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Doctoral Degree Programs: Completion and Time-to-degree

This page contains information about degree conferrals, time-to-degree, and retention for doctoral research programs at Stanford. While the most common academic doctoral degree across the university is the PhD, the JSD in Law and the DMA in Musical Arts are also included here. The MD and JD are considered to be professional degrees and are not included. In all cases below, the academic years reported are "summer start years", meaning that the academic year encompasses a period from the start of the summer term through the end of the following spring term. Please see the definitions below the dashboard for more details about how the various metrics presented here are calculated.

More information is available about doctoral program enrollment and demographics, as well as doctoral program admissions. Note that local variation in policy and practice regarding admission, matriculation, and degree conferral may affect the departmental and school-level metrics below.

Methodology & Definitions


Time-to-degree is the length of time in years from the first day of the student's first term of enrollment in their doctoral program to the day of their degree conferral. Time-to-degree measures elapsed time only, not enrolled time. It does not stop and start if a student takes a leave of absence. If a student was enrolled in a master's degree program prior to matriculating in the doctoral program the separate time in the master's program is not included even if it was in the same department as the doctoral program. For this reason, time-to-degree may be lower in some doctoral programs where it is common to require completion of a master's degree prior to matriculation in the doctoral program. If a student switches between doctoral programs, time-to-degree is restarted from the first term of enrollment in the new program. The only exceptions to this restart of the clock are when program changes are the result of departmental name changes or other restructuring, or when the new program has the same CIP code as the original program.

Graduation Rate

As with time-to-degree, the start of the 6-year period used to calculate graduation rates is the first term in which the student is enrolled in a doctoral program, regardless of any prior or concurrent enrollment in a master's program. The 6-year rate is based on elapsed time only, not enrolled time. It is not based on the concept of a cohort year or graduation year, but on the actual matriculation term and degree conferral term. For example, if a student enrolled at the start of Spring 2010 and graduated at the end of Winter 2016, they would count towards the 6-year rate; however, if they instead graduated at the end of Spring 2016, their time to degree would be more than 6 years due to the extra term of enrollment.

Degree Conferrals

Numbers of degree conferrals are reported by summer start year. For example, all degree conferred from Summer 2016 through the following Spring 2017 would be reported under the 2016-17 year.

Entering Cohort Status

An entering cohort consists of all students entering a doctoral program during autumn, winter, or spring quarter of a single academic year, as well as those entering during the preceding summer. Students are considered to be current in their program if they are still actively pursuing that degree or are on an approved temporary leave of absence. "Current students in a different PhD program" are students who were enrolled at one point in the selected program but subsequently moved to another doctoral program at Stanford and are still engaged in doctoral study. Students who are listed as "completed" have successfully conferred their degree in the selected program or, if they have completed a different doctoral program, have changed programs and been awarded a doctoral degree by another program at Stanford. Program changes resulting from department name changes, organizational restructuring, or between programs with the same CIP code are not considered "changes" in this context. Students who are shown as "discontinued" have either left the university without a degree or switched to a non-doctoral degree program (in many cases a master's degree).

Visit the Graduate Admissions website for more information about pursuing graduate study at Stanford.


These data were last updated in December 2019.

The data is available for download in Box.

  • Data Source(s): PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, Institutional Research & Decision Support

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