Frequently Asked Questions for PhD Applicants

If you have questions about the application process, please consult the
Application FAQ

Program FAQ

  • When is the application deadline? December 7, 2023 11:59 PM PST is the application deadline for Autumn 2024-2025.
  • I will have just earned my bachelor’s degree before starting graduate study at Stanford. Should I apply to the MS or the PhD program? You should apply to the degree program that can fulfill your ultimate degree goal. For example, if obtaining a PhD is your ultimate goal, you should apply directly to the PhD program.
  • Do I need to have a master’s degree before applying to the PhD program? No; the minimum degree requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Students who enter the PhD program may opt to pursue the master’s degree along the way to earning the PhD.
  • If I apply to the PhD program but do not get admitted, will I be considered for the MS program?  The Electrical Engineering Department does not consider PhD applicants not admitted into the PhD program for the MS program. 
  • If I am admitted and enrolled in the MS program, may I enter the PhD program later? Admission to the PhD program is possible only through the annual general admissions process. Current MS students must reapply through this process to be considered for the PhD program.
  • May I apply for a start term other than autumn? No; applications are reviewed on an annual basis for autumn quarter start only.
  • How long does it take to complete the PhD? Typical completion time for the PhD program is 5-7 years.
  • How important is it to contact faculty before I apply? Contact with faculty members is not a required part of the application process nor does it guarantee admission to our graduate program. Admissions decisions are made by the Admissions Committee, not by individual faculty members.
  • Is financial assistance available for PhD students? Yes; all PhD students who maintain satisfactory academic progress receive full financial support for the duration of the doctoral program. For more information, please see Financial Assistance for PhD Students.
  • What are the minimum GPA requirements for admission? Applicants do not need to meet any minimum grade point average (GPA) to secure admission, and we do not release information about average GPAs of admitted students. As a guideline, successful applicants typically earn undergraduate cumulative GPAs among the top of their class. However, please keep in mind that admission to our graduate programs depends on a combination of factors, and all areas of a student’s application are weighed when applications are reviewed.
  • Am I eligible to apply if my undergraduate major is not Electrical Engineering? Yes; students who meet the minimum degree requirements with a strong technical background in engineering, physical sciences, or mathematics are welcome to apply. A bachelor's degree in electrical engineering is not strictly required.
  • Are specific prerequisite courses required for admission? No; we advise prospective applicants to review the EE Graduate Handbook and the Stanford Course Catalog to evaluate what prerequisites are needed for graduate-level courses in your area(s) of interest.
  • What is the minimum level of study required of international applicants from an academic institution outside of the U.S.? Please refer to Stanford Graduate Admissions | International Applicants for eligibility guidelines related to study outside of the U.S.
  • What is the process for transferring to the PhD program from another institution? Students who wish to transfer to our PhD program from another institution must complete the same application procedure as new applicants. If you are admitted and enrolled, you may request to transfer up to 45 units of coursework from your previous institution toward the PhD degree requirements at Stanford, by following the procedures for Graduate Residency Credit. Students must complete one quarter at Stanford before requesting to transfer units, and all transferred units are subject to approval by the Registrar’s Office.
  • If I am admitted to a EE graduate program, can my admission be deferred? The Department greatly discourages deferral of matriculation dates.  Deferrals are granted only to PhD applicants, and only in exceptional circumstances such as for US military service or visa issues for students arriving from designated countries.  Admitted students wishing to defer admission must send a written request (along with documentation if possible) to Requests will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. MS and Coterm applicants cannot defer admission dates.

Return to Program Overview: