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Graduate Nonmatriculated Study

Policy Statement

General Non-Matriculated Status

Eligibility for consideration for general non-matriculated 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. An application form, application fee, statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation are required. The decision to admit or deny is made by Non-Degree Admissions on the basis of relevant factors, including at least a 3.0 GPA and positive letters of recommendation. Applicants who graduated from other universities are not eligible to take the prerequisites for Medical School at Stanford.

  2. Individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and wish to take courses in a specific department that allows non-degree students. 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 the student wishes to take courses and is conveyed in writing to Non-Degree Admissions. Applicants are notified of the decision by Non-Degree Admissions.

Students who are granted non-matriculated 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. Non-matriculated status is a privilege and not a right; the non-matriculated 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.

Non-matriculated 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, and International Policy. Non-matriculated students wishing to take courses in the School of Medicine may only do so with written approval by either the Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs or the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education. Non-matriculated students must limit their enrollment to classes in the department in which they have been admitted. In classes of limited enrollment, students in degree programs have priority.

Non-matriculated 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. Non-matriculated 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 non-matriculated students. Non-matriculated students are not eligible for a leave of absence.

Non-matriculated 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 non-matriculated student. Students who are admitted to a degree program may apply a maximum of 15 units of non-matriculated 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.

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), the Stegner Fellows Program for selected authors (Creative Writing Program, within the English Department), and the Distinguished Careers Institute for accomplished individuals in midlife.

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 non-matriculated 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.

Qualified individuals may pursue graduate and professional certificates or take individual graduate and professional courses through the Stanford Center for Professional Development. Non-matriculated students taking individual graduate courses for credit, or towards earning a graduate certificate, are charged tuition on a per-unit basis.

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.

Non-Matriculated Graduate Student Researchers

  1. 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. Policy regarding visiting researchers is outlined in the Research Policy Handbook on the Dean of Research website. Procedures, host department responsibilities, and deadlines are outlined on the Inside Student Services website.

  2. 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 for the purpose of facilitating the completion of the student's doctoral research with their faculty adviser. Policy regarding Students of New Faculty is outlined in the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures.

Contact Information

General Non-Matriculated Status and Non-Matriculated Student Researchers, please contact the Non-Degree Admissions Office at

Postdoctoral Scholars, please contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at

Non-Degree Granting Programs, please contact: