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Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

Applying to Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Stanford

All application materials — including test scores — are due by the posted deadline. You can submit supplemental material at any time before the deadline; material will be matched when you submit your online application. A completed (or in-progress) MS degree is required for admission to the AA PhD program. Students who hold only an undergraduate degree must apply to the MS program. Students who hold, or are in the process of obtaining, an MS degree in a related field should apply directly to the PhD program.

General application requirements

I have submitted all of my application materials. Why does my checklist still say my application is not complete?

You will be notified in late December that your application checklist has been updated, which will indicate the completeness of your application — i.e., whether the required additional application materials (transcripts, recommendations, GRE scores and possibly TOEFL scores) have been received. Due to the high volume of application material received, we are unable to confirm by email or phone when individual documents have arrived. Your application checklist will be our main source of communication.

My school(s) have sent an official transcript. Why does my checklist say that only my unofficial transcript(s) have been received?

You will be notified in late December that your application checklist has been updated, which will indicate the completeness of your application, including whether your transcripts have been received. Due to the high volume of application material received, we are unable to confirm by email or phone when individual documents have arrived. Your application checklist will be our main source of communication.

I have taken my required tests (GRE and/or TOEFL) and requested the scores be sent to Stanford. Why is my checklist saying that the official scores have not been received?

You will be notified in late December that your application checklist has been updated, which will indicate the completeness of your application, including whether your test scores have been received. Test scores are uploaded by an automated process each week. If you are concerned that your test scores have not been received, please contact the appropriate testing service office. Due to the high volume of application material received, we are unable to confirm by email or phone when individual documents have arrived. Your application checklist will be our main source of communication.

What is Stanford’s ETS (Educational Testing Service) institutional code for sending test scores? What is the department code?

Stanford’s institutional code is 4704. You do not need to indicate a department code. As long as you have indicated the institutional code of 4704, your scores should get to Stanford even if you also included a department code.

What if my test scores are not received by the deadline?

Your file will not be considered complete until all required application materials are received. We may do a preliminary review of your file with unofficial (self-reported) test scores, but we will not make a final decision until we have official test scores.

What are the minimum GRE scores required for admission?

We do not have published minimum test scores. We encourage all students to apply as we review application packages as a whole. However, our program is competitive and successful applicants tend to score well on the GRE, especially the math section.

What are the minimum TOEFL scores required for admission?

Stanford University requires a score of 89 (Internet)/575 (paper) for the MS program, and 100 (Internet)/600 (paper) for the PhD program.

What if my official transcripts are not received by the deadline?

Your file will not be considered complete until all required application materials are received. We may do a preliminary review of your file with unofficial transcripts, but we will not make a final decision until we have official transcripts.

What is an ‘official’ transcript?

The PDF version of the transcripts you upload online are considered "unofficial." The university requires "official" transcripts that are produced and sent directly by your university in a sealed envelope. You may also send official transcripts yourself as long as the envelope has not been opened, as indicated by an unbroken seal with a signature or stamp across it. Official electronic transcripts can be sent to aa-admissions@stanford.edu.

I am an international student, do my transcripts need to be translated into English?

In order for the admissions committee and university to read your transcripts, any text must be translated into English. Please see the Office of Graduate Admissions’ page on international transcripts.

I am an international student and my grades are not on a 4.0 scale. Should I compute my GPA to compare to the U.S. 4.0 grading scale?

No. If your school has not converted your GPA for you, enter the given scale in the GPA fields of the online application.

What happens if my letters of recommendation are not received by the deadline?

We will not review your file unless we have three letters of recommendation.

I am reapplying to the program. Can I reuse any application materials?

All materials including letters of recommendation must be resubmitted. Test scores are good for five years.

I made an error/need to add something on my personal statement/CV, but I already submitted my application. Can I send an email to update my application?

No.  Once your application has been submitted, we are unable to make any corrections to your materials for you. Any updates to CVs, personal statements or the application itself will not be accepted. Official test scores to back up the self-reported ones, online letters of recommendation and official transcript are the only materials that can be added to your application after the deadline.

When will I receive my admissions decision, and how will I be notified?

Autumn quarter completed applications are reviewed by the faculty Admissions Committee throughout the winter. Letters are sent as decisions are made, beginning in February and continuing through mid-April.  Letters may be mailed or posted to your online Activity Status Page.

MS program

My undergraduate degree is not in an engineering discipline. Am I eligible to apply?

You are eligible to apply, but you may be at a disadvantage when compared with engineering majors who have applied. We expect all applicants to have a strong background in math and science.  Stanford is a selective university and expects that all graduate students will be able to demonstrate academic excellence prior to admission, as well as a readiness to succeed in the Aero/Astro program. Please thoroughly review the requirements of the program in the Aero/Astro Graduate Handbook.

I already have an MS degree in another discipline. Am I eligible to apply for an MS degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford?

Students who hold, or are in the process of obtaining, an MS degree in a related field should apply directly to the PhD program.

May I apply to more than one Stanford MS program at the same time?

No — you may apply to only one MS program at a time. If you apply to more than one, both applications may be disqualified.

I cannot afford graduate school. How can I apply for a fellowship?

All MS applications will be reviewed for a limited number of fellowships. These awards are competitively allocated and are based on academic merit. We encourage all applicants to apply for outside fellowships such as the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Is it possible to get a course or research assistantship?

It is quite rare for a first-year MS student to secure an assistantship. Most MS students fund the first few quarters with loans and search for assistantships once they have built relationships with faculty in the Aero/Astro or other departments. Students should contact faculty members directly to inquire about assistantships.

I want to apply now, but I won’t be able to start until fall 2017-18. Should I still apply?

If you know you are unable to start until a later quarter, please do not apply now. 

If I am admitted, can I defer for a quarter or two?

The MS program starts each autumn quarter (September). Admitted students may request a deferral for a one-year period. It is not common for deferral requests to be approved without exceptional circumstances.  If you know in advance that you cannot start school in the term you are applying for, please wait to apply in a future year.

I don’t live in the area. Can I do a part-time MS program completely online?

It is not possible to complete an entire MS degree online. Stanford does offer a part-time MS program in Aeronautics and Astronautics.  Students must be employees of a member company of the Stanford Center for Professional Development network. Prospective Honors Cooperative Program (HCP) students follow the same admissions process and must meet the same admissions requirements as full-time graduate students. This program works best for students employed locally because some on-campus course work will be necessary.

I accidentally applied for the PhD program, but I meant to apply for the MS program. What should I do?

Please send an e-mail to aa-admissions@stanford.edu with the subject line: “Applied to the PhD in error. Please move me to the MS pool.” In the email, please state your full name so we can find you easily.

PhD program

I am currently getting my BS degree. Can I apply for the PhD program?

No. To be eligible to apply to the PhD program, you must have an MS degree. You may also apply if you are currently enrolled in an MS program that will be completed prior to the initiation of the PhD program. If you apply to the PhD program without an MS degree, we will review your application for the MS program. If you are admitted to the MS program, you will have the opportunity to apply internally for the PhD in the future.

What is the best way to contact faculty and find out about their research?

The Aero/Astro website is a great place to start. All of the faculty members have public pages on the Stanford online directory, including contact information, and many have links to their labs.

Application questions?