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Master's Degree Frequently Asked Questions

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Master's Degree Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I find information?

Go to Stanford's Graduate Admissions website

Explore all the information available on our Civil and Environmental Engineering website, (including the faculty pages). If these resources do not address any remaining questions, please send an email to the department at

Academic and Departmental FAQs

We have orientations and academic advising sessions for all new graduate students before you select your courses and start your first classes. Furthermore, you'll get ongoing support and advising from faculty and staff throughout your graduate career!

When may admitted MS applicants visit Stanford?

CEE Visit Day is held during spring each year. Admitted MS applicants will be notified of the CEE Visit Day timeline in their letter of acceptance. If you have been admitted and are seriously considering Stanford's CEE MS program, please reserve this date for your Stanford visit, as we will be unable to accommodate a request to visit at another time.

How long does it take to get the MS degree?

The average time to earn an MS degree is between 1 and 1.5 years.

Can I change my mind during my MS degree if I continue on to pursue a PhD at Stanford?

Yes. In order to transition into the PhD program from the MS program you will consult with your assigned academic advisor and also identify a faculty member with which you would like to pursue doctoral work. Prior to completing your MS requirements, you will complete a Change of Degree form and will then begin advancement toward PhD candidacy. However, if you are applying to the CEE program with an expectation of completing a PhD, you are encouraged to apply to the PhD program directly.

How many faculty members do you have and how long have they been teaching?

Please see our faculty webpages. Our faculty is well-distributed in terms of experience and areas of emphasis.

What are the course requirements, and how long do they generally take to complete?

MS students usually take 10-15 units per quarter, depending if they want the degree to take 1 year or 1.5 years.

What sort of job opportunities does a MS degree in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford usually enable?

Graduates of our department are extremely versatile with regards to their post-MS careers. Our MS graduates enter a range of industrial positions upon graduation, as engineers, consultants, etc. You will find companies from all sectors actively recruiting Stanford civil and environmental engineers.

Admission FAQs

*These answers are brief summaries. Potential applicants should follow the links and read the in-depth information at Graduate Admissions.

What are the application deadlines?

For our MS program, please check the deadlines provided on the Application Timelines and Deadlines webpage. No additional MS applications will be accepted after this deadline.

May I apply to start graduate work in other times of the year than Autumn Quarter?

For programmatic and curricular reasons, admitted students should plan to commence studies at the beginning of the academic year, in September.

Are GRE scores required for admission?

No, the Civil and Environmental Engineering department does not require GRE scores. 

Are TOEFL scores required for admission?

In general, yes, if your first language is not English. On your application, self-report both your ETS scores and percentages. The Graduate Admissions website has further details about the university-wide test requirements and exceptions. Any request for a TOEFL waiver must to directed to central Graduate Admissions. Individual academic departments may not approve requests for waivers. In general, there is a high expectation for English language fluency in both formal use and informal interactions, in written and oral situations. One of the key goals of our educational programs is the further development of communication skills in English and ongoing opportunities are built into the curriculum.

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).

Can I submit IELTS scores instead of TOEFL scores?

No, Stanford does not accept the IELTS.

What about Financial Aid?

Financial aid for graduate students includes student jobs, assistantships, loans and fellowship awards, from either external sources such as governmental agencies, industry or private foundations; or from internal university, school and departmental resources. Applicants are usually informed of their acceptance to a degree program in either March or early April. All offers of financial aid (e.g., fellowships, assistantships) will made by early April, most often through a separate letter offering financial aid. Offers of admission to the PhD degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering made with an offer of financial support are valid until April 15 the same year. For further details about offers of admission with financial support, see the "Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars" at and search for the "April 15 Resolution." Offers of admission to our MS program made without financial aid are valid until the end of August of the same year. Those considering pursuing their master’s degree are encouraged to visit the Stanford Financial Aid website to obtain more information about financing graduate study.

What is the usual size of the incoming civil and environmental engineering MS Class?

It depends on which degree program in CEE you are applying. They typical MS cohort ranges from 20-40 MS students for each degree program.

Where do I have supplemental materials sent for my application?

For academic year 21-22, all materials are to be submitted electronically as part of the application. Official paper transcripts are not required unless admission is offered.  

What materials must be included with my application?

There are four major components required to complete a graduate application file:

Bio-demographic information and educational history.

Statement of Purpose (2 pages)

Transcripts (uploaded to the application)

Three letters of recommendation, preferably at least one from a faculty member

When will I find out about the decision on my application?

All applicants must maintain current and correct email addresses so we can communicate with you via email. MS applicants can expect to hear from us in early April. The final MS decisions are made only after the final MS application deadline so the entire pool may be considered. MS decisions will be communicated to all applicants in writing, in most cases through E-mail.

What if I have further questions?

For further general information on admission to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, contact or call the department at 650-723-3074.

Additional information about graduate admissions for each specific program can be found by navigating to the FAQ website of each CEE graduate program.

Atmosphere/Energy FAQ

Sustainable Design & Construction FAQ

Environmental Engineering FAQ

Structural Engineering & Geomechanics FAQ

If you still have program-specific questions after reading the information on our web site, you can contact the faculty member in charge of graduate admissions for that program by sending an email to: (Atmosphere and Energy admissions) (Environmental Engineering admissions) (Sustainable Design & Construction admissions) (Structural Engineering and Geomechanics admissions)