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Graduate Studies

A graduate student works with lab manager through the augmented reality experiment during a testing phase.
A graduate student works with lab manager through the augmented reality experiment during a testing phase.

Graduate education has been central to Stanford’s reputation for academic excellence, intellectual innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit since the university’s founding. In Stanford’s first year, 1891, 39 men and 12 women from 19 states enrolled as graduate students, representing one of the first opportunities for graduate study on the West Coast. Currently, they constitute 57% of Stanford’s overall enrollment.

Today, 9,437 students are pursuing 14 distinct post-baccalaureate degrees in nearly 200 graduate programs in all seven of Stanford’s schools: Business; Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Education; Engineering; Humanities and Sciences; Law; and Medicine. Stanford offers the PhD, JD, MBA, MD, and a variety of master’s degrees. About half of Stanford’s graduate students are pursuing a doctoral degree; Stanford is consistently among the leading private universities awarding the highest number of PhDs each year.

Grads by the numbers

Academic Life

Stanford’s highly collaborative intellectual community provides an unparalleled environment for graduate study and research. Students who pursue graduate and professional degrees have opportunities to study with a wide array of faculty. Learning specialized knowledge and skills, graduate students also bring vital curiosity and new insights to the pursuit of ideas, forging new paths of understanding and discovery in uncharted terrain.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education works collaboratively across the university, leading initiatives and providing resources that enhance the quality of graduate students’ educational experiences and position Stanford at the forefront of innovation in graduate education.

Stanford’s schools, departments, and faculty have considerable autonomy in shaping their graduate program requirements, allocating resources, and creating innovative learning opportunities. Graduate students engage in learning, teaching, and research that often extend beyond departmental and disciplinary boundaries, and they may study in interdisciplinary or joint degree programs that span schools. Enrollment exchange programs with the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco, and other selected universities around the country enable graduate students to take courses not offered at Stanford.

Graduate students are encouraged to engage in a variety of professional and career development opportunities at Stanford as they develop their skills to embark on the many career paths available to them. Many graduate students have the opportunity to undertake research or teaching assistantships, where they hone their skills as researchers and teachers while also contributing to the university’s mission of education and research.

Fellowships and Awards

About 85 percent of Stanford graduate students receive financial assistance from Stanford or external sources. The Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education administers seven university-wide graduate fellowship programs. Having gained visibility over the past two decades, the Stanford Graduate Fellowships in Science and Engineering program annually awards three-year fellowships to over 100 exemplary incoming doctoral students in over 40 departments and interdisciplinary programs, granting Fellows autonomy to pursue research interests in specialized fields. Over the past decade, the Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship Program has awarded over 250 three-year fellowships to doctoral students whose innovative research crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries. The EDGE (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) Doctoral Fellowship and the DARE (Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence) Doctoral Fellowship programs provide funding and professional development resources to exemplary doctoral students who enhance the diversity within their academic fields.

Stanford graduate students have a long history of competing successfully for national and international fellowships as well as research grants. Over 650 graduate students are supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a three-year fellowship awarded to the nation’s most promising scholars.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. Every year, up to 100 high-achieving students from around the world will receive full funding to pursue any graduate degree at Stanford, as well as joint- and dual-degrees. Knight-Hennessy Scholars is the largest fully endowed scholars program in the world.

Student Life

Students from a variety of diverse backgrounds and life experiences pursue graduate studies at the university. Approximately 34% of the 2019–20 graduate student population, over 3,100 students, are international students from over 100 countries. The top five countries other than the US that Stanford graduate students call home are: China, India, Canada, South Korea and France. Students from underrepresented backgrounds account for 12% while women constitute 43% of graduate enrollment in 2019–20.

About 66 percent of graduate students live in university-subsidized on- or off-campus housing, and many graduate students live in nearby neighborhoods. Living in close proximity to campus allows graduate students to engage fully in Stanford’s vibrant intellectual community. Stanford is making a major investment in graduate housing, building a new complex with 2,400 spaces; it is anticipated to open in 2020. At that point 75% of graduate students will be able to live in subsidized on-campus housing.

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