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PSY 39 W — The Upside of Stress

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Apr 17—May 26
Drop Deadline: Apr 25
Unit: 1
Tuition: $375
Instructor(s): Kelly McGonigal
Limit: 225
Status: Open
Apr 17—May 26
6 weeks
Drop By
Apr 25
1 Unit
Kelly McGonigal

Stress is unavoidable. But is it always harmful? The latest science offers a surprising new view of stress—one that reveals how stress can enhance well-being, support personal growth, and increase resilience. The research also shows that how we think about and react to stress influences how it affects us. This course will explore what makes stress good for you and what you can do to get good at stress. You will learn how to cultivate a mindset that helps you thrive under stress, as well as practical strategies for transforming the biology of your stress response in order to improve health and well-being. We will look at how to embrace anxiety, transform adversity into meaning, and use stress as a catalyst for social connection. The science and personal applications that we cover will give you a renewed sense of optimism about your own ability to handle whatever challenges life brings.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 225 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

This course may not be taken for a Letter Grade.

Kelly McGonigal, Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Kelly McGonigal teaches for a wide range of programs at Stanford, including the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Business. In collaboration with CCARE, she has conducted scientific research on the benefits of compassion training. She has received the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stanford. She is the author of The Upside of Stress and The Willpower Instinct. McGonigal received a PhD in psychology from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) Kelly McGonigal, The Upside of Stress (ISBN 978-1583335611)