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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the frequently asked questions below will help guide you through the admissions process. After reviewing this information, please feel free to email or call (650.725.9155) with any additional questions.  

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General Application & Admissions Information

1. How can I apply?

Complete information about the application process, including a general FAQ, can be found online at the Office of Graduate Admissions. There is detailed information about required tests, transcripts, supporting documents, and more.

2. When are applications due?

All applications are due in early January for admission in Autumn Quarter of the same year. Please see Graduate Admissions for the exact date. Applications are not accepted at any other time, and admission is only granted for Autumn Quarter.

3. What documents are required for the application?

Transcripts (Academic Records)

Department Application Requirements

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Letters of Recommendation

Statement of Purpose

Additional Supporting Documents

Application Fee

4. May I submit an extra letter of reference or additional documents?

Yes, but please use your judgment to determine whether this is really necessary (i.e., if an extra document offers information not already included in the three required letters of recommendation and/or the documents already submitted).

5. Who should write my recommendation letters?

At least one letter of recommendation should be from your employer if you have work experience relevant to your IPS studies. In addition, you should also provide at least one letter 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).

6. Is an interview part of the application process?

We do not interview applicants as part of the IPS admissions process. We ask that you treat your statement of purpose as an opportunity to “talk” to the Admissions Committee about the reason(s) you are interested in the IPS program, and the field of international policy in general, and why this program is a good fit with your future goals.

7. Is it possible to visit the IPS program and meet with faculty, students, and staff?

Yes. We encourage you to come and explore Stanford's wonderful campus and resources. If you are interested in visiting, please contact the IPS team in advance to schedule a meeting. Those admitted to the program will be invited to campus for Admit Day in early to mid-April to learn more about IPS, meet faculty and current students, and tour the campus.

8. Can I check on the status of my application?

The online application system, which is called “ADMIT,” allows applicants to see the status of their application, including a checklist of required application components. Once the application deadline has passed, the IPS team will begin reviewing applications for completeness. It usually takes at least two weeks for us to review all applications. After that point, applicants can log into the accounts created when they submitted their applications to check the status of their applications and see whether any items are missing.

9. When will I be informed of the admissions decision?

The admissions committee will review applications during the month of February, and notification letters will be sent by email in early-to-mid March. Please do not call the IPS office to ask whether you have been admitted to the program as this information cannot be given over the phone.

10. Do you offer a one-year master’s program?

No, the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies is only offered as a two-year, full-time program.

11. Do you offer a Ph.D. program?

No, the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies offers only the Master of Arts degree.

12. What do I do if I have questions during the winter break when Stanford University and the IPS office are closed?

Due to the Stanford Holiday Closure, the IPS office will be closed December 19, 2015 - January 3, 2016. During this time, please use the IPS and Stanford Office of Graduate Admissions websites to search for answers to your questions. If you have any technical problems with the application, please submit a help request within the application system. If you are unable to find answers to your questions, please email us. This will generate an auto-reply email that will include links to help answer common questions. While we will be checking email infrequently, we will try to respond to your urgent questions as quickly as we can. Please note that we will not return voice mails left during the break until the IPS office reopens on January 4, 2016.


1. Can the GMAT or LSAT be taken in lieu of the GRE?

No, scores from the GRE general test are required of all applicants for graduate study in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford.

2. Can I use my GRE scores if they are more than five years old?

No. Stanford University requires GRE scores to be no more than five years old. ETS does not maintain records of GRE exams taken more than five years ago. If ETS is unable to send your test scores to Stanford electronically, you will need to retake the exam.

3. Can I substitute work experience for the GRE?

No. Work experience is not a substitute for the GRE exam.  

4. What is the minimum GPA or GRE score?

Most applicants to the IPS Program have a GPA above 3.5 and GRE scores in the 90th percentile.  Because IPS applicants come from universities in every part of the world, we consider each application in its entirety, while weighing grades and test scores along with career and internship experience.

5. When should I take the GRE/TOEFL exam?

We strongly recommend that you take both exams by early to mid-December. Scheduling tests after mid-December is risky because ETS scores can take up to six weeks to be sent to the IPS program's database. Scores that do not arrive by late January may not be included in an applicant’s file when the admissions committee begins its review period.

6. What is the institution and program code for the GRE/TOEFL?

Stanford University’s institution code is 4704. No program code is needed.

Prerequisite Courses

1. Are there prerequisite courses required for the IPS program?

Yes. The five required prerequisites courses are statistics, macroeconomics, microeconomics, international finance, and international trade.

2. Can I complete the prerequisite courses after I have been admitted?

Yes. Prerequisites can be taken at any time prior to matriculation into IPS in Autumn Quarter.  However, it is strongly recommended that you complete some of the prerequisite courses before applying because it allows the admissions committee to review your proficiency in those subject areas.

3. Where can I take prerequisite courses?

Prerequisite courses may be taken at community colleges, at four-year institutions, or through online courses. They must be taken for a letter grade and you must receive a B- grade or better for each course.

4. Can I take prerequisite courses at Stanford during the summer prior to matriculation?

Maybe. Some of the prerequisite courses are offered at Stanford during the summer session, but the course offerings vary from year to year.  International students will likely have visa restrictions that will prevent them from entering the U.S. in time to participate in summer session.

5. I'm not sure if the courses I've taken qualify for the prerequisite requirements.  What should I do?

You should still complete an application.  If the admissions committee has questions concerning your prior coursework, the IPS team will contact you.  If you have not completed any prerequisites, your offer of admission will be conditional upon completing the necessary coursework prior to the start of Autumn Quarter.

6. What are the Stanford equivalents of our prerequisite courses?

ECON 51: Economic Analysis II
Neoclassical analysis of general equilibrium, welfare economics, imperfect competition, externalities and public goods, intertemporal choice and asset markets, risk and uncertainty, game theory, adverse selection, and moral hazard. Multivariable calculus is used. Prerequisite: MATH 50.

ECON 52: Economic Analysis III
Long-run economic growth and short-run economic fluctuations. Focus on the macroeconomic tools of government: fiscal policy (spending and taxes) and monetary policy and their effect on growth, employment, and inflation. Prerequisites: ECON 1B, MATH 50.

ECON 165: International Finance
Introduction to international macroeconomics. Topics: intertemporal approach to the current account, international investment patterns, sovereign debt, crises in international financial markets, real and nominal exchange rate determination and exchange rate policy. Prerequisite: ECON 52.

ECON 166: International Trade
Comparative advantage in production and trade among nations; increasing returns, imperfect competition, and trade; the nature of the gains from trade, winners, and losers; international migration and multinational companies; trade policy and international trade agreements; theory and evidence. Prerequisite: MATH 51.

STATISTICS PREREQUISITE (there are various course equivalents)
ECON 102A: Introduction to Statistical Methods (Post calculus) for Social Scientists
Description and examples of the use of statistical techniques relevant to economics. Basic rules of probability, conditional probability, discrete and continuous probability distributions. Point estimation, tests of hypotheses, confidence intervals, and linear regression model. Prerequisite: MATH 41 or equivalent.

POLISCI 150A: Data Science for Politics
Introduction to probability and statistical inference, with applications to political science and public policy. Prerequisite: elementary calculus.

STATS 191: Introduction to Applied Statistics
Statistical tools for modern data analysis. Topics include regression and prediction, elements of the analysis of variance, bootstrap, and cross-validation. Emphasis is on conceptual rather than theoretical understanding. Applications to social/biological sciences. Student assignments/projects require use of the software package R. Recommended: STATS 60, 110, or 141.

Language Requirement

1. Does the program have an English language requirement?

Yes. Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission. TOEFL scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Exceptions are granted for applicants 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 courses were provided in English. Being a U.S. citizen does not automatically exempt an applicant from taking the TOEFL. If the applicant's first language is not English, the applicant must meet the exception above or submit TOEFL scores. Stanford does not accept IELTS scores.

2. Does the program have a foreign language requirement?

Yes. IPS students must show proficiency in a foreign language in order to graduate. Proficiency can be demonstrated by passing an oral and written examination prior to graduation or by completion of three years of university-level course work in a foreign language.

3. Can I complete the foreign language requirement while in the IPS program?

Yes, although doing so will very likely extend your time in the program. Some students choose to participate in an intensive language program during the summer between the first and second years of the program.


1. What is the full-time tuition rate?

Please see the Stanford Tuition and Fees page for this year's information.

There are two full-time tuition rates at Stanford: 11-18 units and 8-10 units. Generally, IPS students enroll at the 11-18 unit rate during the first year of the program. During the second year, IPS students often enroll in some combination of the two different full-time tuition rates.

2. How many units are required to graduate?

A minimum of 73 units are required to graduate.

Financial Aid

1. Is fellowship funding available from Stanford?

Yes, although our fellowship funds are limited. Please be sure to denote your interest in financial aid on the application by checking “Yes” next to the relevant question. A select number of fellowships (6-8 per year) will be given to students for their first year of study in amounts ranging from $20,000 to a full one-year fellowship (approximately $75,000).  Admitted students will be notified of fellowship offers in their letters of acceptance.  In addition, teaching and research assistantships, available to students in their second year, can provide varied levels of funding.  It is the responsibility of the second-year student to secure an assistantship. IPS will arrange some research assistantships with FSI faculty and recommend other possible sources of assistantships. See Assistantship Information and Guidelines.

2. How else can I fund my graduate studies?

Other than fellowships and assistantships, the best funding options are outside funding, loans, or hourly employment.   Please visit the Financial Aid website for detailed information on loans and other funding options.

3. Is there financial aid for international students?

International students can apply for private loans with U.S. cosigners. Please visit the Financial Aid or EduPass website for detailed information on funding options for international students.

4. Why are there no assistantships for first year students?

Half-time teaching assistantships require significant time and energy that would detract from students' focus on foundational coursework during the first year.  Some research assistantships may be approved for students who have been exempted from required courses.

5. What assistantships are available for second year students?

Assistantships come in the form of Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA) and can be held for one, two, or all three quarters of the academic year. Most IPS students can fit full assistantships into one or two quarters of their second-year schedules.

6. How much work is required for a Teaching or Research Assistantship?  Are expenses beyond tuition covered?

Full assistantships (known as 50% assistantships) require 20 hours of work per week and provide tuition allowance (for up to 10 units), a salary, and health insurance coverage.  Students with full assistantships must enroll in 8-10 units during the quarter in which the assistantship is taken. Nearly two-thirds of our second-year students without external funding serve as full teaching or research assistants for at least one quarter.  It is also possible for students to arrange 25% and 10% assistantships, depending on the requirements of the assistantship. 

After I've Been Admitted

1. When will I receive my letter of admission?

The admissions committee will review applications during the month of February, and notification letters will be sent by email in early to mid-March. Admitted students will also receive an email from Stanford University’s Office of Graduate Admissions with information for admitted students, including the New Student Checklist. The checklist will help guide you through the steps needed to prepare for the upcoming Autumn Quarter.

2. If I am accepted, what is the timeline for responding to the offer of admission?

Admitted students who receive fellowship offers are required to respond to the offer of admission by mid-April.  Those who do not receive fellowship offers can respond by the end of April.  Once admitted to the program, students will be invited to visit campus in early to mid-April (typically 1-2 weeks before the deadline to respond to the offer), to learn more about the IPS program, meet faculty and current students, and tour the campus. Applicants will receive more information about Admit Day once admissions decisions have been made.

3. How do I formally accept my offer of admission?

In order to respond to the offer of admission, you will need to create a SUNetID.  Instructions can be found in the Admitted Students section of Office of Graduate Admissions.

4. Is it possible to defer my admission?

In general, deferrals are granted only in the case of extenuating circumstances.  If you are interested in deferring, please contact us at Please note that deferrals require approval from the IPS Admissions Committee and are granted for a maximum length of one year.

5. I have not received any confirmation email after accepting the admissions offer.

No formal confirmation will be sent after you accept the offer.

6. Do I need to pay a deposit after accepting the offer of admission?

No, Stanford does not require a tuition fee deposit.  The first tuition payment will be due in mid-October.

Housing & Orientation

1. Where can I find information about student housing?

Complete information about housing, including cost, location, and application instructions, can be found on Student Housing. Typically 80% of first-year IPS students will live on campus, and Escondido Village and Rains tend to be the most popular on-campus housing options. There are also housing options for couples and families.

2. When do I need to arrive on campus to start the program?

See the academic calendar.  A mandatory orientation will be held on the Friday before the first day of classes (this date will be included in your letter).  IPS also offers a refresher course on math, statistics and economics (also called "boot camp") during the two weeks prior to the start of classes.  It is highly recommended that you attend boot camp. There is no cost to attend, but you will be responsible for your housing, meals, etc. If you are moving into university housing in time to attend boot camp, be sure to select the correct move-in date when you apply.

International Students

1. When should I begin the visa application process?

Information on applying for a visa can be found at:

Your I-20 document should be sent to the Bechtel International Center.

Bechtel International Center
584 Capistrano Way
Stanford, California 94305-8245
(650) 723-1831

2. Are there other programs and services for international students?

Visit I-Center for general information on immigration, programs, and services offered by the center, as well as the Orientation Week Schedule and “Arriving at Stanford: An Orientation Guide for New International Students and Scholars.” The I-Center also offers extensive services for spouses, partners, and families.