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Atmosphere/Energy Admission FAQ

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Admission to the Atmosphere/Energy Program

What is the application deadline?

Check the Admissions Timeline page for more information.

What requirements are needed to enter into the MS program?

You must have an undergraduate degree to be considered for the graduate program. The admission committee considers all aspects of the application, including (not in a particular order) statement of purpose/interest in the program, grades, letters of recommendation, strength of courses taken, and extracurricular activities. Research experience is also considered but lack of such experience is not a barrier to entering the program. 

Can I apply directly to the PhD program with an undergraduate degree?

Students may be admitted to the PhD program only upon completion of an MS degree, either at Stanford or at another university. The degree does not need to be in Atmosphere/Energy but should be in a science or engineering field.

Students who designate MS/PhD interest on their application will be considered for the MS degree only if they do not have an MS degree. However, if they are interested in the PhD degree, they should indicate so clearly in the application (and designate MS/PhD).

During the MS degree year, students can apply with a short application to the PhD program. Admission to the MS program does not constitute admission to the PhD program. The PhD degree is more competitive than the MS due to the more limited number of spots for and the longer time to complete the PhD degree.

International Student Questions

What are "graduate studies" exactly?

In the US, post A-level studies are divided between undergraduate (four years in college, bachelor's degree) and graduate (one to six years, master's degree or PhD). The master's degree offered by the Atmosphere/Energy Program is accessible to every student having earned a previous undergraduate degree.

How are studies organized?

Studies are organized this way: The year is divided into 4 quarters, one per season. At each quarter, classes are proposed and passing them allows the students to receive a certain number of credits (between 1 and 5). You need 45 credits to graduate. More information here.

How do I apply?

You can find detailed information about application processes through the Admission page of the CEE department. You also can find more through the International Applicants page. Since the application process is quite long, pay attention to the deadlines and send documents in advance.

My transcripts are not in English. Will you accept them?

Transcripts must be submitted with English translations from your school or a professional translating service. The translations must be literal, complete versions of the original documents.

My school's grading system does not use a 1-4 scale. How do I enter my grade point average in the online application?

If your school has not converted your GPA for you, enter 0.00 in the GPA fields of the online application. Your GPA will be calculated from your transcripts.

Do I need to submit a financial support form or other proof of ability to pay?

Do not submit documents detailing financial support or ability to pay when applying. If you are accepted into Stanford, we will inform you of the information we need and send you the necessary forms. Do not send financial statements in advance.

When will I be notified of my admission status?

If you are admitted, a notifying email will be sent to you. You may receive the admission letter during February or March.

What visa options can I have?

The Graduate Admissions Office will not discuss visa issues with applicants. If you are admitted, we will send you information about obtaining a visa. You will either need and F-1 visa (in most cases) or a J-1 visa. You will need to maintain your status during the master to take at least 8 units per quarter (2-3 classes).

Can I work during my MS degree?

With an F-1 visa (most common case), you will be able to work no more than 20 hours per week (on-campus only for the first year) during the school year. You may be employed full-time during holidays and vacation periods, including summer vacations, provided you are eligible and intend to register for the next school term. You can find more information from Bechtel International Center.

About the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University

What types of jobs are available following graduation with a BS or MS degree?

Graduates can pursue further graduate studies or go to work for:

  • Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) (e.g., Rocky Mountain Institute, Union of Concerned Scientists, UN Foundation, Climate Alliance, Environmental Defense)
  • Companies (utility, consulting, energy, wind, solar — e.g., Google, Energy Solutions, McKinsey & Co., 3M, ENVIRON)
  • Government agencies (City of Palo Alto, Bay Area Air quality Management District, California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
  • National research laboratories (e.g., NASA Ames, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory)

Several students in our program also do MAP Sustainable Energy Fellowships for the summer and go on to work for the companies who sponsor the fellowships.

How long does the MS degree program take?

Normally, the MS degree program takes one academic year (three quarters, or a total of nine months). In this case, students will take an average of 15 units (generally four to five classes) per quarter. Often, students will take four or five quarters to take more classes, or pay lower tuition but over a longer period, or to get a greater Stanford experience. In this case, students take 8-10 units (two to three classes) per quarter.

How long does the PhD program take?

The typical time for a PhD degree is four to six years past the MS degree. Some students take longer but most complete in four to six years.

Is funding available for the MS or PhD degrees?

Funding for the MS degree is not guaranteed. We offer a limited number of fellowships for MS students based on merit. We encourage students to apply for external fellowships as well. We admit to the PhD degree only if funding is available for the student, either through research grants raised by individual faculty members, internal fellowships or external fellowships obtained by students.

Can I transfer units to Stanford from another University for the MS or PhD degrees?

Stanford does not accept outside transfer credits for graduate-level degrees. All credits for these degrees must be obtained from Stanford.

Can I work as a teaching assistant during my MS degree?

Teaching assistant role priority goes to PhD students, second-year MS students and then first-year MS students. Generally, TAships are given to students only if they have taken the class before. As such, it is very rare for a first-year MS student to receive a TAship. More often, graderships are available, but these are competitive as well.