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Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

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Click on the links below for answers to frequently asked questions about each subject. 


Q: My undergraduate degree is not in an engineering discipline. Am I eligible to apply?

A: You are eligible to apply if you have earned a Bachelor of Science in a similar science discipline, but you may be at a disadvantage compared to engineering majors who have applied. Please thoroughly review the requirements of the program in the MSME Graduate Handbook to help you decide if you are prepared for our program.

Q: I am currently getting my BS degree. Can I apply for the PhD program?

A: Yes. Students with a BS degree are eligible to apply to the PhD program.

Q: I already have a MS degree in another discipline. Am I eligible to apply for an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford?

A: Students who have already received a Master's degree or an equivalent international advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering or a closely related discipline are not eligible for admission to Stanford’s MS program in Mechanical Engineering. Students with a Master’s degree in a discipline that does not substantially overlap with Stanford’s MS program may apply.

Q:  I am currently enrolled in a Master's degree program or a combined Bachelor’s/Master's program. Am I eligible to apply for an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford?

A: Students who are already enrolled in a program leading to a Master's degree or an equivalent international advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering or a closely related discipline are not eligible for admission to Stanford’s MS program in Mechanical Engineering.

Q: May I apply to more than one Stanford graduate program at the same time?

A: No, you may only apply to one program per year. If you apply to more than one, both applications may be disqualified.

Q: If I am not admitted to the PhD program, can I be reviewed for the MS program?

A: Yes, as long as you do not already have a MS degree and have indicated on your application that you would also like to be considered for the MS program. 

Q: I don’t live in the area. Can I do a part-time MS program completely online?

A: No, it is not possible to complete an entire MS degree online. Stanford does offer a part-time MS program in Mechanical Engineering, but there are some caveats. The program is designed for local students to come on campus on a part-time basis, supplemented by a few classes online.

International Applicants

Q: What are the minimum TOEFL scores required for admission?

A: Stanford University requires a score of 89 (Internet)/575 (paper) for the MS program, and 100 (Internet)/600 (paper) for the PhD program.

Q: Can I waive my TOEFL requirement?

A: Exemptions are granted to applicants who have earned a U.S. bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or the international equivalent degree from a university of recognized standing in a country in which all instruction is provided in English. Review the TOEFL sections of the Graduate Admissions Website to see if you qualify for an exemption or waiver. 

Q: Can I substitute the TOEFL for another test?

A. No. Stanford does not accept the IELTS instead of TOEFL.

Q: I have taken my TOEFL and requested the scores be sent to Stanford. Why is my checklist saying that the official scores have not been received?

A: The checklists will not be updated until after the application deadline. Thereafter, we will update them at least weekly. We will be in touch with you if you are missing any materials. TOEFL scores are uploaded by an automated process each week. If you are concerned that your test scores have not been received, please contact the appropriate testing service office.

Q: What is Stanford’s ETS (Educational Testing Service) institutional code for sending TOEFL scores? What is the department code?

A: Stanford’s institutional code is 4704. You do not need to indicate a department code. As long as you have indicated the institutional code of 4704, your scores should get to Stanford even if you also included a department code.

Q: My transcripts are not in English, do they need to be translated into English?

A: In order for the admissions committee and university to read your transcripts, any text must be translated into English. Please see the Office of Graduate Admissions’ page on international transcripts.

Q: My grades are not on a 4.0 scale. Should I compute my GPA to compare to the U.S. 4.0 grading scale?

A: You should not recalculate your GPA onto a 4.0 scale. If your school has not converted your GPA for you, enter 0.00 in the GPA fields of the online application. The admissions committee will review your grades.

Application Deadlines

Autumn 2021-2022
Winter 2021-2022
Spring 2021-2022
Autumn 2022-2023
MS December 1, 2020 N/A N/A December 1, 2021
Design Impact December 1, 2020 N/A N/A December 1, 2021
PhD December 1, 2020 October 5, 2021 January 11, 2022 December 1, 2021
HCP* December 1, 2020 October 5, 2021 January 11, 2022 December 1, 2021

All application materials are due by midnight (PT) on the posted deadline, however we recommend submitting earlier than that in case you encounter technical issues. You can submit supplemental material at any time before the deadline; material will be matched when you submit your online application.

Students who hold, or are in the process of obtaining, an MS degree in a related field should apply directly to the PhD program. If you are a reapplicant, all materials listed above are required to reapply, including letters of recommendation. If test scores are less than five years old on the date of the deadline, we may be able to reinstate them. Please contact us for more information on reapplying.

*HCP (Honors Cooperative Program) is the part-time program for working professionals. The part-time MS program cannot be completed solely online. Students must be able to come to campus.

Application Requirements

  • Online Application with fee
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • Unofficial transcripts from every college and/or university that you attended for at least one year. Please DO NOT send your official transcripts unless we contact you to do so.  
  • TOEFL results, required of all applicants whose first language is not English

Q: Am I required to submit GRE scores?

A: The GRE will not be accepted for applications received during the period September 2021-June 2022. We ask that you do not submit or reference GRE scores in your application, as they will not be considered. (Updated May 2021)

Q: I have submitted all of my application materials. Why does my checklist still say my application is not complete?

A: The checklists will not be updated until after the application deadline. Thereafter, we will update them approximately weekly. We will be in touch with you if you are missing any materials.

Q: I am reapplying to the program. Can I reuse any application materials?

A: All materials including letters of recommendation must be resubmitted.

Late Application Materials

Q: What if my letters of recommendation/TOEFL scores are late or not received by the deadline?

A: Your file will not be considered complete until all required application materials are received. Late materials may jeopardize your chances for admission and/or financial aid.

Q: Will you grant an extension for my application/letters of recommendation?

A: No. We begin reviewing applications immediately after the application deadline. We cannot grant extensions for any application materials. Late materials may jeopardize your chances of admission and/or financial aid. 

Q: Will my application be considered late if I am missing only 1 letter of recommendation?

A: Yes, your application will be considered incomplete and late if all 3 letters of recommendation are not submitted by the application deadline. Late submissions may jeopardize your chances of admission and/or financial aid. 

Application Modifications or Updates

We cannot alter application materials after the application has been submitted. Be sure that your application is complete and correct before submitting. No changes can be made after you click submit. 

Q: I need to remove or change a recommender. How do I do that?

A: Once you have submitted your application, you will not be able to revise your list of recommendation letters. 

Q: I made an error/need to add something on my personal statement/CV, but I already submitted my application. Can I update my application?

A: No. Once your application has been submitted, we are not able to make any corrections to your materials. Any updates to CVs, the Personal Statement, or the application itself after the application is submitted cannot be accepted. 

Q: I accidentally applied to the PhD program, but I meant to apply for the MS program. What should I do?

A: Please send an e-mail to informing us that you only want to be reviewed for the MS program. In the email, please provide your full name so we can easily find your application.

Deferral Requests

Q: If I am admitted can I defer to a later term?

A: No. Requests to defer admission are reviewed only in extenuating circumstances such as military duty or medical issues. Each deferral request is reviewed on a case by case basis and there is no guarantee that any request will be approved. 

Q: I want to apply now, but I won’t be able to start on time. Should I still apply?

A: If you know you are unable to start until a later quarter, please do not apply now.

Financial Aid

Q: I cannot afford graduate school. How can I apply for a fellowship?

A: All PhD students are fully funded. PhD applications will be considered for a limited number of fellowships. These awards are competitively allocated and are based on academic merit and research potential. We encourage all applicants to apply for outside fellowships such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship Program. Most MS students are self-funded and do not receive fellowships.

Q: Is it possible to get a teaching or research assistantship?

A: Yes, though it is quite rare for a first-year MS student to secure an assistantship. Most MS students support their first few quarters with loans, and search for assistantships once they have built relationships with faculty in ME or other departments. There is no central database for available assistantships. Students must contact faculty members directly to inquire about assistantships.


Campus tours are offered through the Visitor Center. While these tours are primarily for prospective undergraduate students, they are open to anyone and offer an excellent overview of campus. The Department of Mechanical Engineering does not offer any tours of our facilities nor do we provide individual counseling to prospective graduate students. We are a very small office so are unable to meet with prospective students or accept drop-in visitors. 

Contact Information

The best way to reach us is via email at

Q: What is the best way to contact faculty and find out about their research?

A: All of the faculty members have public pages with contact information on the Stanford online directory, and many provide links to their labs. These websites are a great place to start. All ME faculty contact information is available on the People tab on our website. 

Q: Can I connect with you on LinkedIn?

A: No, is an organizational email and does not have an active LinkedIn account.