Frequently Asked Questions


Thank you for your interest in the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies. 
We hope the information below will help guide you through the admissions process. After reviewing the frequently asked questions below, please feel free to contact us with any additional questions.  

Phone: 650.725.9075

General Application & Admissions Information 

  1. How can I apply?
    Complete information and FAQ's about the application process can be found online at the Office of Graduate Admissions, including information about required tests, documents, and more.

  2. What are the entry requirements of the program?
    More details can be found in the sections below regarding typical entry criteria, required tests such as GRE and TOEFL, as well as prerequisite courses that need to be completed before starting the IPS program.

  3. When are applications due?
    All applications are due in early January for admission in autumn quarter of the same year. Please see the Graduate Admissions section of Stanford University’s website for the exact date in January as this date changes each year. Applications are not accepted at any other times of the year, and admission is only granted for Autumn Quarter.

  4. What documents are required for the application?
    A typical application will include the following documents listed below. Additional information on each of the application requirements listed below can be found on the Office of Graduate Admissions website.
    Transcripts (Academic Records)
    Department Application Requirements
    Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
    Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
    Letters of Recommendation
    Statement of Purpose
    Additional Supporting Documents
    Application Fee

  5. May I submit an extra letter of reference or additional documents?
    Yes, but please use your judgment in deciding whether this is really necessary (i.e. if an extra document includes information not already covered by the three required letters of recommendation and/or the documents already submitted).

  6. Who should write my recommendation letters?
    At least one letter of recommendation should be from your employer if you have work experience that is relevant to your IPS studies. In addition, you should also provide at least one letter from a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student (unless you have been out of school for more than five years).

  7. Is an interview part of the application process?
    We do not interview applicants as part of the IPS admissions process. We ask that you treat your statement of purpose as an opportunity to “talk” to the Admissions Committee about the reason(s) you are interested in the IPS program, and the field of international policy in general, and why this program is a good fit with your future goals.

  8. Is it possible to visit the IPS program and meet with faculty, students, and staff?
    Yes. We encourage you to come and explore Stanford's wonderful campus and resources. If you are interested in visiting campus, please contact the IPS team in advance of your visit to schedule a meeting. At this time we are unable to grant prospective students a space in class or a meeting with the faculty director, but our program staff is happy to meet with you during your visit, as well as introduce you to current students with whom you can discuss the program and life at Stanford. We also highly recommend the campus tour. Those admitted to the program will be invited to campus for Admit Day in early to mid-April to learn more about IPS, meet faculty and current students, sit in on classes, and tour the campus. 

  9. Can I check on the status of my application?
    The online application system, which is called “ADMIT,” allows applicants to see the status of their application, including a checklist of required application components. Once the application deadline has passed the IPS team will begin reviewing applications for completeness. It usually takes at least two weeks for us to review all applications. After that point applicants can log into the accounts created when they submitted their applications to check the status of their applications and see whether any items are missing. Additionally, the IPS team will contact applicants via email if items are missing from their applications, as well as provide instructions on how to submit the missing information or document.

  10. When will I be informed of the admissions decision?
    The admissions committee will review applications during the month of February, and notification letters will be sent by email in early-to-mid March. Please do not call the IPS office to inquire about whether you have been offered admission to the program as this information cannot be given over the phone.

  11. Do you offer a one-year master’s program?
    No, the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies is only offered as a two-year, full-time program. 

  12. Do you offer a Ph.D. program?
    No, the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies offers only the Master of Arts degree.

  13. What do I do if I have questions during the winter break when Stanford University and the IPS office are closed?
    Please thoroughly review the website. If you are unable to find answers to your questions, contact the IPS team at Although the office is closed, we will try to respond to your queries in a timely manner. Please note that voicemails will not be returned until Winter Quarter commences in early January.



  1. Can the GMAT or LSAT be taken in lieu of the GRE?
    No, scores from the GRE general test are required of all applicants for graduate study in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford. 

  2. Can I use my GRE scores if they are more than five years old?
    No.  Stanford University requires that GRE scores be no more than five years old, in particular because ETS does not maintain the records of GRE exams taken more than five years ago.  If ETS is unable to electronically send your test scores to Stanford, you will need to re-take the exam.

  3. Can I substitute work experience for the GRE?
    No.  Work experience is not a substitute for the GRE exam.  See question 1 above.

  4. What is the minimum GPA or GRE score?
    Most applicants to the IPS Program have a GPA above 3.5 and GRE scores in the 90th percentile.  Because IPS applicants come from universities in every part of the world, we consider each application in its entirety, while weighing grades and test scores along with career and internship experience.

  5. When should I take the GRE/TOEFL exam?
    We strongly recommend that you take both exams by early to mid-December. Scheduling tests after mid-December is risky because ETS scores can take up to six weeks to be sent to the IPS program's database.  Scores that do not arrive by late January may not be included in an applicant’s file when the admissions committee begins its review period.

  6. What is the institution and program code for the GRE/TOEFL?
    Stanford University’s institution code is 4704.  No program code is needed.


Prerequisite Courses

  1. Are there prerequisite courses required for the IPS program?
    Yes. The five required prerequisites courses are statistics, macroeconomics, microeconomics, and international finance, and international trade. Details can be found below. 

  2. Can I complete the prerequisite courses after I have been admitted?
    Yes.  Prerequisites can be taken at any time prior to enrolling in IPS.  However, completing prerequisite courses before applying is recommended because it allows the admissions committee to review your proficiency in those subject areas.  

  3. Where can I take prerequisite courses?
    Prerequisite courses may be taken at community colleges, at four-year institutions, or through online courses (which are often offered by four-year institutions).  To determine whether a course is a suitable equivalent, please contact the IPS team at and send any relevant information including course descriptions and/or course syllabi. 

  4. Can I take prerequisite courses at Stanford during the summer prior to matriculation?
    Maybe. Some of the prerequisite courses are offered at Stanford during the summer session, but the course offerings vary from year to year.  International students will likely have visa restrictions that will prevent them from entering the U.S. in time to participate in summer session. 

  5. I'm not sure if the courses I've taken qualify for the prerequisite requirements.  What should I do?
    You should still complete an application.  If the admissions committee has questions concerning your prior coursework, the IPS team will discuss these with you.  If you have not completed a prerequisite, your offer of admission will be conditional upon completing the necessary coursework prior to the start of Autumn Quarter.

  6. What are the Stanford equivalents of our prerequisite courses?

ECON 51: Economic Analysis II
Neoclassical analysis of general equilibrium, welfare economics, imperfect competition, externalities and public goods, intertemporal choice and asset markets, risk and uncertainty, game theory, adverse selection, and moral hazard. Multivariable calculus is used. Prerequisite: Math 50.

ECON 52: Economic Analysis III
Long-run economic growth and short-run economic fluctuations. Focus on the macroeconomic tools of government: fiscal policy (spending and taxes) and monetary policy and their effect on growth, employment, and inflation. Prerequisites: Econ 1B, Math 50.

ECON 165: International Finance
Introduction to international macroeconomics. Topics: intertemporal approach to the current account, international investment patterns, sovereign debt, crises in international financial markets, real and nominal exchange rate determination and exchange rate policy. Prerequisite: ECON 52.

ECON 166: International Trade
Comparative advantage in production and trade among nations; increasing returns, imperfect competition, and trade; the nature of the gains from trade, winners, and losers; international migration and multinational companies; trade policy and international trade agreements; theory and evidence. Prerequisite: Math 51.

STATISTICS PREREQUISITE (There are various options for the prerequisite course equivalent at Stanford).
ECON 102A: Introduction to Statistical Methods (Post calculus) for Social Scientists
Description and examples of the use of statistical techniques relevant to economics. Basic rules of probability, conditional probability, discrete and continuous probability distributions. Point estimation, tests of hypotheses, confidence intervals, and linear regression model. Prerequisite: MATH 41 or equivalent.

POLISCI 150A: Political Methodology I (POLISCI 350A)
Introduction to probability and statistical inference, with applications to political science and public policy. Prerequisite: elementary calculus.

STATS 191: Introduction to Applied Statistics
Statistical tools for modern data analysis. Topics include regression and prediction, elements of the analysis of variance, bootstrap, and cross-validation. Emphasis is on conceptual rather than theoretical understanding. Applications to social/biological sciences. Student assignments/projects require use of the software package R. Recommended: 60, 110, or 141.


Language Requirement


  1. Does the program have an English language requirement
    Yes.  Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission. TOEFL scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Exceptions are granted for applicants who have earned a U.S. bachelor's or master's degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or the equivalent of either degree from a non-U.S. college or university of recognized standing where all instrucxtion in provided in English.  This exception does not apply if the courses were completed in a country where English is spoken but not all courses were provided in English.  Being a U.S. citizen does not automatically exempt an applicant from taking the TOEFL; if the applicant's first language is not English the applicant must meet the exception above or submit TOEFL scores.  Stanford does not accept IELTS scores.

  2. Does the program have a foreign language requirement?
    Yes. IPS students must show proficiency in a foreign language in order to graduate. Proficiency can be demonstrated by passing an oral and written examination prior to graduation or by completion of three years of university-level course work in a foreign language. 

  3. Can I complete the foreign language requirement while in the IPS program?
    It is possible to complete the language requirement while enrolled in IPS. However, doing so will very likely extend your time in the program. Some students choose to participate in an intensive language program during the summer between the first and second years of the program.



  1. What is the full-time tuition rate?
    There are two full-time tuition rates at Stanford:  11-18 units at approximately $13,750/quarter and 8-10 units at $8,940/quarter. Generally, IPS students enroll at the 11-18 unit rate during the first year of the program.  During the second year, IPS students often enroll in some combination of the two different full-time tuition rates. 

  2. How many units are required to graduate?
    A minimum of 73 units are required to graduate.

Financial Aid


  1. Is fellowship funding available from Stanford?
    Yes, although our fellowship funds are limited. Please be sure to denote your interest in funding on the application by checking “Yes” next to the question that asks if you are interested in financial aid.  There is no separate process to apply for fellowship funding. A select number of fellowships (8-10 per year) will be given to students for their first year of study in amounts ranging from $20,000 to a full one-year fellowship (approximately $65,000).  Admitted students will be notified of fellowship offers in their letters of acceptance. In addition, teaching and research assistantships, available to students in their second year, can provide varied levels of funding.  It is the responsibility of the second-year student to secure an assistantship, though IPS can recommend possible sources of assistantships. See Assistantship Information and Guidelines

  2. How else can I fund my graduate studies?
    Other than fellowships and assistantships, the best funding options are outside funding, loans, or hourly employment.   Please visit the Financial Aid website for detailed information on loans and other funding options. 

  3. Is there financial aid for international students?
    International students can apply for private loans with U.S. cosigners. Please visit the Financial Aid or EduPass website for detailed information on funding options for international students. 

  4. Why are there no assistantships for first year students?
    Half-time teaching assistantships require significant time and energy that would take away from students' focus on foundational coursework during the first year.  Some research assistantships may be approved for students who have been exempted from required courses

  5. What assistantships are available for second year students?
    Assistantships come in the form of Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA).  Assistantships can be held for one, two, or all three quarters of the academic year, and IPS students can generally fit full assistantships into two or three quarters of their second-year schedules.  Typically students find teaching assistantship opportunities through various departments and research centers on campus.  The most common TA positions are for introductory economics (Econ 1A/1B) or various political science courses.  IPS also offers TA positions for two courses each year (IPS 202 & IPS 203).  For RA positions, students arrange assignments based on connections with professors or research fellows.  Some RA positions are offered for a full academic year; however, most are offered for one or two quarters.

  6. How can I arrange a Research Assistantship?
    IPS offers an Autumn Quarter colloquium to introduce first-year students to FSI Scholars and their research projects. Many IPS students support faculty and scholars in FSI through research that is compensated on an hourly basis.

  7. How much work is required for a Teaching or Research Assistantship?  Are expenses beyond tuition covered?
    Full assistantships (known as 50% assistantships) require 20 hours of work per week and provide both tuition (for up to 10 units) and a stipend.  Students with full assistantships must enroll in 8-10 units during the quarter in which the assistantship is taken.  Together the tuition and stipend payments are sufficient to cover the tuition and living expenses for that quarter.  Nearly two-thirds of our second-year students without external funding served as full teaching or research assistants for at least one quarter.  It is also possible for students to arrange 25% and 10% assistantships, depending on the requirements of the assistantship.  Only students with full assistantships must reduce their course units during the quarters in which they serve as teaching or research assistants.  

After I've Been Admitted 


  1. When will I receive my letter of admission?
    The admissions committee will review applications during the month of February, and notification letters will be sent by email in early to mid-March.  Admitted students will also receive an email from Stanford University’s Office of Graduate Admissions with information for admitted students, including the New Student Checklist.  The checklist will help guide you through the steps needed to prepare for the upcoming autumn quarter.  Please note that we do not send any hard copy materials unless you request a paper copy of the offer of admission in order to apply for a visa or for other purposes.

  2. If I am accepted, what is the timeline for responding to the offer of admission? 
    Admitted students who receive fellowship offers are required to respond to the offer of admission by mid-April.  Those who do not receive fellowship offers can respond by the end of April.  Once admitted to the program, students will be invited to visit campus in mid-April, (typically 1-2 weeks before the deadline to espond to the offer), to learn more about the IPS program, meet faculty and current students, attend classes, and tour the campus.  Applicants will receive more information about this event once admissions decisions have been made. (specific dates to be determined/posted in February)

  3. How do I formally accept my offer of admission?
    In order to respond to the offer of admission you will need to create a SUNetID.  Instructions can be found in the Admitted Students section of the Office of Graduate Admissions website.

  4. Is it possible to defer my admission?
    Yes.  Admitted applicants can defer for up to one year.  Deferral requires approval from the admissions committee, and we ask that you discuss your interest in doing so with the IPS team prior to submitting a deferral request. 

  5. I have not received any confirmation email after accepting the admissions offer.
    No formal confirmation will be sent after you accept the offer. 

  6. Do I need to pay a deposit after accepting the offer of admission?
    No, Stanford does not require a tuition fee deposit.  The first tuition payment will be due in mid to late-September. 

Housing & Orientation

  1. Where can I find information about student housing?
    Complete information about housing, including cost, location, and application instructions, can be found on the Student Housing website. Graduate students can live in Escondido Village, Rains and Munger. Typically 80% of first year IPS students will live on campus, and Escondido Village and Rains tend to be the most popular choices. Additionally, there are housing options for couples and families, and details can also be found on the Student Housing website. 

  2. When do I need to arrive on campus to start the program?
    See the academic calendar.  A mandatory orientation will be held on the Friday before the first day of classes (this date will be included in your letter).  IPS also offers a refresher course (also called "boot camp"), which is held during the two weeks prior to the start of classes.  It is highly recommended that you attend boot camp, as it is a useful refresher course in math, statistics, and economics.  There is no cost to attend boot camp, but you will be responsible for your housing, meals, etc. If you are moving into university housing, be sure to select the correct move-in date when you apply. 

International Students


  1. When should I begin the visa application process?
    Information on applying for a visa can be found at:

Your I-20 document should be sent to the Bechtel International Center.

Bechtel International Center
584 Capistrano Way
Stanford, California 94305-8245
(650) 723-1831

  1. Are there other programs and services for international students?
    Visit the I-Center web site for general information on immigration, programs and services offered by the center, as well as the Orientation Week Schedule and “Arriving at Stanford: An Orientation Guide for New International Students and Scholars.” The I-Center also offers extensive services for spouses, partners and families.