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Degree of Engineer — Post MS Program

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The Engineer’s degree represents one to two additional years of study beyond the Master’s degree and includes a research thesis. The program is designed for students who wish to do professional engineering work upon graduation and who want to engage in more specialized study than is afforded solely by a Master’s degree. It is expected that full-time students will be able to complete the degree within two years of study after the master’s degree.

Applicants not currently enrolled at Stanford should follow the standard procedures for graduate applications. Current Stanford students who wish to continue or transfer to the Engineer’s degree program should submit the following materials to the Aero/Astro Student Services Office several weeks before the end of their current degree program:

  • Online Graduate Program Authorization Petition;
  • Statement of purpose describing the area of study and topic for thesis research;
  • Short letter from an Aero/Astro faculty member, addressing your preparation for the proposed research and their willingness to serve as your academic/research advisor.

Refer to the “Changes of Degree Level or Department” section, above, for more information.

Course requirements

Each individual Engineer’s Degree program, designed by the student in consultation with the advisor, should represent a strong and cohesive program reflecting the student's major field of interest. Engineer’s Degree candidates must complete a minimum of 90 units. Candidates who received their M.S. from Stanford may count up to 45 units towards the 90-unit total. Students who received an MS degree at another institution may petition (through the university Registrar’s Office) to transfer up to 45 units toward the 90-unit requirement.

Of the 45 units required beyond the M.S., a student must complete a minimum of 21 units (including 6 units of mathematics) of approved courses in advanced study in engineering, science, and mathematics (excluding research, directed study, and seminars) beyond the MS degree. These units must be taken for a letter grade, and all courses must be numbered 200 and above. Note: One math course may be taken at the 100 level if approved by the advisor. Students may register for up to 24 units of Engineer thesis. Units which were applied toward the MS degree cannot be used again. An advisor approved Engineer’s Degree course proposal must be submitted when applying for Engineer’s Degree candidacy.

Mathematics Courses: Engineer’s Degree candidates are expected to exhibit competence in applied mathematics. Students meet this requirement by taking two courses - a minimum of six units – of either advanced mathematics offered by the Mathematics department or courses that strongly emphasize methods of applied mathematics. The Aero/Astro Department and the other engineering departments offer many courses that have sufficient mathematical content that they may be used to satisfy the mathematics requirement; a pre-approved list is included in this Guide, but there are many others which may be acceptable. Please consult with your advisor and the Aero/Astro Student Services Office before assuming that a particular course will be accepted in your own program. Note: One math course may be taken at the 100 level if approved by the advisor.

Academic Requirements

Every student should be familiar with the University’s requirements for minimal progress as outlined in the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures GAP. A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is required to fulfill the department’s Engineer’s Degree, and to maintain satisfactory academic standing in the program. It is incumbent upon the student to request letter grades in all courses listed on the Application for Candidacy form. Students must receive a passing grade, and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, on all courses listed on the Candidacy form.


Students in the Engineer degree program must submit an Application for Candidacy no later than the second quarter of Engineer's study. This form indicates the courses and thesis work which the student will be using for the degree. If the research topic cannot be clearly described when this form is filed, the area of research should be described along with a timetable for identifying a thesis topic. Aero/Astro has a department-specific Candidacy form, available in the Aero/Astro Student Services Office.

The Application for Candidacy should be signed by the student's research advisor, and submitted to the Aero/Astro Student Services Office for the Director of Graduate Studies’ approval signature. Neglecting to file for candidacy can prevent you from receiving your degree. Changes to your program of study can be filed at any time by submitting a revised Candidacy form. Obtain your advisor's signature and submit it to the Aero/Astro Student Services Office for Director of Graduate Studies’ signature. In order to graduate or go TGR, you must have completed all the units listed on your current Candidacy form.

Engineer’s thesis

For specific information regarding the format and deadlines for submission of theses, please check with the Graduate Degree Progress Office. The department recommends that students follow the format defined in the Preparing Engineer Thesis for Electronic Submission. Note: the advisor must sign the thesis before the filing deadline, which is generally the last day of classes during the graduation quarter.

Mid-year degrees are not officially conferred until the first week of the quarter after degree completion, and actual diplomas are distributed at the University's Commencement in June. However, students who have submitted their theses and have no outstanding Stanford obligations (financial or academic) may obtain an official University "certificate of completion" from the Graduate Degree Progress Office after degree conferral.

Degree completion

Candidates for the engineer degree are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 for courses beyond those required for the master's degree. All courses except seminars and those that are mandatory pass/no-credit should be taken for a grade. Students must also meet the university’s quarterly academic requirements for graduate students, as described in the Bulletin and in the Satisfactory Progress section of the Guide to Graduate Studies in Aeronautics and Astronautics.

For midyear degrees, the date of conferral is early the quarter after degree completion. Students who have no outstanding Stanford obligations (financial or academic) may obtain an official “certificate of completion” from the Graduate Degree Progress Office at any time after finishing. Diplomas are printed only once a year, for distribution at Commencement in June.

Once students have begun study for the Engineer Degree, they have five years to complete the program. This time is not extended by leaves of absence.