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PhD Admission FAQ

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General Information

Financial Support

Preparing for Admission

The Application Process

Educational History/Transcripts


Statements of Purpose

Letters of Recommendation

Additional Materials/Updates

General Information

How long does it take to get a PhD in Psychology at Stanford?

The PhD program is designed to be completed in five years of full-time study. Actual time will depend on students' prior background, progress, and research requirements. The minimum residency requirement for the PhD degree is 135 units of completed coursework and research units, which takes approximately four years. The fifth year is typically spent working on the dissertation.

What are the requirements for the PhD degree in Psychology?

Please consult the PhD Requirements page.

What are the different subfields within the graduate program in Psychology?

  • Affective
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Neuroscience
  • Social

What is the Department teaching requirement?

PhD students must complete five quarters of teaching assistantship, working as a teaching assistant (TA) under the supervision of a faculty member. Students are required to attend a TA training workshop in their first and second years. In addition, students are encouraged to take advantage of department and university teacher training programs. Students for whom English is a second language are expected to acquire sufficient fluency in English. All international students must be approved by Stanford’s EFS department

Is there a standalone Master of Arts program in Psychology?

The Department of Psychology does not offer a terminal Master’s degree program. Current doctoral students within the Department or in another Stanford graduate program may apply to be awarded a Master of Arts in Psychology during the course of their PhD program.

Does your department have a program in Clinical Psychology?

No. Our department does not have a program in Clinical Psychology.

Financial Support

What is the annual cost of attending your program?

Admitted graduates are fully funded for five years of study, including four summers. The funding package provides an income for students, full tuition coverage, and full health insurance coverage.

What type of financial support do you offer?

To date, the Department has been successful in providing full financial support for graduate students in the form of a living stipend, tuition, and health insurance, which is covered through spring quarter of their fifth year. Department financial aid assignments are made at the beginning of each academic year. Continued financial support is contingent on satisfactory academic progress. Students are encouraged to pursue fellowships offered by the University and by national organizations, such as the National Science Foundation.

Stanford University also offers the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, designed to build a multidisciplinary community of Stanford graduate students dedicated to finding creative solutions to the world's greatest challenges. The program awards up to 100 high-achieving students every year with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including the PhD in Psychology. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by November 15, 2017, and separately apply to the Psychology department by November 14, 2017.

Do you offer support for the summer months?

Yes, assistantships and/or fellowships are guaranteed during the summer months for first through fourth-year students.

Preparing for Admission

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline for matriculation in autumn 2019 is Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 11:59 PM. All application materials must also be submitted by this date. For international students form non-English speaking backgrounds, TOEFL scores do not have to be received by the application deadline, but the exam date must be prior to application deadline. Two (2) hard copies of the official transcripts must be submitted by December 1, 2018.

Admissions Committee
Department of Psychology
Stanford University
Jordan Hall, Building 420
450 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-2130

Alternatively, you may choose to send official transcripts via electronic submission. Electronic transcripts are only accepted if sent via a secure portal. Applicants must submit a request to the institution's registrar to initiate the secure electronic transcript submission and to send to

Am I eligible to apply if my undergraduate major is not in Psychology?

An undergraduate major in Psychology is not required; applicants from other backgrounds can apply and be admitted. All applicants should have sufficient foundational knowledge and research experience prior to the program to allow them to go straight into graduate-level coursework and conduct research.

Can official transcripts arrive after the application deadline?

Yes, but they must be received by December 1, 2018. Please note that your unofficial transcripts must be uploaded as part of your application by the application deadline. 

If I have prior graduate work, can it be transferred to the PhD program?

No, the Department of Psychology does not allow the transfer of unit credits from your previous program.

What is the admissions committee's expectations of prospective students?

Admission to our program is highly competitive. About 10-15 admits are chosen from a pool of approximately 450 applicants, enter the program each year. These students are selected on the basis of a strong academic background as demonstrated by previous coursework, test scores, research experience, and letters of recommendation. Please be assured that the Department reviews each application very carefully and makes decisions on an individual basis.

The Application Process

How do I apply?

Please visit the PhD Admissions page for instructions on how to apply to the Psychology PhD Program, graduate application requirements, and the link to the online application. 

Is there an application fee? If so, can I apply for a fee waiver?

The fee to apply for graduate study at Stanford is $125. Acceptable form of payment is by credit/debit card (Visa or MasterCard only). We do not accept electronic check payments or checks by mail. The fee is non-refundable and must be received by the application deadline. If you believe you qualify for a fee waiver, please visit Stanford's page about graduate fee waivers to review the requirements.

Can I submit another application to a different department within the University?

You may only apply to one degree program per academic year. However, you may apply concurrently to one departmental program and to a professional school program (law, medicine, or business).

Should I reach out to faculty members that I'm interested in working with?

No, please do not contact our professors during the application process. We highly recommend that potential applicants explore current research topics in our Department to discover which faculty members are working on specific areas of interest.

Which faculty are accepting new students this year?

All active faculty are potentially accepting new students each year. In your application, we ask you to list the top 3 faculty that you are most interested in working with. Your application will be reviewed in full by multiple readers regardless of who you list.

Educational History/Transcripts

How do I submit official transcripts?

If possible, we prefer to receive official transcripts electronically. Electronic transcripts are only accepted if sent via a secure portal, which is standard practice for US institutions. Applicants must submit a request to the institution's registrar to initiate the secure electronic transcript submission and to send to

If you attended an international institution that does not use a secure portal for transcripts, you have 2 options:

  1. Use the CertiFile option within the application system to submit your official transcripts for verification. This system incurs an additional $125 fee on top of the standard graduate application fee. 
  2. Submit your transcripts in hard copy, per the instructions below.

Alternatively, you may choose to send hard copy official transcripts. If you send hard copies, you must send 2 copies of each set of transcripts. Hard copy transcripts are only accepted if they are in an envelope that was sealed by the institution (it is acceptable if the institution-sealed envelope is included inside an outer envelope that was sealed by the applicant). Please send hard copy transcripts to the following address:

Admissions Committee
Department of Psychology
Stanford University
Jordan Hall, Building 420
450 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-2130

Official transcripts are due by December 1, 2018.

What is CertiFile and is it required? 

CertiFile is a mechanism for applicants from international academic institutions to submit verified electronic versions of their official transcripts. It is not required. Applicants from international institutions can choose to use CertiFile or to submit hard copies of their official transcripts via mail, per the instructions above. Applicants who attended US institutions or international institutions that have a secure portal option for transmitting transcripts should not use CertiFile.

My institution does not report GPAs on a 4.0 grading scale. How should I report my GPA on the application?

Please do not convert your GPA to a 4.0 grading scale. You should enter “0.00” for the GPA and use the “Unconverted GPA” and “Unconverted GPA System” fields instead. A link to detailed instructions for reporting GPA is located near these fields on the application.

I attended multiple undergraduate institutions. In what order should I list them on the application?

The institution where you earned or expect to earn your Bachelor's degree should be listed as "Post-Secondary Institution 1." The remaining institutions don’t have to follow a particular order. Please note that you must submit a transcript for all courses taken towards your undergraduate degree, including those from your nonprimary institutions.

When should I submit my transcripts if my degree will still be in progress at the time of the application deadline?

The most current version of your official transcript should be received by our Department by December 1, even if the grades from your fall term are not available. The absence of these grades will have no impact on the review of your application. If you are admitted and enrolled, we will ask you to submit your final transcript showing all grades and proof of degree conferral.

If I am sending official hard copy transcripts, may I send them from my own address, or do they need to be sent directly from my institution?

Either option is acceptable. Regardless, the transcripts must be in an envelope that was sealed by the institution (i.e. there must be a stamp or signature to verify that the envelopes were sealed by the institution). 

Do I need to include a cover sheet with my identifying information when sending the transcripts?

A cover sheet is not necessary unless your transcript displays a version of your name that is different from the one you entered on the application. Transcripts are matched to applications based on the applicant's full name.

How do I check the status of my official transcripts?

Log in to your application account. It may take up to six weeks after submitting your application or sending the official transcripts (whichever occurs later) for your official transcripts to show as received. Processing may be delayed or halted if the name on the transcript does not exactly match the name on your application (eg, married names, nicknames).

Do I need to submit official transcripts from an institution where I studied abroad?

If the coursework and grades are reflected on the transcript of your home institution, you do not need to submit official transcripts from the study-abroad institution.

Do you have a minimum GPA score?

We do not require applicants to have a minimum GPA for admission consideration, and we do not release information about average GPAs of accepted students. As a guideline, successful applicants typically earn undergraduate cumulative GPAs among the top of their class. However, please keep in mind that admission to our graduate program depends on a combination of factors, and all areas of a student’s application are weighed similarly when applications are reviewed. If our research areas meet your educational goals, we encourage you to submit an application. 


Is the GRE required?

No! Beginning in 2018, the Psychology PhD program is not requiring the general GRE. We will not be collecting any information related to GRE exam scores on the application. Please do not submit GRE scores to Stanford for our program. 

When should I take the TOEFL?

For non-native English speakers, the TOEFL must be taken by the graduate application deadline.

Do I need to take the GRE Subject Test in Psychology?

No; the subject test is not required and we will not be collecting any information related to the subject GRE for any applicants.

I am an international student currently enrolled in a degree program in the U.S. Do I need to submit a TOEFL score?

The TOEFL score requirements are waived for international students who have received a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an institution in the United States or other English-speaking country. Therefore, applicants with these degrees from the U.S., Australia, Canada (except Quebec), New Zealand, Singapore, Ireland, and the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales) are exempt from taking the TOEFL and do not need to submit the TOEFL waiver request form.

What is the minimum TOEFL score required for admission?

Please visit the website of Stanford's Office of Graduate Admissions for more information on the University’s minimum requirements.

If my TOEFL score falls below the University’s minimum, am I still eligible to apply?

Yes, you may still apply. If your TOEFL scores fall below the University's minimum requirements and you are admitted, Stanford may require you to take an English placement exam and/or English classes.

May I submit the IELTS instead of the TOEFL to demonstrate English proficiency?

The IELTS is not accepted at Stanford University; only the TOEFL is accepted to provide proof of proficiency in English.

How do I request a TOEFL exemption or waiver?

For all questions related to TOEFL exemptions or waivers please refer to the website of Stanford’s Office of Graduate Admissions. Please note that the central office makes all final decisions regarding TOEFL waivers; the Department of Psychology is not involved in the approval of TOEFL waivers.

How do I check the status of my TOEFL scores?

Log in to your application account. It may take up to two weeks after submitting your application or sending the scores (whichever occurs later) for your official scores to show as received. Processing may be delayed or halted if the name or birthdate on the score report does not exactly match the information on your application.

Why does my TOEFL status show as “Not Applicable” even though I submitted a TOEFL score?

This may be because you listed English as your first language in the application. Please note that “first language” refers to your native language.

Is there a department code for ETS to use in order to send in my scores?

No, there are no individual department codes; use the Stanford University score recipient code 4704 to send your scores.

Statements of Purpose

How long should my statement of purpose be?

We strongly recommend that your statement of purpose be around two pages in length.

What should I include in my statement of purpose?

Please consult the Stanford Graduate Admissions' FAQ page for more information on Statements of Purpose.

Letters of Recommendation

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

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.

My recommender will not be able to submit his/her letter by the application deadline. Will my application still be considered?

Letters of recommendation must be submitted by December 1, 2018. As such, we strongly encourage you to contact your recommenders directly to remind them of our deadline and review timeline.

Can my recommenders submit their letters via email or fax?

No; recommenders must submit their letters via Stanford’s online recommender system.

My recommenders are having technical difficulties with the online letters of recommendation process. Who should they contact?

Should any of your recommenders experience technical difficulties with the online letters of recommendation process, please refer them to our application database provider's letters of recommendation help page or have them submit a Help Request Form directly to our application database provider.

Additional Materials/Updates

May I submit a resume/CV, list of publications, etc. as part of my application?

Applicants are permitted to upload one (1) additional document to the online application, under the “Document Uploads” section.

I realized I made a mistake on my application and/or uploaded the wrong version of my documents. What do I do?

Depending on the timing and the nature of the error, our staff may be able to correct your application. Please send an email to Include your full name, a complete description of the error, and attach the correct version of the file (if applicable). The Department reserves the right to decline to update your application after the deadline has passed. Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Should I mail any additional materials besides my official transcripts?

No; any additional documents we receive will be discarded. Please do not mail any hard copies of materials, with the exception of official transcripts. 

How can I make a correction to an application that I have already submitted?

Please send an e-mail to with the details of your request. We are unable to upload additional documents or replace previously uploaded documents (including the statement of purpose or additional information). If you need to change your recommenders, please use the Activity Status Page. (Note: The order of recommenders cannot be changed.)

Is there an interview process? 

Yes, our faculty interview prospective students before making final admission decisions. Some interviews may be conducted by Skype or phone; a small set of finalists will be invited to campus for in person interviews. 

When are the on-campus interviews?

This year, our on campus interviews will take place on February 22, 2019.

When can I expect to find out the decision on my application?

The Department of Psychology aims to issue all offers of admission to PhD degree applicants by the end of March. Reapplying applicants who were previously not admitted are welcome to reapply if they can demonstrate significant progress made since they last applied. However, all documents (including official transcripts) must be resubmitted with a new application. We do not keep records from past applications.

I still have questions!

If you have questions that are not answered on this page or the Stanford Graduate Admissions' FAQ page, please email

Please note that if your questions are already covered on this page, your email may not receive a response. We receive a very high volume of queries, so unfortunately we cannot provide individual status updates for applicants at any point in the process, including confirmation of transcript receipts. Rest assured that the staff will process transcripts and update your status in the online application system as soon as possible.