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Graduate school frequently asked questions

Here you will find answers to many frequently asked questions from prospective or first-year graduate students at Stanford.

If you feel that your question is not answered on this page, email us at

Graduate Admissions

Q: What are Stanford Engineering’s admission statistics? What are my chances of being accepted?

A: Stanford Engineering is committed to training a diverse group of engineers who come from a wide range of backgrounds. There is no one “right” way into the school and no one “composite” student. The admissions committee is dedicated to holistically evaluating each applicant based on a variety of factors, including: (1) academic achievements, (2) letters of recommendation attesting to research and academic skills, and (3) a statement of purpose. While research experience is important, due to the interdisciplinary and collaborative culture at Stanford Engineering, exact disciplinary expertise is not critical. See the latest demographic information for incoming students.

Q: Where can I find information regarding courses, degrees, policies, and university and degree requirements for my intended major?
A: The Stanford Bulletin page for the School of Engineering catalogs this information.

Q: Where can I find information regarding graduate program deadlines?
A: Degrees awarded from all schools at Stanford are listed with their respective deadlines and contact for further information.

Q: I am an undocumented student and I wish to apply to a department at Stanford Engineering. What are my options?
A: Stanford welcomes and embraces students and scholars from around the world who contribute immeasurably to our mission of education and discovery. Inclusion and nondiscrimination are core values of our community, and they extend to people from around the world regardless of citizenship or nationality. Graduate admissions at Stanford are managed by individual schools; different graduate programs have different work and training requirements. Please visit the Undocumented at Stanford website you are interested in for admission information.

Q: I would like to visit Stanford. How can I learn about what Stanford has to offer?

A: Anyone is welcome to visit and tour Stanford. General tours can be arranged through the Stanford Visitor CenterDue to COVID-19, the Stanford Visitor Center will be closed until further notice.

Funding & Financial Aid

Q: Where can I find information about graduate student fee waivers?
A: Here’s our graduate student fee waiver page.

Q: What funding opportunities are there at Stanford for engineering students?

A: There is a two-part answer to this question, as funding typically looks different for MS and PhD students.

For MS: Most departments do not guarantee funding for MS students. MS students not offered funding as part of their admission package may seek teaching/research assistantships. The office of Equity and Inclusion Initiatives provides course assistantships for the ACE program (advanced calculus preparation for undergraduate students) with applications that go live in the fall quarter.

Please refer to individual department websites for more information. MS students may also consider loans through the financial aid office See our page on how to fund your master’s degree for more information. 

For PhD: Students who are in good standing relative to their PhD program requirements should be funded to the department’s 20-hour-RA level (which provides full payment of tuition and a salary/stipend consistent with the Stanford Engineering-recommended minimum stipend). Arranging for this funding is the responsibility of the department and the faculty PhD advisor, and can include fellowships, research assistantships, training grants, and teaching assistantships.

Often, our PhD students apply for and may receive individual fellowships that can reduce the department’s or advisor’s cost of funding. In these cases, the guarantee of funding to the student will include the fellowship award and additional support from the department/advisor to reach the department-standard level. For educational purposes, departments and advisors may encourage their students to apply for such fellowships and provide resources to strengthen their applications; however, no department or faculty member may require students to obtain external individual funding or to “self-fund” as a condition of admission, entry to, or continuation in the PhD program.

See our page on how to fund your PhD for more information.

Research & Faculty Advisors

Q: Who are potential faculty advisors for me at Stanford Engineering? And how do I connect with them?
A: Stanford Engineering has nearly 300 faculty members and lecturers across nine departments (Aeronautics & Astronautics, Bioengineering, Chemical, Civil & Environmental, Computer Science, Electrical, Management Science, Materials Science, and Mechanical Engineering) and a degree-granting institute (Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering). All current Stanford faculty are eligible to serve as faculty advisors (please refer to individual department guidelines for more information). Be proactive about building these relationships by visiting the website for the lab and emailing faculty and/or their graduate students to learn more about how your project and experience fits in with the lab’s goals.

Q: What research opportunities are there at Stanford Engineering?
A: The school has dozens of institutes, labs, and centers that house many of our faculty and include collaborations across departments and schools at Stanford. Reaching out to individual laboratories for a research collaboration or project is a great way to get involved. Stanford also offers many grants to aid students in proposing and implementing novel research projects both on and off campus.

Equity and Inclusion Initiatives

Q: What programs does the Equity and Inclusion Initiatives team host at Stanford Engineering?

A: The team hosts a variety of programs catering to all members of Stanford Engineering. Most are tailored toward current undergraduates with at least one summer before graduating or prospective graduate students. These programs include SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship); ACE (advanced calculus preparation for current undergraduate students, and an opportunity for engineering graduate students to be a teaching or course assistant); SERGE (Stanford Exposure to Research and Graduate Education, a two-day event hosted by the Black Engineering Graduate Student Association for prospective graduate students); and GPS (for prospective graduate students interested in learning more about the graduate application process and acquiring a Bay Area graduate student mentor), among many others.

Q: Are there any programs for graduate students? 

A: Our graduate programs include Summer First (Summer Opportunities in Engineering Research and Leadership, which welcomes incoming doctoral students with an intensive eight-week residential program); DGSAC (Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory Council, dedicated to student advocacy and increased transparency between students and Stanford Engineering leadership); and  NSF-AGEP (also known as the NSF Research Exchange Program, which allows graduate students and postdocs to connect with faculty members and research scientists). There are also a number of teaching opportunities for graduate students to earn funding and apply their education to helping students, from K-12 STEM programs to School of Engineering teaching and course assistantships. 

Q: What diversity student groups are there on campus?

A: Stanford has more than 650 registered student organizations on campus. Several are directly associated with Equity and Inclusion Initiatives at Stanford Engineering (Undergraduates: SBSE, SWE, AISES, SOLE, oSTEM; Graduates: BEGSA, LEGOS, SNAGS). Find out more about these various societies and how they support student life.

Other offices and organization supporting student life:

Office of Student Affairs - Community Centers

Vice Provost for Graduate Education - Offers various trainings and talks throughout the year on personal and professional development and has relevant info for prospective students

Vaden Health Center - Mental, physical, and emotional health

Windhover and Office for Religious and Spiritual Life - Spiritual health and support

The Graduate Life Office, a division of Student Affairs, offers advice and support for campus life. Committed to students’ well-being, the office connects students with a broad variety of resources, including academic resources, accessibility support, career support, children and families, community standards, dispute resolution and legal issues, financial and administrative support and assistance, housing, immigration policy, international students, Office for Military-Affiliated Communities, safety, and student communities and groups. 

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