Santa Clara University


Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

Academic and Classes

How big are the graduate engineering classes? Are they all taught by professors or are some taught by teaching assistants?
On average, there are 15 students in a classroom. All courses are taught by full-time professors and part-time lecturers who are from the industry. Our teaching assistants do not teach classes.

I've taken some graduate courses outside SCU. Can I transfer those credits to you?
Graduate level courses that you took in an accredited U.S. university may be considered for, if they have not been applied to any other graduate degrees, transfer credit to SCU. You must have a grade of C or better in those courses. M.S. students may transfer a maximum of 6 semester or 9 quarter units toward the required 45 units to graduate from SCU, and Ph.D. students can transfer a maximum of 18 quarter units or 12 semester units toward the required 72 units. Ph.D. students usually take 36 units of courses and 36 units for dissertation.

To transfer units, you will need to complete a Program of Studies Form, signed by your advisor, after you are enrolled in the program and supply us with an official transcript to verify those units. Read Transfer Policy for more details.

How many units do I need to take for my program?

How many units is each class?
Courses are offered in 2 to 4 units, but most of our classes are two-unit, meaning two classroom hours each week for any given quarter.

Do you have classes online?
No, all classes are taught in the traditional classrooms on the Santa Clara University campus. This is because we believe that the best learning takes place when you interact with your instructors and with other students in the classes. This format offers the advantage of your being able to network with people from other companies and build strong relationships.

Do I need to choose what program I want to apply for?
Yes. When you fill out the on-line application, you will be asked what program you would like to apply for.

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Admission Decision

What are my chances of admission?
We do not comment on your chances of admission. Once all of the required materials are received, we will send you a decision letter or may even call you.

How do I check the status of my application?
Using the ecampus ID# and password provided when your application was submitted, your status may be checked online at

How long does it take for the committee to reach a decision?
Please allow approximately two weeks for the review of M.S. applications. The review for Ph.D. applicants takes approximately two to three weeks. Open University and Certificate Programs take approximately one week.

Can I defer my application?
Yes, if you are unable to furnish all of the required materials by an application deadline, please send an email to and specify which quarter you are seeking admission instead.

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Admission Timeline

How many times a year do you accept students?
We are on a rolling admissions basis, so review and accept students for all four quarters: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.

When are your deadlines?
Our quarterly application deadlines are posted on-line.

Are you on a quarter or semester system?
The Engineering Graduate Programs are on a quarter system:

Fall: September thru December
Winter: January thru March
Spring: April thru June
Summer Session I (10 weeks): June thru August
Summer Session II (5 weeks): June thru July
Summer Session III (5 weeks): July thru August

Go to Academic Calendar for a full list of important dates and deadlines.

I last attended graduate classes 5 years ago, can I come back?
Yes, you can. You will need to submit another online application, after which we will work with you to recreate your file. (It may be necessary to re-submit required documents as well.) Applications for admissions are done on-line.

When are your classes held?
Classes meet at the following convenient times:

  • 7:10 a.m. - 9 a.m.
  • 5:10 p.m. - 7 p.m.
  • 7:10 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Saturdays
  • Sundays

How long does the Program take to complete?
Full-time students (enrolling in 8 or more units each Quarter) generally take 1.5 to 2 years to complete the M.S. Program. Students enrolling part-time on average take 2.5 to 6 years to complete their M.S.

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How much are tuition and fees?
Our tuition is unit-based. We charge a fixed amount for each unit you take. Full-time study means 8 units or more during the academic year except summer. For more details, read Tuition and Fees.

Do you have any financial aid?
Most of our students pay their own tuition, either through company tuition reimbursement or self support.

  • U.S. students who would like to apply for an educational loan, federal grant, work study, or a Cal Grant, please contact the Financial Aid Office. That office will guide you through the application process. The Financial Aid Office is located on the second floor at Varsi Hall, and their website is
  • International students: this group of students are not eligible for federal funded financial aid support, such as loans, grants, and work studies. Full-time study for international students means 8 units or more during the academic year except summer. The School of Engineering generally does not offer any research or teaching assistantships to M.S. students.

How do I apply for Teaching or Research Assistantships?
The School offers a limited number of research and teaching assistantships to the master and doctoral students. After you have been offered admission, you may contact the faculty directly. Faculty contact information can be found on the department web pages.

Does your department provide scholarships for Masters applicants?
We generally do not offer any financial assistance to Master degree applicants. Almost all of our international students pay their own tuition, while some find on-campus employment and participate in the Cooperative Education Option in the local Silicon Valley companies.

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International Applicants

What are my health insurance choices?
Graduate students have the option to purchase to the school sponsored health insurance through the Cowell Health Center. To view or download a brochure, please visit the Cowell Student Health Center.

What supporting documents do I need to apply for the F-1 student visa or transfer my F-1 from another U.S. institution?
The I-20 form from Santa Clara University will only be processed and issued after you have been admitted to a degree program and you have promptly submitted all of the following documents.

  1. I-20 Request Form
  2. Official financial documents (statements from checking or savings accounts, 401K, stock accounts accepted) no more than 90 days. 
  3. Affidavit of Support (if someone other than yourself will be supporting all or a portion of your education expenses)
  4. Transfer Clearance Form (if you are currently holding an I-20 from another institution)

For detailed information, read Requesting an I-20.

Do you issue I-20s to Certificate and Open University Students?
No, but students with the appropriate visa can take courses in those programs.

Can I take courses at SCU while on Optional Practical Training (OPT) from another school?
If you are currently holding an I-20 and OPT from another U.S. institution, you must obtain approval from that institution prior to enrolling in Graduate Engineering classes at SCU.

How many international students are accepted into your program?
We accept as many qualified international students as we can into our Program each quarter. Students can apply for admission for the fall, winter, and spring. Students on F1 visa are required to take 8 units or more each quarter to maintain their full-time international student status.

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What are the required application materials for the Ph.D. program?
In addition to what is required for a master's degree applicant, the Ph.D. applicant would also submit an official graduate transcript, three letters of recommendations, as well as a written statement of his or her research interest.

Are there any forms for letters of recommendation?
Three letters of recommendation are required for students applying into the Ph.D. Program. There are no forms for letters of recommendation, only a list of guidelines: Name of Applicant must appear in first line of text, Must be on a company/school letterhead, Needs to address Santa Clara University's Engineering Graduate Programs, Must be a professional or academic reference, no friends or co-workers, Make it as close to one page in length as possible as we do not need an essay. All Letters of Recommendation must be sent to the Engineering Graduate Programs in sealed envelopes. We do not accept photocopies or emails.

Do I have to have a Master's Degree before applying for the Ph.D. Program?
Yes, you do. We offer a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. All of the Ph.D. candidates will need to complete 72 units (36 in course work, and 36 in dissertation), write a quality dissertation, and earn a Grade Point Average of 3.0 or better to graduate from the Program.

Is the GRE Mathematics Test Score required for Ph.D. applicants?
No, only the GRE general test is required.

For detailed information, go to Ph.D. Program.

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Standardized Tests

What tests are required for admission?
The GRE  is a requirement for admission to all of our degree programs (M.S. and Ph. D.).  Addittionally, the TOEFL or IELTS is a requirement for interntional applicants.

How long are my scores good for?
Scores will be accepted as long as they are no more than 5 years old.

Do you accept all formats of the TOEFL tests and IELTS?
Yes, we accept both TOEFL and IELTS. We accept computer-based, paper-based, and Internet-based (iBT) TOEFL tests. Santa Clara University's TOEFL code is 4851 and scores should be sent directly to us by testing agencies. While waiting for the official scores to be sent to us, students are encouraged to send us a photo-copy of the test result as a place holder.

Please note: The submission of a TOEFL or IELTS score is required if English is not your native language or if you do not have a degree awarded by a U.S. university/college.

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Is on-campus housing available for Graduate students?
Santa Clara University does have Graduate Student Housing Communities. You must submit the University Graduate Housing Contract, Graduate Preference Form, and a prepayment check to the Housing Office.

How can I find off-campus housing?
The Office of Student Life maintains listings of available off-campus housing opportunities for Santa Clara University students and a listing of nearby apartments.

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What is a "Degree Conferral?"
A Degree Conferral is also called a Degree Certificate or diploma. Most of the time, it is stated on your official transcript after you have graduated stating the type of degree you received and when. When it is not on your transcript, it is a separate document.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All applicants (including Open University and certificate) who hold a bachelor's degree from outside of the United States are required to have their official transcripts evaluated by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). We require a course-by-course, cumulative GPA, and US degree equivalency evaluation. There is no exception to this requirement. For more information, contact a member organization of NACES

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Relevant Questions

My undergraduate degree is not conferred yet, but can I still apply for the M.S. program?
Yes, Students in their final year of undergraduate study may be admitted on the condition that their bachelor's degrees are awarded before they enroll at SCU and they are in good academic standing in their senior year.

To be admitted as a regular graduate student, an applicant must have earned a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college, university, or technical school of acceptable standing.

Go to Admissions for more details.

What goes on during an admissions information session?
On-campus information sessions are arranged by appointment. During the session our admissions representative will provide a detailed overview of the School's distinctive features, discuss the degree and non-degree programs, and offer tips on admissions procedures.

Is a Statement of Purpose required if I'm applying to the M.S. Program?
No, it is not required. A Statement of Purpose is only required for Ph.D. applicants on the online application.

What is required to enter your master's degree program
A four-year technical bachelor's degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) school or a U.S. recognized university overseas, one official transcript from your undergraduate college attended, General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS (International English Language Testing Systems) for international applicants.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All applicants who hold a bachelor's degree from outside of the United States are required to have their official transcripts evaluated by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). We require a course-by-course, cumulative GPA, and US degree equivalency evaluation. There is no exception to this requirement. For more information, contact a member organization of NACES

The Software Engineering master's degree program would also require the Computer Science GRE Subject Test, if the applicant does not have a computer science or computer engineering background. If this proves problematic, you may wish to consider applying to the M.S. in Computer Engineering, which does not have such a requirement and does have an emphasis in software engineering.

Effective starting Winter 2011 quarter, the Engineering Management and Leadership master's degree will require the GRE; however, those students with at least 2 years of working experience in the United States may submit the GRE Waiver Request Form along with the other required documents for consideration. The Computer Engineering Department is receptive to accepting qualified master's degree candidates who have a non-technical four-year bachelor's degree and have taken one year of calculus.

Students who would like to request a GRE waiver will need to complete a GRE Waiver Request Form.

Once I'm admitted into the Program, do I have a faculty advisor?
Yes, each of our students will have a faculty advisor. Read Faculty Advisors for more details. For Open University students, your department chair will be your academic advisor.

I've heard you can earn an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree from Santa Clara in five years. How does that work?
Yes, we do offer such a program, but it is only available to current Santa Clara University undergraduate students. Students first complete their undergraduate degrees. They then start taking graduate level courses as early as in the spring of their junior year and complete a master's degree in only one year, as opposed to two. Students in the Five-Year Program are also exempted from the application fees and taking the GRE. Having both a BS and MS degrees can be valuable when progressing in a professional career.

In addition to GPA and test scores, what courses should I have learned?
Most of the departments have required pre-requisites or foundational courses. Please check with the department website of your choice for details.

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