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Master’s Admissions

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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 is required, but some master’s students opt to earn 9 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.

Admission Decisions for the MS Program were released on 3/20/24. PhD Applicants under consideration for the MS are issued a new decision letter only if admitted to the MS program. Otherwise, the previous decision letter received still stands.

Application submissions for Autumn 2024-2025 opened on September 15, 2023 and closed on January 9, 2024. Apply Now. 

Review our Frequently Asked Questions BEFORE sending us your questions!

TOEFL: Please note Applicants whose first language is not English must submit an official test score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Please see Stanford's Graduate Admissions Student Affairs Website (Required Exams) for information regarding Minimum TOEFL Requirements, Exemptions, and Waivers. Please note we DO NOT process TOEFL or TOEFL Waivers at the Department Level. This is handled by Stanford Graduate Admissions. You must request a waiver within the online application. 

GRE: Students who wish to apply for admission to our graduate (PhD and MS) program 2024-2025 academic year are not required to take the GRE or submit a GRE score report as part of their application process.

APPLICATION FEE AND FEE WAIVERS: 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. We do not consider application fee waivers within the Department - this is processed through Stanford Graduate Admissions. 

Did you just apply to the MS (or PhD program)? We will contact you if we need anything.

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

A: We invite excellent students from all backgrounds, including those from historically underrepresented groups in engineering, to consider Stanford University for their graduate studies. In making admissions decisions, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering will comply with the requirements of the law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, evaluating each applicant based on their "experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race.” We continue to value a diverse student body that benefits the educational experience of our students and our mission of generating knowledge at Stanford University.  

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). In addition, the School of Engineering's Equity and Inclusion team has compiled a list of resources for funding your MS degree.

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 next Autumn, September 2025. 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 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 2024. 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.