Degree Requirements

Students are responsible to meet the University and School requirements described below throughout their program of study. Each student ensures that he or she is enrolled appropriately for degree conferral, and should direct any questions about requirements or policies to the Master's Programs Officer prior to the related deadlines.

Note: There are particular set of course requirements for Joint Degree students – please see the section on the Joint Degree with the Graduate School of Business and Joint Degree with the Stanford Law School for requirements.

University Requirements

Master's Program Proposal

2023-24 Due Dates:
Preliminary Program Proposal – Friday, October 6, 2023 (MA/MBA, MA/MPP, and POLS); Friday, November 10, 2023 (EDS, ICE/IEPA, and LDT) 
Final Program Proposal – Friday, April 12, 2024 (all programs*)
*EDS students will submit their final program proposals in fall quarter of the second year.

Students must meet all of the University, School and program requirements and follow all policies listed on the Program Proposal. Failure to fulfill any requirements will delay conferral of the Master's degree and further course enrollment. The Master's Programs Officer verifies the Program Proposal against the student's transcript, so the two documents must match exactly. Any changes from the initial course of study planned in the first quarter must be reflected on the revised program proposal.

Unit Requirements

The minimum course unit requirement for the Master's degree in CTE, LDT and POLS is 45 units taken in residence at Stanford. The minimum course unit requirement for the Master's degree in ICE and IEPA is 48 units taken in residence at Stanford. The minimum course unit requirement for the Master's degree in EDS is 51 units taken in residence at Stanford. Please refer to the joint degree sections of this handbook for the allowable combination of minimum units required to earn the MA/JD and the MA/MBA degrees.

Units earned at another institution do not count toward the minimum units required for the Master's degree at Stanford. However, previous coursework may be used to meet course requirements if equivalent studies have been pursued. (Note: Courses taken through Stanford's Exchange Scholar Program or the formal exchange program with U.C. Berkeley or U.C. San Francisco may count as part of Stanford's unit minimum.) Coterminal students who have completed graduate level work in the three quarters prior to beginning their Master's program, will be able to transfer those units toward their Master's requirements, with approval from the Master's Programs Officer and Program Director.

All students must adhere to the quarterly unit requirements in their programs (see program-specific requirements for detailed information). Please note that in order to be considered a full-time graduate student at Stanford, a minimum of 8 units of enrollment is required in Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters. The maximum units allowed are 18 per quarter.

NOTE: All courses applied to the master's degree must be in courses at or above the 100 level. At least 50% must be in courses at or above the 200 level. Courses numbered below 100 are intended for undergraduates only and do not count toward graduate degrees.


In every program, one-third of the total units must be taken for a letter grade. The only exceptions to this are the Joint Degree with the GSB (in this program, students must take 27 of the required 35 units for a letter grade) and the Joint Degree with the Stanford Law School (in this program, students are permitted to take all MA coursework for Credit/No Credit). All students must also maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average. For more detailed information on grading procedures, refer to the Stanford Bulletin. Before enrolling in an independent study, students should discuss the grading basis with the supervising faculty member. In some cases, where independent study credit is offered on both a letter and credit/no-credit basis, faculty may prefer one method over another. Please discuss this with the supervising faculty member prior to the University's change of grading basis deadline.

Minimal Progress

Students must register in 11 or more units per term and pass at least eight units per term. The only exceptions to the 11-unit requirement in a given quarter are in cases of designated quarters in the EDS, ICE/IEPA, and LDT programs (see Program-Specific Requirements). Students who are approved to register in fewer than 11 units in a given term must pass at least six units. The academic progress requirements for students also include registration and timely completion of department and program requirements, such as completion of the Master's Program Proposal and the Master's Project. Students who do not meet minimal progress each term are at risk of termination.

Degree Conferral

Students must apply for conferral of their master's degree by filing an Application to Graduate on Axess by the Registrar's quarterly deadline. The deadline for spring quarter is April 12, 2024; the deadline for summer quarter is August 2, 2024. Students must be registered in the term their degree is conferred. See the Stanford Bulletin for further policy information.

Time Limit for Completion of the Master's Degree

As stated in the Stanford Bulletin, "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." See the Bulletin for further information.

Graduate School of Education Requirements


Required courses for master's degrees in the Graduate School of Education are listed on the appropriate page of the Master's Handbook. Students choose electives in consultation with their faculty advisor based on relevance to the degree program and the student's academic interests.

Students are required to take a minimum of 27 units in the Graduate School of Education. An individual program's requirements may exceed this amount. Appropriate graduate-level courses in other departments of the University (e.g., Anthropology, Linguistics or Psychology), may be used to reach the program's overall unit total. Students must consult with their Program Director and advisor when selecting courses outside the Graduate School of Education to fulfill unit requirements.

NOTE: English for Foreign Students (EFSLANG 600 level) and Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation courses cannot be applied to the master's degree.

The Master's Project

Some programs have a culminating project requirement for the Master's degree. Students will receive specific instructions from their Program Director and advisor on this requirement, which is generally due sometime in the last quarter of study. Upon completion of the Master's project, students will be required to submit a Project Submission form to the Master's Programs Officer. The form is available on the Graduate School of Education website.

Graduation Review

At the beginning of the student's expected final quarter, the Master's Programs Officer will review each student's final program proposal and update the student on their progress toward fulfilling all degree requirements. It is each student's responsibility to resolve any issues pertaining to their course enrollment and complete any outstanding degree requirements in order to confer his or her degree.