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Graduate Residency Transfer Credit

On this page: Overview Criteria for Assessment Posting of Credit Minimum Residency Requirement Changes •  Work Completed Outside of the US


After at least one quarter of enrollment, students pursuing an Engineer, D.M.A., or Ph.D. may apply for transfer credit for graduate work done at another institution.  Engineer candidates who also earned their master's at Stanford are not eligible for transfer residency credit, nor are any master's degree students.

The Application for Graduate Residency Transfer Credit is available in Axess (select eForms in the Student menu) and is reviewed by the department and the Office of the University Registrar. Any approved transfer credit is converted into quarter units and then posted to the student record. Once awarded, Graduate Residency Transfer Credit is reflected on the unofficial transcript (not the official transcript).

Ph.D. or D.M.A. students may only apply a total of 45 units of transfer credit and credit earned for a Stanford master’s degree toward the PhD residency total. Up to 45 units completed at Stanford toward an M.A. or M.S. degree or accepted as transfer credit, but not both, may be used toward the 135 unit residency requirement for the Ph.D. or D.M.A. degree. Students wishing to use units from an external M.A. or M.S. degree, in addition to a Stanford M.A. or M.S. degree, towards their Ph.D. will be subject to additional residency requirements. At least 90 units of work at Stanford are necessary to complete the 135 residency units for the Ph.D. or D.M.A. degree. Note: units completed at Stanford are automatically counted towards the graduate residency requirement, students do not need to submit an application for graduate residency transfer credit.

Criteria for Assessment

The following criteria are used for awarding Graduate Residency Transfer Credit for graduate level work done at another institution:

  1. Courses must have been taken at a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. or at an officially recognized institution in a foreign country. Courses taken at foreign universities must be at the level of study comparable to a U.S. graduate program (please also refer to the below section regarding foreign universities).

  2. Courses should have comparable Stanford counterparts that are approved by the student's department. A maximum of 12 units of courses with no Stanford counterparts and/or research units may be granted transfer credit.

  3. The student must have been enrolled at the other institution in a student category which yields graduate credit. The maximum amount of credit given for extension and nonmatriculated (non-degree) courses is 12 units. No transfer credit is given for online or correspondence work.

  4. Courses must have been taken after the conferral of the bachelor's degree. The only exception is for work taken through programs structured like the Stanford 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.

  5. Courses must have been completed with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better. Pass grades are accepted only for courses for which letter grades were not an option and for which the standard of passing is 'B' quality work. The only exception to this is for thesis/research/dissertation coursework, for which Pass/Satisfactory/Credit grades can be accepted.

  6. In order for graduate residency transfer credit to be awarded, students must submit the official transcript. The official transcript must clearly identify all of the below information for each course:

  • Course codes or numbers

  • Course titles or descriptions

  • Final grades (credit can only be awarded if a final grade is posted on the transcript and must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better)

  • Credits earned 

Posting of Credit

Approved graduate transfer residency credit is converted into quarter units and then posted to the student record. The formula for this credit conversion (used to calculate both domestic and international credit) is the number of units required for Stanford master's degree divided by the number of units required for the external institution's equivalent degree. For example, if the external institution requires 90 units to complete a master's degree, then the conversion rate would be 45 divided by 90, or x .50. Once awarded, Graduate Residency Transfer Credit is reflected on the unofficial transcript (not the official transcript).

Residency Requirement Changes

Students who pursue more than one graduate degree at Stanford University who also receive graduate residency credit will see their minimum residency unit requirement increase, and this is regardless of how many graduate residency units are awarded. For example, if a student has an active or completed master's degree at Stanford in addition to a PhD (where the residency requirement would normally be 135 units), once any external credit is posted to the record, the residency requirement will jump to 180 units. Students pursuing a joint degree program that includes a PhD may not also count transfer units toward the residency for the PhD degree.

International/Abroad Institutions

For students requesting graduate transfer residency credit for courses taken outside of the United States, the below information must be submitted along with the application for graduate residency transfer credit in order for an assessment to be completed. Please note that all documentation must be in the English language (or all documentation must have a certified English translation). Additionally, forwarded communication/documentation is not accepted as it is considered unofficial, so all transcripts and/or diplomas must be sent directly from the home institution to Stanford University.

Students must provide official (sealed) documentation that clearly states:

  • The Institution's accreditation (must be officially recognized)

  • The Institution's grading scale or system. Note: if a course has a 'P' or 'Pass' grade listed, then the grading scale must explicitly state what the minimum grade is to earn a passing grade. Pass grades are accepted only for courses for which letter grades were not an option and for which the standard of passing is 'B' quality work.

  • The Institution's credit system (quarter, ECTS, semester)

  • The minimum number of credits to complete the Master's program at the 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)

Students are encouraged to purchase a third-party, course-by-course international transcript translation and evaluation service, as most of these services include all of the abovementioned information. Some examples of these services are:

See the Stanford Bulletin for the complete policy.