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CEE Master’s Detailed Admissions Information

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Master of Science Degree

The master’s degree is offered under the general regulations of the university as set forth in the Stanford Bulletin.

Students currently studying for a PhD degree and who do not have a MS in CEE may request this degree be added to their record. Check with the department’s student services office for more information.

Three approaches to the MS degree

The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers the following focused programs of study leading to a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering:

MS Degree Program Faculty Coordinator(s)
Atmosphere and Energy Mark Jacobson
Environmental Engineering Oliver FringerAli Boehm
Structural Engineering and Geomechanics Kincho Law
Sustainable Design & Construction Martin Fischer

Apply through the Graduate Admissions Website

All applicants must make an official application, using the university’s online forms and procedures, and following the directions from the Office of the Registrar, Graduate Admissions. Visit the Graduate Admissions website for more information about the graduate admissions process at Stanford and to apply for graduate admission.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this page provides department-specific requirements that you will need to fulfill as part of your application. These details are not on the Graduate Admissions website.


Master of Science in Engineering is available to those who wish to follow a program of interdisciplinary study that does not conform to any of the predefined graduate sub-plans in Civil and Environmental Engineering. The program must be coherent with a well-defined objective and must be approved by your advisor and the department chairperson before being reviewed by the School's Office of Student Affairs.

Coterminal MS Program (either MS/CEE or MS/Engineering)
Undergraduates with strong academic records may apply to study for a MS (CEE or Engineering majors) degree while completing their bachelor's degree(s). Applications may be made upon completion of 120 units but no later than early in the 11th quarter of undergraduate study and at least four quarter in advance of MS conferral. Students not meeting these deadlines will be required to apply through the regular graduate admissions process. The quarter following completion of 180 units is the first graduate quarter (the first quarter of graduate tuition level). Applications are available at the registrar’s website. Additional Supplemental Questions are required.

Application for transfer from the MS/CEE or other MS programs, or for direct admission as a coterminal student, should be submitted before completing 18 units of the proposed MS/Engineering program.

Applicants and Deadlines

This master’s degree program is open to two cohorts of applicants.

1. External applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree or will have completed one before matriculating as a graduate student. Potential applicants in this group apply online. Please see the Application Timelines & Deadlines page for this year’s application deadlines.

2. Active Stanford undergrads. If you are currently a Stanford undergrad, please visit the Coterm page for information and instructions on the Coterm admissions process.

Each department conferring graduate degrees establishes its own application deadlines. An applicant may apply to only one degree program at Stanford University, meaning the applicant must choose one degree program within CEE (e.g., Environmental Engineering (EnvEng), Structural Engineering and Geomechanics (SEG)), and can have only one active application. All components of an application to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering must be received by the department no later than the appropriate due date. 

Graduate Application Checklist

A completed application consists of:

  • Application (must be submitted on-line through Graduate Admissions)
  • Application Fee (must be paid on-line through Graduate Admissions)
  • Statement of Purpose (must be submitted on-line through Graduate Admissions)
  • Supplemental Questions for students applying to graduate programs (must be submitted on-line through Grad Admissions)
  • Letters of Recommendation (must be submitted by your recommenders via Email through Graduate Admissions)
  • Transcripts (must be submitted on-line through Graduate Admissions) 
  • TOEFL Results (if required - submitted directly to Stanford's ETS Institutional Code: 4704 by ETS)


The application can be accessed through Stanford’s Graduate Admissions website. Please carefully read all information and instructions.

Statement of Purpose

Rather than simply summarizing your CV, your Statement of Purpose should identify personal and professional goals. While reflecting on your development to date, it should discuss your intentions relative to graduate study and life beyond Stanford. The CEE Graduate Admissions Committee reads your Statement of Purpose with interest because, along with the Letters of Recommendation, it offers insight into who you are as an individual. Your Statement of Purpose should not exceed two pages in length (single spaced).

Supplemental Questions

CEE advanced degree applicants must submit a supplemental questionnaire. (A supplemental form with these questions has been included with the online application.)

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation for a complete application. These must be submitted online. Please carefully follow the instructions on the Graduate Admissions web site for letters of recommendation.

IMPORTANT: The email address provided for each recommendation letter writer must be the official email for their university or workplace. Use of a personal email address for a recommendation letter writer may result in a significant delay in reviewing your application, as the admissions committee will have to contact the letter writer directly to verify the authenticity of the letter.


Transcripts must be uploaded to the online application portal. These are not considered official but will be used for the initial application review. We do not require official transcripts for the initial application. If the admissions committee chooses to move forward with an application, the applicant will be asked to submit official transcripts at that time.  

The application checklist will say to send official transcripts to our address but please wait to send in official transcripts until you are admitted.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Results

Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission. Scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Exceptions are granted for applicants who have earned a U.S. bachelor’s or master’s degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or the equivalent of either degree from a non-U.S. college or university of recognized standing where all instruction is provided in English. This exception does not apply if the courses were completed in a country where English is spoken but not all courses were provided in English. Stanford does not accept the IELTS.

For applicants applying to MS programs within the School of Engineering at Stanford, the minimum TOEFL scores are 89 (internet-based TOEFL test) and 575 (paper-based TOEFL test).

Application evaluation

The admissions committee for each degree program within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering carefully considers all completed applications to our advanced degree programs. Decisions are based on the student’s academic record and experiences, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and test scores (if applicable). While most applicants to our advanced degree programs have traditional civil or environmental engineering backgrounds, we do accept applications from students in other related fields. Applicants with non-traditional backgrounds should expect, if admitted, to spend some additional time acquiring the background necessary to complete a graduate degree in civil and environmental engineering. For reference, the requirements for a Stanford BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering can be found in the Handbook for Undergraduate Engineering Programs.

Committees of CEE faculty members in each degree program make all decisions regarding admission to our advanced degree programs. Decisions are based on thorough evaluations of all aspects of completed applications. Applications are evaluated in their entirety and within the context of the program pool. Hence, final decisions are not made on a rolling basis, but rather when the pool is complete, after the deadline date.

We are unable to provide informal recommendations or evaluations on the basis of partial information (e.g., a CV or test scores or a transcript). Inquiries and materials sent to individual professors will be redirected to administrative staff. We encourage potential applicants to consider discussing their issues with faculty recommenders who know them well and could give better, individualized academic advice.

If You Have Questions

For further general information on admission to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, contact

If you think one of our graduate programs is a good fit with your educational background and future academic and career goals, we in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering very much look forward to receiving your application. Applicants with completed applications should expect to hear from us in early April regarding admission. If you do not receive an email from our student services office by these decision dates, you may email with this particular inquiry. (Subject: PhD decision? MS decision?) as we are unable to provide any applicant information over the phone.

We wish you all the best as you make your decisions about your educational future!


If you do not have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering (or its equivalent) from an accredited curriculum, you must complete those undergraduate courses that are considered important for entry into the CEE graduate program. This may include any undergraduate courses that are prerequisites to the required graduate courses for your MS program. When such entry requirements must be fulfilled, you may need more than 45 total units to obtain the master’s degree.

Graduate students are advised to confer with their program’s academic advisor to review program course requirements and identify any deficiencies throughout their study. Any changes or adjustments to the program will require the advisor’s consent.

Course work

Students admitted to graduate study with the bachelor’s degree in civil engineering (or its equivalent) from an accredited curriculum can normally satisfy the requirements for a MS degree by completing a minimum of 45 units of courses at Stanford following an approved program of study; see Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree (PDF) subject to the following conditions:

  • For the Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering, at least 30 units must be at the graduate level (courses numbered 200 or above) and at least 24 units must be from the School of Engineering. In addition, each CEE program area (see table above) has specific coursework requirements.
  • The Master of Science in Engineering has two requirements:
    • The program must be a coherent one with a well-defined objective.
    • The program of courses must include at least 23 units at the graduate level (courses numbered 200 or above) within the School of Engineering and for which the student receives a letter grade.

No thesis is required. Students are generally advised to select the letter grade if it is taken to fulfill a subplan requirement. Up to six units of the total MS program may be of the CR/NC grade type. Consult with your advisor as to the maximum units acceptable for courses with the grade type of S/NC or seminar type courses. Finally, your advisor and the department chairperson must approve your program of study.

Coterminal MS in CEE or Engineering must meet the requirements noted herein. No course taken prior to Autumn of Sophomore year may be used as part of the required 45 graduate units. Courses cannot be transferred once the undergraduate degree is conferred. All course transfer requests should be submitted no later than the quarter prior to intended conferral quarter.

Non-acceptable units

Units earned in courses below the 100 level may not be accepted toward the minimum requirements for this degree. Non-technical courses, such as remedial English-language instruction (those checked as required on the Report on English Screening), music courses and physical education, may not be included in the 45 units of required course work. Students may take any courses they wish beyond the 45 program units.

NOTE: students with “required” or “strongly recommended” remedial English courses (such as Linguistics 693A, etc.) must complete these course or have them waived before applying for graduation.

Academic performance

In order to be recommended for the master’s degree, you must achieve a grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75 in the Stanford courses listed in the 45 units of graduate study on your Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree (PDF).

The GPA is calculated as follows: A=4, B=3, C=2 and D=1; a plus ( ) modifier adds 0.3 and a minus (-) modifier subtracts 0.3. More information at: How the General University GPA is Determined.

Graduate Study Minimum Progress in CEE:

Course grades: MInimum GPA of 2.75 for M.S. degree students in the quarter being evaluated.

Credit hours passed: students enrolled for 11 or more units must pass at least 8 units per term that count towards their degree by the end of each term. Those registered for 8-10 units must pass at least 6 units per term that count towards their degree by the end of each term.

Course type limits: exceeding (6) CR/NC units for Ltr-CR/NC grading basis courses, program seminar or research unit restrictions, non-CEE courses, 100-level course limits

Courses that may not count for credit: ESL (English as a Second Language), Art, Music, PE/Athletic, and lower than 100-level courses.

Program proposal for a master’s degree

No degree can be recommended for conferral unless this document has been filed and represents an accurate program of study. Meet with your advisor during your first quarter of graduate study to agree upon a proposed program of coursework. Submit a Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree (PDF); regardless of how many quarters it will take you to complete the requirements (45 units) for the degree. This form is available from the registrar’s website.

List courses in the order in which they will be taken, grouped by quarter and including only the 45 units that should be considered for the degree. When your advisor and the department chairperson have approved this form, this list of courses becomes your official program of study for the master’s degree.

Revising your program

If your actual course work changes after submitting the Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree (PDF) (and it probably will), you must file this with the Department. If you make any further changes to your program, no matter how minor, you must submit another revised program form.

When your principal advisor and the department chairperson have approved this form, the revised list of courses becomes your official program for the master’s degree.

Extending your program

The program authorization (time limits) for completion of master’s degree programs are as follows:

  • Honors Cooperative students have five years from the beginning of their first quarter of enrollment in the program.
  • Coterminal students have three years after the quarter in which they have completed 180 units.
  • All other master’s degree students have three years beginning with the first quarter of enrollment.

These time limits are based on calendar years, not registration quarters. Leave of absences do not extend or expedite the expiration of the program authorization.

Review your situation with your advisor as soon as you realize that you may be unable to complete the requirements of your program of study within the prescribed time limits. If it is agreed that more time will be required, you must submit an Application for Extension of Candidacy or Master’s Program before your program authorization expires. This form may be used to extend the time limits for completion of your master’s degree program for up to one year. Extensions require a review of your academic progress and advisor approval.

After obtaining your advisor’s signature, submit ALL forms to the department’s office of student services.

Post-MS Study at Stanford

If you have been admitted to Stanford to study for a master’s degree and wish to continue study for the department’s Engineer or PhD degree, you must turn in an Application for Post-MS Study. This form should be submitted by January 15, so that your application may be reviewed during the normal admissions cycle. You may apply at a later date if your advisor feels that is appropriate to do so.

Submit the completed form to the CEE Student Services office (Y2E2 Bldg, Room 314). If you have not specified a faculty person with whom you wish to study, your application will be forwarded to appropriate faculty members for evaluation and you will be notified by mail of their decision. If admitted, you must be sure to logon to Axess and submit a Graduate Program Authorization Petition so that a new degree program is activated in your university record.

NOTE: Conferral of a degree will inactivate any student registration privileges, therefore this step needs to be completed before your MS is conferred.

Second MS

Master’s students can also apply for a second master’s degree within Civil and Environmental Engineering or in another department. The second degree is subject to the same general requirements as in the first. None of the 45 units of course work used to complete the requirements for the first degree may be applied for the second MS degree program (some seminars and directed study courses can be repeated if the subject matter is different during the second degree).

Each department has a different approach to admission for a second MS, so it is important to check with the appropriate individuals. In the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, submit an Application for Post-MS Study (from the Registrar's site) to the faculty member who agrees to act as your advisor for the second degree. Any financial aid granted for this study should be verified by a letter of admission to the program. File a Graduate Program Authorization Petition specifying an “Additional Degree Program” as the requested change. Turn in the completed form to the department office for approval by the chairperson.