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PhD Admissions Requirements

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IMPORTANT: These departmental instructions and requirements are SUPPLEMENTAL to the university-wide requirements for each and every application for admission to any advanced degree program at Stanford University.

The Department of Chemical Engineering no longer requires or accepts GRE scores for admission.  International students will still be required to take the TOEFL exam.  

DEADLINE for all components of a PhD application must be received by the department no later than December 1, 2021. The application is currently closed.

The PhD application season is mid-September through mid-December each year. The application is Closed. No late applications will be accepted.

Application Materials

Beginning in 2021, GRE scores will no longer be required or accepted as part of an applicant’s application materials.

Our Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is open to all applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree or will have completed one before matriculating as a graduate student at Stanford. 

A degree in chemical engineering is not required but applicants should be familiar with key concepts and their applications. This typically means applicants have degrees in other science and engineering disciplines such as bioengineering, biology, chemistry, materials science, mathematics, mechanical engineering and physics. We are looking for coursework or other experiences demonstrating use of higher-level mathematics (e.g. linear algebra, partial differential equations) and recommend completion of core chemical engineering courses (e.g. fluid mechanics, heat and mass transport phenomena, chemical reaction kinetics, thermodynamics). An MS degree is not a prerequisite for admission to our PhD program or for PhD degree conferral. 

We value the rich perspectives, skills, and ideas people from varied backgrounds bring to the Stanford community. Diversity is woven throughout Stanford and is reflected not only in our people, but also in the curricula and research enterprises. The teaching and research of our faculty provide opportunities to engage deeply in concerns related to diversity in every sphere of life. Diversity leads to better ideas, more informed decisions, and enriches the learning and research environment.

1.Completed Online Application

Access online application

2. Contributing factors statement

There is a section in the online application that asks for your contributing factors to the Stanford community. Diversity has been a core value at Stanford since the university's founding in 1891. That year, Stanford opened its doors to men and women from diverse religious, national, and racial backgrounds in its quest to train useful citizens. The diversity of Stanford’s first class reflects our commitment to provide opportunities for advancement to any deserving student. We value the rich perspectives, skills, and ideas people from varied backgrounds bring to the Stanford community. Diversity is woven throughout Stanford and is reflected not only in our people, but also in the curricula and research enterprises. The teaching and research of our faculty provide opportunities to engage deeply in concerns related to diversity in every sphere of life. Today diversity at Stanford, in its myriad forms, is essential to maintaining our educational excellence. Diversity leads to better ideas, more informed decisions, and enriches the learning and research environment. We use these statements to help identify an admitted cohort that represents a diversity of student experiences and perspectives and hope all applicants will use this space to provide a bit about themselves. This might be life experiences, interests not directly represented in other areas of your application, etc.

We encourage (but do not require) you to briefly explore in a very short essay what you bring to this core value at Stanford and particularly in the Chemical Engineering Department/School of Engineering. This might be: first in family to attend graduate school (or university), gender, religious, national, and/or racial, among others. 

3. Transcripts/Education History

Applicants are required to upload copies of their transcripts/academic records (including any legends/keys) directly into the online application. Please ensure that your scans are legible since the Admissions Committee will use them in their review process. Official transcripts will only be required for applicants who are admitted and accept the offer of graduate admission. Please do not arrange for any official transcripts to be sent to the department or Stanford graduate admissions until that time.

When completing the “Educational History 1” section of the application, you will be asked to list every college and university you have attended for a year or more, and any degree program in which you are currently enrolled. Please list the highest undergraduate degree awarded (e.g. Bachelor’s, Diplom, Maitrise, etc.) in the “Post-Secondary Institution 1” section.

4. Statement of Purpose (2 pages maximum)

In your statement of purpose, you should succinctly describe your reasons for applying to the Chemical Engineering PhD program, which may include:

Preparation and motivation for graduate study in Chemical Engineering

  • Aspects of your background and interests outside of research that are directly relevant to thriving in graduate school, such as obstacles overcome and experience in service and leadership
  • Motivation for pursuing a PhD drawing from specific examples of research , relevant work experience, and/or personal interests
  • Possible general areas of research you might pursue
  • Possible general areas of Chemical Engineering that you might pursue in your career
  • Any faculty member’s research that is of specific interest to you
  • Many experience obstacles in your education, especially during this past year. Please also feel free to provide further explanation about any challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your academic preparation

The maximum length is two pages (single-spaced). Your statement of purpose should be a well-structured essay that effectively communicates the information above while demonstrating your expository writing ability; it is often effective to open with a summary paragraph.

5. Three letters of recommendation

Recommenders should know you well and be able to comment on your strengths and your potential for graduate study. Our faculty strongly prefer letters of recommendation from academic (or professional) references who can speak to your academic and/or research background (e.g. professors who have acted as research supervisors, or instructors who have had extensive individual interactions with you). Letters must be submitted by the stated deadline as application review begins immediately. Late letters will not be reviewed. Additionally, our faculty find it helpful to hear from references who can comment on your personal qualities that would enable you to succeed in our graduate programs (such as your work ethic, commitment to goals, passion for learning and teaching, and capacity to overcome adversity), even if these references are from outside of STEM fields (e.g. coaches, academic advisors, and university leaders). Additional recommenders beyond the 3 required Letters of Recommendation are not requested.  

6. List of Research Experience (CV/Resume format) - 1 page limit

Your Research Experience provides the admissions committee with additional information to better evaluate your preparation and fit for our program. This is an opportunity to summarize your qualifications, honors, educational accomplishments (including publications and presentations) and interests. It should be a bulleted list, and can be structured similarly to a CV or resume and include relevant experience. 

7. TOEFL scores

Applicants whose first spoken language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), unless they qualify for an exemption or waiver. Applicants whose scores fall below Stanford’s minimum TOEFL requirements will still be considered for admission; if admitted, Stanford may require these students to take a placement exam and/or classes to satisfy the University’s English proficiency requirement.

TOEFL scores are retained for 20 months. For questions about the validity of TOEFL scores, please contact ETS. If ETS is able to send your TOEFL scores, we will accept them. Stanford currently does not accept scores from the IELTS exam.

8. Application Fee

Applicants who need assistance with the application fee are encouraged to apply for a fee waiver. Preference is given to low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

For applicants who are not receiving a waiver, a nonrefundable application fee of $125 is required for each application submitted to a graduate program at Stanford University. The fee must be paid through the payment section of the online application. The only accepted method of payment is by credit/debit card (Visa or MasterCard only).