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Making Changes to Your Graduate Program

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During the course of your graduate career, you may decide to make changes to your degree program(s). These changes might include switching your degree program, adding an additional degree program, or withdrawing from your program altogether. 

If you have attended Stanford for at least one quarter and are currently enrolled, you may request the following changes via the Graduate Program Authorization petition process:

  • Change to a new degree program in the same department
  • Change to a new degree program in a different department
  • Add a new degree program in the same or a different department to be pursued with the existing program

If you wish to withdraw entirely from your graduate program, you should submit a Request to Permanently Withdraw from Degree Program. It is strongly recommended that you speak with your department to fully understand the impacts of a permanent withdrawal. 

Graduate Program Authorization Petition


The Graduate Program Authorization (“Grad Auth”) petition is submitted through Axess by graduate and professional students in order to request a new degree program or to request a change of degree programs. Grad Auth petitions may only be submitted once per quarter and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are eligible to add — or change to — the new degree program prior to submitting your request.

Graduate and professional students wishing to add a Ph.D. Minor should use the Application for Ph.D. Minor (located in the Student eForms portal) rather than the Grad Auth petition.

Departments and programs may choose not to accept Grad Auth petitions and instead require you to apply through their standard admissions process. 


In order to submit a Grad Auth, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Currently enrolled at Stanford for at least one quarter
  • An active academic status (not discontinued or on leave)
  • Enrolled in classes during the quarter that the Grad Auth is being submitted
  • No open undergraduate career

You may only submit one request per quarter and your request must be submitted prior to conferring your degree.

Residency Requirements

You should carefully consider the impact of adding a program to your university residency requirements, as the units required for you to graduate may increase when adding additional programs. See the Residency Policy for Graduate Students for full information. 

Grad Auth Petition Application Deadline

The deadline to submit the Grad Auth petition is the last day of classes for the requested quarter. The petition must be submitted prior to conferring your degree. You can submit for the current term or for the upcoming future term. 

Summer term enrollment is optional for students who have been approved to begin a new degree program in the autumn term, provided that you have been enrolled the prior spring term.

Grad Auth Petition Application Fee

A $125 application fee is assessed for each Grad Auth petition, regardless of the outcome. The Grad Auth petition fee will appear on your university bill within one month of the Grad Auth being closed (i.e. all required staff have reviewed the petition and submitted approval or denial decisions).

The application fee for the submission of a Grad Auth petition can be waived upon department request in the following circumstances:

  • Doctoral students in the Biosciences programs, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, or Bioengineering who are changing to another degree at the doctoral level within one of these programs.
  • Doctoral students who have been dismissed from their Ph.D. program for academic reasons and, with permission of the home department, add a master’s or engineering degree in the same program. The Ph.D. program and any other active graduate degree programs must be discontinued in order to be eligible for the fee waiver.

If you qualify for a waiver, your department must submit a help request on your behalf to request that the fee be waived.

How to Submit a Grad Auth Petition 

  1. Log into Axess
  2. Under My Academics, select Petitions and Forms.
  3. Select the Grad Auth Petition.
  4. Complete the petition.
  5. If switching programs, select “I wish to discontinue this program…”, and the current academic program will be discontinued at the end of the current term.
  6. Select effective term.
    1. ​Note: future quarters will only display if they are active in the system. Activation for a future quarter typically occurs 10 days before Axess opens for enrollment for that quarter. For example, if enrollment opens in Axess for spring 2018-2019 on February 10, 2019, then the earliest you can see spring 2018-2019 as an option for 'effective term' for the Graduate Program Authorization petition would be January 31, 2019.
  7. Select “Joint Degree” only if participating in a Joint Degree Program
  8. Select your new academic program. Click the lookup icon to identify the program and plan.
  9. Click Save.

Approval Process

After submission, your petition is electronically routed to your current department, and then to the proposed department. If your current and proposed departments are the same, only one approval is required. International student requests are also routed to the Bechtel International Center for approval. You will receive an email upon every approval, including after the final approval by the Registrar’s Office.

Your petition may be returned during the approval process if more information is needed or your petition needs to be edited. If your petition is returned, please make the required changes and resubmit. 

Timing of Program Changes

Adding Programs

If you are approved to add a new program, the effective start date of that program will be the same date that the Grad Auth was approved. If the Grad Auth is for a future quarter, then the effective date of the new program will be the day after the Term Withdrawal Deadline for the term the Grad Auth was submitted. This ensures that your tuition is not assessed for the current quarter.

Discontinuing Programs

If you are approved to discontinue a program, the effective date will be the last day of that quarter (not the date that the Grad Auth was approved). This prevents courses from being inadvertently dropped. 

If you are trying to apply for graduation and/or a special registration status, and have a pending program addition or discontinuation for the same quarter, then you should submit a Request to Permanently Withdraw from Degree Program to ensure the program discontinuation can take effect immediately.

Enrollment Agreement for Multiple Programs

If the Grad Auth petition is submitted for a program in a different school than the original program (e.g., School of Education M.A. adding a Graduate School of Business M.B.A.), then the Tuition Agreement for Students with Multiple Programs form is required to determine the tuition amount assessed each quarter and to prevent duplicate tuition charges.