate Mechanics II
Classical Dynamics; Of Particles and Systems S. Thornton, J. Marion 4th or later