Stanford is on the quarter system. The autumn, winter and spring quarters, each lasting about 11 weeks, are the principal academic quarters. The summer quarter lasts eight weeks. In the Statistics Department, except for the first summer, students are not required to enroll at Stanford or be on campus during summer quarters, though many students choose to do so. The department maintains an active summer program of seminars, lectures, and courses.
Students receiving financial support during the summer are required to enroll, and may register for regular coursework or independent research in or out of the department. In some cases, newly admitted students will be asked to enroll during the summer quarter preceding the first year core program in order to remedy perceived background deficiencies.
Qualifying examinations in the statistics department are intended to test the students' level of knowledge when the first-year program, common to all students, has been completed. There are separate examinations in the three core subjects of (1) applied statistics, (2) probability theory, and (3) theoretical statistics. Exams are typically taken during the summer between the students' first and second years. Students are expected to show acceptable performance in two of the three examinations. Letter grades are not given. After passing the qualifying exams, students file for Ph.D. candidacy, a university milestone.