The coterminal degree program allows undergraduates to study for a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree while completing their bachelor's degree(s) in the same or a different department. To qualify for both degrees, a student must complete requirements for both the bachelor's degree and the master's degree as described under their respective sections of this bulletin.
Application and Admission to a Coterminal Master's Program
Undergraduates with strong academic records may apply for admission to a Stanford Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) program that offers coterminal admission via the process outlined below. Any master’s degree granting program may elect not to offer coterminal admission.
An undergraduate is eligible to apply for admission to a coterminal program once all of the following conditions have been met:
- An admitted coterminal student must have a minimum of one quarter overlap between the undergraduate and graduate degree programs. If this is not possible, students should consider applying as an external candidate via the Graduate Admissions process. Such applicants are not coterminal students and coterminal policies do not apply.
- Completion of 120 units towards graduation as shown on the undergraduate transcript, including credit earned from transfer credit, Advanced Placement exams, and other external test credit.
- Completion of six non-Summer quarters at Stanford; or two non-Summer quarters at Stanford for transfer students.
- Declaration of an undergraduate major.
- Students may apply to one coterm program per quarter, and may not apply to another coterm master's program until the admissions process for the initial application has been completed, including the student's response to the offer of admission (if admitted).
Undergraduates interested in applying to a coterm program should contact the coordinator of coterminal advising in Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR). Note that departments may have additional eligibility requirements, so students are encouraged to check with the department prior to applying for the coterm program.
There are two application deadlines in the coterm process: the application deadline that students must submit their completed applications to their departments by, and the quarterly deadline that all admitted coterm applications must be sent to the Registrar's office for program activation. Coterm applicants are responsible for meeting all eligibility requirements and submitting their completed coterm application to the department by the department's coterm application deadline. Coterm applicants should contact their prospective coterm department for more information about the coterm application deadline. Departments are responsible for routing approved coterm applications to the Registrar's office for processing. Approved coterm applications are processed by the Registrar's office every quarter, and coterm department administrators are required to submit approved coterm applications to the Registrar's Office no later than the last day of classes of the quarter prior to the coterm matriculation quarter.
Students who accept an offer of admission and are matriculated into the graduate degree program are assessed a $125 coterm application fee.
Eligibility for a coterm graduate application fee waiver is based on the Financial Aid Office’s evaluation of your need-based aid application. Those from families with income below $125,000 and typical assets for that income range will qualify. The waiver is automatically applied and no special request is necessary.
To apply for admission to a coterm master’s program, students must submit all of the following to the prospective graduate department:
Statement of purpose
Preliminary program proposal
Undergraduate Coterm Application Approval form (submitted with online coterm application)
Two letters of recommendation from Stanford professors
Current Stanford transcript
Note: Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and additional requirements may be specified by the prospective program, and may be found in the bulletin and on department websites (links to department websites found on the Registrar's web site).
Each department is responsible for its admissions/acceptance decisions for coterm applicants. Once a coterm application is approved, the departments create the coterm application record in Axess (department staff should refer to the Coterm Resources for Staff page). Additionally, the department must route the completed and approved coterm application to the Office of the Registrar by the quarterly deadline.
If the coterm program permits deferral, students may defer admission to the coterm program and the first graduate quarter to a later quarter as long as their graduate career has not yet been activated and if the later matriculation will still meet all University and departmental requirements for coterm admission. Deferring a coterm matriculation may require that students postpone the conferral of their undergraduate degree. If the graduate coterm career has been activated, then deferring to a later term is not an option. Deferral is coordinated with the master's degree program, prior to the program submitting the completed application to the Office of the University Registrar.
First Graduate Quarter
The first graduate quarter is the quarter in which the coterm student first matriculates into their master’s degree program. The first graduate quarter does not necessarily correspond to the first quarter in which a student enrolls in a course in the graduate career, nor is it affected by course transfer (please see Coterm Course Transfer for additional information).
Admitted students must have at least one quarter of overlap in the undergraduate and graduate career prior to conferring their undergraduate degree. For example, if the first graduate quarter for the coterm degree is Spring Quarter, then the earliest that the undergraduate degree can be conferred is the Spring Quarter. Once matriculated, students may enroll in graduate courses, however, enrollment in graduate courses is not required by the University in the overlap quarter. Students should work with their department to complete a Program Proposal that outlines the graduation/program completion plan by the end of the first graduate quarter.
Adding or Changing Master's Degree Programs
Students wishing to add a second graduate program to their academic plans may only do so after the conferral of the undergraduate degree. Adding or changing a graduate program after the conferral of the undergraduate degree can be done via the Graduate Program Authorization petition. For additional information, see the "Changes of Degree Programs" section of this bulletin, the Graduate Program Authorization section of the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures site, and the Graduate Program Authorization page on the Registrar's web site.
Coterm students who wish to change from one master’s degree to another before conferral of the bachelor’s degree must submit an approved request to withdraw from the original degree program using the Request to Permanently Withdraw from Degree Program form, in addition to a completed and approved application for admission to the new program in the same quarter. In this case, all courses, including any prior course transfer from the undergraduate career, remain in the graduate career. The new degree program may choose not to approve all courses towards the new master’s degree program requirements. The student may elect to transfer courses back to the undergraduate career if the bachelor’s degree has not yet been conferred. Coterms interested in doing a coterm program switch should contact the coordinator of coterminal advising in Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR). Note: The discontinued program is listed on the transcript in a 'Discontinued' status, though it is not considered an academic demerit.
Each type of degree offered at Stanford (for example, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science) has a requirement, called residency for graduate degrees, based on the minimum number of academic units required for the degree. Requirements are described in the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Residency Policy for Graduate Students sections of this bulletin. It is Stanford University's general policy that units are applicable toward only one degree, that is, units may not normally be duplicated or double-counted toward the residency requirement for more than one degree. Courses counted towards the undergraduate degree(s) and graduate degree(s) are separately recorded on the undergraduate and graduate transcripts, respectively.
Students pursuing coterminal bachelor’s and master’s degrees are expected to meet the minimum requirements for each of the degrees, as follows:
- Bachelor's degree: 180 units for the bachelor’s degree plus 45 unduplicated units (or higher unit-requirement, as determined by the graduate program) for the master's degree
- Dual undergraduate degree: 225 units for the bachelor’s degree plus 45 unduplicated units (or higher unit-requirement, as determined by the graduate program) for the master's degree
45 units. All 45 units must be from course work completed at Stanford and must be courses at or above the 100-level. Additionally, at least 50 percent of those must be courses designated primarily for graduate students. Department specifications for the level of course work accepted for a particular master's degree program may be higher than the University's specifications. Students may not petition to change the career for a completed course from the undergraduate to the graduate level.
To a limited extent, coterminal students are permitted to move courses between the undergraduate and graduate careers as described in the "Coterminal Course Transfer" section in the Enrollment and Degree Progress tab of this section of the bulletin.
Tuition and Tuition Groups
Coterm students are assigned to either the undergraduate coterm tuition group or the graduate coterm tuition group. The tuition group dictates a student's tuition rates, enrollment policies, access to some University services and benefits, and degree progress standards. A coterm student is subject to graduate tuition assessment and adjustment policies once placed in the coterm graduate tuition group (see below for information about when coterm students are moved into the graduate coterm tuition group).
Coterm students are not eligible for undergraduate special registration statuses (with the exception of Graduation Quarter, if the student is applying to confer both their undergraduate and graduate degrees in the same quarter). Coterm students may only be eligible to apply for graduate special registration statuses once their undergraduate degrees have been conferred.
Tuition and fee information is available on the Office of the University Registrar tuition website.
Undergraduate Coterm Tuition Group
Coterm students are normally placed in and remain in the undergraduate coterm tuition group until the completion of 12 undergraduate full-tuition quarters, or until conferral of the undergraduate degree(s), if that happens earlier. For students with transfer credit (not AP or other test credit), 15 transfer units equals one Stanford quarter. For students with Stanford Summer Session units, 15 units equals one Stanford quarter; units earned in multiple Summer Sessions are not added together in this calculation.
Students in the undergraduate coterm tuition group are assessed the undergraduate tuition rate, and may enroll in as few as 12 units and up to 20 units each quarter (regardless of which career courses are assigned to). Students enrolled in over 20 units across both careers are subject to an enrollment hold effective the following quarter.
Graduate Coterm Tuition Group
Coterminal students in the graduate tuition group are assessed either the regular graduate tuition rate or the graduate Engineering tuition rate. Students in the graduate coterm student group are assessed additional graduate or Engineering tuition on a per-unit basis beginning with the 19th unit. Tuition and fee information is available on the Office of the University Registrar tuition website. Once a student is placed in the graduate cotermtuition group, they may not move back to the undergraduate coterm tuition group.
Coterm students are moved from the undergraduate to the graduate coterm tuition group in one of three ways:
- The student completes 12 undergraduate quarters (or 15 quarters for students with two undergraduate degrees). For students with transfer credit (not AP or other test credit), 15 transfer units equals one Stanford quarter. For students with Stanford Summer Session units, 15 units equals one Stanford quarter; units earned in multiple Summer Sessions are not added together in this calculation.
- After the undergraduate degree is conferred.
- The student requests to move to the graduate billing group. Coterm students may request to be moved to the graduate coterm tuition group prior to their 13th quarter (or 16th quarter for students with two undergraduate degrees) in order to enroll for fewer units as permitted for graduate students, or to be eligible for a teaching (CA/TA) or research assistantship (RA) appointment. Students make this request to the Student Services Center through a HelpSU ticket by the preliminary study list deadline (first day of classes) for the desired term. Students may request to be moved to the graduate coterm tuition group only if they have completed 180 undergraduate units, including transfer, Advanced Placement exam, and other external test credit. Students with two undergraduate degrees must have completed 225 units. Students holding a 20 hour (50%) teaching or research assistantship may not enroll in more than 10 total units.
Coterm students are traditionally not eligible for reduced graduate tuition rates below 8 units during Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters prior to conferral of the undergraduate degree. However, coterm graduate students with disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act may enroll in an approved reduced course load as recommended by the Office of Accessible Education (OAE).
Coterm Students with Research or Teaching Assistantships
Coterm students who are eligible for a teaching (CA/TA) or research (RA) assistantship appointment must request to be moved to the graduate coterm tuition group. Coterm students are eligible to be moved to the graduate coterm tuition group if they have met the unit requirements for their degrees (see below). Students may submit their request to switch tuition groups to the Student Services Center with an SU Services & Support Request, and these requests should be submitted by the preliminary study list deadline (first day of classes) for the desired term.
- Students pursuing one bachelor’s degree: must have completed 180 a minimum of undergraduate units*
- Students pursuing two bachelor’s degrees: must have completed a minimum of 225 undergraduate units*
*Unit count includes transfer credit, Advanced Placement exam, and other external test credit.
Students holding a 20 hour (50%) teaching or research assistantship may not enroll in more than 10 total units. Additionally, once students have moved to the graduate coterm tuition group, they may not be moved back to the undergraduate coterm tuition group even if they no longer hold an assistantship appointment. Please see Administrative Guide Memo 10.2.1 Graduate Student Assistantships, and GAP 7.3 Assistantships, for detailed discussion of assistantship policy.
Enrollment and Degree Progress
Starting with the first graduate quarter, students have an active graduate career and an active undergraduate career. Students are responsible for enrolling in courses each quarter, and assigning them to the appropriate career. Courses assigned to the graduate career count towards the master’s degree and courses assigned to the undergraduate career count towards the bachelor’s degree. Students in the undergraduate coterm tuition group may not enroll in more than a total of 20 units for the quarter across both careers. Students in the graduate coterm tuition group may not enroll in more than a total of 24 units for the quarter across both careers. Students appointed to a 20-hour (50%) teaching and/or research assistantship may not enroll in more than 10 units.
Prior to the conferral of the undergraduate degree(s), a coterm student’s academic progress is monitored by the coordinator of coterminal advising in the Undergraduate Advising and Research Office (UAR, a unit of the office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education) in conjunction with the student’s advisers and the graduate program. After conferral of the undergraduate degree(s), the student’s degree progress is monitored by the graduate adviser and graduate program.
All courses taken during a quarter, whether enrolled in the undergraduate or graduate career, are used to assess whether minimum academic progress standards, including number of units enrolled and number of units earned, have been met. Students in the undergraduate coterm tuition group are evaluated according to the undergraduate degree progress standards. These standards are described in the "Academic Progress" section of this bulletin. Students in the graduate coterm tuition group are evaluated according to the graduate degree progress standards. These standards are described in the "Minimum Progress Requirements for Graduate Students" section of this bulletin.
Student are expected to maintain an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) which meets the University’s undergraduate standards, and a graduate GPA which meets University and program requirements for graduate progress. Courses which have been transferred from the undergraduate to the graduate career are calculated as part of the graduate GPA, and vice versa.
Coterm Course Transfer
After accepting admission to a master’s degree program, coterm students may request transfer of Stanford courses from the undergraduate to the graduate career to satisfy requirements for the master’s degree and/or from the graduate career to the undergraduate career to satisfy requirements for the bachelor's degree(s). Transfer of courses between the undergraduate and graduate careers requires review and approval by both the undergraduate and graduate departments.
Unless a master’s degree program specifies otherwise in this bulletin, courses taken three quarters prior to the first graduate quarter, or later, are eligible for consideration for transfer to the graduate career. Neither Summer Quarter nor quarters spent on approved leave of absence are included in the quarter-back count. In exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the exceptions committee of the Committee on Graduate Studies to transfer courses taken more than three quarters back. No courses taken prior to the first quarter of the sophomore year may be used to meet master’s degree requirements.Individual programs have the discretion to set their own policy regarding course transfer for their coterm master’s students, provided that no student counts a course taken earlier than the first quarter of sophomore year. The program’s policy is stated in the relevant department or program section of this bulletin. Students should visit the Coterm Course Transfer web page on the Registrar's Office website for information about how to request course transfers.
All course transfer requests must be submitted to the Student Services Center no later than the Late Application to Graduate deadline of the intended bachelor’s degree conferral quarter. Course transfers between careers are not possible after the bachelor’s degree has been conferred. Undergraduate credit from transfer courses or tests may not be transferred to the graduate career.
Advising, Program Proposal, and Time Limit
In the first graduate quarter, a coterm student must be assigned an adviser in the master's program for assistance in planning a program of study to meet the requirements for the master's degree. The plan is outlined on the Program Proposal for a Master's Degree, which is approved by the master's program by the end of the first graduate quarter. The preliminary program proposal from the coterm application may inform the Program Proposal, but does not satisfy this master’s degree requirement. The course of study for each student’s master’s degree should be outlined on the student’s Program Proposal form. The decision as to which courses a program approves in the student’s master’s program proposal, including changes from the typical curriculum, is within the purview of the department or program. The conversation between the student and the student’s graduate adviser is important in this regard.
The master’s program proposal must meet University minimum requirements for the master’s degree, including at least 45 units taken at Stanford, all courses at 100-level or above, 50% of units designated primarily for graduate students (typically 200-level or above). All courses must be in the graduate career.
All requirements for a master’s degree must be completed within three years after the first graduate quarter. An extension requires review of academic performance by the department or program, and is within the discretion of the program. See policies in the "Master’s Degrees" section of this bulletin.
Leaves of Absence
Coterm students who wish to take a leave of absence are subject to the Leave of Absence policies for undergraduate and graduate students, as described in the "Leaves of Absence and Reinstatement (Undergraduate)" and "Leaves of Absence (Graduate)" sections of this bulletin. Graduate students, including coterm students, must obtain permission from the master’s degree program. A coterm student whose undergraduate degree has not been conferred must also obtain permission from the office of Undergraduate Advising and Research, and may not take a leave of absence unless approved for both the graduate and undergraduate leave. Coterm students are permitted to request a leave of absence for their first graduate quarter. Leaves of absence are granted for a maximum of one calendar year, or four quarters. An extension of leave, for a maximum of one year or four quarters, is approved only in unusual circumstances. Leaves of absences may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (8 quarters including summer quarters), including both undergraduate and graduate programs.
Students must apply for conferral of each degree separately by filing an Application to Graduate in Axess by the deadline for the expected graduation term(s). The deadlines are available in the Academic Calendar. The master's degree must be conferred simultaneously with, or after, the bachelor's degree. Coterm students may not confer the master's degree prior to the conferral of the undergraduate degree. Coterm students should refer to the Coterm Student Graduation Checklist web page on the Registrar's Office website for important information about items needed for degree conferral.
Coterminal students whose first graduate quarter occurred prior to Autumn 2015 are subject to coterminal policies as indicated in the previous version of this bulletin. See the Stanford Bulletin 2014-15.