Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

An accountability partnership is a highly effective strategy for setting goals and maintaining motivation. Our program matches students with similar academic goals and is open to all Stanford students including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. 

Accountability Partner Program

Main content start
Spring Quarter enrollment is now open!

Undergrad & Co-Term Students

Open Enrollment: 04/04 - 04/10
Undergraduate and Co-Term Students Only

Spring Quarter enrollment is now open!

Grad & Prof Students

Open Enrollment: 04/04 - 04/10
Graduate and Professional Students Only

What is an Accountability Partner?

An accountability partner is someone who helps you make progress toward a commitment you have made. If you’ve ever had a workout partner, for example, you probably found it easier to meet your fitness goals than if you had been exercising on your own. The same concept can be applied to your academic work. Sharing your academic goals with a partner, as well as your plans for achieving them, can provide the clarity, inspiration, and support you need to overcome challenges and follow through on important tasks—from finishing a problem set to completing a dissertation.

Back to Top

How does the program work?

Students who are interested in getting matched with an accountability partner should complete and submit the matching survey by the deadline. (Please note that undergraduate and graduate students have separate matching surveys.) Our algorithm will match you with another student whose responses closely match yours.

Once the matching process is complete, students will be notified through their Stanford e-mail and invited to contact each other. 

Accountability partners mutually agree to work together, hold each other accountable to their academic goals, and provide feedback on a regular basis. As part of this process, you agree to regular (daily or weekly) working and feedback sessions where you work together, discuss your goals, share wins, and talk about your current challenges.

Participating students will be invited to submit reflection surveys at various points in the quarter to reflect on their academic progress and the effectiveness of the program. Each survey submitted will count toward an entry for an Amazon gift card drawing at the end of the quarter. Both partners must submit their surveys to be eligible for the gift card drawing.

Back to Top

Timeline and deadlines

This is the general quarterly timeline, including when and what actions occur programmatically. While this is subject to change slightly, it provides a good guide of major milestones. The timeline is the same for graduate/professional students and undergrads/co-term students; the matches are made separately.

Timing Milestone event
Week 2, Monday Matching Survey opens – linked below
Week 2, Friday Matching Survey closes
By Week 3, Monday Students are notified of their match(es)
Week 5, Monday First Reflection Survey distributed
Week 5, Friday Deadline for submitting First Reflection Survey
Week 7, Monday Second Reflection Survey distributed
Week 7, Friday Survey Deadline for submitting Second Reflection
Week 9, Monday Final Reflection Survey distributed
Week 9, Friday Deadline for submitting Final Reflection Survey
By Finals Week, Friday Gift card winners are notified and gift cards distribute

Back to Top

Resources and guidelines

Welcome to the Accountability Partner program. As you settle into your new partnership, make sure you and your partner are set up for success by answering the following questions together:

Have you....

Decided on a regular time to meet? Pro tip: set up a recurring Zoom meeting room and add a weekly reminder to your calendar. 

Identified what you would like to do together during your regular meetings? This can include setting goals, planning out your week/calendaring, or actually making progress on your goals in a work/study session. 

Chosen a messaging platform for communicating asynchronously? You can use a Slack channel/DM, text, Facebook Messenger, etc. It’s helpful to update your partner on your progress throughout the week when you’re not meeting. 

Created a tracking system for your goals? The Center for Teaching and Learning created this weekly template for you and your partner to use. It’s satisfying and rewarding to keep track of your goals and check them off as you make progress throughout the quarter. 

And here are some bonus tips to make your accountability partnership even stronger: 

Set SMARTer goals. If you’re not familiar with the SMART system of goal-setting, check out this guide. You and your partner should ask yourselves–and each other–whether the goals you set together are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-oriented. 

Use your resources: Why not make it a goal this quarter to develop a new academic skill? The Center for Teaching and Learning offers plenty of ways to help you learn more efficiently and effectively. You, and your partner, can… 

If you have any questions about the program, check out our FAQs or email us at

Back to Top

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in the program?
Stanford undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are eligible to participate. Postdoctoral scholars are also eligible. Please note that undergraduate students will only be matched with undergraduate students and graduate students will only be matched with graduate students. There are distinct matching surveys for undergraduate students and graduate students. Please be sure to submit the correct matching survey. 

How do you match students?
Two of our Peer Learning Consultants who are Computer Science Ph.D. students developed an algorithm to match students based on a number of factors. These factors are taken into account when matching students:

Undergraduate Students Graduate and Professional Students
Enrolled courses Role at Stanford
Frequency of meetings Department or program
Preferred meeting times Type of work
Time zone Frequency of meetings
Academic year Preferred meeting times
Major Time zone
 Year in program  

If I submit the matching survey, am I guaranteed an accountability partner?
Yes, all students who participate in the program will be matched with a partner. In the event an odd number of matching surveys are submitted, a group of three will be formed.

Will I be guaranteed an accountability partner that are enrolled in the courses I listed?
Unfortunately, we are unable to guarantee that your partner will be enrolled in the courses you listed. Although our algorithm prioritizes enrolled courses, the matching process relies on factors outside of our control such as student participation from the course(s) you listed. For example, the algorithm would be unable to match you with a student in a course you listed if that course was not listed by other participating students or if there were not enough students that listed that course. However, most students do get matched with a partner that shares at least one enrolled course. In Phase 1 of Winter Quarter 2021, we were able to match 80% of participating undergraduate students with a partner that shared one or more enrolled courses.

What does open enrollment mean? Will matching occur throughout the quarter on a rolling basis?
Open enrollment means students will only have the time period set to submit their matching survey. To create the best possible matches, matching will not occur on a rolling basis. Instead, students will be given a deadline to submit their matching survey. Once the survey closes, students who submitted surveys will be matched all at once. 

What do I do if my accountability partner never responds to me or if I feel that we aren't a good match?
There will be two open enrollment periods during each quarter. If your first match does not work out, you are more than welcome to submit another matching survey during the second enrollment period (called Phase 2). The second enrollment period is usually one to two weeks after the first enrollment period ends. Students may also e-mail to notify us about any issues they are experiencing with their partners. All matters will be handled confidentially and delicately. 

How will this program ensure that all the accountability partners are meeting and following through?
We expect every student who participates in this program to work together with their partner, hold each other accountable to their academic goals, and provide feedback on a regular basis. We ask all participants conduct themselves in a respectful and compassionate manner. Although we are unable to check in with every group, students are encouraged to e-mail if they are experiencing issues with their partner. All matters will be handled confidentially and delicately. Those who participate actively will have an opportunity to win an Amazon gift card at the end of each quarter. 

How does the Amazon gift card drawing work?
Participating students will be invited to submit brief reflection surveys at various points in the quarter. Each reflection survey submitted will count as a "ticket" for an Amazon gift card drawing at the end of the quarter. If there are three reflection surveys in one quarter, that would equate to three opportunities to submit a ‘ticket’, which increases the chances of winning significantly. Undergraduate students and graduate students will have separate drawing pools. 

Please note that for the survey to be counted toward the raffle, both accountability partners must submit their reflection surveys by the deadline. If only one member of the group submits a survey, that entry will not count.

Contact information

For any and all inquiries or issues related to the Accountability Partner Program, please contact us at

For instructors and teaching assistants

Want to help your students connect with one another? Encourage your students to participate in CTL’s Accountability Partner Program. Accountability Partners support each other in setting goals and maintaining motivation throughout the quarter. Partners are matched using factors such as enrolled courses, time zone, and major/department. You can include this blurb about the Accountability Partner Program below in your syllabus or other course materials.

Looking for a study buddy? Want encouragement from a peer you can count on? An accountability partnership is a highly effective strategy for setting goals and maintaining motivation. The Center for Teaching and Learning’s Accountability Partner Program connects students with similar academic goals so you can support one another throughout the quarter. Learn more and sign up at