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PhD Admissions FAQ

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PhD Admissions Frequently Asked Questions


My official test scores will not arrive by the application deadline! Can I still apply?

Yes, you may still apply. You should take your ETS tests and request that scores be submitted to Stanford as well. Your application will not be considered complete until your official transcripts and test scores arrive. We will contact otherwise competitive applicants with incomplete applications for follow-up. Be sure your e-email address and telephone number are correct.

Are TOEFL scores required for admission?

In general, yes, if your first language is not English. On your application, self-report both your ETS scores and percentages. The Graduate Admissions website has further details about the university-wide test requirements and exceptions. Any request for a TOEFL waiver must to directed to central Graduate Admissions. Individual academic departments may not approve requests for waivers.  In general, there is a high expectation for English language fluency in both formal use and informal interactions, in written and oral situations. One of the key goals of our educational programs is the further development of communication skills in English and ongoing opportunities are built into the curriculum.

I am an international student but did my Master’s or Bachelor’s at a US (or country in which instruction is provided in English) Institution. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?

TOEFL scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Exemptions are granted to applicants who have earned a US bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or the international equivalent degree from a university of recognized standing in a country in which all instruction is provide in English (Australia, Canada except Quebec, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK. Stanford does not accept IELTS scores. More information can be found on the Graduate Admissions website.

I’m applying to the Knight-Hennessy Program. What’s my deadline? Do I need to do both applications?

You should submit two independent applications if you are applying to the Knight-Hennessy Program. You should be sure to complete both your Knight-Hennessy application and your Chemical Engineering department application by the Knight-Hennessy deadline of October 6, 2021. These applications are independent and separate. Be sure you complete each set of requirements for each separate application. Please visit for more information regarding the Knight Hennessy Scholars program.

Can I visit the department?

The Stanford campus is currently closed to the public. However, admitted PhD applicants will be invited to virtual visit March 4-6, 2021 for the Chemical Engineering Graduate Research Symposium visit weekend. If you are admitted, you will be invited to virtually visit the department and meet with our students and faculty.

May I apply to start graduate work in other times of the year than Autumn Quarter?

For programmatic and curricular reasons, admitted students should plan to commence studies at the beginning of the academic year, in September.

Are GRE scores required for admission?

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

What kinds of financial aid are available?

Fellowship awards, assistantship jobs and loans through the university. The department is the first point of contact for the administration of most external fellowships (NSF, NDSEG, DOD, DOE, NIH, Hughes, Bell/Lucent and various foundations,), university fellowships (Stanford Graduate Fellowship), School of Engineering and departmental fellowships, and research and teaching assistantships. The university's Financial Aid Office helps graduate students obtain loans.

What are my chances of getting financial aid?

We offer financial aid at the time of admission to approximately the top 5-10 percent of the PhD applicants, and virtually all the first-year PhD students in Chemical Engineering receive aid. Faculty hold workshops to help PhD students write research proposals and apply for external fellowships. Once PhD students join a research group, normally they are supported either by fellowship awards or assistantship jobs from their research advisors or a combination of these two sources of funds.

What is the usual size of the incoming chemical engineering PhD Class?

Recently, the incoming PhD classes have numbered in the mid-20s.

Where do I send the supplemental materials for my application?

Official transcripts will only be required if you are accepted. Communication regarding how to submit your transcripts will be sent as part of your acceptance.

What materials must be included with my application?

There are four major components required to complete a graduate application file:

  1. Bio-demographic information, educational history and ETS test results (official and self-reported scores and percentages).
  2. Statement of Purpose (2 pages).
  3. Summary outline of your research experience, professional experience, and relevant employment
  4. Three letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty and, for PhD applicants, from research advisors who can discuss most knowledgeably the applicant's suitability for pursuit of the selected degree.

When will I find out about the decision on my application?

All applicants must maintain current and correct email addresses so we can communicate with you via email. PhD applicants can expect to hear from us in January/February. The final PhD decisions are made after the December PhD deadline so the entire pool may be considered. PhD decisions will be communicated to all applicants, in writing, via email.

Is it possible to waive the application fee?

Fee Waiver Process

Further questions can be directed to