Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

The COVID-19 Health Alerts Website Provides the Stanford community with important updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit Stanford COVID-19 Health Alerts Website

Master’s Admissions

Main content start

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 2022 are now OPEN. All applications must be submitted by Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 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.

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.

GRE: Students who wish to apply for admission to our graduate program 2022-2023 academic year are not required to take the GRE or submit a GRE score report as part of their application process.

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.

Graduate Admissions Application

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). TOEFL 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.*  These letters can come from a wide range of individuals, such as research and academic advisors, instructors, and workplace supervisors. 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 an 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 the 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: We will do our best to work with you and your department. 

Due to COVID-19, many locations throughout countries have suspended the testing of TOEFL iBT. To accommodate test-takers, Educational Testing Services (ETS) is offering the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition. 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 iBT Special Home Edition is a safe and convenient option for students who are unable to take the TOEFL iBT test at a test center due to public health concerns. Stanford will temporarily accept the TOEFL iBT® Home Edition from any applicants who are unable to sit for the TOEFL iBT. This exception is only for the 2022-2023 application cycle. If you are offered admission and accept the offer, you may be asked to take an English Placement Exam at Stanford.

Please refer to Frequently Asked Questions and our tips and tricks (PDF) BEFORE submitting your questions. Due to the 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 programmatic requirements. Should your question not be answered in our Frequently Asked Questions and tips and tricks (PDF), please direct your questions to: 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 the fall quarter at Stanford and 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 is available Working students can earn the MS degree through the Stanford Center for Professional Development Honors Cooperative Program on a part-time basis. 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 the 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

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 an 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 2022. We work diligently to finalize the list and get the 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: Does your department consider diversity, equity and inclusion during the admissions process?

A: Yes. Diversity, equity and inclusion are core values at Stanford, ones that the MSE department strives to cultivate and enhance. 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. Finally, we expect members of the community to contribute to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at Stanford. 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.

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 next Autumn September 2023. 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 2022. 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.