Skip to content Skip to navigation

SDC Admissions FAQ

Application Process

Why should I study at Stanford?

Why study engineering at Stanford? The world-renowned yet approachable faculty might be a key factor. The opportunity to conduct research in state-of-the-art labs and the chance to study engineering within a liberal arts context ... Story continues on SoE's Prospective Students page.

When should I apply?

We review the first round of applications early in the calendar year. To have the best shot at financial aid, please make sure to submit your application by the deadlines on our admissions timeline page.

Can I apply after the deadlines?

Yes, you can apply and be considered for financial aid after the earlier deadline for application with financial aid has passed. Your chances of admission and financial aid are far greater, of course, if we receive your application by the deadline for application with financial aid. The later deadline for application without financial aid is governed by our online application portal. Once the application portal is taken offline, there is no mechanism for us to receive your late application.

Should I wait to apply until I have all the documents ready?

No — you can submit the application form, your statement of purpose, and the extra question as soon as you can, and add the other documents by the deadline or as soon as possible.

What documents do I need to submit for my application?

Application form, statement of purpose, answers to the additional questions, curriculum vitae (resume), transcript and GPA, GRE scores, three letters, TOEFL if applicable. If possible, it is helpful to indicate how you ranked among your undergraduate peers. To see if you are eligible for a fee waiver for the GRE exam, please go to the Graduate Fee Waiver page.

How can I afford Stanford?

We have fellowship funding available that can offset the difference in tuition vs. many other institutions.

Are there minimum GRE and TOEFL scores?

Stanford requires a minimum score for the TOEFL. We do not have a minimum GRE score requirement. For our decision about admission and financial aid, we consider the entire application. However, many successful applicants have GRE scores in the higher ranges.  A strong analytical score is also important, in particular for applicants interested in post-MS studies.

If my TOEFL score is below the minimum, will my application still be considered?

You will not be screened out right away, but if admitted you will not be able to enroll until you have a TOEFL score that meets the Stanford University requirement. Since this is a university-wide requirement it is not negotiable — that is, we cannot make any exceptions. So, all applicants must, before coming to Stanford, show a TOEFL score that meets the minimum requirement. Honestly, your application will look a lot stronger if you have a conforming TOEFL score because the competition for admission is quite strong. If you come to Stanford, you hope to have excellent peers from around the world and you need to have a common language that everyone can use well to communicate with everyone, so your English proficiency is critical for your and everyone's success in the program.

Will an MBA or other degree enhance my admission competitiveness if my TOEFL score is below minimum?

This will depend on your statement of purpose, i.e., how well you can motivate why you would like to study with us given what you have done so far and what you hope to accomplish in your career. It will also depend on your recommendations, since we assume that you'll have one or two recommenders from your MBA studies and the good grades you achieved in the MBA program.

Is IELTS accepted as an alternative to TOEFL and what is the minimum requirement?

International applicants may submit IELTS scores as part of the application, but Stanford does not recognize the IELTS as a measure of English proficiency

How do I apply for financial aid?

Check the "financial aid requested" box on the application form. If I apply for financial aid and I don't get it will it affect my chances of admission? No, we make the decision about admission independent of the decision about financial aid.

Can I apply directly to the PhD program?

Yes, but direct admission to the PhD program is rare. Note that it is quite easy to change your degree program once you are at Stanford, provided strong performance at Stanford and identification of a faculty advisor. If you are truly interested in a PhD it is helpful, though, to indicate this in your application. In most cases, we will then admit applicants without a MS degree to the MS degree program and applicants with a MS to the Engineer degree program, both with options to continue toward the PhD degree.

Can I change my degree designation once I'm enrolled in the program?

Yes, you can, in most cases, change your degree designation between Construction Engineering and Management, Design-Construction Integration, and Sustainable Design and Construction quite easily once you are enrolled. Therefore, apply for the degree designation that looks best to you at this point.

Can I send you my CV and transcript before applying so you can give me an idea about my chances of admission?

No. Out of fairness to all applicants, we evaluate only complete official applications we receive through the Stanford application system. Please do not send us emails with this question since we are not in a position to answer you.

My educational background is not in civil and environmental engineering. Will I still be considered for admission?

Yes. Sustainable design and construction requires many different educational and professional backgrounds. Each year we admit a number of students with undergraduate degrees in architecture, other engineering fields and fields outside engineering who show experience, passion and promise for Sustainable Design and Construction.

Does Stanford accept IELTS test scores?

No, Stanford does not accept this test score.

On the application form it asks, "Who have you contacted at Stanford?" Do I need to talk to a faculty member before applying to improve my chances for acceptance?

No, you do not need to speak to a faculty member before applying to improve your chances for acceptance. While the faculty are happy to talk with potential applicants, we can be hard to get in touch with. Thus, don't feel obligated to contact one of us before applying. It won't affect our consideration of your application one way or another.

What if my question is not answered on this site?

If after reading all of the information provided on this site you cannot find an answer to your question, you can email the program administrators with specific questions at

Application Process Review

By when can I expect a decision?

We usually send out notifications of admission or rejection in late February or early March at the latest. How will I be informed of a decision? You will receive an email message from us, followed by a letter in the mail. Therefore, it is critical that you indicate an email address and mailing address where you can be reached in February and March.

Can or should I visit the program?

While not a requirement, we welcome visits or phone calls. Please contact the program's administrator, Sharyn Nantuna, to schedule a visit or phone call. The official visitation day information can be found through this page: It is particularly important for Engineer and PhD degree applicants to contact the faculty whose research program looks most interesting to you.

Questions About the Program

What are the degree requirements?

The degree requirements are summarized on the Master of Science Degree page, with a link to the general curriculum requirements. Sustainable Design and Construction degree requirements.

Do you help students find jobs?

Yes, we help you find temporary or permanent jobs by introducing you to many leading practitioners who give guest lectures in our courses, through our alumni network, and through facilitated recruiting sessions.

Who are the instructors in the program?

The courses are taught by award winning and visionary academic and professional faculty.