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Admitting Graduate Students to Matriculated Study (GAP 2.1)

Document 2.1

Admitting Graduate Students to Martriculated Study

Current version

August 27, 2014


Applicable to all admissions for Stanford graduate degree programs, with the exception of: The Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.) degree; degrees conferred through the Honors Cooperative Programs; all programs in the Graduate School of Business; all programs in the School of Law; and M.D. admissions in the School of Medicine. For those schools and programs, see the relevant school or program web site.

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If you have questions or suggestions about this handbook, contact the office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

This handbook is a reference for Stanford faculty, staff and students. Where the current Stanford University Bulletin includes coverage of these topics, the current Bulletin is the governing policy. Stanford University reserves the right to make changes to its applicable policies, procedures and other materials contained here at any time and without prior notice.


Admitting degree programs are responsible for graduate admissions decisions at Stanford University. This policy sets forth many of the general eligibility requirements for admission to graduate study, along with the elements of the application process from receipt of the application up to the point of activation of the admitted student.

1. Policy

1.1 General Requirements

Applicants from colleges and universities of recognized standing who hold a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, or are anticipating conferral of the degree prior to admission, are eligible to be considered for admission to matriculated graduate study at Stanford University. The number of applicants who can be admitted for work in a particular field of study at any time is limited by the facilities and programs of the school or department and by the number of matriculated students who continue their work in that field. Stanford University welcomes applicants who will add to the diversity (broadly defined) of its graduate student population (see GAP 2.5, Commitment to Graduate Student Diversity).

Students who have completed two years of Classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles (CPGE) and two years of course work toward the Diplome d’Ingenieur degree in France are eligible to be considered for admission.

Applicants may only apply to one graduate program in an academic year, with the exception of those applying to the Biosciences Program where applicants may indicate up to three possible programs. This limit applies to those applying through the central graduate admissions process, i.e., it does not take into consideration whether applicants are also applying separately to the M.D. program, or to any program within the Medical, Law or Business Schools, whose applications are processed separately.

1.2 Elements of the Graduate Application

To be considered for matriculated graduate study at Stanford, an applicant must provide:

  • a completed application submitted electronically
  • the non-refundable application fee (see section 1.6, below)
  • a statement of purpose describing the applicant’s reasons for applying and selection of the particular degree program
  • three recommendations - at least one of the recommenders should be a member of the faculty at the last school attended by the applicant (recommenders submit these letters directly to Stanford; it is the responsibility of the applicant to see that they are sent)
  • two official transcripts from every postsecondary school attended by the applicant (the applicant should make necessary arrangements to have these sent directly from the attended school to the department to which they are applying)
  • scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test must be reported directly to Stanford from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for all applicants; in addition, the appropriate Subject Tests must be reported for the applicant, if required by the particular program
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Exceptions are permitted for individuals who have earned a U.S. bachelor’s or master’s degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or the equivalent of either degree from a non-U.S. college or university of recognized standing where all instruction is provided in English. This exception does not apply if the courses were completed in a country where English is spoken but not all instruction is provided in English. (See GAP 2.2, Requirements for New International Students.)
  • additional application documents (e.g., writing samples, portfolios, etc.) as required by the department/program.

Stanford reserves the right to investigate the authenticity, accuracy, and authorship of materials submitted, information provided and assertions made in connection with the application, and to require from the applicant additional information and authorizations to allow additional information to be obtained.

Application materials, once submitted as part of the application, become the property of Stanford University. Copies are not provided to the applicant, nor forwarded to other institutions.

1.3 Processing the Application

The Office of the Registrar is the functional owner of the administrative systems (PeopleSoft Student Administration and the electronic admission application and online evaluation system, CollegeNET) that support this process. Working with Stanford’s information technology infrastructure, they will maintain these applications for use by the campus community.

Both the Office of the Registrar and the individual offices of graduate degree-granting programs are responsible for monitoring the data in the electronic application and in the PeopleSoft Student Administration data base (see Implementation Guidelines, section 2, below).

The admissions application process is described at the Graduate Admissions web site.

Upon receipt, applications are available to the admitting department. In addition, individual applicants are responsible for providing the necessary transcripts, test scores and recommendations for use by department or program admissions personnel and committees.

All decisions regarding admission and financial aid (other than loans) are made by the admitting department, subject to verification of university admission requirements such as completion of the bachelor’s degree, official test scores, visa certification funding, etc. by the Graduate Admissions Office.

1.4 Notifying Applicants of Admissions Decisions

The admitting department/program is responsible for communicating admissions decisions to applicants. In no event should an admitting department offer unconditional acceptance to an applicant until the Graduate Admissions Office has confirmed the verification of credentials, visa request (if applicable) and receipt of official test scores.

1.5 Applications to Joint Degree Programs

Applicants who are interested in combining a graduate degree with a professional degree (M.D., J.D., or M.B.A.) should contact those admissions offices directly to determine the appropriate application process. To enter a joint degree program, applicants must be admitted separately to both participating Stanford schools, departments or programs, as well as to the joint degree program (see GAP 4.9, Joint Degree Programs).

Stanford University will award joint degrees where the requirements of both programs have been met. In most cases, the applicant applies initially to only one program, applying to and adding the second program using the Graduate Authorization Petition after arrival at Stanford (see GAP 5.1, Changes and Additions of Degree Programs).

1.6 Application Fee Waivers

Stanford University will not normally waive the one-time graduate application fee. An exception is permitted for applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. and who obtain a GRE Fee Reduction Certificate for the current academic year. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) offers a limited number of GRE Fee Reduction Certificates on a first-come, first-served, basis. Eligibility for the GRE Fee Reduction Certificate is established by the applicant’s financial aid office at his or her undergraduate institution. Information on the GRE Fee Reduction Program is available from the Educational Testing Services via their web site.

In order to request a Stanford graduate application fee waiver, the applicant must submit  the online fee waiver application and upload a copy of the approved and completed GRE Fee Reduction Certificate. To be valid, the GRE Fee Reduction Certificate must be affixed with an official school stamp or seal and signed by the appropriate school official. If the application fee waiver request is approved, the applicant will be sent a code to enter in the payment section  of the application. Requests should be received at least 15 business days prior to the program application deadline. No refund will be given if the applicant applies for the fee waiver and pays the application fee instead of using the code.

1.7 Deferring Admission

Applicants who have been accepted for admission, and who wish to delay the start of their academic program for up to one year, may do so at the sole discretion of the admitting department. Applicants should communicate with the admitting department, and, if deferral is agreed upon, the admitting department will enter the deferred status into the PeopleSoft Student Administration data base. This must be done before the first day of the original admission starting term.

Admitting programs may not approve deferral of admission for more than one year. If an applicant wishes to delay the start of the academic program for more than one year, the request, endorsed by the admitting program, should be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office. Approvals of such requests are rare.

1.8 Withdrawing Before the Start of the First Term

If an admitted student contacts the admitting department to reverse an earlier acceptance, i.e., to turn down an offer of admission after it had been accepted, the admitting department should contact the Graduate Admissions Office who will process the cancellation of the student’s admission at Stanford.

If an admitted student does not arrive on campus and submit a timely study list for the first quarter of the academic program, the Enrollment Services Office will discontinue the student’s program plan in PeopleSoft Student Administration. Graduate Admissions will return the student file to the appropriate department.

2. Implementation Guidelines

The process of admitting graduate students to matriculated study at Stanford University makes use of an electronic application (CollegeNET) and the PeopleSoft Student Administration data base. In addition, students who are offered admission will use Stanford’s student web portal, Axess, to enter admissions offer decisions and take other steps to advance their admission to Stanford. The following table displays the steps in the process, indicating the responsible individual or organization. In many cases, these actions are governed by deadlines that may be set annually by Stanford or by the degree program.

1. Notifies Graduate Admissions Office of program admission requirements and deadlines. Department
2. Maintains official descriptions of university processes and requirements for admission, including applicable deadlines. Graduate Admissions
3. Reads and follows the advice and directions on the Graduate Admissions web site and the relevant admissions sections of department and program web sites. Applicant
4. Completes the online application by the deadline indicated on the Graduate Admissions web site. Applicant
5. Arranges to have official transcripts from each postsecondary school attended and letters of recommendation sent directly to the department/program to which he or she is applying (letters are submitted within the electronic application system, CollegeNET). Applicant
6. Via a system load process, receives application records and converts the data contained in those records into the University’s PeopleSoft Student Administration data base (SA), creating a PeopleSoft application record and an Empl ID number for the applicant. Graduate Admissions

Regularly monitors the the CollegeNET system (ApplyWeb Administration or Admit) to identify new applications. and manages the department’s application process. If using a paper file review process, prints application, recommendations, and other materials as needed.

8. Monitors the PeopleSoft SA database or the Admit system for receipt of official ETS test scores, rankings, and other relevant data. Department
9. Receives transcripts, incorporates into applicant packages, and forwards to the appropriate selection committee by that program’s internal deadlines or utilizes the Admit system for on-line review. Department
10. Reconciles list of applicants with information in PeopleSoft, and notifies Graduate Admissions of any discrepancies. Department
11. Prepares and mails acceptance letters to admitted applicants. Acceptance letters should include:
  1. the name of the degree program into which the applicant is admitted;
  2. financial support offered to the student, if any;
  3. a statement that this acceptance is conditional on the fulfillment of admission requirements (e.g., verification of credentials, official ETS reported scores, adequate English proficiency, adequate funding for visa certification) by the Graduate Admissions Office;
  4. the applicant’s Student ID number, and instructions for responding to the offer of admission;

If admission includes financial support:

  1. Specify the conditions and the amount of the award.
  2. Include information relating to the Council of Graduate Schools Resolution, stipulating that students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15. Students may be asked to reply in a timely manner, but may not be asked or pressured to make a decision before April 15th. For additional information, see the Council of Graduate Schools web page.
12. Prepares and mails turn-down and wait-list letters to the applicable students. Wait-list letters, if applicable, should include the date by which the applicant should be notified of final decision. Department
13. Enters decisions regarding acceptance, denial, and wait-listing into the PeopleSoft SA data base. Department
14. Monitors the PeopleSoft SA data base. Sends an email message to all admitted on where to find instructions for creating the SUNet ID to record the decision of the offer. Graduate Admissions
15. Once the admission is received, acts on that decision by following directions to create a SUNetID and record the decision (accept or decline) of the offer in Axess. Applicant
16. Monitors PeopleSoft SA database for acceptances, and upon notification of acceptance, sends all transcripts (including Emplid ID# and program name) to the Graduate Admission Office for verification of fulfillment of admission requirements (e.g., credential verification, visa certification, ETS reported scores, evidence of adequate English). See GAP 2.2, Requirements for New International Students, for additional processes related to international students. Department
17. After the student has accepted the offer of admission, verifies all credentials and receipt of ETS GRE general (and TOEFL if applicable) scores, including international degrees, visa certification, evidence of English proficiency, for admitted students who have accepted their admission.  Verifies credentials on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Graduate Admissions
18. Notifies the degree-granting program/department of concerns about student credentials, if any. Graduate Admissions
19. Notifies the applicant of concerns regarding any condition of admission. Graduate Admissions
20. Approves enrollment and matriculates the accepted student to their degree program. Graduate Admissions



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