Skip to content Skip to navigation

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. 


Admitted students: see our special instructions for submitting transcripts.

Transcripts, Letters of Recommendation and Statement of Purpose

Q. Do I need to have transcripts sent for every college-level class I have taken?

  • A: No. Stanford only requires transcripts (academic records) from postsecondary institutions you have attended for one year (i.e. three quarters or two semesters) or longer.  

Q. How do I submit transcripts?

Q. How many recommendations do I need and who should I ask to be my recommenders?

  • A: Applicants need three recommendations from faculty or others qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. At least one evaluation and letter should be from 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). Substitutions for faculty recommendations may include work associates or others who can comment on your academic potential for graduate work.

Q. What should my letters of recommendation say?

  • A: Your recommender should describe his or her relationship with you and address your suitability to the program to which you are applying. If you have further questions, please contact your department or visit its website.

Q. I chose not to waive my right to see a letter of recommendation but I have changed my mind. How do I now waive that right?

  • A: If your recommender has not already accepted a recommendation, then s/he should decline it and include a note that the applicant needs to waive their right to view the recommendation. You will then be sent instructions on how to change this information.

Q. How are  letters of recommendation submitted?

  • A: Recommenders are to submit the letters online - not by mail, fax or e-mail. When you enter the names and email addresses of your recommenders in the online application, they will receive a message with instructions on how to set up a recommender account. They will then be able to electronically submit their recommendations directly to Stanford. Your application does not need to be already submitted for the recommendations to be submitted. 

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

  • A: Contact the department to which you are applying to discuss the matter. For a contact e-mail address, see the department's website or click on the name of the program in the list of Graduate Programs. If the career center or letter service letters are acceptable to your department, then you will still need to enter information for each recommender in the online application, including e-mail addresses. This causes an automatic message to be sent to each recommender so you will need to contact them to let them know not to pay attention to the message they receive giving instructions on how they are to submit their letter of recommendation.

Q. What should I write in my statement of purpose?

  • A: The statement of purpose should describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program at Stanford, your preparation for this field of study, study and research interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background and interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. Visit the department's website as they may have additional information on what is required for the statement of purpose.

Q. How do I submit my statement of purpose?

  • A: You may upload only one file (not to exceed two pages in length, single spaced). Make sure to set your computer to a Western European or other English-language setting. We cannot guarantee the ability to access your statement if is submitted in other fonts.