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PhD Admissions

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Instructions for applying to the Stanford ME PhD Program are below.

Note for current Stanford MS students interested in adding a PhD program: please contact the ME Student Services Office about the necessary paperwork and relevant policies. If you are a current master's student in the Stanford Mechanical Engineering department, to apply for the PhD, you must complete paperwork prior to conferring the MS degree. Failure to do so will require an application through the online admissions process along with all other external applicants.

Application Deadlines

  • Start Quarter:  Autumn 2025-2026
    Application Date:  December 2, 2024
  • Start Quarter:  Winter 2024-2025*
    Application Date:  October 21, 2024
  • Start Quarter:  Spring 2024-2025*
    Application Date: January 27, 2025

*Students wishing to apply to the PhD program to start in Winter or Spring quarter must first contact directly. Please do not start or submit a Winter or Spring application without first contacting our office.

Application Requirements

To be eligible for admission to the PhD program, applicants must:

  • Have earned, or be in the process of earning, a BS degree in engineering, physics, or comparable science program. 
  • Submit all application materials by the application deadline.
  • Meet minimum TOEFL requirements, if applicable. Review the information on the Graduate Admissions website for more information. 

All students interested in pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering must use the online Stanford Graduate Admissions Application. Your application must include all of the materials listed below and be received by Stanford by the application deadline. 

Required Application Documents

  • Online Application
  • Application fee
  • Statement of Purpose
  • PhD Supplementary Information form (within application)
  • Resume/CV
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and/or universities attended for more than one year
  • Official TOEFL scores, if applicable

The GRE will not be accepted for applications received through December 2024. We ask that you do not submit or reference GRE scores in your application, as they will not be considered. (Updated June 2024)

Statement of Purpose

Your Statement of Purpose should identify personal and professional goals. It should also discuss your development to date and your intentions regarding graduate study and life beyond Stanford. The ME Graduate Admissions Committee reads your Statement of Purpose with interest because, along with the letters of recommendation, it offers insight into who you are as an individual. Your Statement of Purpose should not exceed two pages in length, single spaced. 

PhD Supplementary Information form

The PhD Supplementary Information form within the application asks applicants to briefly address five prompts (1000 characters max):

  • List up to three Stanford ME faculty members whose research interests overlap with your research interests and are potential PhD advisors. (Select from list)
  • Briefly comment on your motivation for seeking a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.
  • Briefly describe an activity (academic or not) that you initiated and involved independent inquiry, e.g. a technical project, or an extracurricular activity that you planned and executed. What did you learn?
  • Briefly describe a situation in which you experienced failure, or a situation in which your beliefs were challenged. How did you handle the situation, and what did you learn?
  • Briefly describe a time (or ongoing circumstances) that caused you to face a significant obstacle or experience adversity. How did you approach the situation?

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required -- one letter must come from an academic source, although we prefer at least two. If your background includes industry experience, involvement in leadership, public service, or entrepreneurial activities, you may wish to include one reference who can comment on that aspect of your experience. Recommendations must be submitted online. Please see the "Recommendations" section of the online application for more information. Please do not submit letters of recommendation through Interfolio.


You are required to upload unofficial copies of your transcripts or e-transcripts to the online application for all institutions you have attended for at least a year as a full-time student. Please do not send your official transcripts unless we contact you to do so.

TOEFL Scores

TOEFL results must be from an examination taken within 18 months of the application deadline. The Stanford institution code for ETS reporting is 4704. No department code is needed. For more information on TOEFL requirements, please see the Required Exams and Frequently Asked Questions sections on the Graduate Admissions website

Application Status Inquiries

After submitting the online application, applicants will have access to an online checklist which will track all required application materials. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we are not able to confirm with individual applicants when documents have been received. All applicants should monitor the online checklist to track individual documents. It is the applicant's responsibility to monitor the checklist and ensure that all documents are received by the deadline. Please allow 2-6 weeks for application materials to be added to your application and appear in the checklist. 

Admission decisions will be released electronically by mid-late March. 


Reapplicants must submit new supporting documents and complete the online application as outlined above in the Graduate Application Checklist.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program cultivates and supports a highly-engaged, multidisciplinary and multicultural community of graduate students from across Stanford University, and delivers a diverse collection of educational experiences, preparing graduates to address complex challenges facing the world. Knight-Hennessy Scholars participate in an experiential leadership development program known as the King Global Leadership Program and receive funding for up to three years of graduate study at Stanford. Two applications must be submitted separately; one to Knight-Hennessy by October 9, 2024, 1:00 pm PST, and one to the Stanford graduate degree program by its deadline to join the 2025 cohort. Visit to learn more and apply.

The selection of PhD students admitted to the Department of Mechanical Engineering is based on an individualized, holistic review of each application, including (but not limited to) the applicant's academic record, the letters of recommendation, the Statement of Purpose, personal qualities and characteristics, and past accomplishments.