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Master’s Admissions

The master’s program provides training in solid-state fundamentals and materials engineering through advanced lecture courses and laboratory classes. It is a terminal degree, meaning these students typically do not continue on to our PhD program.

To receive the master’s degree, a student must take 45 units of courses (approximately 15 quarter-long classes). The list of classes that are required is given in the Materials Science and Engineering section of the Stanford Bulletin. Some students take five classes per quarter and graduate in one year, but most take between four and five quarters to graduate. No thesis or research are required, but some master’s students opt to earn 6 to 15 units of credit by doing research with a professor in the lab and writing a master’s report. Students interested in this opportunity should make arrangements with a faculty member to supervise their research and enroll in MSE 200. See the Student Services Manager after the MSE Orientation for details and approval.


Applications for Autumn 2021 are now OPEN. All applications must be submitted by Tuesday, January 5th, 2021 by 11:59 pm (PST). Please follow Grad Admission- Step by Step Application Guide (aka Tips & Tricks) on the application process, bypass sections, requirements, and after-submission instructions.

Please note that TOEFL scores are required. Please see Tip #21 in Tips & Tricks for information regarding Minimum TOEFL Requirements, Exemptions, and Waivers. We are aware that some students are unable to take the GRE test due to COVID-19. Because of this disruption, the submission of GRE scores for this application cycle is optional. All applications will receive full consideration, whether GRE scores have been submitted or are not submitted. Tip #18 in Tips & Tricks for information regarding GRE questions/submission.

If you have requested a GRE waiver by email, it has been automatically approved. Please contact us if you have any questions.

We will not be updating any files - please do not inquire. We will now be reviewing all files and updating statuses - it will take us awhile, so PLEASE do not inquire about your application status.

We will contact you if we need anything. However - if your school does not provide a GPA based on a 4.0 scale, please refer to Frequently Asked Questions and our tips and tricks (Need to insert) to provide us adjusted GPA - ASAP.

The fee for online graduate applications is $125. Any graduate program applicant may apply for a fee waiver through the Stanford School of Engineering. Additionally, all US applicants who qualify for a GRE Fee Reduction or were participants in one of the Diversity Programs listed automatically qualify for a graduate application fee waiver. The university application is on the Graduate Admissions website.

Please read all the information provided before applying (any general graduate admission information given on the Materials Science and Engineering website is subject to revision by the Graduate Admissions Office). GRE and TOEFL*** (Optional - COVID19 exception) tests must be taken early enough for us to receive the test scores by the application deadline. No late test scores, recommendation letters, transcripts or other applicable supporting materials will be accepted.

Review our Frequently Asked Questions and our tips and tricks (PDF) for applying BEFORE posing your questions! The application consists of the following required materials, all of which must be received by the appropriate deadline for the application to be considered complete: Online application, statement of purpose and unofficial transcript(s). A minimum of three (3), maximum of six (6) recommendation letters submitted online directly by the recommenders.* Official test scores reported by ETS. Stanford's institution code is 4704; no department code is needed. Please submit your unofficial transcript(s) from all post-secondary institutions you have attended for at least one year. If admitted to the MSE program, you will be asked to provide an unofficial transcript(s). You’ll be asked to provide a second official transcript if you get admitted to the program.

 *Letters of Recommendation must be submitted online, paper recommendations are not permissible. **Please refer to the transcript information found in our Frequently Asked Questions. 

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 our office to request an extension: gradadmissions@stanford.edu. We will do our best to work with you and your department. 


Due to COVID-19, many locations throughout China have suspended the testing of TOEFL iBT. To accommodate test-takers, Educational Testing Services (ETS) is offering the TOEFL IPT Plus. The TOEFL iBT is typically required of all applicants to graduate study when English is not the first language and the applicant does not qualify for an exemption; this is a University requirement. The TOEFL ITP Plus provides paper-based TOEFL iBT Level 1 with an unscored video speaking component, provided by Vericant. Stanford will temporarily accept the TOEFL ITP Plus test with the Vericant interview for applicants from Mainland China who are unable to sit for the TOEFL iBT. This exception is only for the 2020-2021 application cycle.

Applicants may be asked to re-test at a later time once the Stanford TOEFL iBT becomes available, or applicants may be asked to re-test through the Stanford Language Center. Per current University policy, all international students including those from Mainland China must receive English language clearance from the English for Foreign Students program prior to becoming a teaching assistant. We urge you to apply early and make every attempt to get your questions answered early.

Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions and our tips and tricks (PDF) BEFORE submitting your questions. Due to volume of inquiries that we receive, we have compiled the most asked questions and have summarized the answers into these two documents. Please refer to our Program Requirements page before submitting your questions about programatic requirements. Should your question not be answered in our Frequently Asked Questions and tips and tricks (PDF), please direct your questions to: mseadmissions@stanford.edu Late applications on a space-available-only basis We can accept late applications only if there is still space in our incoming class. Please contact the department if you are unable to apply by the deadline.

Full-time study starts in fall quarter full-time MS students generally begin during the fall quarter. Starting a different quarter is highly unlikely due to the nature and structure of our program. Part-time study available Working students can earn the MS degree through the Stanford Center for Professional Development on a part-time basis. Honors Cooperative Program Some of the department’s graduate students participate in the Honors Cooperative Program (HCP), which makes it possible for academically qualified engineers and scientists in industry to be part-time graduate students in Materials Science while continuing professional employment. Prospective HCP students follow the same admissions process and must meet the same admissions requirements as full-time graduate students. Many graduate courses offered by the School of Engineering on campus are made available through the Stanford Center for Professional Development, which delivers more than 250 courses a year online.

For employees who are not part of a graduate degree program at Stanford, courses and certificates are also available through a non-degree option (NDO) and a non-credit professional education program. MSE offers one certificate. For a full description of educational services provided by SCPD, visit their website or email scpd-gradstudents@stanford.edu.

Application deadline for 2020-21 is January 5, 2021 by 11:59 pm (PST).

Suitable backgrounds: Any engineering discipline or related science discipline (such as physics, chemistry, etc.), or mathematics is a good base for graduate study in materials science and engineering. Notification of admission decisions You will receive email as well as an admission letter posted in your application regarding any admissions decisions. You can expect an answer by the end of March, 2021. We work diligently to finalize the list and get word out as soon as possible. Please DO NOT CALL/EMAIL asking for your status as it slows the process.


MS Program Specific Q&A

Q: My undergraduate degree is not in an engineering discipline. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Yes, you are eligible to apply. Any engineering discipline or related science discipline (such as physics, chemistry, etc.), or mathematics is a good base for graduate study in materials science and engineering. Please thoroughly review the requirements of the program in the Stanford Bulletin.

Q: Can I change from the MS to the PhD degree program?

A: We do have a petition procedure for students who have done extremely well during their first two quarters in our program and wish to request a transfer to the PhD program. You must have support from two faculty members, including one who is willing to act as your PhD research advisor and provide funding for you. Space is limited.

Q: May I apply to more than one Stanford MS program at the same time?

A: No, you may only apply to one MS program at a time. If you apply to more than one, both applications may be disqualified.

Q: I cannot afford graduate school. How can I apply for a fellowship?

A: MS applications may be reviewed for a limited number of fellowships. These awards are competitively allocated and are based on academic merit. We encourage all applicants to apply for outside fellowships such as the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Q: Is it possible to get a teaching or research assistantship?

A: It is quite rare for a first-year MS student to secure an assistantship. Most MS students fund their studies with loans and search for assistantships once they have built relationships with faculty in the MSE or other departments. There is no central hiring process. Students must contact faculty members directly to inquire about assistantships.

Q: I want to apply now, but I will not be able to start until Fall 2020. Should I still apply?

A: If you know you are unable to start until a later quarter, please do not apply. We generally do not offer deferrals to MS students unless there is an urgent, valid medical/family reason.

Q: If I am admitted can I defer for a quarter or two?

A: The MS program starts the Autumn term following admission. If you need to defer, you will need to request a whole-year deferral. Deferral requests are not always approved. If you know in advance that you cannot start school next Autumn, please wait to apply in a future year.

Q: I do not live in the area. Can I do a part-time MS program completely online?

A: It is not possible to complete an entire MS degree online. Stanford does offer a part-time MS program in MatSci, but there are some caveats – please contact the Stanford Center for Professional Development for more information. The MS program is designed for local students to come on campus on a part-time basis, supplemented by a few classes online.

Q: I accidentally applied for the PhD program, but I meant to apply for the MS program. What should I do?

A: Please send an e-mail to mseadmissions@stanford.edu with the subject line: “Applied to the PhD in error. Please move me to the MS pool.” In the email, please state your full name so we can find you easily.

Q: When will I hear about my Master’s admission status?

A: You can expect an answer by the end of March 2021. We work diligently to finalize the list and get word out as soon as possible. Please DO NOT CALL/EMAIL asking for your status as it slows the process.

Q: Does your department consider diversity, equity and inclusion during the admissions process?

A: Yes. Diversity has been a core value at Stanford since the university’s founding in 1891. We value the rich perspectives, skills, and ideas people from varied backgrounds bring to the Stanford community. Diversity is woven throughout Stanford and is reflected not only in our people, but also in the curricula and research enterprises. The teaching and research of our faculty provide opportunities to engage deeply in concerns related to diversity in every sphere of life. Today diversity at Stanford, in its myriad forms, is essential to maintaining our educational excellence. Diversity leads to better ideas, more informed decisions, and enriches the learning and research environment. Applicants are asked to write an essay that describes how their own unique experiences and personal identity would contribute to a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment at Stanford. These might include: first in family to attend graduate school (or university), gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, work and life experiences, special interests, culture, socioeconomic status, religion, citizenship status, nationality, campus leadership activities, among others.