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Non-Matriculated Study Admission

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Nonmatriculated Study (Graduate Students)

Eligibility for consideration for nonmatriculated enrollment is restricted to two groups of applicants:

  1. Stanford alumni who wish to return to Stanford to take courses that are prerequisites for Medical School admission, such as undergraduate Biology or Chemistry courses, are eligible to apply for nonmatriculated status. An application form, application fee, statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation are required. The decision to admit or deny is made by the Graduate Admissions Office on the basis of relevant factors, including at least a 3.0 GPA and positive letters of recommendation.
  2. Applicants who graduated from other universities are not eligible to take the prerequisites for Medical School at Stanford.
  3. Individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and wish to take courses in a specific department that allows non-degree students are eligible to apply for nonmatriculated status. An application form, application fee, statement of purpose, original transcripts, and three letters of recommendation are required. The decision to admit or deny is made by the chair of the department in which they wish to take courses and conveyed in writing to the Graduate Admissions Office. Applicants are notified of the decision by Graduate Admissions in Student and Academic Services.

Students who are granted nonmatriculated status are charged the 8-10 unit rate for each quarter in which they are enrolled, and may enroll for a maximum of a total of one academic year. Nonmatriculated status is a privilege and not a right; the nonmatriculated status may be revoked at the University’s discretion (and after consideration of such factors as the University considers relevant in the particular case) at the end of any quarter of enrollment.

Nonmatriculated students are not permitted to enroll in certain courses, such as those in the following departments or programs: film and broadcasting courses in Art; introductory courses in Mathematics (i.e., numbered below 100); all courses in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, International Policy Studies, and the School of Medicine. Nonmatriculated students in the School of Medicine may enroll in courses only with written approval by either the Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs or the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education. Nonmatriculated students must limit their enrollment to classes in the department in which they have been admitted. Nonmatriculated students receive academic credit for courses satisfactorily completed and may obtain an official transcript. As a general proposition, they may use University facilities and services. In classes of limited enrollment, students in degree programs have priority. Nonmatriculated students may apply for housing but have a low priority for assignment and are not guaranteed housing. No fellowships, assistantships, or Stanford loans are available for nonmatriculated students. Nonmatriculated students are not eligible for a leave of absence.

Nonmatriculated students who later apply for admission to a degree program must meet the standard admission requirements and should not anticipate special priority because of work completed as a nonmatriculated student. Students who are admitted to a degree program may apply a maximum of 15 units of nonmatriculated study toward the residency requirement for a master’s degree and 30 units for the Engineer or Ph.D. degree, subject to the approval of the degree granting department.

Application forms for nonmatriculated status during the regular academic year are available from Graduate Admissions, Student and Academic Services. Deadlines for applying are included with the forms and are generally required two months before the start of the quarter.

Applicants interested in nonmatriculated student status for the Summer Quarter only should explore the Summer Session web site.

Non-Degree-Granting Programs

Stanford University has established a limited number of formal non-degree-granting programs within individual departments. These include the Knight Fellowship Program for mid-career journalists (Communication Department), and the Stegner Fellows Program for selected authors (Creative Writing Program, within the English Department).

Individuals may apply to these programs directly. Application requirements, admissions decisions, tuition requirements and financial support are all handled by the specific program. Individuals who are admitted to these programs will be registered at Stanford as nonmatriculated graduate students in the appropriate program. Upon completion of their program, they will receive a transcript and certificate of program completion.

Individuals who commit violations of University policy, the Honor Code, or the Fundamental Standard are subject to termination. Individuals in non-degree granting programs are subject to removal or discipline according to the program's policies or practices, not through the Office of Community Standards.

Stanford Center for Professional Development

Qualified individuals may pursue graduate and professional certificates or take individual graduate and professional courses through the Stanford Center for Professional Development. Nonmatriculated students taking individual graduate courses for credit, or towards earning a graduate certificate, are charged tuition on a per-unit basis. For more information on available courses, applications, and deadlines visit or phone (650) 725-3000.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Postdoctoral scholars are trainees in residence at Stanford University pursuing advanced studies beyond the doctoral level in preparation for an independent career. Postdoctoral scholars are appointed for a limited period of time and may participate in Stanford research projects and/or may be supported by external awards or fellowships. In all cases, their appointment at Stanford is for the purpose of advanced studies and training under the sponsorship of a Stanford faculty member.

Postdoctoral appointments require initial full-time engagement in the designated research or study and are generally restricted to those who have earned a terminal degree such as Ph.D. or J.D. within the last three years or a medical degree such as M.D., M.B.B.S., or D.D.S. within the last six years. Requests for exceptions for individuals who are beyond these limits, or have not been actively engaged in research as their primary effort, must include a written statement from the sponsoring faculty member indicating what additional training outside the primary area of effort the individual plans to receive, and the reasons for which the exception is requested. Postdoctoral scholars are appointed at Stanford for fixed terms, typically one year but that may eventually total up to four years, and are subject to a strict five-year rule (that is, that the total postdoctoral appointment period is not to exceed a total of five years of postdoctoral research experience at all institutions combined). In cases of combined training, only the years of active research at the postdoctoral level are counted for salary and other purposes. Postdoctoral scholars who begin a second postdoctoral appointment in a new field may have training extended to a maximum total of up to six years. Postdoctoral scholars may request temporary reductions in effort and pay due to temporary family or other conditions.

All postdoctoral scholars appointed at Stanford must be supported by Stanford grants and contracts, training grants, departmental or school fellowship funds, or external fellowships, or by a combination of these sources. Scholars may not be self-supporting. In addition, all postdoctoral scholars are eligible for a benefits package including medical, dental, life, and disability insurance. Postdoctoral scholars are normally appointed for 100% time.

Postdoctoral scholars must be registered at Stanford during every academic quarter of their appointment. Registration entails payment of a quarterly postdoctoral fee by the academic department or school appointing the scholar.

Prospective postdoctoral scholars should write directly to the department in which they wish to study or check for postdoctoral openings at For more information, see

Visiting Student Researchers

There are a limited number of instances when it would be to the benefit of Stanford faculty to permit graduate students currently enrolled at other universities to engage in research at Stanford using Stanford research facilities. These might include students at other universities who are engaged in research in a field of interest to a Stanford faculty member or a student who is doing a laboratory rotation as part of a larger research study or grant. Such students are known as Visiting Student Researchers (VSRs) and are appointed as nonmatriculated graduate students.

When agreeing to sponsor a VSR, faculty must be mindful of the need to place primary emphasis on providing research opportunities to regularly matriculated Stanford students. In addition, students sponsored as VSRs must be qualified to conduct research at a level comparable to that of other Stanford graduate students and the research must be of benefit to Stanford as well as the visitor.

Any Stanford faculty member in any department at Stanford may sponsor a VSR. The sponsoring faculty member and the department chair must sign the letter of invitation and thus assume responsibility for the VSR. The faculty director of an interdisciplinary program or research center or institute that is sponsoring a VSR may sign instead of a department chair. In most instances, faculty members in a department who also have an appointment in a research center or institute should sponsor a VSR within their department, since department staff have experience with student enrollments and financial policies.

The full Visiting Student Researcher policy is in the Research Policy Guide (RPH 10.7 Visiting Student Researchers). The Registrar Office’s website outlines the procedures for sponsoring and appointing a VSR.

Undergraduate Visiting Researcher Interns (Nonmatriculated Study)

During the summer term, students from other universities who have not yet obtained a bachelor’s degree (or its foreign equivalent) may be invited by Stanford faculty to conduct research on the Stanford campus. Participants must be a degree-seeking student for at least two years at the bachelor’s level in a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association or international college or university of recognized standing. Participation is contingent upon the approval of Graduate Admissions, Student and Academic Services.

These students are registered as Undergraduate Visiting Research Interns. Appointments are limited to the Summer term. Invited persons must be qualified to conduct research at a level comparable to that of other Stanford undergraduates, and the research must be of benefit to Stanford as well as to the visitor. Forms for the appointment of Undergraduate Visiting Research Interns are submitted to Graduate Admissions, Student and Academic Services by the department issuing the invitation.

Undergraduate Visiting Researcher Interns are charged a quarterly fee. They may waive the University’s student medical insurance plan only if they have comparable coverage with another carrier and submit proof of the comparable coverage prior to the term start date. Visiting Research Interns are not entitled to any financial support from Stanford University. Funds intended for the support of matriculated Stanford students may not be used to support Visiting Researcher Interns. Stanford cannot certify visiting researchers for deferment of U.S. educational loans.

Students of New Faculty

Faculty who are being hired by Stanford University, and who are currently advising doctoral students in advanced stages of degree completion at their home university, may appoint one or more of these students as Students of New Faculty, a nonmatriculated graduate status, for the purpose of facilitating the completion of the student's doctoral research with their faculty adviser. To be eligible for this status, the student must:

  • have completed at their home institution all degree requirements equivalent to those required for Stanford’s TGR status (i.e., completed all curricular requirements, candidacy, and residency), and
  • be in good academic standing at their home institution, and remain so while at Stanford, and
  • demonstrate agreement to the terms and conditions for this appointment by signing the Students of New Faculty Representations.

Appointment of these students into nonmatriculated Stanford graduate status requires the approval of the incoming faculty member, that faculty member’s Stanford department chair and school dean, and Stanford’s office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, as well as of the appropriate office at the student’s home institution.

Approval for these appointments is documented by means of an Affiliation Agreement between Stanford and the student's home institution, identifying the student(s) and describing the arrangements for their appointment at Stanford. Attachments to this agreement specify the timing of the appointment and the sources of financial support, if any, for each student.

Students are appointed into this status for one year at a time, up to a limit of three years. The Stanford department may request extensions beyond the third year. Approval for extensions requires the concurrence of the Stanford school dean’s office and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, along with the appropriate office(s) at the student’s home institution.

Students of New Faculty must enroll in the appropriate TGR course during each quarter of the academic year while they are at Stanford, and will be charged TGR tuition during each enrolled quarter. Summer enrollment is optional subject to the relevant policies of Stanford and of the home institution. Students of New Faculty may be appointed and paid as Research Assistants. For more information, see GAP 2.4.1.