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Application Requirements

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Required Materials

The online application for 2024-2025 entry will open in mid-September 2023. In the meantime, please review the information in this section to prepare for the application process. The application deadline for 2024-2025 entry is November 21, 2023.

We encourage you to review PhD Admissions FAQs and Advice from Current Students to as you prepare your application.

Electronic Stanford Graduate Application

To be considered for E-IPER PhD Admissions, applications must be submitted through the Stanford Graduate Admissions website.

Personal Background

Stanford is committed to creating an inclusive, accessible, diverse, and equitable university for all our community members. In this section, we invite you to share biographical and demographic information that may provide E-IPER's Admission Committee with a more holistic view of your lived experiences.

Program Selection

In this section, you indicate your intended graduate program and entry term. Please be sure to select: "Environment and Resources (PhD)." Out of the graduate degree programs listed on this page, you may apply to only one program per academic year. The only exception is within the Biosciences PhD programs, where you may apply for two programs within a single application.

Academic History

In this section, you must list and provide your unofficial transcript for every post-secondary institution where you were enrolled — or are currently enrolled — in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Stanford considers unofficial transcripts to be sufficient for the review process. If you are offered admission to Stanford and accept the offer, you will be required to submit official transcritps/degree conferral documents. More information on transcripts/academic records can be found here.

You must also respond to the following questions:

  • Have you ever been suspended, dismissed, or placed on enforced leave from any college, university, or post-secondary institution or been the subject of disciplinary action by such an institution?
  • Have you ever been placed on academic probation by any college or university?

Test Scores

For the 2024-2025 application cycle, E-IPER does not require applicants to submit scores for the GRE General Test or the GRE Subject Test.

If your first language is not English, you are required to submit an official test score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT). Stanford University accepts the TOEFL iBT Home Edition and TOEFL iBT Paper Edition if you are unable to take the traditional TOEFL iBT test in a test center. Our University does not accept TOEFL Essential scores or any other English proficiency test (e.g., IELT, PTE). More more details on TOEFL requirements, exemptions, waivers, etc., please review the Grad Admissions site pertaining to TOEFL scores here.

TOEFL scores expire after two years and will not be available from ETS. Students are strongly advised to take the TOEFL no later than mid-October to ensure scores are transmitted by the application deadline. 

Stanford’s ETS institutional code is 4704. Individual department code numbers are not necessary. As long as you select the institutional code of 4704, the score is electronically delivered to Stanford.


In this section, we hope to provide applicants with an opportunity to share information about any relevant experience in the following categories:

  • Research experience
  • Publications/presentations/posters
  • Awards & Honors
  • Work experience

In addition, E-IPER requires you to upload your resume. Our Admission Committee consider resumes to be complementary to our Statement of Purpose (see below for more details on SOP).


You are required to list three (3) academic or professional references who know you well, and are qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. Letters of recommendation should come from academic or professional references who know you well and are qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. It is strongly recommended that at least one of these letters be from a university professor familiar with your academic work.

In general, we recommend that at least two (2) letters of recommendation come from academic sources. At least one (1) of the recommenders be 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 potential for graduate work.

All letters of recommendations must be submitted through the Stanford Grad Admissions application portal. Stanford University is unable to accept letters of recommendation submitted via Interfolio, as recommenders are required to respond to specific evaluation questions in addition to uploading a letter. Please ask your recommenders to submit their letters directly using the online application system.

All letters of recommendation must be received by the application deadline. It is your responsibility to ensure your references know that this deadline is final.

Recommendation form

After you enter information for your recommender, the application system sends a personalized link to that individual and prompts them to submit the recommendation online. Once your recommender submits their recommendation letter, you will receive an email notification. You may manage your recommenders on the same Recommendations page where you registered them. This includes sending reminder emails and changing recommenders. You continue to have access to this page after you submit your application.

In addition to the letter of recommendation, recommenders are asked to respond to the following questions:

  1. Please identify the most selective group to which you are comparing the applicant. 
    • Undergrad students
    • Master's level students
    • Doctoral level students
    • Other (please specify)
  2. How many years have you evaluated people in this group?
  3. Approximately how many people are in this group, totaled over those years?
  4. In overall ability (as appropriate to graduate studies) this candidate is among what percentile?
    • Top 1-2%
    • Top 5%
    • Top 10%
    • Second quarter
    • Third quarter
    • Bottom quarter
    • No basis for judgment
  5. Admission to graduate study at Stanford University is:
    • Strongly recommended
    • Recommended
    • Recommended with reservations
    • NOT recommended

Prompt for recommendation letter

The prompt for the recommendation letter is:

We are curious to learn how you came to know the applicant, and your assessment of their academic/professional growth, accomplishments, and/or achievements during the time you have met them. Please write candidly about the applicant’s interdisciplinary interests, qualifications, potential to carry on advanced study in the field specified, intellectual independence/curiosity, capability for analytical thinking, ability to organize and express ideas clearly, ability to work collaboratively, and/or potential for teaching.

Your recommenders must be the sole authors of your letters of recommendation. Drafting, writing, translating, or submitting your own reference, even if asked to do so by a recommender, is a violation of our application terms. You are responsible for informing your recommenders of this policy.

General best practice

  • Register your recommenders in the online application as early as possible to ensure their letters are received by the application deadline
  • Whenever possible, register your recommenders using their university/work email.
  • Schedule a meeting with your recommenders to discuss your plans for graduate study. It may be helpful to provide a timeline, application materials, and/or discuss aspects of the application with your recommenders.
    • Many applicants apply to multiple graduate programs - it may be helpful to helpful the difference(s) between traditional programs compared to E-IPER (an interdisciplinary program). In general, letters written specifically for your Stanford graduate program tend to be stronger than letters written for general use purposes.


In this section, you provide your Statement of Purpose for pursuing graduate study in your field of interest. In addition, you have the opportunity to submit an optional Diversity Statement.

Statement of Purpose

You are required to submit a Statement of Purpose in response to the following prompt:

Please write candidly about the applicant’s qualifications, potential to carry on advanced study in the field specified, intellectual independence, capability for analytical thinking, ability to organize and express ideas clearly, and potential for teaching. Descriptions of significant actions, accomplishments, character, and personal qualities related to scholarly achievement are particularly helpful.

Your Statement of Purpose should be uploaded as a Word or PDF file in the electronic application (statement should be 2 single spaced pages maximum). In your statement, describe your academic and professional preparation for E-IPER, why you are seeking an interdisciplinary graduate program, your research interests and how they will integrate traditional disciplines, and which faculty members might be best suited to advise you. We are not looking for a detailed research proposal; rather, a bigger picture of your interests, how they fit in E-IPER, and what you ultimately hope to do upon completing your PhD.

Enriching the Learning Community

You may submit an optional statement in response to the following prompt:

Stanford University welcomes graduate applications from individuals with a broad range of experiences, interests, and backgrounds who would contribute to our community of scholars. We invite you to share the lived experiences, demonstrated values, perspectives, and/or activities that shape you as a scholar and would help you to make a distinctive contribution to Stanford University.

Your statement should not exceed 500 words in length.

Program Supplemental

The questions in this section are tailored to the E-IPER PhD program. We ask all applicants to indicate their faculty interests and provide answers to three (3) question prompts

Faculty Interests

In order of preference, select four (4) potential advisors whose research interests best align with yours. For each advisor you select, explain how their work might be helpful in your own research, and how they could advise you on your areas of interest. The maximum recommended length is 300 words, or three-quarters of a page, single-spaced.

NOTE: To support your explanation, please review each potential advisor’s recent research and publications. The majority of your potential advisors should be Stanford faculty members. A list of faculty and affiliates can be found on E-IPER’s website; applicants may also list faculty/affiliates not listed on E-IPER’s website. Your potential advisor selections at this point are non-binding, however, the Admissions Committee will contact the advisors listed for feedback as part of our evaluation process. If you do not see an advisor listed on the drop down menu, please contact E-IPER’s Assistant Director of Student Services, Tara Arenas.

Question Prompts (Short Answers)

  1. Tell us about the research question that you want to address in your time at Stanford. Explain why this question requires an interdisciplinary approach. Describe at least two disciplines, or subdisciplines, in which you would need expertise in order to address this question. Another way to think about what you would need to address your research question and your interdisciplinary approach: in which fields of inquiry (FOI) would you specialize? See E-IPER website for more details on FOI. The maximum recommended length is 500 words, or one page single-spaced.
  2. Tell us about the most useful criticism that you have received regarding your scientific/research ideas. How did you act on this information? How did it change your scientific work or thinking? The maximum recommended length is 500 words, or one page single-spaced.
  3. Describe how your experiences in the time since you earned your undergraduate degree influenced the way you think about the environmental issues/research of interest to you. How have you evolved as a researcher? The maximum recommended length is 500 words, or one page single-spaced.

Additional Information

In this section, you will be asked to provide information (if applicable) about your application to:

You also disclose whether you have a prior or current affiliation with Stanford, for record-matching purposes.

Finally, you have the option to upload a supplemental document if you wish to share additional information that was not covered by the questions in the application.

Application Fees & Waivers

The E-IPER community values global diversity and particularly encourages prospective international students from developing countries to apply. Recognizing that Stanford's $125 application fee may deter some candidates with limited financial means from applying, E-IPER offers a limited number of fee waivers for international students who face a financial hardships that would prevent them from applying to E-IPER.

Note: There is a University-wide fee waiver application process for qualified US citizens/Permanent Residents. 

Notice of a decision will be received by email within two weeks of submission from the applicant. Please note that granting of a waiver does not indicate that an applicant will be or is likely to be accepted for the PhD; nor does denial of a waiver request indicate that an applicant is unlikely to be admitted to the E-IPER program. Applicants whose waiver requests are denied may still submit an application for E-IPER. All requests for fee waivers, whether approved or denied, will be kept confidential and will not influence the application review or selection process.