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PhD Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective Applicants (PhD)

Are there any prerequisite courses?

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 PhD program will involve working with the Graduate Director to design an individual program to make up the necessary courses.

Is a master's degree required for admission to the PhD in Statistics?

No, applicants with only a bachelor's degree are eligible to enter our PhD program. Each year's admitted cohort typically comprises both students with and without a master's degree.

Will the department accept S/CR grades received during the COVID-19 period?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanford reaffirmed 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.

Do I need to select an advisor during the application process?

No. In the Statistics Department, doctoral students select their advisor at the end of their second year in the program after having the opportunity to work on research with one or more faculty of their choosing.

Do you have rolling admissions?

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

Do you offer any degrees part-time or online for working individuals?

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

What resources does Stanford offer for international students?

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.

Where can I find information about the estimated cost of living at Stanford?

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).

Where can I find information about graduate housing (campus) at Stanford?

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

What is the Knight-Hennessy Scholars fellowship?

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

Will completing the Stanford Stats MS increase my chances of admission to the PhD in Statistics?

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.

Can I apply to multiple graduate programs at Stanford?

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 one application. However, you may apply concurrently to one departmental program and to a professional school program (law, medicine or business).

How many applicants do you accept each year?

We receive approximately 200 PhD applications and usually admit 10-12 new students each year.

Graduate Exam Requirements (PhD)

Do I need to take the GRE general test?

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.

Do you accept the GMAT in place of the GRE?

No, we do not accept any tests in lieu of the GRE general test.

Can the department waive the GRE general test requirement?

Admission to the Statistics Department requires the GRE general test.

Applicants who have already earned a PhD degree, or have PhD studies in progress with a degree conferral date prior to the intended start quarter, may request a GRE General Test waiver by emailing stat-admissions-PhD [at] (stat-admissions-PhD[at]lists[dot]stanford[dot]edu) 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'.

What is the minimum GPA/GRE test score required?

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 92%, Quantitative 94% and Analytical Writing 83%. If you submit results from more than one eligible test date we will consider the higher of the scores from each relevant test.

Do I need to take the GRE math subject test?

No, you do not need to take the GRE Math Subject test. Effective May 2024, this test is optional. If submitted as part of the application, GRE Math Subject Test scores will be considered by the admissions committee. Applicants submitting GRE Math Subject Test scores are still required to submit GRE General Test scores. GRE Math Subject Test schedule.

Do I need to provide TOEFL scores?

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. For detailed information, see the TOEFL information in Required Exams.

Do you accept IELTS in place of TOEFL?

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

What is the minimum TOEFL score required?

A minimum TOEFL score of 100 on the Internet based test (iBT) is required by Stanford University for all Ph.D. applicants.

However, please note that the Graduate Admission's Required Exams webpage also states that incoming students who score below 109 on the TOEFL will likely be required to complete additional English placement testing prior to enrollment. Evidence of adequate English proficiency must be submitted before enrollment is approved by Graduate Admissions.

The average TOEFL score of Ph.D. applicants admitted to the statistics department is 112.

Do you accept MyBest TOEFL scores?

Yes, Stanford accepts MyBest scores, but does not accept TOEFL Essentials test scores or any other English proficiency test (e.g., IELTS, PTE).

Can the department waive the TOEFL exam requirement?

You may request a waiver if you (will) have an equivalent degree from a recognized institution in a country other than Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom in which English was the language of instruction. You must submit a Stanford application before submitting a TOEFL waiver request form. Note that U.S. citizenship does not automatically exempt an applicant from taking the TOEFL if the applicant’s first language is not English.

My GRE/TOEFL scores are not recent. Will you accept them?

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

GRE scores are valid for five years from the test date.

TOEFL scores submitted to Stanford must be from a test taken within the last 24 months. Scores expire after 24 months and will not be available from ETS.

Where should I have my GRE/TOEFL scores sent?

Applicants should have the Educational Testing Service (ETS) send scores electronically to Stanford.

Our university code is 4704. A department code is not required. 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.

Transcripts (PhD)

When do I need to submit my official transcripts?

Official transcripts should be submitted to the Graduate Admissions Office (not to the department) 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. Instructions for submission are provided on the status page immediately after accepting the offer.

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 or is a certified electronic transcript.


Do I need to submit transcripts for my study abroad program, transferred courses or extension school?

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 in the 'Academic History' section of the application.

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 separate transcripts for the study abroad/transfer institution.

Copies of your transcripts from continuing studies programs, extension schools, online courses, etc., that reflect 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 under the 'Additional Information' section 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 and will not be retained.

Do transcripts have to be translated into English?

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.

Where do I mail/send my official paper/electronic transcripts?

If you are offered admission and choose to accept, you will find instructions provided on the status page immediately after accepting the offer.

Recommendation Letters (PhD)

Will submitting more than the required number of letters of recommendation increase my chances of admission?

The online application allows you to submit up to four letters of recommendation. Statistics PhD applicants are only required to submit three letters. It is the quality, not the quantity, of letters that supports and strengthens 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). Note: If you have 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.

Whom should I ask to write recommendation letters?

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 enthusiastic about writing a recommendation for you, will spend sufficient time writing a thoughtful letter, and will be able to submit it by the application deadline
How are letters of recommendation submitted for the Graduate Application?

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.

Will you accept letters of recommendation mailed from my university's career center or letter service?

Yes, we do accept letters submitted by your university's letter service. 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. Please use stat-admissions-phd [at] (stat-admissions-PhD[at]lists[dot]stanford[dot]edu) when routing through the letter service.


Will you accept letters of recommendation from Interfolio?

The recommendation process now supports letters submitted via Interfolio. The applicant registers a recommender using an email address that contains “”. Please remember that letters written specifically for your Stanford graduate program tend to be stronger than letters written for general use purposes. Furthermore, the recommendation form displayed for a recommender using Interfolio will not include the evaluation questions displayed and required for other recommenders.

What does it mean to "Waive Your Right to Review" when entering the names of my recommenders?

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 Updates, Transfers, Re-applications, Deferrals (PhD)

Can I update my application after submission?

Yes, you may make certain updates to your application after submitting it: consult the Grad Admissions FAQs for details. Scroll down to 'Post-Submission'.

Updates made PRIOR to the application deadline will be considered part of the initial application and will be reviewed by the admissions committee. However, although the application system will still allow applicants to make some updates AFTER the deadline, there is no guarantee that the admissions committee will review them.

Can my application to the Statistics PhD program be transferred to the MS program if my PhD application is not successful?

Applicants who indicate that they would like to be considered for the master's program in the 'Program Selection' 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, applicants must submit an email request within three business days of receiving the PhD admissions decision notification. Note that it is not guaranteed that the MS Admissions Committee will accept your application for review. You will be notified via email whether your request has been approved.

I previously applied to the PhD program but was not admitted. Do I need to send a complete application again when I reapply?

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

However, if your GRE and TOEFL scores (where relevant) are valid and still available in Stanford's system it may not be necessary to have them resent. Email stat-admissions-phd [at] (stat-admissions-phd[at]lists[dot]stanford[dot]edu) for confirmation.

If I am accepted, may I defer admission?

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.