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Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

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Applying to Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Stanford

All application materials — including test scores — are due by the posted deadline. You may submit supplemental material at any time before the deadline; material will be matched to your online application. An MS degree is no longer be required to apply to the PhD program in Aeronautics and Astronautics. Students with a Bachelor’s degree who ultimately intend to complete a PhD degree are encouraged to apply directly to the PhD program. Admission to the PhD program is much more competitive than to the MS program, so students interested primarily in a Masters degree should apply to the MS program.

Stanford Central Graduate Admissions Website


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

Yes. Students with a BS degree are eligible to apply to the PhD program.

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

Students who have already received a Master’s degree or an equivalent international advanced degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics or a closely related discipline are not eligible for admission to Stanford’s MS program in Aeronautics and Astronautics. Students with a Master’s degree in a discipline that does not substantially overlap with Stanford’s MS program may apply. Students who hold, or are in the process of obtaining, an MS degree in a related field may apply directly to the PhD program.

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

No, you may only apply to one program per year. If you apply to more than one, both applications may be disqualified.

I want to apply now, but I won’t be able to start on time. 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 to a later term?

No. Requests to defer admission are reviewed only in extenuating circumstances such as military duty or medical issues. Each deferral request is reviewed on a case by case basis and there is no guarantee that any request will be approved.

If I am not admitted to the PhD program, can my application be reviewed for the MS program?

It is uncommon for the Admissions Committee to forward a PhD application for MS consideration. Please apply to the appropriate program.

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 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.

How many units can I transfer?

Ph.D. or D.M.A. students may only apply a total of 45 units of transfer credit and credit earned for a Stanford master’s degree toward the PhD residency total. Up to 45 units completed at Stanford toward an M.A. or M.S. degree or accepted as transfer credit, but not both, may be used toward the 135 unit residency requirement for the Ph.D. or M.A. degree. Students wishing to use units from an external M.A. or M.S. degree, in addition to a Stanford M.A. or M.S. degree, towards their Ph.D. will be subject to additional residency requirements. At least 90 units of work at Stanford are necessary to complete the 135 residency units for the Ph.D. or M.A. degree. Note: units completed at Stanford are automatically counted towards the graduate residency requirement, students do not need to submit an application for graduate residency transfer credit.

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. 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.

Does the Aeronautics and Astronautics department at Stanford still value diversity?

Yes. believes that diversity broadly defined (and not limited to racial and ethnic diversity) drives good engineering solutions, and the answers to our most pressing global questions will benefit from diverse perspectives. Aeronautics and Astronautics will continue to pursue broad diversity through lawful means.

Who should apply to the department of Aeronautics and Astronautics?

Students from all backgrounds who are academically well-qualified and who bring perspectives and experiences that would contribute to the overall academic excellence associated with Stanford University are encouraged to apply.

What does the School of Engineering value in its applicants?

The School of Engineering values academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, and those personal qualities and characteristics that would enrich the educational and research environment.

Will the Aeronautics and Astronautics department take race into consideration?

No. We will evaluate applicants holistically and individually based on their qualifications, experiences as an individual, and expectations for success in our programs.

Can an applicant mention personal details related to race in their application?

Yes. Applicants may write about any aspect of their background, experiences, or perspectives in their application, and how those have contributed to who they are as individuals.

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 (recommendations 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.

I have taken my required test (example: 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 happens if my letters of recommendation are not received by the deadline?

Your file will not be considered complete until all required application materials are received. Late materials may jeopardize your chances for admission and/or financial aid.

What are the minimum GRE scores required for admission?

GRE scores are no longer required for admission, and will not be considered on the application.

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.

Can I substitute the TOEFL for another test?

No. Stanford does not accept the IELTS instead of TOEFL.

I am an international student, do my uploaded 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, you should not recalculate your GPA onto a 4.0 scale. You will be able to type in your GPA and the GPA scale on the application. 

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.

Can I visit the department? Do you have official Admit/Visit Days?

Students admitted to our graduate programs will be invited to visit the department and meet with our students and faculty. Our next Visit Days are February 22-23, 2024 for PhD Admits, and March 22, 2024 for MS Admits. 

Financial Aid

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

All PhD students are fully funded. PhD applications will be considered for a limited number of Stanford fellowships. These awards are competitively allocated and are based on academic merit and research potential. We encourage all applicants to apply for outside fellowships such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship Program. Most MS students are self-funded and do not receive fellowships.

Funding is also available through Knight-Hennessy Scholars, which cultivates and supports a highly-engaged, multidisciplinary and multicultural community of graduate students from across Stanford University, and delivers a diverse collection of educational experiences, preparing graduates to address complex challenges facing the world. Each year, Knight-Hennessy Scholars selects up to 100 students who are newly enrolling in a graduate degree program in any of Stanford’s seven schools. Knight-Hennessy Scholars participate in an experiential leadership development program and receive funding for up to three years of graduate study at Stanford. Candidates of any country may apply. Candidates must submit two applications to be considered; one to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by October 11, 2023 at 1:00pm PDT and one to the graduate degree program by December 5, 2023. Visit the 
Knight-Hennessy Scholars Website to learn more.

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.

Contact Information

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?