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Registration and Student Statuses

Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR)

Terminal Graduate Registrant (TGR) status is a special enrollment status for graduate students who have completed all departmental and University requirements indicated below.

  1. Completed the First- and Second-Year Reviews;
  2. Advanced to doctoral candidacy;
  3. Completed all course listed on the final Graduate Study Program (GSP) and Application for Candidacy (incompletes in required courses will prevent TGR status);
  4. Accrued the applicable residency units for their degree program(s) at Stanford (135 units for the PhD, at least 90 of which are exclusively courses taken as part of the doctoral coursework); and
  5. Submitted the Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form with signatures from each reader

Though strongly encouraged to do so, students are not required to complete their doctoral dissertation proposal prior to advancing to TGR status.

TGR students are charged a reduced tuition rate (see each quarter in which they enroll in their dissertation advisor’s TGR section (EDUC 802). This is a zero-unit course that yields certification as a full-time student by Stanford. In addition to EDUC 802, TGR students are usually allowed to enroll in up to three units of electives “free of charge.” However, this may change from year to year, so verification with the University Registrar’s Office or the GSE Doctoral Programs Officer is recommended before enrolling in any electives while in TGR status. TGR students who exceed the maximum allowable “free units” of electives are responsible for any tuition charges in excess of the normal TGR fee. For example, students who take four units of electives will be charged the four-unit tuition rate, instead of the cheaper TGR rate and are responsible for the difference. Fellowship, assistantship, or other aid money will only cover the TGR fee in most cases.

TGR students must enroll in EDUC 802 in Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters before the published Final Study List Deadline. Failure to do so will result in a non-refundable $200 penalty charged to your student account. The Registrar’s Office provides no waivers for this late study list fee. Enrollment in Summer Quarter is optional for TGR (and regular) GSE students. An assistantship at the 25% level typically provides sufficient tuition allowance to cover the TGR fee. As a result, many TGR students work at the 25% level, instead of the 50% level, in order to spend the remainder of their time on their dissertation work.

Requests for TGR status must be submitted to the Doctoral Programs Officer before the first day of the effective quarter. Students can only advance to TGR when all unit and course requirements are completed. A reading committee also must be in place before filing for TGR status. Only the student’s advisor needs to sign the form. The Doctoral Programs Officer will obtain the final sign off and forward to the Registrar’s office for processing. TGR status cannot be granted retroactively for prior quarters. Final review and approval of the TGR request is conducted by the Registrar’s Office.

Students who make adequate progress in their dissertation receive the grade of “N” from their dissertation advisor for the TGR section until the dissertation is completed, at which time they receive an “S” grade in the final quarter only. The Registrar’s Office runs an automated process that converts all prior N grades for TGR sections to the final grade awarded (e.g., S). Students who are not making adequate dissertation progress receive “N-“ grade, which denotes inadequate progress and puts the student on academic probation. The Stanford Bulletin discusses the grading policies in greater detail, including the meaning and consequences of the N-minus (N-) grade.

Graduate Tuition Adjustment

On a one-time basis, students can enroll in and pay tuition for three to seven units in their final quarter before advancing to TGR status or graduating (if not already TGR). Graduate tuition adjustment will only be considered when students will advance to TGR status or confer the degree in the following quarter. After advancement to TGR status, students are ineligible for the one-time tuition adjustment to the unit-based rate because they are no longer taking courses, other than EDUC 802 for zero units.

A petition from the student must be submitted to the Doctoral Programs Officer with a signature from their advisor. The Associate Dean of Educational Affairs will review and approve the petition as the “Department Chair,” which will then be forwarded to the University Registrar’s Office for final review and processing. Students with approved petitions are required to enroll in at least three units.

Enrollment in less than eight units does not constitute full-time student status. Full time student status is required for campus housing and for the deferment of many student loans. Students with loans in deferment from prior degrees should contact their lender(s) to discuss the impact of falling below full-time student status.

International students with an F-1 or J-1 visa must maintain full-time student status during the regular academic year (i.e., autumn, winter, and spring) in order to maintain legal status in the United Status. F-1 or J-1 visa holders must consult with an advisor from the Bechtel International Center and obtain an authorized signature on the petition before submitting it to the Doctoral Programs Officer.

The Graduation Quarter

Students who have completed all doctoral milestones aside from the oral exam and/or submitting the dissertation are usually eligible for a one-time, $150, Graduation Quarter for the quarter in which they graduate. This is a special registration status similar to TGR, but with a $150 tuition charge for the effective quarter. All requirements on the petition must be met before the start of the designated Graduation Quarter. A graduate or professional student must have an active program status, which may include an approved leave of absence, in the term immediately preceding the requested Graduation Quarter. The university makes no exceptions to these criteria.
The petition is submitted in the student eForms section of Axess. The Graduation Quarter replaces the old “Grace Quarter.” Students who used their one Grace Quarter are not eligible for the Graduation Quarter. The petition is due before the first day of the designated Graduation Quarter.
Students who fail to submit their dissertations and graduate by the deadline during a designated Graduation Quarter will need to enroll as a regular TGR student when they do submit their dissertation and graduate in a future quarter.
Students registered under the Graduation Quarter rubric enroll in their advisor’s EDUC 802 section, like a regular TGR student, but their tuition is reduced to $150 for the quarter. They are certified as full-time students while on Graduation Quarter, and the normal applicable Student Activities and Cardinal Care fees will apply, unless waived by the deadline according to procedure.

U.C. Berkeley Exchange Program

The U.C. Berkeley Exchange is used often by GSE doctoral students. It enables Stanford students to take and receive academic credit for UC-Berkeley courses that are otherwise unavailable at Stanford.
Interested students should obtain the necessary form from the University Registrar’s Office and consult with the GSE Doctoral Programs Officer for advice on form completion. The authorized signatures must be obtained in a very specific order at Stanford and UC-Berkeley.
When approved, Stanford students in the UC-Berkeley Exchange program enroll in UC-Berkeley courses via the UC-Berkeley Registrar’s Office, but tuition is paid only to Stanford, the home campus, at the applicable Stanford rate. Students should be cautious in exceeding ten units of total enrollment between Stanford and UC-Berkeley because additional tuition at the 11-18 unit rate will be assessed by Stanford. One semester unit at UC-Berkeley equals one and a half quarter units at Stanford. For example, a 3 unit course at UC-Berkeley will count as 4.5 units at Stanford. UC-Berkeley courses taken in the Spring Semester are considered part of Stanford’s Winter Quarter only for purposes of enrollment and tuition assessment.
When UC-Berkeley courses are completed, students must ask the UC-Berkeley Registrar’s Office to forward an official transcript to the Stanford Registrar’s Office in order for the UC-Berkeley course(s) to count toward graduate residency credit at Stanford. Taking courses via the UC-Berkeley Exchange is equivalent to taking courses at Stanford for the purposes of residency credit. It does not count as graduate transfer credit; these UC-Berkeley courses are treated as if they were taken at Stanford. So, students could transfer 45 units from a previous master’s degree and still take courses through the UC-Berkeley Exchange program and earn Stanford residency credit via the UC-Berkeley courses. Because of the Exchange agreement between the two universities, UC-Berkeley and Stanford do not charge for official transcripts to be sent between them; however, UC-Berkeley has charged students for transcript services in the past. As a result, students should be prepared to pay any transcript fees, but at the same time should ask if a waiver is available because of the Exchange status.
Students who enroll in less than eight units at Stanford and take additional courses via the UC-Berkeley Exchange program for a total of eight or more quarter units of courses between both universities in the same quarter are considered full-time students for that quarter. However, due to systems limitations at Stanford, such students may not be reported as a full-time. If this occurs, disbursement of fellowship, assistantship, or other aid money may be affected and any loans in deferment from prior degree programs could be jeopardized. Students should consult with the GSE Doctoral Programs Officer regarding Stanford graduate aid issues and contact their lenders about any deferment matters before the quarter in which they are participating in the UC-Berkeley Exchange.
The Stanford Bulletin discusses the various Exchange programs in more detail. Questions should be directed to the applicable staff member in the Registrar’s Office, normally the Graduate Degree Progress Officer.

Academic Support for Pregnant and Non-Birth Parent Graduate Students

The GSE honors the University's policy to provide an accommodation for the demands placed on students by late-stage pregnancy, childbirth, and the care of a newborn. The policy is designed to make it possible to maintain the parent's full-time, registered student status, to facilitate their return to full participation in class work, and, where applicable, to continue research and teaching in a seamless manner. The eligibility accommodation period is up to two academic quarters around the birth. The student is eligible to enroll full-time during this period, maintain health insurance coverage, and continue to receive funding according to the provisions of the childbirth accommodation policy. The student also normally receives an automatic one quarter extension on degree requirements and milestones, and may postpone course assignments and examinations, Students who wish to pursue benefits under this policy should consult the Graduate Academic Policy (GAP) at, and must subsequently contact the Doctoral Programs Officer and their faculty advisor to make the necessary arrangements, no later than the beginning of the third trimester of the pregnancy.

Leaves of Absence

Students working toward advanced degrees at Stanford University are required to enroll in the three regular quarters of each academic year (Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters) from the time of matriculation until degree conferral. Stanford has no part-time degree programs and requires continuous enrollment for its students, with few exceptions. Summer Quarter enrollment is optional for GSE doctoral students. Students who need to take time away from their degree programs during the regular academic year should request a leave of absence. Students may not take a leave of absence in their first quarter of a new degree program.

If it becomes necessary to take a leave of absence for one or more quarters, students should first discuss the matter with their advisor. If it is advisable that the student take leave, the student will need to file a leave of absence form. Leaves are granted for a maximum of one calendar year (or three quarters) initially. Extensions for up to one additional year (or three quarters) may be submitted before the current leave expires. The total number of leave quarters may not exceed six quarters. For a medical leave, be sure to contact the Doctoral Programs Officer and the Student Disability Resource Center. Students on leave cannot fulfill any GSE or University requirements (e.g., milestones) during the leave period.

Students must apply for leave by the first day of the effective quarter in order to receive a full-refund. Otherwise, the prorated refund schedule may apply. If stipend, tuition allowance, and/or assistantship salary has already been disbursed when a student applies for a leave of absence, the student may be responsible for repaying part or all of the graduate aid received that quarter. Students should consult with the Doctoral Programs Officer about how a leave will affect their funding.

Leaves of absence do not extend the five-year candidacy period or other degree requirements, unless otherwise stated. Some GSE and Stanford financial awards can be postponed or banked while on a leave of absence, but students should discuss this with the Doctoral Programs Officer first.

Students who fail to maintain minimum enrollment and do not secure a formal leave of absence will be discontinued from their degree programs for non-enrollment. If a discontinued student later wishes to resume study, she or he will be subject to the reinstatement process and fees outlined in the Stanford Bulletin.

Registration Status: Active, Inactive, Holds

Holds that block enrollment in courses via AXESS can be placed for various reasons by different departments at Stanford (e.g., the GSE, libraries, or Student Financial Services). The GSE may block enrollment when students fail to meet minimal progress requirements; for example, full-time enrollment each quarter (except summer); GPA of at least 3.0; or milestone completion in a timely manner. If a student receives a hold from the GSE for academic reasons, he or she should immediately consult with the Doctoral Programs Officer to determine what action is necessary to remove the hold. Academic Affairs notifies students of degree progress or of hold placement issues. A copy of the letter may be sent to the student by email. Students who fail to take the necessary action as required from them to remove the hold will not be able to enroll which will result in program discontinuation. It is therefore imperative that students address enrollment holds in a timely manner.

Verification of Enrollment (Full-Time Status)

Students must enroll in eight or more units to be reported as a full-time student by the Office of the University Registrar. Active students can print an official enrollment certification online via AXESS, or they can obtain one directly from the Registrar’s Office by presenting a valid photo I.D.

Enrollment cannot be reported until shortly before the start of the effective quarter. All enrollment verifications should indicate the student’s expected degree completion date. So even if students are not reported as enrolled (e.g., for summer), lenders can see that the student is a continuing student by looking at this date from their spring enrollment data. This is especially important for doctoral students who earned a master’s degree in the Spring Quarter but are continuing as a doctoral student afterward. In these cases, it may appear to lenders that the student completed all degree programs. Students must therefore obtain the more up to date enrollment and degree verification letter directly from the Registrar’s Office and provide it to their lender (when applicable). The electronic verification via the National Student Clearinghouse is not sufficient for this situation and may cause the student’s prior loans to fall out of deferment.


Students who have been discontinued, terminated or otherwise voluntarily withdrew from their degree program may apply for reinstatement if they wish to re-enroll. The decision to approve or deny reinstatement is made by the applicable Area Committee and Associate Dean of Educational Affairs. Stanford and the GSE are not obligated to approve reinstatement requests. The student must file the Application for Reinstatement with GSE Admissions and pay the required University fee before the requested quarter of reinstatement begins. If approved by the Area committee and the Associate Dean of Educational Affairs, the petition will be submitted to the University for final review and approval. Reinstatement is normally granted only once, when approved by the applicable committee and dean.

Some students who undergo the reinstatement process will also have lapsed candidacy and must petition for an extension of candidacy.

Note: students who were discontinued for non-enrollment in the current quarter because they missed a registration deadline to add courses do not need to apply for reinstatement if they wish to enroll in the current quarter. For example, if a student missed the add deadline for Winter Quarter and was discontinued for non-enrollment, she or he could petition the Office of the Registrar to add a course after the deadline for Winter Quarter without having to apply for reinstatement. The Office of the University Registrar reviews course enrollment petitions. If a student failed to enroll in Winter Quarter and wants to re-enroll in the subsequent Spring Quarter, she or he would need to apply for reinstatement because one quarter will have lapsed between enrollment periods.

Changing Specializations

Program Area

When admitted to the doctoral program in the GSE, students identified and were accepted into a specific program Area (DAPS, SHIPS, or CTE). However, after sampling a variety of courses at Stanford, the student may wish to change their program Area, in which case Area Committee approval is required. The receiving committee (e.g., SHIPS) and the committee into which the student was originally accepted (e.g., CTE) must approve the transfer. The fulfillment of the new Area requirements may delay degree completion. Forms and instructions are on the GSE Website.

Program Area Specialization

Students are also admitted into a specialization, emphasis, field of study (as referred to in AXESS), or sub-plan of their Area (e.g., Educational Policy in SHIPS or Science Education in CTE). Intellectual specialty will become apparent as students interact with faculty and peers during the first years in the program. Students may specialize in any topic for which they have adequate preparation and for which there is appropriate faculty advisement, but they must petition to change specialty when desired. Students may also change advisors.

Changes of Area, specialty, or advisor must be made via the appropriate petition with the Doctoral Programs Officer. Signatures of involved parties are required. All forms and instructions are on the GSE website, under current students>forms.

Graduation, Degree Conferrals, and Walking in the Graduation Ceremony

Degrees are conferred by the University four times a year, after the end of each quarter, and only when all requirements for the degree have been met (including the submission of the final dissertation).


Degree Conferral: the awarding of the degree (i.e., graduating).
Commencement: the large, University-wide ceremony for graduates that occurs at the end of Spring Quarter. It includes the “Wacky Walk.” (
Diploma Ceremony (a.k.a., GSE Commencement): the smaller, GSE-only ceremony where individual names of graduates (and names of eligible doctoral candidates who have not graduated) are announced and diplomas are distributed on stage. Tickets are not required for this ceremony. (
Walking: Eligible students who have not yet conferred their degrees (e.g., those who completed the oral exam by the last day of classes in the Spring Quarter but did not submit dissertations by the end of Spring Quarter to the University Registrar) may participate in Commencement by indicating on the Commencement RSVP survey that they plan to walk at Commencement.  Note that students must have defended by the last day of classes of Spring Quarter in order to be eligible to walk at Commencement.

Ceremony Participation without Graduation (i.e., Walking-through)

The Area Chairs and Committees determined that doctoral candidates can participate in Commencement only if they meet all degree requirements in the Spring Quarter, including doctoral dissertation submission, or complete their Oral Exam (i.e., defended their dissertation) by the last day of classes in Spring Quarter.
Revisions recommended during the Oral Exam do not need to be completed before Commencement. The dissertation can be revised and submitted and the degree conferred in the Summer Quarter (with a valid registration status). Candidates walking-through do not receive a diploma at the Ceremony; however, a blank diploma cover will be provided and their name announced. They are treated the same as the graduates for the purposes of the Ceremony.


Grievances about University or School policy and guidelines may be brought to the attention of the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs or Associate Dean of Educational Affairs; an appeal could then be made to the Dean. Grievances related to program-specific guidelines that are integral to the student’s program of study are addressed by the Area Chair in discussion with the student and advisors. If necessary, any party may request that the full Area Committee consider the issue. An appeal can be made to the Area Chairs in Education Committee or the Dean if a satisfactory resolution is not accomplished at the Area level. The Stanford Bulletin contains a section entitled Statement on Student Academic Grievance Procedures in the Academic Policies and Statements chapter.

Termination of Student Status

Much of the information below was excerpted from the Stanford Bulletin’s section entitled Guidelines for Dismissal of Graduate Students for Academic Reasons located in the Graduate Degrees chapter.

Each student is admitted to the doctoral program in the GSE with the expectation that they will receive the doctoral degree. The faculty has the right and obligation to terminate the degree program of any student whose academic performance or progress is deemed unsatisfactory based upon a review process. The Area Committee may vote to dismiss any student who is clearly not making academic progress.

The following process outlines the general steps followed prior to reaching a decision to terminate a student from the doctoral program on academic grounds:

  1. A warning is issued in writing to the student as early as practicable detailing the situation and deficiency.
  2. Extenuating circumstances, if communicated by the student, are considered.
  3. A plan of action to remedy the deficiencies, with stated goals and deadlines, are communicated to the student in writing.
  4. The issue of continuation in the program or dismissal is subsequently decided upon by majority vote of the applicable Area Committee. At least three faculty from the Area Committee must participate in the deliberations. A recommendation for action is made by the Area Committee to the Associate Dean of Educational Affairs. A written summary of the decision is sent to the student.
  5. A summary of the GSE discussions, votes, and decisions is placed in the student’s file.
  6. The student is provided the opportunity to examine his or her file, if desired.
  7. The student is advised on her or his rights to appeal under the Student Academic Grievance Procedures, as detailed in the Stanford Bulletin.

Termination Before Doctoral Candidacy

The Area Committee can vote to dismiss a student who is not making minimum progress or completing requirements in a timely manner, prior to the student’s review for admission to candidacy. Before deciding to dismiss a student, the committee should communicate with the student (which may include a meeting with the student) concerning academic progress to date, the specific deficiencies, and how to correct them (only if these deficiencies are deemed correctable).

If the Area Committee votes not to recommend a student for admission to candidacy, the student will be dismissed from the doctoral program as a result of the vote.

The Associate Dean of Educational Affairs, Area Chair, or advisor will communicate the committee’s decision to the student in writing and orally. The student may petition for reconsideration, to which the committee will respond in writing. The Area Committee can decline to reconsider its initial decision. Further appeal follows the University appeal process as described in Stanford Bulletin (Statement on grievance procedures).

Termination During Doctoral Candidacy

The Area Committee can vote to dismiss a student who is admitted to candidacy when she or he is not making minimum progress or completing University, GSE, or program requirements in a timely manner. The advisor, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Area Chair, and other relevant faculty will meet with the student. A written summary of these discussions will be sent to the student and the advisor and added to the student’s academic file. The summary will specify the academic deficiencies, the steps necessary to correct them (only if deemed correctable), and the period of time allowed for their correction (normally one academic quarter). At the end of the warning period, the student’s progress will be reviewed by the area committee, and the student will be notified of the proposed action. If the student has made satisfactory progress, he or she will be notified in writing that the warning has been lifted.

If the Area Committee deems the deficiencies are not correctable (e.g., failing a required course or examination, or a pattern of unsatisfactory performance), or if at the end of the warning period the committee determines that the student has not corrected the deficiencies, the committee may initiate proceedings for dismissal. The student will be notified in writing that the case of dismissal will be considered at an impending area committee meeting. The student has the right to attend a scheduled portion of the meeting and to present his or her own case; or a student may make his or her case to the committee in writing.

After a full discussion at the Area Committee meeting, the committee, without the student present, reviews the case and votes on the issue of dismissal. A minimum of three faculty members must be present. The Associate Dean of Educational Affairs or Area Chair will communicate the committee’s decision to the student in writing, including reasons for it and a written summary of the discussion. The student may submit a written request for reconsideration, to which the committee will respond in writing. The Area Committee can decline to reconsider its initial decision.

Contact us

PhD students, please contact

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Jeremy Edwards
Associate Director of Degree Programs

MA POLS and MA/PP students, please contact

Wesley Horng
Wesley Horng
Associate Director of Admissions & Academic Affairs

EDS, ICE/IEPA, Individually Designed, LDT, MA/JD, MA/MBA students, please contact

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Caroline Stasulat
Associate Director of Degree Programs
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