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The Dish in the Stanford foothills at dusk

Know before you come

Before you arrive at Stanford, there are several important facts you should be aware of. These include:

  • Stanford graduate students do not receive their first paycheck until approximately the first month of their tenure at Stanford has passed, so you should be prepared to not receive pay during this period. Stanford also imposes the majority of its fees on your first paycheck, and as such it has the potential to be substantially lower than your other paychecks. Please contact a GSAC representative if you think this may be an issue for you and we can explore options to support you. These options include requesting a Graduate Cash Advance and using the StanfordCardPlan. You can also check out the Stanford Earth Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website for more general information on financial aid.
  • Food on campus and in the communities around it can be quite expensive. A typical graduate student spends $2,130 on food-related expenses per quarter. Several options exist for feeding yourself more affordably, including Stanford’s pop-up pantry. You can find out more about this on our Food on Campus page.
  • A common and unfortunately factually based notion about the Bay Area is that it is often a very expensive place to live. Typical monthly rent rates on campus are about $1,624 per month for single graduate students, $2,320 for couples, and $2,651 for students with children (note that these calculations include housing options typically reserved for law and business students). Off-campus housing varies hugely in affordability, but is an option chosen by many students for various reasons. You can check out student-oriented housing platforms for more affordable options. These include SUPost and (for Facebook users) the Stanford Free & For Sale Facebook page, Stanford University Housing/Sublets/Rentals pageSan Francisco Intentional Community Association page , and SF Bay Area Affordable Conscious Shared Housing page.
  • If you would prefer to pay your tuition and university fees in smaller, regular amounts rather than in a single lump sum, you can opt into payroll deductions, which allow you to deduct some amount of your regular paystubs to pay these fees. You can choose to deduct only certain types of fees, such as tuition, from your regular paystubs, or to deduct all fees. The deadline to sign up for payroll deductions for the fall quarter is October 15.
  • If your hiring contract states that your tuition is covered (i.e. that you do not have to pay tuition out of pocket), it is important to know that the Stanford payment system operates in such a way that for a period of about 2 weeks at the start of each quarter, you will see a tuition bill listed as one of your itemized expenses that must be paid on the university bill. However, you do not have to pay this amount! After about 2 weeks, if your tuition is covered by your contract, this tuition item should be gone from your itemized university bill (or a negative amount of money exactly equal to the tuition amount will appear on your itemized bill) and you will not have to pay it. Please contact your departmental financial officer if you expect the tuition to be covered in your contract and it does not disappear from your bill after this period.
  • Although the minimum number of units per quarter you are required to be registered for as a full-time student is 8 units, it is preferable for students to take 10 units per quarter since this allows for a speedier advancement of students to candidacy and TGR status. This is because of the minimum total unit requirements needed to advance to candidacy and apply for TGR status, respectively. You can consult your departments for information pertaining to candidacy requirements for your department.
  • The Stanford Earth Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website hosts many resources for current students, including financial aid options, academic and support resources, information on reporting, and policies around, concerns and grievances, and more!
  • Students with hidden or visible disabilities can ask for accommodations via the Diversity and Access office. The Office of Accessible Education is also a good resource.

Foundational Questions to Ask Your Advisor

It is really important that, as early as possible, you get on the same page as your advisor regarding both of your expectations for your time here. We’ve included below a few topics that might be good to bring up with them before or very soon after you formally start your studies here.

  • Expectations for work hours and productivity (including how this may differ during quarters where you are taking one or more classes)
  • Meeting frequency (advisor meetings, group meetings, etc.)
  • Form and frequency of communications
  • Expectations related to publications and authorship (what work you will need to put into a project to be deemed First Author, etc.)
  • Expectations for documentation of work (lab notebook standards, standards for commenting code, etc.)
  • Classes your advisors recommends you take, if any

For more information, you can check out VPGE's resources on advising expectations

VPGE New Students Gateway

Explore the Grad Gateway. Find the resources you need to begin your graduate career at Stanford. Check your school and degree program websites for important information, too.

Social Spaces on Campus


The Arbor, an outdoor bar and entertainment space in the Tresidder Memorial Union courtyard. Often hosts trivia on Thursday nights! 

GeoCorner (Braun Geology Corner, Building 320), a little spot with comfortable chairs. 

Kennedy Great Room or Meeting Room, located in the Kennedy Residences (near Escondido Village), open to reservations for folks living in EV. 

Upstairs rooms in the Graduate Community Center.

Community Centers:

Asian American Activities Center

Black Community Services Center

El Centro Chicano y Latino

LGBT Community Resources Center

Native American Cultural Center

The Markaz Resource Center

Women's Community Center

Graduate Student Organizations on Campus


If you want to get involved in an activities, the chances are good that there’s already a group for it on campus! But as it’s often not clear where to look for a comprehensive list of all the available groups that graduate students are welcome to, we have compiled as many as we can for you here, and have provided links to other fairly comprehensive lists:

Activist and Community Groups:

Scientists Speak Up

Science Policy Group

Basic Needs Coalition

Asha for Education

Diversity &Advocacy Committee (DAC)

Students for Environmental and Racial Justice

March For Our Lives (MFOL) at Stanford

Animal Rights on the Farm

All About No Waste @ Stanford

SACNAS Stanford Chapter

Out in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (oSTEM) at Stanford

Black Feminist Collective


Queer Student Resources

Trans &

Stanford Pride

Queer & Asian

Black Community Services Center

Black Engineering Graduate Students Association

The Markaz Resource Center

Stanford Asian American Activities Center

Asian American Students Association

Office of Accessible Education

Disability Equity Now

Stanford Disability Alliance

Native American Cultural Center

Stanford Native Student Groups

Bechtel International Center

Center for South Asia

Jewish Student Association at Stanford

Hillel @ Stanford

Diversity and First-Gen Office

Undocumented Stanford

Women's Community Center

Pertenecer/You Belong @Stanford Earth

Stanford Hermanas in STEM

El Centro Chicano y Latino

Stanford University Brazilian Organization

Stanford Caribbean Students Association

Stanford Chilean Student Association

Colombianos en Stanford

Latinos Unidos de Stanford

Peruvian Student Association at Stanford

Stanford Venezuelan Student Association

Stanford African Students Association (S.A.S.A.)

Stanford University's Nigerian Students Association (NAIJA)

Stanford Ethiopian and Eritrean Students' Association (SEESA)

Stanford's Ghanaian Student Association (Akwaaba)

Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Stanford (ACSSS)

Taiwanese Cultural Society at Stanford University

Korean Student Association at Stanford (KSAS)

Stanford Vietnamese Student Association


Other Community and Activist Organizations at Stanford 

Creative Writing:

Stanford Creative Writing Society

Stanford Spoken Word Collective

Other Creative Writing organizations


Stanford Banghra

Innovative Styles


Basmati Raas

Stanford Swing Dancers

Cardinal Ballet Company


Jam Pac'd

Common Origins

Los Salseros De Stanford

Mua Lac Hong

Stanford Chinese Dance



Stanford Soul Line Dancers (SSLD)

Stanford Swingtime





Other dance groups

Digital Media and Art:


Stanford Film Society

Stanford Ceramics Club

MINT Magazine

Other Art and Digital Media organizations


Asian American Theater Project


Ram’s Head Theatrical Society

Stanford Improvisors

Stanford Shakespeare Company

Stanford Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia

Other Performing Arts Organizations


Club Water Polo Team of Stanford

Stanford Club Ice Hockey

Stanford Dragonboat

Stanford Running Club

Stanford Women's Rugby

Stanford Capoeira

Stanford Wing Chun

Stanford Alpine Club

Stanford Outdoors

Other Athletics Organizations

Since the list shown here is my no means comprehensive, see below for other lists of organizations at Stanford:

Active VSOs 2019-2020 (this is probably the most complete list available)

Graduate Student Organizations | Asian American Activities Center

Graduate Student Organizations | El Centro Chicano y Latino

Student Organizations | Stanford Event Calendar

Student Groups | Center for African Studies

Student Organizations | Stanford Engineering

Graduate Student Organizations | Black Community Services Center

Student Groups | Stanford Disability