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Cardinal Service: Frequently Asked Questions

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Here are some of the most common questions students and partners have about Cardinal Service programs.

General | Cardinal Quarter| Cardinal Courses| Cardinal Commitment| Cardinal Careers


What is a Cardinal Service Notation?

A Cardinal Service Notation is a notation on your academic transcript confirming that you have participated in a substantial service program  while at Stanford. Students who complete a Cardinal Quarter, 12 units of Cardinal Courses, or a Cardinal Commitment via the Public Service Leadership Program are eligible.

How do I apply for a Cardinal Service Notation?

Students are eligible for the Cardinal Service Notation after completing one of the following:

Students should satisfy their eligibility before applying. For example, a student completing a Cardinal Quarter in the autumn should wait to apply until the spring. Similarly, a student enrolled in a Cardinal Course in the spring should apply the following autumn.

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Cardinal Quarter

What is Cardinal Quarter?

Cardinal Quarter is a campus-wide initiative that offers undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in a full-time, quarter-long public service experience designed to integrate academic learning with field-based experience. Nearly 500 opportunities are offered each year in both domestic and international settings through more than 30 campus departments involved in the Cardinal Quarter initiative. Cardinal Quarter participants receive stipend awards to cover most of the expenses associated with an otherwise unpaid public service experience (stipend awards are not available through the Stanford in New York and Bing Stanford in Washington programs).

What are some tips for applying for a Cardinal Quarter?

  • Read all of the online application information carefully and check with the sponsoring unit for information specific to the opportunity.
  • Read stories about previous participants.
  • Contact a previous participant about their experience (view this map for previous participants)—use Stanford Who to look up their email.
  • Check out the Resources for Fellowship Applicants.
  • Speak to an advisor for general information about Cardinal Quarter.

May I apply to more than one Cardinal Quarter Opportunity? 

Applicants may apply to more than one fellowship, but students can receive only one Cardinal Quarter opportunity in any given quarter. Students who are selected for more than one Cardinal Quarter opportunity must choose which one they want to pursue by designated deadlines. Please refer to each individual fellowship or opportunity for application requirements.

How do I request a Stanford transcript?

Students may be required to submit an unofficial transcript as part of a Cardinal Quarter application. Unofficial transcripts may be requested online via Axess. Once you have received your unofficial transcripts, save as a PDF and upload to your application. Please contact the Registrar's Office for additional information.

Who should write my recommendation letter?

Some Cardinal Quarter opportunities will require a completed recommendation or reference form. Please check with the sponsoring unit for specific requirements, but recommenders typically can include Stanford faculty, staff, graduate teaching assistants, residence fellows, appointed lecturers, former employers and internship supervisors, teachers etc. Fellow undergraduate students should not serve as recommenders.

How competitive are the fellowships?

Competition for each Cardinal Quarter opportunity varies from year to year. Competition is based on the applicant pool and it is impossible to determine in advance how many students will apply for each opportunity. The amount of funding available for each program determines the number of fellowship awards available each year. Please contact the sponsoring unit of the Cardinal Quarter opportunity for more information.

What if I require a disability-related accommodation and/or disability access information to participate in a Cardinal Quarter?

Program staff will work with you, your host organization, and Stanford’s Diversity and Access Office to ensure you are provided with accommodations in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Please inform the sponsoring unit’s program staff as soon as possible of your accommodation request.

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Cardinal Courses

How do I become a Cardinal Course assistant?

Community-Engaged Learning Coordinators (CELCs) are undergraduate students employed to support faculty teaching Cardinal Courses. They are typically students who have previously taken the course or have an existing relationship with the faculty member or community partner. CELCs gain valuable experience in community-engaged learning pedagogy, program management, and public service; faculty can rely on their CELC to reduce their administrative workload, enhance class discussions, and help students with projects. Learn more and apply

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Cardinal Commitment

What is a Cardinal Commitment?

Through the Cardinal Commitment program, individual students receive support to make a sustained service commitment, part time for three or more quarters, through signature Stanford programs, student service organizations, or community organizations.

I'm interested in making a Cardinal Commitment. What are some tips to get started?

What are "Cardinal Commitment organizations?"

They are staff-run programs, registered student organizations, or registered community organizations that the Cardinal Commitment team has verified can provide students with opportunities to serve, a mentor, and exposure to the Principles of Ethical and Effective Service.  

What is a "registered student organization?"

A registered student organization has been through the Cardinal Commitment vetting process to become a Cardinal Commitment organization and can provide students with a service opportunity that will allow them to complete a Cardinal Commitment. 

How do I register my student organization?

Complete this form and meet with Cardinal Commitment staff to ensure you can provide students with all they need to engage and complete a Cardinal Commitment. Unless there are issues with what you've submitted, that's it! Your group is registered! 

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Cardinal Careers

What is the Cardinal Service Graduation Pledge?

If you are committed to continuing to choose public service after graduation, either in your job or as volunteer activities, consider joining the hundreds of Stanford seniors who have signed on to the Graduation Pledge:

"As a graduate of Stanford University, I will work toward a more just and sustainable world in my career or volunteer activities. I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work."

Take the Pledge

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If you have a question about something that isn't covered here, please let us know.

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