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6.1.1 Graduate Tuition Categories: Policy

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Last updated on:
Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Matriculated graduate students at Stanford University are expected to enroll for at least eight units (full-time enrollment) at the 8, 9, 10-unit tuition rate during the school year. Degree programs may set a higher minimum. Reduced tuition is available in particular circumstances, upon petition to the Office of the Registrar. Stanford University does not waive tuition in any circumstances.


Tuition rates for Stanford University are set annually by its Board of Trustees. As a matter of policy, Stanford does not waive tuition charges. Graduate students are expected to enroll full time and pay full tuition. Under some circumstances, graduate students may petition to be placed in a lower tuition category.


Matriculated graduate students at Stanford University are expected to enroll for at least eight units during the academic year (Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters). Degree programs may set a higher minimum enrollment.

Stanford University charges the same tuition for graduate students enrolled in 8, 9 or 10 units (the 8, 9, 10-unit rate). Except during Summer quarter, this is the minimum tuition charge, with the exception of the categories of reduced tuition for graduate students described in the subsections below. Note that some are closely linked to academic progress (TGR), and some are applicable to particular circumstances.

Tuition adjustments can have some adverse effects of which students and degree programs should be aware. Students registered at less than the 8, 9, 10-unit tuition rate, unless they are registering TGR, cannot be classified by Stanford as full-time students. Loss of full-time status, especially in the Autumn, Winter, or Spring quarters, may endanger a student’s eligibility to defer educational loans and, if attending Stanford on a student visa, result in the student being out of status. Part-time status may imperil other financial awards.

Degree programs and students are encouraged to consult with the staff in the Office of the Registrar if they have questions about adjusted tuition and resulting academic status.


  • Stanford University Board of Trustees (policy)
  • Office of the Registrar via Stanford Services & Support (implementation)


Applicable to all Stanford graduate students and programs.

Related Pages: 

6.1.2 Graduate Tuition Categories: Implementation

1. Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR)

Doctoral students, master's students, and students pursuing Engineer degrees who have completed all degree requirements other than the university oral exam and dissertation (doctoral students) or a required project or thesis (Engineer or master's students) and meet the conditions listed below may request Terminal Graduate Registration tuition status.  Students with more than one active degree program must satisfy the requirements for TGR status in ALL programs in order to request TGR status. 

Doctoral students who have been admitted to candidacy, completed all required courses and degree requirements other than the university oral exam and dissertation, completed 135 units, and submitted a Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form may request Terminal Graduate Registration status to complete their dissertations. Students pursuing Engineer degrees may apply for TGR status after admission to candidacy, completion of all required courses, and completion of residency. Students enrolled in master’s programs with a required project or thesis may apply for TGR status upon completion of all required courses and completion of residency. Students with more than one active graduate degree program must be TGR-eligible in ALL programs in order to apply for this status.

The TGR Final Registration status may also be granted for one quarter only to a graduate student who is returning after reinstatement, working on incompletes in their final quarter, or registering for one final term after all requirements are completed when Graduation Quarter is not applicable. TGR requirements above apply.

Each quarter, all TGR students must enroll in the 801 (for master’s and Engineer students) or 802 (for doctoral students) course in their degree program for zero units, in the appropriate section for their advisor. TGR students register at a reduced tuition rate set each year. Effective in the 2010-11 academic year, TGR tuition will be equal to the standard graduate tuition rate for 1 - 3 units (the 3-unit rate).

When enrolled in TGR status, students may also enroll for up to three additional units. The additional units cannot be applied toward degree requirements since all degree requirements must be complete in order to earn TGR status. If a TGR student enrolls in four or more units, the student will be charged the per-unit tuition applicable for their degree program, rather than the TGR rate.

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2. Graduate Petition for Part-time Enrollment (formerly Graduate Tuition Adjustment)

Graduate students who need fewer than 8 remaining units to complete degree requirements or to qualify for TGR status, may apply to register for one quarter on a pre-unit basis (3 to 7 units) to cover the deficiency. This status may be used only once during a degree program. Students with disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act that have an approved reduced course load (RCL) recommended by the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) may also request a tuition adjustment for each quarter in which they take a RCL. International students should consult with Bechtel International Center prior to requesting part-time enrollment to ensure compliance with visa regulations. The Graduate Petition for Part-time Enrollment may also be requested by students who have an approved childbirth accommodation (see GAP 5.9 Pregnancy, Childbirth, Adoption, and Lactation).

The Graduate Petition for Part-time Enrollment must be submitted by the Preliminary Study List Deadline of the quarter for which the request is being made.

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3. Students in the Schools of Law or Business, or M.D. Students

Research Rate for M.D. students

Effective with the entering M.D. class of 2010, the Medical School has eliminated the Terminal Medical Registration (TMR) tuition rate, replacing it with the Research Rate (RR). TMR tuition remains available to enrolled M.D. students who were admitted prior to 2010. For these students, the TMR rate is applied after 13 full quarters paid for M.D. students and 16 full quarters paid for MD/PhD students (three at full graduate student rate).

The Research Rate is a reduced tuition category which will apply in all quarters in which the M.D. student is engaged in full-time supervised research, except for the first quarter of research which is at full tuition. Contact the Medical School for further explanation about this tuition category.

Other tuition adjustments

Tuition adjustments for M.D. students, students in the Stanford School of Law, or in the Graduate School of Business are relatively rare, other than TMR/Research Rate or TGR. Eligibility is at the discretion of the school dean.

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4. Part-Time Programs (Honors Cooperative and Master of Liberal Arts)

The Honors Cooperative Program (Honors Co-op) and the Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) programs are officially recognized as a part-time graduate enrollment programs (see GAP 5.2 Part-Time Enrollment)

Honors Co-op students may register for as few as 3 units per quarter. If they are not carrying a full load of courses, their tuition rate can be adjusted to the unit rate appropriate for the total number of units they are taking. The Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) will handle all tuition adjustments for Honors Co-op students. Honors Co-op students rarely register at the 8, 9, 10-unit rate or above, so are rarely classified as full-time students. SCPD will notify the Office of the Registrar if an Honors Co-op student will enroll on a full-time basis.  

MLA students may take a maximum of 8 units (two seminars) per quarter, and a total of 12 units (three seminars) in two consecutive quarters. MLA students must complete a minimum of two MLA courses within the academic year in order to remain active in the program. 

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5. Summer Quarter

During the Summer quarter, most matriculated graduate students may either choose not to enroll, or they may remain enrolled for as few as one unit. Stanford University charges the same tuition for graduate students enrolled in 1, 2 or 3 units (the 3-unit rate), and this is the minimum tuition charge for graduate students enrolled in Summer quarter. Degree programs may require a higher level of summer enrollment.  Note that if a student chooses not to enroll during Summer quarter, they will normally be ineligible for any financial support during that quarter, in particular any assistantship appointments. 

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6. Graduation Quarter

Registration is required for the term in which a student submits a dissertation or has a degree conferred. Students who meet the conditions listed below are eligible to file a Petition for Graduate Student Graduation Quarter, and, upon approval, to be assessed a special tuition rate for the quarter in which they are receiving a degree.

Only one Graduation Quarter may be requested. There is a registration fee of $150 for the graduation quarter. Students must enroll in the appropriate TGR course during their Graduation Quarter.

To be eligible for a Graduation Quarter, the following conditions must be met:

  1. all course work, degree requirements, and residency requirements for all graduate degree programs, including joint degree programs, have been completed prior to the start of the requested Graduation Quarter
  2. the student has formally applied to graduate
  3. the student has only to defend and/or submit the dissertation, project, or master’s thesis by the deadline for submission in the term designated as the Graduation Quarter
  4. the student has filed all necessary forms regarding graduation quarter before the first day of the term chosen as Graduation Quarter.

A student who is returning after reinstatement in which all degree requirements are complete, with the exception of the dissertation defense and/or submission, is eligible to reinstate into a Graduation Quarter status.

Students who are properly enrolled in a Graduation Quarter are registered at Stanford and therefore have the rights and privileges of registered students.

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7. Other Tuition Exceptions

A student on an approved childbirth accommodation period (see GAP 5.9 Pregnancy, Childbirth, Adoption, and Lactation) or a student with a statement of support from the Office of Accessible Education may petition for reduced enrollment. In addition, tuition exceptions may also be available for students who are faculty spouses, regular Stanford employees, or full-time educators in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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8. Tuition for Students in Multiple Programs

Graduate students who are eligible to pursue more than one degree at Stanford, where each program charges a different tuition (other than concurrent enrollment in a coterminal bachelor’s and master’s program), must document a tuition payment agreement by means of the Tuition Agreement for Students with Multiple Programs (see GAP 5.1 Changes and Additions of Degree Programs).

The Enrollment Agreement for Students with Multiple Programs is not required if the programs all charge identical amounts of tuition (e.g., M.A. and Ph.D. programs that are both in the School of Humanities and Sciences).

The student filing this enrollment agreement indicates the degree program to be used for tuition assessment in each quarter and academic year. The student must obtain the necessary signatures from the dean or associate dean representing each graduate or professional school program listed.

Each Joint Degree Program (JDP) has a pre-approved tuition agreement detailing which graduate tuition level is paid at which point in a student’s career (see GAP 4.9 Joint Degree Programs). JDP tuition agreements approved for each JDP reside with the Office of the Registrar.  All students enrolled in a JDP must submit the Tuition Agreement for Students with Multiple Programs to document the tuition agreement and ensure that correct charges are applied each quarter.

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9. Tuition Refunds

Students who take an approved leave of absence are eligible for a tuition refund during the first 60 percent of the quarter. Refunds are calculated on a per diem basis (including weekends and university holidays) starting the first day of instruction of each quarter. Tuition is charged on a daily basis (including weekends and holidays) through the first 60 percent of the quarter. After the first 60 percent of the quarter, students are liable for the full amount of tuition that they were charged. Health insurance charges are not refundable after the first day of instruction.

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10. Degree Program Tuition Payments

Degree programs wishing to pay all or part of an enrolled student’s tuition will use the Graduate Financial Support (GFS) system to do so. A tuition payment will automatically be made for enrolled and matriculated students with assistantship appointments (see GAP 7.3 Assistantships); the amount of the tuition allowance is proportional to the size of the appointment. In addition to the tuition allowance associated with assistantship appointments, degree programs may approve tuition payments in GFS by using the “Fellowship tuition” panel. Approved payments will be applied to the student’s bill to pay tuition charges. GFS requirements related to student eligibility for financial support apply to the payment of tuition (see GAP 7.1 General Funding Guidelines and Definitions).

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