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PhD | Candidacy Requirement

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Students are expected to be admitted for candidacy by the end of the second year of doctoral study.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Students have permanently aligned.
  • Have completed three (3) foundation/breadth requirements, this could be a combination of foundation and breadth courses taken as a current CS PhD student (foundation waivers do not count). For more information, please visit: Foundation & Breadth Requirements.
  • Have completed at least a three-unit graduate level course with each of the four instructors who are members of the academic council as a CS PhD student.

Units that count towards candidacy:

  • Courses taken as a CS PhD student to satisfy foundation and breadth requirements.
  • Rotation units and courses taken outside the CS Department as long as they are taught by a Stanford faculty.
  • A total of 10 units of PE courses.

Units that do not count towards candidacy:

  • Any foundation courses that are waived.

If you have any questions regarding your eligibility for candidacy, please email

Candidacy makes you eligible for a larger stipend and sets in motion your five-year timeclock to complete the rest of your PhD requirements. The increase in stipend goes into effect during the quarter following submission and approval of the candidacy form.

Submit your Candidacy form (PDF) to by the Preliminary Study List Deadline of the quarter you are applying for.  You can find more detailed information on how to file for candidacy by visiting the university-wide Student Services site.

Candidacy for Doctoral Degree Application

On the form the student must list 135 units of courses (either completed or planned, a total of 10 units of PE courses can be counted towards this). The form is reviewed and signed first by the student's permanent advisor. The advisor's signature indicates the academic adequacy of the proposed program of study. The form is then reviewed by the PhD Student Services Office to make sure that it accurately reflects the University and Departmental requirements. The candidacy form serves as a "contract" between the Department and the student. The Department acknowledges that the student is a bona fide candidate for the PhD and agrees that the program submitted by the student is sufficient to warrant granting the PhD upon completion. The Department may not change requirements unilaterally. The student may petition the Department for modification of their program.

Candidacy expires five years from the candidacy forms date of submission, rounded to the end of the quarter. In special cases, the Department may extend a student's candidacy, however, is under no obligation to do so.