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Milestones FAQs

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We are excited to introduce increased visibility to your program's existing milestones required. 

You are already familiar with these requirements (nothing new here!). They include program proposals, internships, theses, language fluency, and teaching assistantships – which are key parts of your degree completion. 

These milestones have now been added to your student record to easily check their status by viewing your unofficial transcript with the click of a few buttons. 

Browse the following FAQs to learn more about milestones and this expanded transparency regarding your degree progress.

What are milestones?

Milestones are non-course requirements that are an integral part of your degree program. They can include papers, presentations, exams, or experiences that are not captured by the completion of a course. Milestones can be required by the university, by your specific program/department, or by both for satisfactory degree progress and completion of your degree.

What’s new about milestones?

Your non-course milestone requirements are now simply more visible and accessible to you. As of January 2022, all plan-specific, non-course milestones are listed on your student record in the same way that university-required milestones have always been tracked. This is not a new expectation nor is it a change in policy, as these are requirements that have always been expected of students from your chosen degree program

This work was done in preparation for the introduction of the university-wide degree audit system in Autumn 2022 to centrally identify and manage all plan-specific non-course requirements in students’ records. Previously, plan-specific milestones were tracked internally by each department and/or program.

What are university-required milestones?

The university has required the completion of non-course milestones for each graduate degree for many years now. These milestones must be completed by students in order to graduate and are not waivable. View this list of university-required milestones.

Currently, non-course milestones are not required by the university at the undergraduate level. But this may change with the future of the major implementation.

What are plan-specific milestones?

These are non-course requirements that have been determined to be essential to your degree progress by your program/department. Whether or not a required aspect of your degree program can be tracked via a course or a non-course milestone is up to the discretion of your department/program.

If your department/program has decided that a particular requirement meets the criteria of a non-course milestone, these are referred to as plan-specific milestones. These requirements are only required by this specific program, but are a critical factor in their decision to recommend you for conferral.

Can more than one of my declared programs have non-course milestones?

Yes, if you are declared in multiple programs, each of your declared programs (e.g. major, minor, honors, masters, engineers, doctoral, or professional) has the potential to have non-course requirements.

For example, if you were to major and coterm in “Animation” and minor in “Architecture” and “Kinesiology” this could be the breakdown of your university and plan-specific milestones:

Program* University-Required Milestones Plan-Specific Milestones
Animation – BA None Capstone Project
Architecture – Minor None Fieldwork Experience
Kinesiology - Minor None  None
Animation – MA Masters Program Proposal Thesis

*Note: These programs are not actually available at Stanford and are being used for example purposes only.


How do I see if I have any milestones I need to complete?

There are three ways to identify whether your declared programs required the completion of milestones:

  1. You can view your non-course milestones by accessing your unofficial transcript report in Axess. For instructions on viewing your unofficial transcript, review our step-by-step guide.
  2. Review your program’s student handbook or program information sheet.
  3. Connect with your program’s student services officer (SSO).

In the future (coming in Autumn 2022), you will also be able to view your milestones in Stanford’s new degree audit system.

Who can see milestones on my student record?

Your milestones are viewable by:

  • Any faculty/staff authorized to view your unofficial transcript
  • Anyone with whom YOU share your unofficial transcript
  • Your department or program student services officers (SSOs) have access to your milestones by means of your unofficial transcript and the student milestones page in Axess
  • For Ph.D. students, your dissertation milestone appears on the official transcript and can be seen by anyone you send it to.
  • Staff who support student and academic services at Stanford, including the Registrar’s Office teams, Academic Advisors and AARC Advisors.

In the future, any Stanford faculty or staff authorized to view your degree audit will also be able to view the status of your non-course milestones. 

NOTE: Completed theses and dissertations are considered “directory” or public information and as such can be released without the student’s permission. Students do have the right, however, to prevent the release of even directory information. If students have exercised their right not to have directory information released, the University may not release it, even to parents, without the student's permission. All other milestone-related information is protected by FERPA. View this webpage for more information about FERPA or restricting access to directory information. 

What impact will milestones have on my degree progress at Stanford? 

These milestone requirements have always been expected of students in certain degree programs. The non-course milestone requirements are now simply more visible to students, faculty, and staff. 

  1. For academic year 2021-22, your completion (or lack of completion) of required plan-specific non-course milestones may affect your department’s evaluation of your readiness to graduate. You should speak with your department student services officer (SSO) or faculty advisor if you have concerns about the fulfillment of one of your milestones.
  2. For academic year 2022-23, Stanford administrators are reviewing whether plan-specific milestones will also be required by the university for degree completion (and not just up to each department or program to evaluate). We will announce any policy or procedure changes well in advance of their effectiveness date, should they occur. 

What if I’ve completed a milestone, but that status is not reflected on my unofficial transcript? 

You should contact your department/program student services office (SSO). They are responsible for updating the status of your milestones in Axess. 

Can my milestones be listed on my official transcript as well as my unofficial transcript?

No.  At this time, the only non-course requirement that appears on the official transcript is the doctoral dissertation.

Do all of my milestones need to be complete in order for me to graduate? 

For academic year 2021-22 and forward, all of your university-required milestones must be completed in order for you to graduate. The completion of plan-specific milestones will be up to the discretion of your department. In general, the milestones included by your program have been identified as critical components to the fulfillment of your program and likely will need to be completed.

For academic year 2022-23, the necessity of plan-specific milestone fulfillment for the university-level review of degree conferral is under review and will be announced closer to Autumn Quarter 2022.

I have a question about one of the milestones on my student record, who should I talk to?  

For either university-required or plan-specific milestones, your first point of contact should be your department/program student services officer (SSO). 

For questions not able to be answered by your SSO, please submit the following help request: Inquire about Student Milestones.