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Graduate Residency Transfer Credit

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On this page: OverviewCriteria for AssessmentPosting of CreditMinimum Residency Requirement Changes •  Work Completed Outside of the US


After completing their first enrolled quarter of graduate work at Stanford, Engineer, D.M.A., or Ph.D. students may request transfer credit for graduate work completed at another institution. Students enrolled at Stanford who are going to study elsewhere during their degree program should obtain prior approval for any transfer credit sought before their departure. Students in the following programs are not eligible to request graduate residency transfer credit:

  • Master's degree students 
  • Engineer candidates who also earned their master’s at Stanford
  • MD students
  • GSB-MBA students

A maximum of 45 units of graduate-level work, either from completion of a Stanford master's degree or taken at an external institution, may be applied to the Stanford requirements for Ph.D., D.M.A., or Engineer degrees. Students who earn a Stanford master's degree and are subsequently awarded any amount of external graduate transfer credit will have their doctoral residency requirement raised from 135 to 180 units.

The J.D. program permits 30 transfer units (2.0 terms). 

The application for Graduate Residency Transfer Credit is available in Axess: My Academics > Petitions & Forms > Student eForms. Once complete, it is reviewed by your department and the Registrar’s Office. Any approved transfer credit is converted into quarter units and then posted to your student record. Once awarded, Graduate Residency Transfer Credit is reflected on your unofficial transcript.

Please see the complete Transfer Work policy in the university bulletin. For more information on the residency requirements for your program(s), Please review the Residency information page for more information on the residency requirements for your program.

Criteria for Assessment

To award Graduate Residency Transfer Credit for graduate-level work done at another institution, the following criteria must be met:

  • Courses must have been taken at a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S. or at a degree-granting foreign institution.
  • Courses taken at foreign universities must be applicable to a degree program equivalent to a U.S. Master's Degree or higher.
  • Of the 45 allowable units, a maximum of 12 may consist of the following course types or a combination thereof:
    • Courses with no 1:1 Stanford course equivalent
    • Courses taken while in a non-matriculated status, i.e. not enrolled in a degree-granting program.
    • Graduate research/thesis/dissertation
  • Courses must have equivalent Stanford course numbers listed on the form and approved by your department, unless contributing to the non-equivalent unit maximum
    • Forms requesting excessive non-equivalent units may be denied
  • Your enrollment at the other institution must have been in a student category which yields graduate credit.
    • Partially or fully-online coursework is acceptable for transfer credit; correspondence coursework is not.
    • Up to 12 units of non-matriculated or extension coursework can be applied toward the non-equivalent unit maximum.
  • Courses must have been taken after the conferral of your bachelor's degree. 
    • The only exception is for work taken through programs structured similarly to Stanford’s coterminal bachelor's/master's program. Any work taken through such programs must be at the graduate level and applied toward the completion of the graduate degree. Documentation regarding the nature of the program, either published or via further verification from the institution's registrar, may be required.
  • Courses must have been minimally completed with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (‘B’).
    • Pass grades are accepted only for courses that do not offer letter grades and the standard of passing is 'B' quality work. (Thesis/research/dissertation coursework does not fall under this category and can be taken for Pass/Satisfactory/Credit grades.)

Residency Requirement Changes

  • If you have earned a Stanford master's degree, or are concurrently earning one with your PhD, adding transfer credit to your student record will increase your PhD residency requirement to 180 units. 
  • If you are enrolled in a joint degree program that includes a Ph.D, graduate transfer credit may not be applied toward the residency requirement even if it was already awarded prior to your authorization into the JDP.

Requesting Credit

  • Students must complete the Application for Graduate Residency Transfer Credit eForm, located in Axess: My Academics > Petitions & Forms > Student eForms
  • Students must have official copies of the credit-bearing transcript sent directly from the issuing school to Stanford University. Opened hard copies, electronic copies forwarded by students (regardless of security certificate) and copies attached to the eForm are not considered official by Stanford and cannot be accepted.
    • Electronic transcripts can be sent to
    • Hard-copy transcripts may be mailed to 
      459 Lagunita Dr, Suite 4 
      Tresidder Memorial Union, 2nd Floor 
      Stanford, CA 94305.
    • Your form will not be processed until the official transcript is in the possession of the Office of the University Registrar
    • If you submitted official transcripts to Graduate Admissions when you began your program, you will not need to send new copies.
  • The information entered into your eForm must correctly duplicate the following information on the official transcript:
    • Course codes/numbers and titles
    • Final grades (credit can only be awarded if a final grade is posted on the transcript and must have a GPA of 3.0 or better)
    • Credits or Units awarded by the issuing school

Posting of Credit

Approved Graduate Transfer Residency Credit is converted into quarter units and then posted to your student record. 

Equivalent units (courses with a Stanford course number equivalent) are converted using the sending school's credit hour policy. Frequently-encountered credit hour policies include:

  • Schools following a US semester (or equivalent): Number of units x 1.5
  • Schools following the European credit system (ECTS): Number of units x 0.75
  • Schools following the UK standard credit system (CATS): Number of units x 0.25
  • Schools without a stated credit hour policy, but with a numerical unit system, will be converted by dividing 45 (the number of units in a Stanford masters degree) by the number of units toward the degree program in which you were enrolled.
  • Because terminology such as "units", "credit", "course", "term" and others are not standardized, particularly among international institutions, schools without a discernable credit hour policy will have their final unit award determined individually by the Office of the Registrar. Priority will be placed on maximizing the unit award for the student. If you are worried about being under-awarded units from an international institution, you are strongly encouraged to submit your official transcript with a credential evaluation via World Education Services in place of requesting transcripts through your university

International/Abroad Institutions

To request Graduate Transfer Residency Credit for courses taken outside of the U.S., you must provide official (sealed) documentation that clearly states:

  • The home institution's accreditation (must be officially recognized)
  • The home institution's grading scale or system (Note: if a course has a 'P' or 'Pass' grade listed, the grading scale must explicitly state what the minimum grade is to pass. Pass grades are accepted only for courses without a letter grading option and for which the standard of passing is 'B' quality work).
  • The home institution's credit system (quarter, ECTS, semester)
  • The minimum number of credits to complete the master's program at the home institution (this must be from an official source, such as a course catalog)
  • The level of coursework (Graduate Residency Transfer Credit can only be awarded for graduate level work)

Note: Transcripts from international institutions must be English-language or be accompanied by a translation provided by the sending institution. Purchasing a third-party, course-by-course international transcript translation and evaluation service is encouraged. Typically, these services include all of the aforementioned information. WES (World Education services) is our preferred evaluation service, but several reputable options are listed here: