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PhD Admission FAQs

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Application Process

Must I apply using the electronic application?

Yes. All applications must be submitted through the electronic system; no paper applications will be accepted.  Applicants can access Stanford's electronic application on the Graduate Admissions website

What educational background and work experience is expected?

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association; or completed an international degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing. Please see the minimum international education requirements. 

While a master's degree is not required, a majority of current students do hold one at the time of matriculation.  Generally speaking, admitted applicants tend to have at least 2 years of post-bachelor work experience. Many students enter the program with more than 2 years of work experience, multiple degrees, or a combination of the two.

Are there any coursework prerequisites?

Though E-IPER has no course prerequisites for application purposes, it is expected that students will enter the PhD program with some quantitative skills. While these skills can certainly be obtained through E-IPER coursework, this may extend the length of their program. Additionally, the strongest applicants will be able to demonstrate coursework, professional and/or other research experience in multiple disciplines including (but not limited to) physical, biological and social sciences. Further, the admissions committee would expect to see some coursework or practical experience in the applicant's areas of proposed research. Read through the Degree Requirements for more information. International applicants should consult the Graduate Admissions website to determine eligibility for applying to a graduate program at Stanford.

Aside from the requirements for the PhD application, does the program have any supplemental questions?

Yes.  Here are the supplemental questions:
1)    Describe how you would take an interdisciplinary approach to a significant environmental research question (using at least two different academic disciplines).

2)    Tell us about the most useful critique that you have received regarding your scientific/research ideas.  How did you act on this information?  How did it change your approach to your research?

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.

4)    Indicate 4 Faculty Members that you are interested in working with and why. Please try to choose faculty members with different fields of research/interest.

Can I apply to more than (1) one Stanford graduate program per year?

No. Stanford policy allows applicants to apply for only (1) one graduate program per year. However, if the department reviewing your application feels you are better suited to another program, they may opt to transfer your file to another department if you authorize this action on your application and if the department is in a position to accept the transfer.

Is there a place on the application where I can explain extenuating circumstances?

Yes. In the electronic application, there is an Additional Information section in which you can explain the circumstances of an incomplete class, low grade, or low score component.

Can E-IPER confirm receipt of my application materials?

We are unable to confirm receipt of application materials if you have not yet submitted your application.  Once you have submitted your application, you can check the status of your application materials on your Activities Page.

What happens if my application is submitted by the deadline but my letters and/or transcripts have not arrived?

If you have submitted your application by the deadline, any materials received by the deadline are guaranteed to be seen by the admissions committee. If supporting documents are received after the deadline, we will do our best to ensure the committee sees them but we cannot make any guarantees.

Should I contact the faculty with whom I am interested in working prior to application submission?

We encourage applicants to contact Stanford faculty members of interest prior to applying. Before doing so, we ask that applicants first become familiar with faculty research projects via their websites and published works. Applicants are not required to secure an advisor for application purposes, but E-IPER does require that applicants list faculty members with whom they wish to work in their application. In some cases, a faculty member may not respond to an inquiry at this early stage but this should not discourage one from applying or contacting faculty. Applicants who proceed to the interview phase will be invited to Stanford in February to meet with potential advisors and current students to discuss research interests and collaborations. Please note that the E-IPER program does not arrange meetings prior to this event.

I applied to the E-IPER PhD degree program in a previous year and was not admitted; however I am applying again this year. Do I need to resubmit all application materials and am I required to pay the application fee?

You are required to complete the online application again, which incurs an application fee. Your application must include a revised Statement of Purpose. If you applied within the last three years, E-IPER can reuse your transcripts and Letters of Recommendation if you wish, however, if any changes to these documents attest to your improved suitability to the program, they should be resubmitted. In general, we encourage all applicants to contact their recommenders to let them know that your plans to re-apply, and invite them to write an updated LOR. We are unable to retrieve documents from other Stanford departments you have applied to previously.

If I'm not admitted to the PhD program, will I be considered for the MS program?

No. E-IPER does not have a stand-alone MS program.

Test Requirements

When should I take the GRE and TOEFL?

GRE & GRE Subject Tests

Neither GRE nor GRE Subject Tests will be required in the Admissions Cycle 2024-2025.


If your first language is not English, you are required to submit an official TOEFL score. Certain applicants may be exempt from taking the TOEFL, or may request a waiver in the online application; for more details, visit Grad Admissions Test Scores

If TOEFL scores are required for your application, you must report your official scores directly to Stanford from ETS. 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.

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. 

Are there any exemptions to the TOEFL requirement?

Applicants who hold a bachelor's degree or a two-year master's degree from an accredited English-speaking university are exempted from the TOEFL requirement. If you believe you are eligible for an exemption, send a request to Graduate Admissions via their online form. If approved, Graduate Admissions will instruct you on how to communicate the exemption on your electronic application. For those required to take the TOEFL, a score of at least 600 on the paper-based, 250 on the computer-based, or 100 on the internet-based TOEFL is expected in order to begin graduate studies. ETS must transmit scores by the 18-month expiration date, sometime between June 1 of the application year and the application deadline.

Joint Degree Programs FAQ

Does E-IPER have any joint degree programs with the PhD?

Yes, E-IPER currently has a JD/PhD option for students wishing to pursue a career that incorporates the law and environment.

How do I apply for the Joint JD/PhD?

Students interested in pursuing the JD/PhD with E-IPER must apply for and gain admission to the JD program and the PhD program independently.  This means that you will need to apply directly to the Law School and directly to the PhD program in E-IPER, each requiring their own (separate) applications.  If you are admitted to both programs, that means you are admitted to pursue the Joint JD/PhD degree.


Does Stanford offer any financial aid?

All admitted E-IPER PhD students are eligible for funding, compiled from a variety of sources including assistantships, gifts, and endowed fellowships. However, PhD applicants are encouraged, and admitted students are required to seek external funding opportunities for which they might be eligible. 

Are international students eligible for E-IPER funding?

Yes. All E-IPER students are eligible for the program funding described above regardless of their citizenship. There are also several fellowship programs that fund international students to study in the U.S. 

How do I go about requesting E-IPER funding and are supporting documents required?

No action required, as all admitted PhD students are eligible for program funding, as specified above.