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FAQ

Program Questions

The Graduate School of Education offers PhD, MA, MA/Teaching Credential, MA/MBA, MA/MPP, and MA/JD programs. The PhD and MA degrees are granted in more than twenty-five specializations and interdisciplinary programs. These specializations are grouped into three main Area Committees: Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education (CTE); Developmental and Psychological Studies (DAPS); Social Sciences, Humanities, and Interdisciplinary Policy Studies (SHIPS). In addition, the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) awards a Master’s of Arts in Education with the California Secondary Single Subject Teaching Credential or with the California Elementary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. For more information on the programs that are offered at the Graduate School of Education, please visit the Programs & Degrees tab where you will find program information by degree.

The requirements for the PhD degree include core, methodology and area courses. However, because of the research focus and length of the doctoral program, students have more milestones to complete as part of their degree, including periodic review meetings. For more information on the requirements of the PhD degree, please see our Doctoral Handbook.

The requirements for the MA degree include required core and methodology courses, area courses and pre-approved electives. Most programs also require a project or monograph. For more information on the requirements of the MA degree, see our Master's Handbook.

All PhD programs require full-time study. The only master’s program that accepts applications for part-time study is our Learning, Design and Technology (LDT) master’s program which is offered through the Honors Co-op Program. Visit the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) website for more information. If you wish to apply to LDT through HCP, you must check the box on your MA application to the LDT program.

No, the Graduate School of Education does not currently offer courses online. To learn about other distance learning options at Stanford University, visit the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) website.

No. Contact with faculty members is not a required part of the application process nor does it guarantee admission to a graduate program. If you do decide to contact a faculty member, please read our Which Degree Which Program article by Professor Eamonn Callan. It includes the typical protocol for contacting faculty with whom you share research interests.

Feel free to search for faculty papers on Google Scholar or through Open Archive

Students interested in applying to the Joint Degree program with the Graduate School of Business (GSB) must apply via the Graduate School of Business online application. Information on applying and application requirements can be found on the GSB website.

No. Applicants who have a bachelor’s degree may apply directly to any of our doctoral programs.

Yes. We accept applicants from a wide-range of professional and educational backgrounds. If you have academic interests that overlap with the faculty at Stanford GSE and programs we offer, we invite you to consider applying.

Applicants are not strictly required to have any work experience before applying to our programs. For some programs, however, relevant previous work experience is highly valued and admission is fairly rare for applicants who are lacking in that respect. Please check the website for the particular program(s) in which you might be interested. Most important, though, is the fit between applicant research interests/career plans and the program to which s/he is applying.

Please visit the EdCareers webpage and their Annual Report to see where and what our students are doing after their program has concluded.

Deadlines and Application Process Questions

The graduate application for the 2020-21 academic year is now available online. 

Application deadlines: All PhD programs - December 2, 2019 / All MA programs (including STEP and coterm) - January 10, 2020.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars applicants must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by October 10, 2019 (1:00pm PDT) and separately apply to the GSE graduate degree program by November 14, 2019 (11:59pm PST).

The online application will give you the option of selecting up to three academic interests (doctoral applicants will have pull-down menu choices) and also give you the option to write in additional academic interests. Your academic interests can help us best match your file with the appropriate faculty reader. You may choose to indicate interests that are different from the specialization to which you are applying or they may be the same. For instance, if you are applying to the doctoral program in Teaching Education, you may indicate that you also have academic interests in Learning Science and Technology Design and Elementary Education. These are not mandatory fields.

Your statement should be typed, single-spaced and should be two pages (for non-STEP programs). Describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program, the faculty with whom you hope to work, your preparation for this field of study and why our program is a good fit for you, your future career plans, and other aspects of your background as well as interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. Be sure to keep a copy for your records. You may also wish to review What’s a Good Statement of Purpose? STEP requires a different writing statement. Please see STEP question below.

Yes, we require a CV or resume from all applicants. You should submit the format (CV or resume) depending on which one most accurately reflects your previous and current experience/work. The online application will prompt applicants to upload a CV or resume in the Supplemental Application section of the application. There is no page limit, though we typically see resumes that are 1-page in length.

No. Writing samples are not required, nor will they be reviewed in the admissions process.

Application deadlines are at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Technical glitches can occur in the final hours, so please do not wait until the last minute to submit your application materials. Deadlines for the 2020-21 academic year (all materials must be submitted by these dates, and GRE or TOEFL tests must be taken prior to application submission) are:

PhD: December 2, 2019 (11:59 p.m. PST)
All PhD programs begin Fall 2020-21

MA: January 10, 2020 (11:59 p.m. PST)
ICE/IEPA, LDT, and POLS MA programs begin Fall 2020-21

STEP (MA + Teaching Credential): January 10, 2020 (11:59 p.m. PST)
STEP programs begin Summer 2020-2021 (June 2020)

Knight-Hennessy Scholars applicants must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by October 10, 2019 (1:00pm PDT) and separately apply to the GSE graduate degree program by November 14, 2019 (11:59pm PST).

There is only one round of application deadlines; we do not have rolling admissions. Late applications cannot be accepted or reviewed.

*Applicants to the Joint Degree program with the Graduate School of Business should consult the GSB website for complete information on application deadlines and requirements.

The GSE does not accept any revised documents after the application is submitted, so please be sure to review your statement of purpose, resume, and other documents very carefully before submitting your application.

There are three types of graduate application fee waivers:

  1. GRE Fee Reduction-Based
  2. Diversity Program Participation-Based
  3. School-Based

More information about how to apply for one of these fee waivers can be found on the Graduate Fee Waiver page on the Stanford Graduate Diversity website.

No supplemental application materials need to be mailed to Stanford GSE. The online application notes that applicants need to send hard copies of the transcript to the department. Please do not send hard copies at the time of application. Only admitted applicants will be contacted with instructions on sending official transcripts. We cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed copies of your transcripts during the application process. *Please note: the instructions for sending transcripts on the online application and on the general Graduate Admissions Office website differ from this Stanford GSE requirement.* Transcripts should be submitted for any institution at which you spent at least one year doing academic study.

No. Stanford GSE does not grant admission deferrals. If you cannot enroll in the starting term for which you are offered admission, you must reapply for a future year.

No. Applications are accepted only once a year on the posted deadlines. All Stanford GSE PhD and MA programs begin in the autumn quarter, with the exception of STEP, which begins in the summer quarter. For the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, the ICE/IEPA, LDT, and POLS MA programs as well as our PhD programs begin in the fall, and the STEP MA program begins in the summer of the academic year.

No. We are not able to re-activate applications or supporting documents from previous applications. Re-applicants must follow the same application requirements as new applicants by submitting a new online application and new supporting documents.

No. Apply for a PhD program and answer "Yes" to the question on the application form that asks you if you would like to be considered for a Master’s program. If you answer yes, you may select the MA program for which you would like to be considered from a drop-down box. Please also indicate in the Academic Interests section in which MA program you would like to enroll.

Yes. Apply for a PhD program and answer "Yes" to the question on the application form that asks you if you would like to be considered for a master’s program (indicate the master's program for which you would like to be considered). Your application will be considered by both the doctoral and the master’s admissions committees if there is a corresponding master’s program to your proposed area of doctoral study.

Due to the large number of applications we receive, we are unable to provide status updates or confirm receipt of application materials via email or phone call. Should we have any trouble accessing your application materials, we will contact you directly. Because all application materials are submitted electronically, you may check your status through the online application checklist. 

Please note that your application status page will not be updated to "complete" for some time as applications are manually completed. All materials are required by the application deadline (including letters of recommendation). While self-reported GRE and TOEFL scores are acceptable for application submission purposes, we must receive official scores before we can forward applications to the admissions committee for review. Applications submitted with uploaded unofficial transcripts are acceptable for review purposes.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the all application materials, including letters of recommendation and official test scores are submitted to by the published deadline.

Decision letters will go out electronically to all applicants. Doctoral applicants can expect to hear back by mid-February 2020, followed by STEP applicants in late February 2020. ICE/IEPA, LDT, and POLS MA applicants will hear back in early March 2020.

Financial Aid Questions

The Graduate School of Education makes every effort to help students who require financial assistance to meet tuition and living expenses. Limited Stanford GSE fellowship aid is available to MA admitted students and granted on a merit basis at the time of admission (included in the admissions letter). Most students fund their studies through a combination of loans and personal funds. For more information on funding opportunities for MA students, please review the Financing Your Education section of our website. (Also, please see below for additional information about financing STEP.)

Yes. Entering PhD students are automatically funded through a combination of stipends, fellowships and assistantships for the first five years of their graduate studies. Funding is contingent upon satisfactory progress toward the degree requirements. For more information on funding opportunities for PhD students, please review the Financing Your Education section of our website.

PhD students are funded for a full-time course load (11-18 units) in their first year through a stipend, fellowship, and work for 10 hours/week as research assistants. In their second year and later, students are able to work for 20 hours/week as research or teaching assistants and enroll in 8-10 units of coursework. The assistantships generate tuition support through the School and provide a student salary. For more information on funding opportunities for PhD students, please review the Financing Your Education section of our website.

For PhD and ICE/IEPA, LDT, and POLS MA applicants (not STEP): There is no separate application form. However, you must answer "Yes" to the question on the application form that asks: "Are you applying for Financial Aid from Stanford University."

All applicants who need financial support are encouraged to apply through the Financial Aid Office for loans by March 1 to ensure receipt of financial aid packages by April 15. The Financial Aid Office services all of the University and can take up to six weeks to process applications. Applications for non-STEP students require the completion of two forms (the FAFSA and Graduate Loan Application form). STEP students must complete FAFSA forms for two academic years and the Graduate Loan Application Form. See the Financial Aid Office website for information regarding your aid, such as the cost of attendance and applying for loans.

Yes, it is. More information about the cost of our programs can be found at :
Financial Aid

All admitted students are considered for merit-based fellowships whether or not they are international. Doctoral funding is guaranteed for five academic years for all doctoral students. More information can be found on our funding page:
Financial Aid

Scholarships for Study Outside the U.S.
Additionally we have a list of external fellowships that could be helpful in your
search: External Fellowships

GRE Questions

With the exception of the STEP program, all applicants to programs at Stanford GSE are required to take the GRE, regardless of previous work and/or academic (e.g., prior graduate degree) experience. The GSE only requires the general GRE and not the subject GRE. We will accept both the previous and the current version of the GRE.

Applicants should plan to take the GRE and send their official GRE scores electronically to Stanford University at institution code 4704 no later than the following:

  • PhD Applicants: November 1 (in time for the December 2 deadline)
  • MA Applicants: December 13 (in time for the January 10 deadline)
  • KHS Applicants: October 16 (in time for the November 14 deadline)
  • STEP Applicants: GRE not required

While self-reported GRE scores are acceptable for application submission purposes, we must receive your official GRE scores before we can forward applications to the admissions committee for review.

GRE scores reported must be from tests taken within five years of your application submission date (if you took the GRE on October 1, 2014, you would need to submit the application and send scores to Stanford by October 1, 2014). To verify whether or not your scores are still reportable based on ETS's standards, you may use the ETS website to check, as ETS may be unable to send scores after they have expired. Stanford's institution code is 4704; you need not indicate a department code.

The GSE does not have a cutoff GRE score requirement. The evaluation of each applicant is based on all the materials in the file and is not exclusively based on test scores. We do not provide average GRE score information of previous applicants or current students.

Applicants should have the Educational Testing Service (ETS) send their scores electronically to Stanford University. Our university code is 4704. It is not necessary to indicate a department code. Self-reported scores are not official until Stanford receives the electronic record from ETS.

No. The GSE only requires the general GRE and not the subject matter portion of the GRE.

TOEFL Questions

TOEFL is required from all applicants whose first language is not English regardless of citizenship. Tests must be taken prior to the program’s application deadline and application submission. Self-reported scores should be recorded on the application.

Exception: Individuals who have completed (not only attended) a bachelor’s degree or a master's degree (or the equivalent of either degree) at a recognized institution where all instruction is provided in English. This does not apply if the courses were completed in a country where English is spoken, though not all courses were provided in English.

To request a TOEFL waiver, you must first submit your GSE application. You may then submit a TOEFL Waiver Request Form to the Stanford Graduate Admissions Office.

TOEFL scores submitted to Stanford must be from a test taken within the last 18 months. No scores are valid beyond the date ETS will send or resend them to schools. Tests must be taken prior to application submission and the program application deadline.

What is the minimum TOEFL score required in order to be considered for admission? The minimum TOEFL scores required are 250 for the computer-based test, 600 for the paper-based test and 100 for the internet-based test.

Applicants should have the Educational Testing Service (ETS) send scores electronically to Stanford University. The university code is 4704. It is not necessary to indicate a department code. Self-reported scores are not official until Stanford receives the electronic record from ETS.

We do not accept IELTS scores in lieu of the TOEFL.

Other Test Questions

The GSE does not have a minimum GPA requirement. The evaluation of each applicant is based on all the materials in the file and is not exclusively based on test scores or GPA. Stanford GSE does not provide average GPA or test score information of previous applicants or current students.

No, we do not require the Test for Spoken English.

Stanford’s institution codes are listed below. No department code is required.
GRE: 4704
TOEFL: 4704
CSET: 582
SSAT: 582
Praxis: RA4704
CBEST: 327

Letters of Recommendation and Transcripts Questions

Transcripts are required from every college and university you have attended for at least one academic year as a full-time student. When submitting your online application, transcripts should be uploaded to the application as a scanned copy or PDF; this is sufficient for the application review process. Please refrain from sending a secured PDF/transcript with a digital signature as our system cannot upload these properly. The best way to ensure we receive an upload-able document is for you to print out the secured transcript, scan it, and upload the scanned copy (not to exceed 10MB) as a PDF. 


If you earned a degree at the institution from which you are submitting a transcript, please ensure that the degree conferral date and the degree conferred is clearly visible on the document. If you are currently enrolled in a degree program and will not have earned the respective degree by the time of submitting your GSE application, you should submit your most recent in-progress transcript from your institution.


Only if admitted will we contact you with instructions on sending two copies of your official transcripts to our office. We cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed copies of your transcripts during the application process. Please note: the instructions for sending transcripts on the online application and on the general Graduate Admissions Office website differ from this Stanford GSE requirement.

No. We only require you to upload PDFs of transcripts from postsecondary institutions you have attended as a full-time student for one academic year (i.e. three quarters or two semesters) or longer.

In the online application, you will be asked to identify your recommenders and their email addresses. Please notify your recommenders that they will receive an email prompt to submit their recommendation online. You can submit your request for letters of recommendation through the system without submitting the entire online application. 

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all three letters of recommendation are submitted through the system by the application deadline, so please work closely with your recommenders to remind them of the deadline.

No. Recommenders have only one option for submitting letters of recommendation: online via the online application. They will receive an email with a link to the system. Then they will be asked to answer a few questions and submit their letter electronically. We cannot accept paper, mailed, faxed or email, versions of the letters of recommendation.

Faculty or others who qualify to evaluate your potential for graduate study can serve as recommenders. At least one evaluation and letter should be from a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student (unless you have been out of school for more than five years). Substitutions for faculty recommendations may include work associates or others who can comment on your academic potential for graduate work.

STEP Questions (Additional FAQs for STEP Applicants Only)

Additional forms are required to apply to STEP and can be found at STEP Elementary website and STEP Secondary website.

STEP essay: You are required to write a STEP-specific essay responding to the STEP prompt. You can choose to write a single essay incorporating both the prompt on the online application and the STEP-specific prompt. One or both essays can be submitted electronically with your online application by uploading them into the personal statement section. If you chose to write two essays please combine them into one word document before uploading. Transcript Summary: In the online application there will be a section to upload additional documents. Use that upload feature to submit the summary online.

Successful applicants demonstrate an intellectual passion for their subject area, commitment to teach traditionally underserved populations, and an interest in issues of social justice. Applicants should also convey why STEP is a good fit for their goals and how they can contribute to the program.

We strongly encourage applicants to take the California Subject Exam for Teachers (CSET) in their intended subject area as early as possible. All STEP candidates will be required to pass a minimum of two subtests in their subject area prior to starting STEP in June. California residents are expected to submit passing CBEST scores with their application. Out of state residents may take the CBEST in August after they are enrolled in STEP. The GRE exam is not required.

The California Subject Exam for Teachers (CSET) is a subject specific test required by the state of California. We urge applicants to take the test or at least sign up for the CSET before applying to STEP. Applications will be reviewed if candidates have not taken the exams or have not received their results by the application deadline. To begin the program in June, applicants must pass a minimum of two CSET subtests in their intended teaching subject. Candidates must ultimately pass all subtests to begin independent student teaching and be credentialed upon completion of the program. Note for out of state applicants: STEP organizes an open house in March for admitted STEP students only, the Friday before the CSET exam. If you are admitted to the STEP program, you will need to take the exam no later than March in California.

Applicants to STEP do not need teaching experience to apply. However, experience working with youth (i.e. tutoring, coaching, church groups) is strongly recommended.

Yes. California has reciprocity with most states and transferring the credential is usually a simple process. Check with the state where you will seek equivalency for their requirements.

Professors and people who have seen your work with youth are good choices for writing letters of recommendation. The letters should speak to your commitment to the profession, character, work ethic, and academic ability. It might also include why you would be a good fit for the STEP program.

The STEP program makes every effort to help students who require financial assistance to meet tuition and living expenses. Fellowships range between $2,000 and $30,000 per student. The fellowship application is part of the supplemental form in the online application and should be completed before you submit your online application. In addition to fellowships, students may also apply for loans. Stanford provides sufficient loan packages to cover the cost of attending the University, which is calculated based on tuition and living expenses. Several thousand dollars of loans are forgiven every year for STEP students who teach particular subject areas or in particular schools. You are strongly encouraged to consult the Stanford Financial Aid Office website and Stanford GSE’s Financial Aid section of our website for further information about loans and loan forgiveness programs.

STEP secondary consists of approximately 70 students in five subject areas: English, Mathematics, History/Social Science, Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics) and World Languages (Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Mandarin). STEP elementary consists of approximately 25 students.

The vast majority of STEP students are offered teaching jobs when they graduate. STEP works closely with students in the spring quarter to create their resumes and prepare students for the interview process. Approximately 70% of students choose to teach in California.

Yes. Please contact Viviana Alcazar (valcazar@stanford.edu) who will be happy to put you in touch with a current student or alumni from the program.

For more information on STEP please visit https://ed.stanford.edu/step.

Please contact Viviana Alcazar, STEP Program Coordinator, at valcazar@stanford.edu.

International Students

Here at Stanford we have many opportunities for spouses, significant others and families of our students. Please see the following link for more information about resources available from the Bechtel International Center.
Spouses, Partners and Families

Applicants must obtain a certified English translation. All translations must be complete versions of the original records. Upload your transcripts with their accompanying translation as part of your application. Please see the Office of Graduate Admissions website regarding specific information about how to properly submit your international transcripts:
Transcripts (Academic Records)

Start dates are in mid-September. Please take a look at our Academic Calendar: Stanford Academic Calendar. International students can normally enter the country 30 days before the start of the school year.

Required academic credential information can be found:
International Academic Credentials

Employment options for F-1 and J-1 Visa holders can be found at:
Employment Options for International Students

Employment regulations and options for F-2 and J-2 Visa holders can be found at:
Finding Employment

Please see our Bechtel International Center website for a complete overview of the support for our International Students and their families!
I-Center

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