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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.

For the 2020-2021 Application Cycle, GRE scores will not be required or accepted as a component of your graduate application. International students will still be required to take the TOEFL exam.

PhD applicants: See Statement of Purpose section below.

From the Office of the University Registrar, Graduate Admissions:

All applicants must apply using the University’s official Graduate Admissions application process.  

All components of a graduate application must be received by the department no later than the appropriate deadline. A complete application consists of a completed application form, a statement of purpose (with a summary of research experience for PhD applications), the application fee, three letters of recommendation, ETS examination results (scores and percentages) and academic transcripts.

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

DEADLINE for all components of a PhD application must be received by the department no later than the appropriate deadline. The application is currently closed.

Due to Stanford's extended Winter Closure period, admissions decisions & official notifications will be released in January 2021. Please do not contact the Chemical Engineering department or Graduate Admissions regarding the status of your application. If your application is considered competitive but is incomplete, a member of our admissions team will reach out to you directly.

Application Materials

  • Completed Online Application
  • Statement of Purpose - Keep this component brief! No more than 2 pages.
  • Research Summary - Summary outline of your employment, research experience, and professional experience. Your research summary should include any relevant experience – anything you deem relevant to your future as a PhD candidate. The Research Summary is intended as an expanded CV or resume. Concise summaries are expected. The format should be whatever you think conveys your experience and should be no more than 3 pages.
  • Recommendations from three people who can knowledgeably discuss your suitability for pursuit of the selected degree.
  • Bio-demographic information, educational history and test results (official and self-reported scores and percentages).
  • Transcripts (Current, unofficial transcript uploaded in your application. Do not send physical transcripts to the department).

Statement of Purpose

Your Statement of Purpose gives you an opportunity to distinguish yourself beyond grades and test scores. Please keep your Statement of Purpose to 2 pages or less. You may choose to write about previous experiences, your personal and professional goals: Why graduate school? What might follow? What inspires you? What drives you? For PhD applications: Why is a research life a good fit for you?  Have you ever written a proposal to do independent research, such as a National Science Foundation fellowship application?  Is there something else about you that you think is important for us to know? It is not necessary to address each of these issues; we want you to decide how you want to present yourself. The Chemical Engineering Graduate Admissions Committee members read this essay with interest and care because, along with the letters of recommendation, it offers us further insight into who you are as a distinct individual. 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.

Letters of recommendation

Recommendations should be from full-time faculty, ideally, or others qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. Applicants should include one or more letters from a research advisor. At least one should be from a faculty member at the last school attended as a full-time student, unless you have been out of school for more than five years. Substitutions for faculty recommendations may be work supervisors or others who are qualified to comment on your academic potential for graduate work in chemical engineering. Letters of recommendation are submitted online.  

GRE and TOEFL examination requirements

For the 2020-2021 Admissions Cycle, we are not accepting GRE scores. We recognize the pressures of a standardized test during the COVID-19 pandemic and understand that a test of this nature may not yield results that are indicative of an applicant’s aptitude or future success. GRE subject tests will also not be accepted.

TOEFL — Scores are required from all applicants whose first language is not English regardless of citizenship, except for those who have completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree at an accredited institution in which English is the sole language of instruction. For more information on the TOEFL requirement, please refer to the Graduate Admissions Student Affairs Website

Your TOEFL results must be reported before our application deadlines, both officially by ETS (directly to Stanford University Graduate Admissions) and unofficially by the applicant.  For official scores, the Stanford University score recipient number is R4704; no department number is used. Applicants should self-report their individual scores and percentages in their application or send photocopies of ETS score reports to the department.

Academic records, transcripts and other materials

Applicants must upload an unofficial copy of their transcript with their application. Official transcripts will only be required for applicants selected for admission. Do not send transcripts to the department unless explicitly asked to do so.

Application status inquiries

The Department of Chemical Engineering does not use the checklist in the online Activity Report for applicants, but you can check to see if your recommenders have submitted letters. We are unable to respond to inquiries regarding the status of any application. However, if you have followed instructions, (i.e. entered your self-reported ETS scores and percentages, ordered ETS reports to be sent to Stanford, we want you to rest assured that we have what we need for evaluations. We will contact otherwise competitive applicants with incomplete applications for follow-up. Be sure your e-email address and telephone number are correct.


DEADLINE for all components of a PhD application must be received by the department no later than the appropriate deadline.