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Application requirements for all doctoral programs (phd).

All of our doctoral programs are designed to develop outstanding educational researchers who have a deep understanding of the scientific, practical and policy issues they study. All require full-time study, and we promise five years of full-time financial support for every student we admit. Our doctoral programs are small, typically ranging from about 25 to 35 new students a year. The small size of our doctoral cohorts creates big educational advantages for students: the classes are almost always small, students receive individualized attention from their advisors, and they have many opportunities to develop close collegial relationships with fellow students.

It is extremely important to demonstrate in your statement of purpose that your interests converge closely with the current research of faculty who work in the program to which you are applying. Other doctoral applicants will certainly do this, and if you don't, you will forfeit an important competitive advantage to them. 

If you wish to contact faculty, please read our Which Degree Which Program article, by Professor Eamonn Callan, which outlines the appropriate process for contacting faculty with whom you share research interests. 

  • Program website:  Degrees and Programs/PhD
  • Length of Program:  5 years (average length)
  • Tuition: fellowship/assistantship salary and tuition guaranteed for first five years of the program (autumn, winter and spring quarters) for all students, including international students. Funding includes two summers.

Application Requirements:

Application form.

Complete and submit Stanford's graduate online application .

Application Fee

The application fee is $125 , is non-refundable, and must be received by the application deadline.

Application Fee Waivers

Stanford offers three types of application fee waivers for which GSE applicants may apply and be considered:

  • GRE Fee Reduction Certificate-Based Waiver
  • Diversity Program Participation-Based Waiver
  • School-Based Waiver

Please visit the Stanford Graduate Diversity website for instructions, deadlines, and the fee waiver application form.

Statement of Purpose

A Statement of Purpose is required. Your statement should be typed, single-spaced and should be between one to two pages . Describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program, your preparation for this field of study, and why our program is a good fit for you, your future career plans, and other aspects of your background as well as interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. You may indicate potential faculty mentors as part of your study and research interests. Be sure to keep a copy for your records. What's a Good Statement of Purpose?

A resume or CV  is required of all applicants, depending on which document is most appropriate for your background. There is no page limit for resumes or CVs, though we typically see resumes of one page in length. Please upload your resume or CV in the online application.

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation . In the online application, you will be asked to identify your recommenders and their email addresses. Please notify your recommenders that they will receive an email prompt to submit their recommendation online. You can submit your request for letters of recommendation through the system without submitting the entire online application.  Stanford GSE only accepts online recommendations through the application system ; Stanford GSE cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed recommendations.

Recommendations should be written by people who have supervised you in an academic, employment, or community service setting. We very strongly recommend that at least one of these letters be from a university professor familiar with your academic work. Your recommendations should directly address your suitability for admission to a graduate program at Stanford GSE.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all three letters of recommendation are submitted through the system by the application deadline , so please work closely with your recommenders to remind them of the deadline.

College and University Transcripts

Transcripts are required from every college and university you have attended for at least one academic year as a full-time student. When submitting your online application, transcripts should be uploaded to the application as a scanned copy or PDF ; this is sufficient for the application review process. Please refrain from sending a secured PDF/transcript with a digital signature as our system cannot upload these properly. The best way to ensure we receive an upload-able document is for you to print out the secured transcript, scan it, and upload the scanned copy (not to exceed 10MB) as a PDF. 

If you earned a degree at the institution from which you are submitting a transcript, please ensure that the degree conferral date and the degree conferred is clearly visible on the document. If you are currently enrolled in a degree program and will not have earned the respective degree by the time of submitting your GSE application, you should submit your most recent in-progress transcript from your institution.

Only if admitted will we contact you with instructions on sending two copies of your official transcripts to our office. We cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed copies of your transcripts during the application process. Please note: the instructions for sending transcripts on the online application and on the general Stanford Graduate Admissions Office website differ from this Stanford GSE requirement.

Concerning course work completed in a study abroad program

If the coursework and grades are reflected on the transcript of your home institution, you do not need to submit original transcripts from the study abroad institution.

Concerning foreign institutions

If your institution provides a transcript in a language other than English, we require that you submit a translation of the transcript that is either provided by the institution or a certified translator. Translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.

If your transcript does not include your degree conferral date and the degree conferred , please submit a scanned copy of your diploma, a conferral statement, or a conferral document in addition to your transcript . If you are currently enrolled in a degree program and will not have earned the respective degree by the time of submitting your GSE application, you should submit your most recent in-progress transcript from your institution.

Stanford University requires the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) from all applicants whose native language is not English. The GSE requires a minimum TOEFL score of 250 for the computer-based test, 600 for the paper-based test or 100 for the internet-based test in order to be considered for admission. The Test of Written English (TWE) portion of the TOEFL is not required. Applicants who have completed a four-year bachelor's degree or a two-year master's program (or its equivalent) in the U.S. or at an institution where English is the main language of instruction are not required to take the TOEFL. For more information on TOEFL requirements, please refer to the Required Exams  page on the main Stanford Graduate Admissions website. You may register for the TOEFL test directly at the ETS website .

TOEFL Dates and Deadlines

PhD applicants who are required to take the TOEFL should plan to take the internet-based TOEFL test and have official TOEFL scores sent electronically to Stanford at institution code 4704 (department code does not matter) no later than November 1 . This will give your official TOEFL scores time to be sent from ETS and be received by our system in time for the December 1 deadline. PhD applicants to Knight-Hennessy Scholars should plan to take the internet-based TOEFL test no later than October 16 so your scores can be received by our system in time for the November 16 KHS GSE deadline. Please note that the TOEFL may be taken no earlier than 18 months prior to the application deadline.

Does Stanford accept tests other than TOEFL?

No. We accept only TOEFL scores; we do not accept IELTS or other test scores.

Contact Information

Admissions:  [email protected]  

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