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PhD Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective Applicants (PhD)

While there are no specific prerequisite courses to complete before applying, previous experience has shown that before starting the core courses students need to have mastered the material in courses such as Stanford's Math113, Math115, Stats116, Stats200, and CS106A (or their equivalents at other universities), as demonstrated by very strong and relatively recent grades. Descriptions of these courses may be viewed on Stanford's ExploreCourses course listings pages. Where this background is missing or not recent, admission to the Ph.D. program will involve working with the Graduate Director to design an individual program to make up the necessary courses.

No. It is not possible to complete a degree online in the Statistics Department.  The department offers a small number of courses online through SCPD, mostly in summer, but the majority of courses must be completed on campus during normal business hours.

Please visit Estimated Expense Budget for information about the estimated cost of living on-campus as a graduate student (this is only an estimate; your actual expenses may differ).

Please visit Student Housing for information about campus housing at Stanford, including information on eligibility, application process, and deadlines.

Applicants to any graduate program at Stanford are eligible to apply for this fellowship. Applicants must have applied to the Scholars program by the 2021 deadline and must submit their graduate application by the dept/program deadline.

The Bechtel International Center works with students, staff and faculty and their families on issues including immigration policy, academic and financial difficulties, transactions with foreign governments, English proficiency, housing, and adjustment to life at Stanford. Contact the center at 584 Capistrano Way, Stanford, CA 94305-8245, (650) 723-1831, or visit the Bechtel web site.

No, we only matriculate students in autumn quarter and therefore all applicants must meet the annual Ph.D. application deadline.


Students with a strong mathematical background who wish to go on to a PhD in Statistics should consider applying directly to the PhD program. Completing the MS in Statistics does not increase one's chances of admission to the PhD program.

No, you may apply to only one degree program per academic year. An exception is within the Biosciences, in which you may apply to up to three PhD programs within your one application. However, you may apply concurrently to one departmental program and to a professional school program (law, medicine or business).

 We receive approximately 120 PhD applications each year, and usually admit 10-12 new students each year.

Graduate Exam Requirements (PhD)

We do not have a minimum GPA requirement for applicants to the PhD program, but GPAs of at least 3.5 are strongly recommended..

While we have not established any particular GRE test score necessary for admission, the average General GRE percentile scores of recently admitted applicants are Verbal 90%, Quantitative 95% and Analytical Writing 74%. If you submit results from more than one eligible test date we will consider the higher of the scores.

Admission to the Statistics Department requires the GRE general test. ETS has introduced a solution for students who have been impacted by the coronavirus to take the GRE® General Test at home until test centers can reopen. For more information, please visit the ETS website. For those who are ineligible for the at-home testing and would like to request consideration for a waiver, please submit an email explaining your circumstances to Use the subject heading 'GRE Waiver Request Special Circumstances'. The department's admissions coordinator will verify your eligibility for the test waiver and respond via email.

Applicants who have already earned a Ph.D. degree, or have Ph.D. studies in progress with a degree conferral date prior to the intended start quarter, may request a GRE General Test waiver by emailing with the following information and attaching an unofficial copy of your PhD transcript: full name, institution attended, degree earned, and degree conferral date. Use the subject heading 'GRE General Test Waiver Request'.

The average scores of recently admitted Statistics PhD applicants:

  • General GRE scores (percentiles):
    • Quantitative 95%
    • Verbal 90%
    • Analytical Writing 74%    
  • TOEFL score: 110 Total (Internet-based)


The General GRE test is required of all applicants applying to a graduate program in statistics at Stanford University, including applicants who have previously attended graduate school.


 No, we do not accept any tests in lieu of the GRE general and math subject tests.

Effective March 2021, the GRE Math Subject Test is no longer required. Applicants to our program (including those interested in biostatistics) are now only required to take the GRE General Test.

Please make sure to have your electronic scores sent to Stanford prior to their expiration date.

GRE scores are valid for approximately five years from the exam date.

TOEFL scores submitted to Stanford must be from a test taken within the last 18 months. (If your scores are still valid, but are close to the 18 month cut-off, please submit them to Stanford ASAP.)

ETS will not send scores that have expired.

Applicants should have the Educational Testing Service (ETS) send scores electronically to Stanford. Our university code is 4704. It does not matter what department code is specified. You will either self-report your scores or indicate the date you will take the test(s) in the online application. Self-reported scores will not be considered official until Stanford receives the electronic record.

No, the TOEFL requirement can only be waived by the University.

Check the Graduate Admissions Required Exams and FAQ webpages to see if you qualify for a TOEFL waiver:

If you receive confirmation from the Graduate Admissions Office that your TOEFL waiver request has been approved, forward this notification to

Applications checklists can only be updated with the TOEFL exemption when the application has been submitted and official transcripts have been reconciled with application.

Note: To bypass the entry of TOEFL scores in the application, enter a future exam date. You can add in the Additional Information section of the application that you have received a waiver from Graduate Admissions.

The University does not accept IELTS scores in lieu of the TOEFL.


Transcripts (PhD)

If you are offered admission and choose to accept, your institution should mail any official (paper) transcripts to:

Graduate Admissions
Attn: Transcripts
C/O Bechtel
584 Capistrano Way
Stanford, CA 94305

See PhD Admissions Requirements and Procedures page for detailed information.

Official transcripts should be submitted only if you have been offered admission to the program and have accepted, and then only when they are final and show degree conferral. Final official transcripts that do not show degree conferral must be accompanied by official degree certifications.

An official transcript must be an original document bearing the institutional seal and official signature of the Registrar or is verified by a school administrative officer.

If you have accepted our offer of admission and have a final official transcript showing degree conferral, you may ask your institution to send a Certified Electronic Transcript to

Certified Electronic Transcripts are secure electronically delivered transcripts that are passcode protected, digitally signed, and properly certified by the issuing institution that are sent only from the issuing institution or its authorized agent. Transcripts sent as email attachments or by the student are not accepted.

Electronic transcripts are strongly preferred to facilitate and expedite the processing of applications for matriculation.

In light of the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanford reaffirms its commitment to perform individualized, holistic review of each applicant to its graduate and professional programs. We recognize that students may have faced significant challenges during the period of disruption caused by the pandemic, and we will take such individual circumstances into account during application review. Importantly, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Credit/No Credit and other grading options during this unprecedented period of COVID-19 disruption, whether they are made by institutions or by individual students. Our goal remains to form graduate student cohorts that are excellent and encompass a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences that enrich the graduate educational experience.

We are aware of some school closings in areas impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, and that it may delay some courses of study as well as the reporting of official school documents. If you are impacted by this, please contact the office of Graduate Admissions to request an extension. They will do their best to work with you and our department.

As part of the online application, applicants are required to upload scanned copies of transcripts (either official or unofficial) from all post-secondary institutions attended as a full-time student for one academic year or longer.

If you have participated in a study abroad program or transferred courses to your home institution, and the individual courses and grades are reflected on the transcript of the home institution, then you do not need to submit transcripts from the study abroad/transfer institution.

Copies of your transcripts from continuing studies programs, extension schools, online courses or any other transcript that reflects less than one year of a full-time degree program do not need to be submitted. However, applicants may choose to include them as part of the online application only under the Additional Information: Document Uploadssection of the application.

Multiple page uploads are allowed for all transcripts. Do not send any official copies of transcripts (print or e-transcripts) to the department. They are not required as part of the application.

If the institution does not issue records in English, original language records must be submitted with official English translations. We accept translations issued by the institution or a professional translating service. Translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records. Transcripts submitted through a credentials evaluation service will also need to be accompanied by the original documents.

International students do not need to submit transcripts via an evaluation service unless your institution does not offer these documents in English.

Official transcripts from Chinese universitys can be processed via CHESICC and routed through the graduate admissions application system. This service is optional. However, it is preferable to receiving hard copy transcripts by mail.

If you choose to use this service, you will still need to upload your transcripts in the application.

When your CHESICC electronic documents are processed and received by Stanford, applicants who are offered and accept admission will not need to send official paper transcripts to the University.


Recommendation Letters (PhD)

The department only requires three letters of recommendation. It is the quality, not the quantity, of letters that supports the graduate application. At least one recommender should be a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student (unless you have been out of school for more than five years). Your application will still be reviewed if you submit more than three letters of recommendation. Note: If you have any concerns that one of your recommenders will not be able to submit their letter by the deadline, you may want to consider requesting letters from a total of four recommenders. This will increase the likelihood that three letters will be submitted by the deadline and that your application will be considered complete.

You should choose individuals who:

  • Know you well through significant, direct involvement with you within the last three years
  • Will provide detailed anecdotes and examples to support their assertions
  • Are truly enthused to write a recommendation for you and will spend sufficient time writing a thoughtful letter

Letters must be submitted using the electronic application. As part of the online application, the applicant will be required to register the names and contact information, including e-mail addresses, of each recommender. Recommenders will then receive an email with directions on how to proceed. For additional information, please visit the Letters of Recommendation page provided by the Office of Graduate Admissions.  Letters must be received by the published deadline. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that letters are submitted to the electronic application by the published deadline. Do not email, mail, or fax letters of recommendation that have already been submitted through the online application.

Yes. If this applies to you, you will still need to enter information for each recommender in the online application, including e-mail addresses which will automatically generate the email to each recommender requesting a letter. It is your responsibility to contact them to let them know to disregard this email and to use the university's letter service.

Your recommenders are required to submit their letters through the online application by the deadline of the round in which you apply. You are responsible for ensuring the letters are submitted on time. You will be able to see the status of each letter (either notified, started, or submitted) and you will also be able to send a reminder via the online system to any recommender who has not yet submitted as the application deadline draws near. 

  1. Register your recommenders. Go to the “Letters of Reference” tab on the application, and enter each recommender’s information carefully. It is essential that you enter the recommender’s email address correctly so that your recommender can access the instructions and form. Read the waiver statement for each letter of reference and determine whether or not you will waive your right to review each recommendation. You cannot change this later.
  2. Your recommender receives an email with log in information.
  3. Your recommender completes and submits his/her recommendation.
  4. You and your recommender receive an email confirming the recommendation has been submitted.

Once you are an enrolled student, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) provides you with a right of access to your education record, including letters of reference if they are retained by the school. The law also permits you to waive that right of access to your letters of reference if you so choose. Waiving your right of access to your letters of reference is optional; your decision to waive or retain that right will have no bearing on the handling of your application.

The recommenders whom you notify will be able to see whether or not you have waived your FERPA right of access during the letter of reference submission process. You must waive or retain your rights of access to your letters of reference (using the online application system) before you invite recommenders to submit information for you.

Application Submission (PhD)

Applicants who indicate that they would like to be considered for the Master's program in the 'Application Options' section of the online application are eligible to request that their application be reviewed by the MS Admissions Committee. In order to pursue this option, the applicant must directly respond to the PhD admissions decision email within three business days indicating this request. However, we cannot guarantee that the Graduate Admissions Committee will accept your application request for the master's program. You will be notified via email whether your request has been granted.

Yes, you must submit a complete application, pay the application fee and submit new letters of recommendation and official copies of transcripts.

No. We do not allow deferral of admission. Students who are accepted but cannot enroll may reapply for a future year when they are available to begin their studies.