For each Stanford advanced degree, there is an approved course of study which meets University and department requirements. The University's general requirements, applicable to all graduate degrees at Stanford, are described below. University requirements pertaining to only a subset of advanced degrees are described in the "Degree-Specific Requirements, Master's Degrees" and "Degree-Specific Requirements, Doctoral Degrees" sections.
See the "Graduate Programs" section of each department's listing for specific department degree requirements. Additional information on professional school programs is available in the bulletins of the Graduate School of Business, the School of Law, and the School of Medicine.
Graduate students must enroll in courses for all terms of each academic year (Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters) from the admission term until conferral of the degree. The only exception to this requirement occurs when the student is granted an official leave of absence. Failure to enroll in courses for a term during the academic year without taking a leave of absence results in denial of further enrollment privileges unless and until reinstatement to the degree program is granted and the reinstatement fee paid. Registration in Summer Quarter is not required and does not substitute for registration during the academic year. Students possessing an F-1 or J-1 student visa may be subject to additional course enrollment requirements in order to retain their student visas.
In addition to the above requirement for continuous registration during the academic year, graduate students are required by the University to be registered:
- In each term during which any official department or University requirement is fulfilled, including qualifying exams or the University oral exam. The period between the last day of final exams of one term and the day prior to the first day of the following term is considered an extension of the earlier term, with the option of considering the two weeks preceding the start of Autumn Quarter as part of Autumn Quarter (rather than as part of Summer Quarter). See details below.
- In any term in which a University dissertation/thesis is submitted or at the end of which a graduate degree is conferred.
- Normally, in any term in which the student receives financial support from the University.
- In any term for which the student needs to use University facilities.
- For international students, in any term of the academic year (summer may be excluded) for which they have non-immigrant status (i.e., a J-1 or F-1 visa).
Individual students may also find themselves subject to the registration requirements of other agencies (for example, external funding sources such as federal financial aid). Course work and research are expected to be done on campus unless the department gives prior approval.
Degree programs have the option to include the two weeks before the start of Autumn Quarter as part of Autumn Quarter for the purposes of completing milestones and departmental requirements. The following considerations apply to this exception:
- The student must enroll in the subsequent Autumn Quarter in the applicable standard enrollment category prior to the completion of the milestone; a leave of absence is not permitted for that Autumn Quarter.
- A student exercising this option will not be eligible for Graduation Quarter status until the following Winter Quarter at the earliest.
- This exception is permitted only for milestones administered by the department, such as qualifying examinations or University oral examinations.
- This exception does not apply to deadlines administered through Stanford University, such as filing the Application to Graduate, or Dissertation/Thesis submission.
- Degree programs are not obligated to exercise this option solely because a student requests it.
Master of Arts and Master of Science
In addition to completing the general requirements for advanced degrees and the specified program requirements, candidates for the degree of Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) must outline an acceptable program of study on the Master's Degree Program Proposal and complete their degrees within the time limit for completion of the master's degree.
Master's Program Proposal
Students pursuing an M.A., M.F.A., M.S., or M.P.P. degree are required to submit an acceptable program proposal to their department during the first quarter of enrollment. Coterminal students must submit the proposal during the first quarter after admission to the coterminal program. The program proposal establishes a student's individual program of study to meet University and department degree requirements. Students must amend the proposal formally if their plans for meeting degree requirements change.
In reviewing the program proposal or any subsequent amendment to it, the department confirms that the course of study proposed by the student fulfills all department course requirements (for example, requirements specifying total number of units, course levels, particular courses, sequences, or substitutes). The department confirms that all other department requirements (for example, required projects, foreign language proficiency, or qualifying exams) are listed on the form and that all general University requirements (minimum units, residency, and so on) for the master's degree will be met through the proposed program of study. Students who fail to submit an acceptable proposal may be dismissed.
Time Limit for Completion of the Master's Degree
All requirements for a master's degree must be completed within three years after the student's first term of enrollment in the master's program (five years for Honors Cooperative students). Students pursuing a coterminal master's degree must complete their requirements within three years of their first quarter of graduate standing.
The time limit is not automatically extended by a student's leave of absence. All requests for extension, whether prompted by a leave or some other circumstance, must be filed by the student before the conclusion of the program's time limit. Departments are not obliged to grant an extension. The maximum extension is one additional year. Extensions require review of academic progress and any other factors regarded as relevant by the department, and approval by the department; such approval is at the department's discretion.
Master of Public Policy
The degree of Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) is a two-year program leading to a professional degree. Enrollment in the M.P.P. program is limited to candidates who have earlier been accepted to another Stanford graduate degree program and to recent (within three years) Stanford graduates. In addition to completing the general requirements for advanced degrees and the program requirements specified in the "Public Policy" section of this bulletin, candidates for the degree of Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) must outline an acceptable program of study on the Master's Degree Program Proposal and complete their degrees within the time limit for completion of the master's degree.
Master of Business Administration
The degree of Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) is conferred on candidates who have satisfied the requirements established by the faculty of the Graduate School of Business and the general requirements for advanced degrees. Full particulars concerning the school requirements are found on the M.B.A. program web site of the Graduate School of Business. The M.B.A. must be completed within the time limit for completion of the master's degree.
Master of Fine Arts
In addition to completing the general requirements for advanced degrees and the program requirements specified in the "Art and Art History" section of this bulletin, candidates for the degree of Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) must outline an acceptable program of study on the Master's Degree Program Proposal and complete their degrees within the time limit for completion of the master's degree.
Master of Liberal Arts
The Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.) program is a part-time interdisciplinary master's program in the liberal arts for returning adult students. In addition to completing the general requirements for advanced degrees, candidates for the degree of Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.) must complete their degrees within five years, an exception to the rule specified above.
In addition to completing the general requirements for advanced degrees and the requirements specified by their department, candidates for the degree of Engineer must be admitted to candidacy and must complete a thesis per the specifications below.
The Application for Candidacy for Degree of Engineer is an agreement between the student and the department on a specific program of study to fulfill degree requirements. Students must apply for candidacy by the end of the second quarter of the program. Honors Cooperative students must apply by the end of the fourth quarter of the program. Candidacy is valid for five calendar years.
A University thesis is required for the Engineer degree. Students have the option of submitting the thesis electronically or via the paper process. Standards for professional presentation of the thesis have been established by the Committee on Graduate Studies. Directions for preparation of the thesis for electronic or paper submission are available at the Office of the University Registrar dissertation/thesis web site.
The deadline for submission of theses for degree conferral in each term is specified by the University academic calendar. if submitting via the paper process, three copies of the thesis, bearing the approval of the adviser under whose supervision it was prepared, must be submitted to the Office of the University Registrar before the quarterly deadline listed on the University academic calendar. A fee is charged for binding copies of the paper thesis. If submitting via the electronic process the signed thesis signature page and title page must be submitted to the Student Services Center and one final copy of the thesis must be uploaded, and approved by the Final Reader, on or before the quarterly deadline indicated in the University's academic calendar. There is no fee charged for the electronic submission process.
Students must be registered or on graduation quarter in the term in which they submit the thesis; see "Graduation Quarter" section of this bulletin for additional information. At the time the thesis is submitted, an Application to Graduate must be on file, all department requirements must be complete, and candidacy must be valid through the term of degree conferral.
Master of Legal Studies
The Master of Legal Studies degree (M.L.S.), a nonprofessional degree, is conferred upon candidates who satisfactorily complete courses in law totaling the number of units required under the current Faculty Regulations of the Stanford Law School over not less than one academic year and who otherwise have satisfied the requirements of the University and the Stanford Law School. The Stanford Law School Student Handbook (pdf) provides detailed information on degree requirements.
Master of Laws
The degree of Master of Laws (L.L.M.) is conferred upon candidates who satisfactorily complete courses in law totaling the number of units required under the current Faculty Regulations of the Stanford Law School over not less than one academic year and who otherwise have satisfied the requirements of the University and the Stanford Law School.
The degree is designed for foreign graduate students trained in law and is available only to students with a primary law degree earned outside the United States. The L.L.M. program offers students a choice of three areas of specialization: Corporate Governance and Practice; Law, Science, and Technology; or International Economic Law, Business; and Policy. The Stanford Law School Student Handbook (pdf) provides detailed information on degree requirements.
Master of the Science of Law
The degree of Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.) is conferred upon candidates who satisfactorily complete courses in law totaling the number of units required under the current Faculty Regulations of the Stanford Law School over not less than one academic year and who otherwise have satisfied the requirements of the University and the Stanford Law School.
The degree is primarily designed for those qualified students who hold a J.D. or its equivalent and who are at the Stanford Law School for independent reasons (for example, as teaching fellows) and who wish to combine work toward the degree with their primary academic activities. Specially qualified lawyers, public officials, academics, and other professionals who have worked outside the United States may apply for the degree through the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS). The Stanford Law School Student Handbook (pdf) provides detailed information on degree requirements.
Doctor of Jurisprudence
The degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) is conferred on candidates who satisfactorily complete courses in law totaling the number of units required under the current Faculty Regulations of the Stanford Law School over not less than three academic years and who otherwise have satisfied the requirements of the University and the Stanford Law School. The Stanford Law School web site provides detailed information on degree requirements.
Doctor of the Science of Law
The degree of the Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) is conferred upon candidates who hold a J.D. or its equivalent, who complete one academic year in residence, and who, as a result of independent legal research, present a dissertation that is, in the opinion of the faculty of the Stanford Law School a contribution to knowledge. Such work and dissertation must conform to the rules of the Stanford Law School and the University for the dissertation and the University Oral Examination, as described in the "Doctor of Philosophy" section of this bulletin.
Candidacy is limited to students of exceptional distinction and promise. The Stanford Law School web site provides detailed information on degree requirements.
Doctor of Musical Arts
The degree of Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) is conferred on candidates who have satisfied the general requirements for advanced degrees, the program requirements specified in the "Music" section of this bulletin, and the candidacy requirement as described in the "Doctor of Philosophy" section.
Doctor of Medicine
Candidates for the degree of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) must satisfactorily complete the required curriculum in medicine. The requirements for the M.D. degree are detailed online at http://med.stanford.edu/md.
Doctor of Philosophy
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is conferred on candidates who have demonstrated to the satisfaction of their department or school substantial scholarship, high attainment in a particular field of knowledge, and the ability to do independent investigation and present the results of such research. They must satisfy the general requirements for advanced degrees, the program requirements specified by their departments, and the doctoral requirements described below. The option for a Ph.D. minor is also described below, though it is not a Ph.D. requirement.
Admission to a doctoral degree program is preliminary to, and distinct from, admission to candidacy. Admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree is a judgment by the faculty in the department or school of the student's potential to successfully complete the requirements of the degree program. Students are expected to complete department qualifying procedures and apply for candidacy by the end of their second year in the Ph.D. program. Honors Cooperative students must apply by the end of their fourth year.
Admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree is granted by the major department following a student's successful completion of qualifying procedures as determined by the department. Departmental policy determines procedures for subsequent attempts to become advanced to candidacy in the event that the student does not successfully complete the procedures. Failure to advance to candidacy results in the dismissal of the student from the program (see "Guidelines for Dismissal of Graduate Students for Academic Reasons").
The Application for Candidacy specifies a departmentally approved program of study to fulfill degree requirements, including required course work, language requirements, teaching requirements, dissertation (final project and public lecture-demonstration for D.M.A.), and University oral examination (for Ph.D.). Prior to candidacy, at least 3 units of work must be taken with each of four Stanford faculty members. To reiterate, however, a student will only be admitted to candidacy if, in addition to the student's fulfilling departmental prerequisites, the faculty makes the judgment that the student has the potential to successfully complete the requirements of the degree program.
If the Ph.D. student is pursuing a minor, approval by the department awarding the minor is also required on the Application for Candidacy.
All requirements for the degree must be completed before candidacy expires. Candidacy is valid for five years unless terminated by the department (for example, for unsatisfactory progress). The time limit is not automatically extended by a student's leave of absence.
Time Limit for Completion of a Degree with Candidacy
All requirements for the degree must be completed before candidacy expires. Candidacy is valid for five years unless terminated by the department (for example, for unsatisfactory progress). The time limit is not automatically extended by a student's leave of absence.
Failure to make minimum progress or complete university, department, and program requirements in a timely or satisfactory manner may lead to dismissal (see Guidelines for Dismissal of Graduate Students for Academic Reasons).
All requests for extension, whether prompted by a leave or some other circumstance, must be filed by the student before the conclusion of the program's time limit. Departments are not obligated to grant an extension. Students may receive a maximum of one additional year of candidacy per extension. Extensions require review by the department of a dissertation progress report, a timetable for completion of the dissertation, any other factors regarded as relevant by the department, and approval by the department; such approval is at the department's discretion.
Teaching and Research Requirements
A number of departments require their students to teach (serving as a teaching assistant) or assist a faculty member in research (serving as a research assistant) for one or more quarters as part of their doctoral programs. Detailed information is included in the department sections of this bulletin.
Foreign Language Requirement
Some departments require a reading knowledge of one or more foreign languages as indicated in department sections of this bulletin. Fulfillment of language requirements must be endorsed by the chair of the major department.
University Oral Examination
Passing a University oral examination is a requirement of the Ph.D. and J.S.D. degrees. The purpose of the examination is to test the candidate's command of the field of study and to confirm fitness for scholarly pursuits. Departments determine when, after admission to candidacy, the oral examination is taken and whether the exam will be a test of knowledge of the field, a review of a dissertation proposal, or a defense of the dissertation. The chairperson of a Stanford oral examination is appointed for this examination only, to represent the interests of the University for a fair and rigorous process.
Students must be registered in the term in which the University oral examination is taken. The period between the last day of final exams of one term and the day prior to the first day of the following term is considered an extension of the earlier term. Candidacy must also be valid.
The University Oral Examination Committee consists of at least five Stanford faculty members: four examiners; and the committee chair from another department. All committee members are normally members of the Stanford University Academic Council, and the chair must be a member of the Stanford University Academic Council. Emeritus faculty are also eligible to serve as examiners or chair of the committee.
A petition for appointment of an examining committee member who is neither a current or emeritus member of the Academic Council may be approved by the chair of the department if that person contributes an area of expertise that is not readily available from the faculty and holds a Ph.D. or equivalent foreign degree. Exceptions for individuals whose terminal degree is not the Ph.D. or equivalent foreign degree may be granted by the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, upon the request of the student’s department chair. The majority of the examiners must be current or emeritus Academic Council members; more specifically, one of four or five examiners or two of six or seven examiners may be appointed to the Oral Examination Committee by means of this petition.
The chair of the examining committee may not have a full or joint appointment in the adviser's or student's department, but may have a courtesy appointment in the department. The chair can be from the same department as any other member(s) of the examination committee and can be from the student's minor department provided that the student's adviser does not have a full or joint appointment in the minor department.
For Interdisciplinary Degree Programs (IDPs), the chair of the examining committee may not have a full or joint appointment in the primary adviser's major department and must have independence from the student and adviser.
The University Oral Examination form must be submitted to the department graduate studies administrator at least two weeks prior to the proposed examination date. The examination is conducted according to the major department's adopted practice, but it should not exceed three hours in length, and it must include a period of private questioning by the examining committee.
Responsibility for monitoring appointment of the oral examination chair rests with the candidate's major department. Although the department cannot require the candidate to approach faculty members to serve as chair, many departments invite students and their advisers to participate in the process of selecting and contacting potential chairs.
The candidate passes the examination if the examining committee casts four favorable votes out of five or six, five favorable votes out of seven, or six favorable votes out of eight. Five members present and voting constitute a quorum. If the committee votes to fail a student, the committee chair sends within five days a written evaluation of the candidate's performance to the major department and the student. Within 30 days and after review of the examining committee's evaluation and recommendation, the chair of the student's major department must send the student a written statement indicating the final action of the department.
An approved doctoral dissertation is required for the Ph.D. and J.S.D. degrees. The doctoral dissertation must be an original contribution to scholarship or scientific knowledge and must exemplify the highest standards of the discipline. If it is judged to meet this standard, the dissertation is approved for the school or department by the doctoral dissertation reading committee. Each member of the reading committee signs the signature page of the dissertation to certify that the work is of acceptable scope and quality. These signatures must be in ink; proxy or electronic signatures are not permitted. One reading committee member reads the dissertation in its final form and certifies on the Certificate of Final Reading that department and University specifications have been met.
Dissertations must be in English. Approval for writing the dissertation in another language is normally granted only in cases where the other language or literature in that language is also the subject of the discipline. Such approval is routinely granted for dissertations in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, in accordance with the policy of the individual department. Approval is granted by the school dean upon a written request from the chair of the student’s major department. Dissertations written in another language must include an extended summary in English.
Students have the option of submitting the dissertation electronically or via the paper process. Directions for preparation of the dissertation for electronic or paper submission are available at the Office of the University Registrar dissertation web site. If submitting via the paper process, the signed dissertation copies and accompanying documents must be submitted to the Office of the University Registrar on or before the quarterly deadline indicated in the University's academic calendar. A fee is charged for the microfilming and binding of the paper dissertation copies. If submitting via the electronic process the signed dissertation signature page and title page must be submitted to the Student Services Center and one final copy of the dissertation must be uploaded, and approved by the Final Reader, on or before the quarterly deadline indicated in the University's academic calendar. There is no fee charged for the electronic submission process.
Students must either be registered or on graduation quarter in the term they submit the dissertation; see "Graduation Quarter" in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this Bulletin for additional information. At the time the dissertation is submitted, an Application to Graduate must be on file, all department requirements must be complete, and candidacy must be valid through the term of degree conferral.
Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee
The doctoral dissertation reading committee consists of the principal dissertation adviser and, typically, two other readers. The doctoral dissertation reading committee must have three members and may not have more than five members. All members of the reading committee approve the dissertation. At least one member must be from the student's major department. Normally, all committee members are members of the Stanford University Academic Council or are emeritus Academic Council members. The student's department chair may, in some cases, approve the appointment of a reader who is not a current or emeritus member of the Academic Council, if that person is particularly well qualified to consult on the dissertation topic and holds a Ph.D. or equivalent foreign degree. Exceptions for individuals whose terminal degree is not the PhD or equivalent foreign degree may be granted by the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, upon the request of the student’s department chair. Former Stanford Academic Council members and non-Academic Council members may thus on occasion serve on a reading committee. A non-Academic Council member (including former Academic Council members) may replace only one of three required members of dissertation reading committees. If the reading committee has four or five members, at least three members (comprising the majority) must be current or emeritus members of the Academic Council.
Any member of the Academic Council may serve as the principal dissertation adviser. If former Academic Council members, emeritus Academic Council members, or non-Academic Council members are to serve as the principal dissertation adviser, the appointment of a co-advisor who is currently on the Academic Council is required. This is to ensure representation for the student in the department by someone playing a major adviser role in completion of the dissertation. However, a co-advisor is not required during the first two years following retirement for emeritus Academic Council members who are recalled to active service.
The reading committee, as proposed by the student and agreed to by the prospective members, is endorsed by the chair of the major department on the Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form. This form must be submitted before approval of Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status or before scheduling a University oral examination that is a defense of the dissertation. The reading committee may be appointed earlier, according to the department timetable for doctoral programs. All subsequent changes to the reading committee must be approved by the chair of the major department. The reading committee must conform to University regulations at the time of degree conferral.
Students pursuing a Ph.D. may pursue a minor in another department or program to complement their Ph.D. program. This option is not available to students pursuing other graduate degrees. Ph.D. candidates cannot pursue a minor in their own major department or program. In rare cases, a Ph.D. student may complete the requirements for more than one minor. In that case, 20 unduplicated units must be completed for each minor.
Only departments that offer a Ph.D. may offer a minor, and those departments are not required to do so. Interdisciplinary Ph.D. minors, administered by a designated academic department, may be approved by the Faculty Senate. The minor should represent a program of graduate quality and depth, including core requirements and electives or examinations. The department offering the minor establishes the core and examination requirements. Elective courses are planned by the students in conjunction with their minor and Ph.D. departments.
The minimum University requirement for a Ph.D. minor is 20 units of course work at the graduate level (typically courses numbered 200 and above). If a minor department chooses to require those pursuing the minor to pass the Ph.D. qualifying or field examinations, the 20-unit minimum can be reduced. All of the course work for a minor must be done at Stanford.
Units taken for the minor can be counted as part of the overall requirement for the Ph.D. of 135 units of graduate course work done at Stanford. Courses used for a minor may not be used also to meet the requirements for a master's degree.
A Ph.D. minor form outlining a program of study must be approved by the major and minor departments. This form is submitted at the time of admission to candidacy and specifies whether representation from the minor department on the University oral examination committee is required.
Joint Degree Programs
A Joint Degree Program (JDP) is a specified combination of degree programs or degree types in which a student is enrolled in two graduate degree programs concurrently. JDPs are developed and proposed by the relevant academic units with agreement of the deans of the schools affected.
An approved JDP includes a set of agreements between the participating programs and schools about matters such as admissions, advising, curricula, and tuition. In a JDP, a specified number of units may be double-counted toward the minimum University residency requirements for both degrees, reducing the total number of residency units required to complete both degrees. Application deadlines for each program or degree apply. Students must be admitted to the JDP no later than the study list deadline of the term prior to the term of expected degree conferral. In a JDP, both degrees are conferred concurrently since the units required for each degree are linked to the completion of both degrees. The sole exception is the J.D. degree which may be awarded prior to the second degree.
The following Joint Degree Programs, permitting students to complete requirements for two degrees with a reduced number of total residency units, are offered:
- Juris Doctor with a Master of Arts in Economics, Education, History, Public Policy, or the Division of International Comparative and Area Studies: African Studies, East Asian Studies, International Policy Studies, Latin American Studies, and Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (J.D./M.A.)
- Juris Doctor with a Master of Science in Bioengineering,Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Environment and Resources, Health Research and Policy, or Management Science and Engineering (J.D./M.S.)
- Juris Doctor with a Master of Public Policy (J.D./M.P.P)
- Juris Doctor with a Doctor of Philosophy in Bioengineering, Economics, Environment and Resources, History, Management Science and Engineering, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, or Sociology (J.D./Ph.D.)
- Juris Doctor with a Master of Business Administration (J.D./M.B.A.)
- Master of Business Administration with a Master of Arts in Education (M.B.A./M.A.)
- Master of Business Administration with a Master of Science in Environment and Resources (M.B.A./M.S.)
- Master of Business Administration with a Master of Public Policy (M.B.A./M.P.P.)
- Master of Arts in International Policy Studies with a Master of Public Policy (M.A./M.P.P.)
- Master of Science in Management Science and Engineering with a Master of Public Policy (M.S../M.P.P.)
- Doctor of Philosophy in Economics, Education, Psychology, or Sociology with a Master of Public Policy (Ph.D./M.P.P.)
- Juris Doctor with a Doctor of Medicine (J.D./M.D.)
- Master of Public Policy with a Doctor of Medicine (M.P.P./M.D.)
Specific requirements for the joint degree programs are available from the participating departments and schools and at Registrar's web site.
Creation of additional Joint Degree Programs that are combinations of J.D./M.A., J.D./M.S., and Ph.D./M.P.P. degrees have been authorized by the Faculty Senate. New JDPs from among these combinations may double-count up to 45 units towards residency requirements. JDPs from these combinations are proposed by the coordinating programs and schools. Once approvals from the chairs of the programs and deans of the relevant schools are obtained, approval on behalf of the Committee on Graduate Studies is granted by the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, and final approval is granted by the Office of the University Registrar. JDPs combining other degree types or programs may be proposed, but require review by the Faculty Senate Committee on Graduate Studies and must be approved by the Faculty Senate.
Minimum Progress Requirements for Graduate Students
The academic requirements for graduate students include completion of University, department, and program requirements, such as admission to candidacy, successful completion of qualifying exams, and so on in a timely and satisfactory manner. Graduate students must also meet the following standards of minimum progress as indicated by units and grades. (These standards apply to all advanced degree programs except the School of Business Ph.D., and the M.B.A., J.D., L.L.M., J.S.M., J.S.D., M.D., and M.L.A., which follow guidelines issued by the respective schools and are described in their respective school bulletins.)
Graduate students enrolled for 11 or more units must pass at least 8 units per term by the end of each term. Those registered for fewer than 11 units must pass at least 6 units per term by the end of each term, unless other requirements are specified in a particular case or for a particular program.
In addition, graduate students must maintain a 3.0 (B) grade point average overall in courses applicable to the degree.
Department requirements for minimum progress that set a higher standard for units to be completed, or a higher or lower standard for grade point average to be maintained, take precedence over the University policy; any such different standards must be published in the Stanford Bulletin.
Students identified as not meeting the requirements for minimum progress and timely and satisfactory completion of requirements are reviewed by their departments to determine whether the problem lies with administrative matters such as reporting of grades or with academic performance. Students have the opportunity to explain any special circumstances. Approval for continuation in the degree program is contingent on agreement by the student and department to a suitable plan to maintain appropriate progress in subsequent quarters. Dismissal of graduate students is addressed in separate guidelines.
Graduate students who have been granted Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status must enroll each term in the TGR course (801 for master's and Engineer programs or 802 for doctoral programs) in their department in the section appropriate for the adviser. An 'N' grade signifying satisfactory progress must be received each quarter to maintain registration privileges. An 'N‑' grade indicates unsatisfactory progress. The first 'N‑' grade constitutes a warning. A second consecutive 'N‑' grade normally causes the department to deny the student further registration until a written plan for completion of degree requirements has been approved by the department. Subsequent 'N‑' grades are grounds for dismissal from the program.
Students receiving federal student aid funds, including student loans, must maintain satisfactory academic progress standards that may be stricter than departmental standards. See the Financial Aid Office web site for details.
Graduate Units Requirements
The University's expectation is that the units counted towards all graduate degrees are primarily in graduate courses. The University has set specific requirements for units applied to the minimum requirement for the M.A., M.S., and M.F.A. degrees: All units must be in courses at or above the 100 level and at least 50 percent of those must be courses designated primarily for graduate students (typically at least the 200 level). Units earned in courses below the 100 level may not be counted towards the minimum unit requirement for the master's degree. Department specifications for the level of course work accepted for a particular master's degree program may be higher than the University's specifications.
Changes of Degree Programs
Graduate students are admitted to Stanford for a specific degree program. Students who have attended Stanford for at least one term and who are currently enrolled may submit a Graduate Program Authorization Petition to make one of the following changes:
- change to a new degree program in the same department;
- change to a new degree program in a different department;
- add a new degree program in the same or a different department to be pursued with the existing program. Coterminal students must have the bachelor's degree conferred before adding a second advanced degree program. Summer term enrollment is optional for students beginning a new degree program in the Autumn term provided that they have been enrolled the prior Spring term.
It is important that the attempt to add or change degree programs be made while enrolled. Otherwise, a new Application for Graduate Admission must be submitted and an application fee paid. The Graduate Program Authorization Petition is submitted electronically through Axess to the department in which admission is requested. If applying for a higher degree program, students may also be required to submit other application materials such as GRE Subject Test scores, a statement of purpose, or new letters of recommendation. Decisions on the petitions are made by the programs or departments to which they are directed, and are at the discretion of those programs or departments.
International students changing departments or degree programs must also obtain the approval of the Foreign Student Adviser at the Bechtel International Center. If the requested change lengthens their stay, they also are required to submit verification of sufficient funding to complete the new degree program.
Students who wish to terminate study in a graduate program should submit a properly endorsed Request to Permanently Withdraw from Degree Program form to the Student Services Center. To return to graduate study thereafter, the student is required to apply for reinstatement (if returning to the same degree program) or admission (if applying to a different program). Both applications require payment of a fee.
Guidelines for Dismissal of Graduate Students for Academic Reasons
Admission to graduate programs at Stanford is highly selective. It is anticipated that every admitted student will be able to fulfill the requirements for the advanced degree. This document provides guidelines to be used in the unusual circumstance that a department must consider dismissal of a graduate student for academic reasons. These guidelines apply to all advanced degree programs except those in the schools of Law and Business, the STEP program in the School of Education, and the M.D. program in the School of Medicine, which follow guidelines issued by the respective schools.
The principal conditions for continued registration of a graduate student are the timely and satisfactory completion of the University, department, and program requirements for the degree, and fulfillment of minimum progress requirements. The guidelines that follow specify procedures for dismissal of graduate students who are not meeting these conditions. In such cases, a departmental committee (hereafter "the committee"), whether the department's committee of the faculty or other committee authorized to act on the department's behalf such as the departmental graduate studies committee, will:
- Where possible and as early as possible, warn the student, in writing, of the situation and deficiency. A detailed explanation of the reason for the warning should be provided.
- Consider extenuating circumstances communicated by the student.
- Decide the question of dismissal by majority vote of the committee (with at least three faculty members participating in the committee's deliberation), and communicate the decision to the student in writing.
- Place a summary of department discussions, votes, and decisions in the student's file.
- Provide students the opportunity to examine their department files, if requested.
- Provide students with information on their rights to appeal under the Student Academic Grievance Procedure. See the "Student Academic Grievance Procedure" section of this bulletin.
Careful records of department decisions safeguard the rights of both students and faculty.
Additional Specifics for Degrees with Candidacy
The committee may vote to dismiss a student who is not making minimum progress or completing requirements in a timely and satisfactory way before review for admission to candidacy. Before considering dismissal, the committee should communicate with the student (which may include a meeting with the student) concerning his or her academic performance and how to correct deficiencies, where such deficiencies are deemed correctable.
At the Review for Candidacy
In a review for admission to candidacy, if the committee votes not to recommend the student for admission to candidacy, the vote results in the dismissal of the student from the program. The department chair, or Director of Graduate Studies, or the student's adviser shall communicate the department's decision to the student in writing and orally. The student may submit a written request for reconsideration. The committee shall respond in writing to the request for reconsideration; it may decline to reconsider its decision.
When a student admitted to candidacy is not making minimum progress or not completing University, department, or program requirements in a timely and satisfactory manner, the student's adviser, the Director of Graduate Studies, or department chair, and other relevant faculty should meet with the student. A written summary of these discussions shall be sent to the student and the adviser and added to the student's department file. The summary should specify the student's academic deficiencies, the steps necessary to correct them (if deemed correctable), and the period of time that is allowed for their correction (normally one academic quarter). At the end of the warning period, the committee should review the student's progress and notify the student of its proposed actions. If the student has corrected the deficiencies, he or she should be notified in writing that the warning has been lifted.
If the deficiencies are not deemed correctable by the committee (for example, the failure of a required course or examination, or a pattern of unsatisfactory performance) or if, at the end of the warning period, the student has not in the view of the committee corrected the deficiencies, the committee may initiate proceedings for dismissal. The student shall be notified, in writing, that the case of dismissal will be considered at an impending committee meeting. The student has the right to be invited to attend a portion of the scheduled meeting to present his or her own case; a student may also make this case to the committee in writing.
After full discussion at the committee meeting, the committee, without the student present, shall review the case and vote on the issue of dismissal. The student shall be sent a written summary of the discussion, including the committee's decision and the reasons for it. The student may submit a written request for reconsideration. The committee's response to the request for reconsideration shall be made in writing; it may decline to reconsider its decision.
Childbirth Accommodation Policy
Women graduate students, including students in professional schools, anticipating or experiencing a birth are eligible for an academic accommodation period of up to two consecutive academic quarters (in total) before and after the birth, during which the student may postpone course assignments, examinations, and other academic requirements. During this period, they are eligible for full-time enrollment and retain access to Stanford facilities, Cardinal Care, and Stanford housing. Such students are granted an automatic one quarter extension of University and departmental requirements and academic milestones, with the possibility of up to three quarters by petition under unusual circumstances. Women graduate students supported by fellowships, teaching assistantships, and/or research assistantships are excused from regular TA or RA duties for a period of six weeks during which they continue to receive support. Students do not receive a stipend or salary if none was received previously, but are eligible for the academic accommodation period and the one quarter extension of academic milestones. For more information and a complete statement of the policy, see the Childbirth Accommodation web site.
Residency Policy for Graduate Students
Each type of graduate degree offered at Stanford (for example, Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy) has a residency requirement based on the number of academic units required for the degree. These residency requirements and the maximum allowable transfer units for each degree type are listed below. Unless permission is granted by the department (for example, for field work) enrolled graduate students must maintain a significant physical presence on campus throughout each quarter a student is enrolled.
The unit requirements for degrees can represent solely course work required for the degree or a combination of course work, research, and a thesis or dissertation. Academic departments and schools offering degrees may establish unit requirements that are higher than the minimum University residency requirement, but they may not have a residency requirement that is lower than the University standard. In addition to the University's residency requirement based on a minimum number of units for each degree, the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Business may establish residency requirements based on the number of quarters of full-time registration in which students are enrolled to earn a degree. However, in no case may a student earn fewer units than the University minimum for each degree. All residency requirements are published in the Stanford Bulletin. Students should consult the Stanford Bulletin or their academic department to determine if their degree program has residency requirements that exceed the minimum.
Students eligible for Veterans Affairs educational benefits should refer to the "Veterans' Educational Benefits" section of this bulletin.
It is Stanford University's general policy that units are applicable toward only one degree. Units may not normally be duplicated or double-counted toward the residency requirement for more than one degree. Exceptions to this general policy for specified combinations of degree types, known as Joint Degree Programs, may be approved by agreement of the Faculty Senate and the deans of the schools affected, with review by the Committee on Graduate Studies. See the "Joint Degree Programs" section of this bulletin for additional information.
Only completed course units are counted toward the residency requirement. Courses with missing, incomplete, in progress, or failing grades do not count toward the residency requirement. Courses from which a student has formally withdrawn do not count toward the residency requirement.
Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) is available to graduate students who have met all of the conditions listed in the "TGR" section of this bulletin.
University Minimum Residency Requirements for Graduate Degrees1
|Degree Type||Minimum # of Units||Maximum Allowable External Transfer Units|
|M.A., M.S., M.F.A., M.L.A.||45||0 (see note 4)|
|Engineer (see note 2)||90||45|
|M.B.A., M.P.P. (see note 3)||90||0 (see note 4)|
|Ph.D., D.M.A. (see note 5)||135||45|
|J.D. (see notes 6,7)||109||45|
|M.L.S., L.L.M., J.S.M. (see note 6)||35||0 (see note 4)|
|J.S.D. (see note 6)||44||0 (see note 4)|
The University has authorized the granting of the M.A.T., Ed.S. and Ed.D degrees, but they are not being offered.
Up to 45 units completed at Stanford toward a M.A. or M.S. degree or accepted as transfer credit in an Engineering discipline may be used toward the 90 unit residency requirement for the Engineer degree. At least 45 units of work at Stanford are necessary to complete the 90 residency units for the Engineer degree.
Enrollment in the M.P.P. degree program is limited to candidates who have earlier been accepted to another Stanford graduate degree program and to recent (within three years) Stanford graduates.
Students eligible for Veterans Affairs educational benefits should refer to the Veterans Benefits section of "Admissions and Financial Aid" in this bulletin.
Up to 45 units completed at Stanford toward a M.A. or M.S. degree or accepted as transfer credit may be used toward the 135 unit residency requirement for the Ph.D. or D.M.A. degree. At least 90 units of work at Stanford are necessary to complete the 135 residency units for the Ph.D. or D.M.A. degree.
The Academic Senate approved these residency requirements on February 4, 2010, effective for the 2009-10 academic year.
J.D. students entering prior to the Autumn Quarter 2009-10 must take the equivalent of 86 semester units.
Coterminal Programs Residency Requirement
For information on the minimum requirements for the coterminal bachelor's/master's program, see the "Coterminal Degrees" section of this bulletin.
Graduate Residency Transfer Credit
After at least one quarter of enrollment, students pursuing an Engineer, D.M.A., or Ph.D. may apply for transfer credit for graduate work done at another institution. Doctoral and Engineer candidates who also earned their master's at Stanford are not eligible for transfer residency credit, nor are any master's degree students.
Students enrolled at Stanford who are going to study elsewhere during their degree program should obtain prior approval of any transfer credit sought before their departure.
The following criteria are used by the department in determining whether, in its discretion, it awards transfer credit for graduate-level work done at another institution:
- Courses should have comparable Stanford counterparts that are approved by the student's department. A maximum of 12 units of courses with no Stanford counterparts and/or research units may be granted transfer credit.
- The student must have been enrolled at the other institution in a student category which yields graduate credit. The maximum amount of credit given for extension and nonmatriculated (non-degree) courses is 12 units. No transfer credit is given for online or correspondence work.
- Courses must have been taken after the conferral of the bachelor's degree. The only exception is for work taken through programs structured like the Stanford coterminal bachelor's/master's program.
- Courses must have been completed with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better. Pass grades are accepted only for courses for which letter grades were not an option and for which the standard of passing is 'B' quality work.
- Courses must have been taken at a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. or at an officially recognized institution in a foreign country. Courses taken at foreign universities must be at the level of study comparable to a U.S. graduate program.
The Application for Graduate Residency Credit is reviewed by the department and the Office of the University Registrar. For transfer credit done under a system other than the quarter system, the permissible maximum units are calculated at an appropriate ratio of equivalence. One semester unit or hour usually equals 1.5 quarter units.
Leaves of Absence (Graduate)
Students on leave of absence are not registered at Stanford and, therefore, do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. They cannot fulfill any official department or University requirements during the leave period.
Leaves do not delay candidacy or master's program expiration dates.
Students on leave may complete course work for which an 'Incomplete' grade was awarded in a prior term and are expected to comply with the maximum one-year time limit for resolving incompletes; a leave of absence does not stop the clock on the time limit for resolving incompletes.
When a student is granted (or placed on) a leave of absence after the beginning of the term, courses in which the student was enrolled after the drop deadline appear on the student's transcript and show the symbol 'W' (Withdraw).
Voluntary Leaves of Absence
Graduate students who do not meet the requirement for continuous registration during the academic year must obtain an approved leave of absence, in advance, for the term(s) they will not be registered. The leave of absence must be reviewed for approval by the chair or director of graduate studies of the student's major department and, if the student is in the United States on a foreign student visa, by the Bechtel International Center. The granting of a leave of absence is at the discretion of the department and subject to review by the Office of the University Registrar. The University may condition its approval of a petition for leave of absence on the student's meeting such requirements as the University deems appropriate in the individual case for the student to be eligible to return (such as, in the case of a leave for medical reasons, proof of treatment and/or an interview with a health case professional at Vaden Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services or its designee).
New graduate students and approved coterminal students may not take a leave of absence during their first quarter. Coterminal students are required to register their first graduate quarter. However, new Stanford students may request a deferment from the department.
Leaves of absence are granted for a maximum of one calendar year, or four quarters. Leaves requested for a longer period are approved only in exceptional circumstances (for example, mandatory military service). An extension of leave, for a maximum of one year or four quarters, is approved only in unusual circumstances. Extension requests must be made before the expiration of the original leave of absence. Leaves of absence for graduate students may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (eight quarters including summer quarters).
Involuntary Leaves of Absence
An involuntary leave of absence can be imposed in circumstances in which a student:
- presents a substantial risk of harm to self or others or is failing to carry out substantial self-care obligations; or
- significantly disrupts the educational or other activities of the University community; or
- is unable to participate meaningfully in educational activities; or
- requires a level of care from the University community that exceeds the resources and staffing that the University can reasonably be expected to provide for the student's well-being.
Students whose circumstances warrant a review under the Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy will be apprised, in writing, of University concerns and will be provided an opportunity to respond to concerns in writing or in person or via telephone before a review committee convened by the Dean of Student Life. Students placed on involuntary leave of absence can appeal an unfavorable decision to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The University can condition a student's return to registered student status on such requirements as the University deems appropriate in the individual case (such as, in the case of a leave for medical reasons, proof of treatment and/or an interview with a health care professional at Vaden Health Center or Counseling and Psychological Services or its designee). The Dean of Student Life publishes the full Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy on its web site. Information on tuition refunds is available in the "Refunds" section of this bulletin.
Discontinuation and Reinstatement
A student's academic degree program may be discontinued if the student:
- fails to be enrolled by the study list deadline; or
- fails to be approved for a leave of absence by the start of the term; or
- voluntarily terminates graduate studies; or
- is dismissed from graduate studies for academic reasons; or
- is expelled from the University.
Students who fail to be either enrolled by the final study list deadline or approved for a leave of absence by the start of a term or after a voluntary withdrawal are required to apply for reinstatement through the Graduate Admissions office before they can return to the same degree program. Students whose master's program or doctoral candidacy has expired must petition to have extensions of their programs or candidacy approved by their departments before reinstatement may be approved.
The decision to approve or deny reinstatement is made by the student's department or program. Departments are not obliged to approve reinstatements of students. Reinstatement decisions are made at the discretion of the department or the program and may be based on the applicant's academic status when last enrolled, activities while away from campus, the length of the absence, the perceived potential for successful completion of the program, and the ability of the department to support the student both academically and financially, as well as any other factors or considerations regarded as relevant by the department or program.
Reinstatement information is available from the Graduate Admissions office. A fee is required. Reinstatement applications must be submitted prior to the first day of the term for which re-enrollment is requested if the student is registering for courses.
In the rare circumstance where a student who had been dismissed for academic reasons wishes to return to the same degree program, and where reinstatement was not precluded at the time of the dismissal, the student should request reinstatement as described above. In this circumstance, the degree program may review such relevant information as course work completed elsewhere or any other factors deemed to be appropriate for consideration.
Conditions for reinstatement may be established at the discretion of the program. The decision to approve or deny reinstatement is made by the department or program to which the student is seeking reinstatement, and is in its discretion. In addition, the department or program retains the right to condition reinstatement on such academic or other conditions as it deems appropriate.
Students who have been expelled from Stanford University are not permitted to apply for reinstatement.
Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR)
Doctoral students who have been admitted to candidacy, completed all required courses and degree requirements other than the University oral exam and dissertation, completed 135 units or 10.5 quarters of residency (if under the old residency policy), and submitted a Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form, may request Terminal Graduate Registration status to complete their dissertations. Students pursuing Engineer degrees may apply for TGR status after admission to candidacy, completion of all required courses, and completion of 90 units or six quarters of residency (if under the old residency policy). Students enrolled in master's programs with a required project or thesis may apply for TGR status upon completion of all required courses and completion of 45 units. Students with more than one active graduate degree program must be TGR-eligible in all programs in order to apply for TGR status.
The TGR Final Registration status may also be granted for one quarter only to a graduate student who is returning after reinstatement, working on incompletes in his or her final quarter, or registering for one final term after all requirements are completed when Graduation Quarter is not applicable. TGR requirements above apply. Doctoral students under the term-based residency policy need nine quarters of residency to qualify for TGR Final Registration Status.
Each quarter, TGR students must enroll in the 801 (for master's and Engineer students) or 802 (for doctoral students) course in their department for zero units, in the appropriate section for their adviser. TGR students register at a special tuition rate. TGR students may enroll in up to 3 units of course work per quarter at this tuition rate. Within certain restrictions, TGR students may enroll in additional courses at the applicable unit rate. The additional courses cannot be applied toward degree requirements since all degree requirements must be complete in order to earn TGR status. See the "Minimum Progress Requirements for Graduate Students" of this bulletin for information about satisfactory progress requirements for TGR students.
Graduate Tuition Adjustment
Graduate students who need fewer than 8 remaining units to complete degree requirements or to qualify for TGR status, may register for one quarter on a unit basis (3 to 7 units) to cover the deficiency. This status may be used only once during a degree program. Students with disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act that have an approved reduced course load (RCL) recommended by the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) may also request a tuition adjustment for each quarter in which they take a RCL. The Graduate Tuition Adjustment may also be requested by students who have an approved Childbirth Accommodation.
Graduation Quarter Status
Registration is required for the term in which a student submits a dissertation or has a degree conferred. Students who meet all the following conditions are eligible to be assessed a special tuition rate for the quarter in which they are receiving a degree:
- All course work, degree requirements, oral exams, and residency requirements for all graduate degree programs, including joint degree programs, have been completed prior to the start of the requested Graduation Quarter. .
- A graduate or professional student must have been enrolled or have been on an approved leave of absence in the term immediately preceding the term chosen as the graduation quarter. Summer term enrollment is optional for students on graduation quarter in the Autumn term provided that they have been enrolled the prior Spring term.
- The student has formally applied to graduate in Axess.
- The student has only to submit the dissertation, project, or master's thesis by the deadline for submission in the term designated as the graduation quarter.
- The student has filed all necessary forms regarding graduation quarter before the first day of the term chosen as graduation quarter.
Students on graduation quarter are registered at Stanford and, therefore, have the rights and privileges of registered students. Graduation Quarter status may be used only once during a degree program. There is a tuition rate of $100 for the graduation quarter.
Conferral of Degrees
Upon recommendation to the Senate of the Academic Council by the faculty of the relevant departments or schools and the Committee on Graduate Studies, degrees are awarded four times each year, at the conclusion of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer terms. All diplomas, however, are prepared and distributed after degree conferral in accordance to the distribution dates listed on the Registrar's Office web site.
Students must apply for conferral of a graduate degree by filing an Application to Graduate in Axess by the deadline for each term. The deadlines are available in the Academic Calendar. A separate application must be filed for each degree program and for each conferral term.
Requests for conferral are reviewed by the Office of the University Registrar and the student's department to verify completion of degree requirements. Students must be registered in the term of degree conferral. Students with unmet financial obligations resulting in the placement of a hold on their registration cannot receive a transcript, statement of completion, degree certificate, or diploma until the hold is released by the Office of Student Financial Services. An academic record where no other degree objective is being pursued is permanently frozen after the final degree conferral, and all subsequent grade and enrollment change requests will be denied.
Students are typically expected to apply to graduate during the term in which they expect to be awarded a degree. The University, however, reserves the right to confer a degree on a student who has completed all of the requirements for a degree even though the student has not applied to graduate; such an individual would then be subject to the University's usual rules and restrictions regarding future enrollment or registration.
Students who wish to withdraw a request for conferral or make changes to the Application to Graduate should submit the Withdrawal of Application to Graduate form to the Student Services Center by the late application to graduate deadline. Students who withdraw their graduation applications or fail to meet degree requirements must reapply to graduate in a subsequent term.
Stanford University awards no honorary degrees.
Advising and Credentials
By the start of their first term, students should be paired by the department with faculty advisers who assist them in planning a program of study to meet degree requirements. The department should also inform doctoral students in a timely fashion about procedures for selecting a dissertation adviser, reading committee members, and orals committee members. Departments should make every effort to assist doctoral students who are not yet admitted to candidacy in finding an appropriate adviser.
Students are obliged to follow department procedures for identifying advisers and committee members for their dissertation reading and university oral examinations.
Occasionally, a student's research may diverge from the area of competence of the adviser, or irreconcilable differences may occur between the student and the faculty adviser. In such cases, the student or the faculty adviser may request a change in assignment. If the department decides to grant the request, every reasonable effort must be made to pair the student with another suitable adviser. This may entail some modification of the student's research project.
In the rare case where a student's dissertation research on an approved project is in an advanced stage and the dissertation adviser is no longer available, every reasonable effort must be made to appoint a new adviser, usually from the student's reading committee. This may also require that a new member be added to the reading committee before the draft dissertation is evaluated, to keep the reconstituted committee in compliance with the University requirements for its composition.
Stanford University is accredited by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and is authorized to recommend candidates for credentials. The University offers a complete training program for both Single (Secondary) and Multiple Subject (Elementary) teaching credentials. Upon completion of a Stanford approved program, the credentials allow teachers to serve in California public schools.
Current Stanford undergraduates wishing to complete the requirements for a teaching credential should apply to the coterminal program at the School of Education. All other applicants should apply directly to the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) at the School of Education.