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PhD Admissions

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is intended primarily for students who desire a career in research, advanced development or teaching.

PhD programs are designed to give students a broad background in mathematics and engineering sciences, together with intensive study and research experience in a specialized area. Current Stanford MS students interested in adding a PhD program to their academic career should speak with the staff at the 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 Application Date
Winter 2019-2020* October 8, 2019
Spring 2019-2020* January 14, 2020
Autumn 2020-2021 December 3, 2019

*Students wishing to apply to the PhD program to start in Winter or Spring quarter, must contact directly first.

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 appplication 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
  • Resume/CV
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Official Transcripts from all college and/or universities attended
  • Official GRE Test Scores
  • Official TOEFL scores, if applicable

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. 

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. 


One original, official transcript from ALL colleges and/or universities attended full time for at least one year are required. Review the Graduate Admissions website for official transcript policies. We accept official transcripts sent directly from your institution via mail or secure electronic submission. We do not accept transcripts as email attachments. Transcripts can be mailed to:

Mechanical Engineering Graduate Admissions
440 Escondido Mall
Building 530, Room 125
Stanford, CA 94305-3030

Official electronic transcripts can be submitted to

GRE Test Scores

GRE general results must be from an examination taken within five years of the application deadline. Official results must be sent by ETS to Stanford. Our institution code for ETS reporting is 4704. No department code is needed. For more information on GRE requirements, please see the Required Exams and Frequently Asked Questions sections on the Graduate Admissions website. To meet the December deadline, we recommend that applicants take the GRE no later than October 31. 

We do not require GRE subject tests. 

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. 

Knight-Hennessy Scholars

Knight-Hennessy Scholars develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. This year, the program will award up to 75 high-achieving students with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including full-time master's and PhD's in Mechanical Engineering. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by October 10, 2019 at 1:00 PM (PST), and separately apply to the Mechanical Engineering department by December 3, 2019.

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 scores on the General GRE (Graduate Record Examination), the statement of purpose, personal qualities and characteristics, and past accomplishments.