Hopkins-Biology Track PhD Requirements

Archived Biology PhD Handbooks

Handbook Excerpt (2021-2022)

Hopkins-Biology First Year Advising Committee 

Hopkins-Biology students are encouraged to meet with their host lab at Hopkins during the weeks before the start of Autumn Quarter. In addition to these meetings, students must select an advising committee consisting of three faculty members.

The purpose of this committee is to advise the student on their academic activities during the first year. The committee will discuss several topics with the student: recommendations for courses to take during the first year, plans for teaching assistantships, fellowship applications, general research areas of interest, and rotation plans (if applicable). The student can call on members of this committee throughout the first year to request further guidance on these topics as the year progresses.

Students and First Year Advising Committees are advised to remember the university requirement that every Ph.D. student university-wide must complete four courses of 3 or more units with four separate faculty members. As some Hopkins-Biology students take relatively few courses, Oceans ’ students are advised to devise a plan for fulfilling this requirement in their meeting with the First Year Advising Committee. We view this requirement very broadly, and any four courses of 3 or more units each, not necessarily in Biology, can satisfy this requirement. The Bio 302-303-304 course counts as one of the four courses. The four courses must be completed by the end of Spring Quarter of the second year. Enrolling in units for TA service can potentially count as one of the four courses if necessary.

For NSF-eligible students, the student will also discuss with the First Year Advising Committee whether to apply for the NSF fellowship in the first year or in the second year.

Students will meet with the First Year Advising Committee at the end of the first year to discuss the first year’s progress and to complete the First Year Evaluation Form. A good time for scheduling this end-of-year meeting is immediately after the First Year Seminar.

For Hopkins-Biology students, the First Year Advising Committee provides the main academic advising during the first year (with supplementation by the BFF and the co-mentor, who are sometimes also members of the First Year Advising Committee).

Biology First-year Facilitator (BFF) Program

Faculty mentorship in the BFF program is focused on helping students integrate into the department culture through non-judgmental advocacy. This is facilitated by meetups in casual environments once a quarter. BFFs also support students as they manage their lab rotations and choose appropriate coursework. Emphasis is placed on cultivating a supportive relationship between faculty and student during what is often a stressful period of transition. In August, faculty indicated their interest in diverse areas of mentorship. Students then rank their preference for mentors based on shared interests. Mentors will ideally be faculty the student does not plan to rotate with to avoid conflicts of interest.

The first meetings should take place during orientation week or the first week of classes. Students must verify online that they have met with their BFF no later than one month into the quarter. Students will meet with BFFs during the Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters.


All courses must be completed prior to Spring Quarter of the 4th year, except for the required first year courses as noted.

  • BIO 301 (Autumn) or BIO 302, 303, 304: Current Topics and Concepts in Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution – students must enroll in Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters of 1st year Students should consult with their advisor asto which course series to take during the first year on campus
  • Ethics Requirement: MED 255: Responsible Conduct of Research (offered every quarter) OR Bio 313 (strongly recommended) must be completed by the end of the first year.
  • Two additional Hopkins courses (BIOHOPK/OCEANS). These may include BIOS mini courses offered at Hopkins Marine Station.
  • In addition to the courses listed above, students may be required to take a set of courses to be determined by the advising committee.

Please note that there is a university requirement that all Ph.D. students must complete at least three units of work with each of four Stanford faculty members. Three units of work can include lectures, labs, seminars, teaching, research, directed readings and independent study.

**BIO 315: Skills to Survive and Thrive in Graduate School and Beyond**

How you respond to the challenges commonly encountered in graduate school and ensuing careers impacts your motivation, productivity, health, and well-being. In this course you will learn: to recognize and rephrase negative self-talk and impostor fears; communicate more clearly and assertively with advisors; build supportive mentoring; handle (difficult) feedback; calm stress and overwhelming feelings; and boost resilience. Structure: NIH webinars and facilitated small discussion groups will provide vital individual support and help implement learned skills in daily life. This is a two-part series to be offered in both winter and spring, which progressively builds foundational well-being awareness with practical tools for sustainable impact on health and work habits.

Lab Rotations

Hopkins-Biology PhD students may rotate with and select as the primary Ph.D. advisor any faculty member with a primary appointment in one of the Biosciences Home Programs. While rotations are not required in order to choose the primary advisor, they are certainly possible. Many students collaborate with faculty in addition to their primary advisor in order to increase breadth and depth. This is usually accomplished with the advice and encouragement of the primary Ph.D. advisor.

Seminar Presentation

The seminar requirement is fulfilled by presenting a 20-minute talk. This seminar is typically given at Hopkins but does not have to be. The student must arrange for at least two faculty members from the Biology or Oceans Department to attend the seminar and evaluate the presentation. Evaluation will consist of meeting with each faculty member within one week following the seminar to obtain comments. If the faculty members approve the presentation, they will sign the form at this time. In some cases, they may require an additional talk before signing. The Seminar Evaluation form must be submitted to the Student Services Office no later than May 15 of the first year.

First Year Paper

Each student must prepare and submit a paper before the end of the first year that will be evaluated by the advising committee. This paper should be a step toward the development of a dissertation proposal and may consist of an analysis of new data or a literature review and synthesis. This can be satisfied in a number of ways that all involve new writing, undertaken since entering the Stanford program. These may include:

  • A new draft research manuscript; a previously published paper is not acceptable because it may have received much editorial modification in the review process.
  • Some other piece of new writing, such as a review paper from a course, or an initial literature review of a potential thesis topic. In this case the paper should ordinarily be not less than 10 or more than 20 double-spaced pages in usual sized font, plus references. It should be written in the style of a standard scientific paper.

The paper should be read, commented upon, and agreed to as satisfactory by two faculty members. The First Year Paper Evaluation form and a copy of the first year paper must be submitted to the Student Services Office no later than May 15 of the first year.

Hopkins-Biology Committee Meeting Guidelines: Second Year and Beyond

The graduate committee exists to provide students with guidance in their thesis work, and to certify that they meet the standards of the program (i.e., successfully defending their thesis proposal, writing and defending a doctoral thesis). To those ends, the Hopkins-Biology faculty have established the following procedures:

  • Approximately a week before a committee meeting, the student should provide a short outline/precis of what they will be presenting to the committee at the meeting. The idea is to give the committee members a heads-up as to the topics the student wishes to discuss so that they can give some productive thought to those items before the meeting. If applicable, this precis should include a short discussion of how the plans formulated at a prior meeting have unfolded.
  • Within a week or so after the meeting, the student should send the committee members notes from the meeting. The idea here is to have some record of what was decided at the meeting, a record that can be very useful in keeping everyone on track by providing continuity from meeting to meeting.
  • The student should arrange with one member of the committee for that member to serve as committee chair. The chair must be someone other than the student’s advisor. The chair is responsible for keeping the records of the committee meetings, completing the department Committee Meeting Form, and (if needed) reminding the student to deliver the before- and after-meeting documents. The chair also runs the meetings.
  • Typically, a meeting starts with a presentation by the student, followed by constructive discussion of science and the student’s progress. Sometimes it’s better if the student is allowed to make their entire presentation before opening the meeting to discussion. That ensures that all of the student’s thoughts/issues/concerns are presented before questions take the meeting on some tangential path.
  • The meeting then finishes with two rounds of discussion. (1) The student leaves the room, and the committee discusses the student’s progress. The summary of that discussion is then conveyed to the student when they come back into the room. (2) The advisor then leaves the room, providing time for a discussion of any concerns the student or committee might have about the student/advisor relationship. If there are concerns that require further attention, the student and the committee chair should work together to begin the process of addressing those concerns.
  • Beyond this, the details are up to the student and their committee to determine, including how long the pre’cis and notes should be, length of the student’s presentation, etc. These, and similar details, should be worked out on a case-by-case basis.

Committee Meeting Schedule

  • 3rd Year: due by May 15
  • 4th Year and beyond: due by May 15.
    • The 4th year committee meeting written progress report should describe the following:
  1. Progress towards goals
  2. A timeline to graduation within 5.5 years
  3. A timeline towards publication(s)
  4. If applicable, a written petition for extending the time to graduate beyond 5.5 years with an explicit anticipated date for graduation; a petition could be for health, personal or scientific reasons.

The meeting must also include a formal slide presentation and timeline to degree completion with specific milestones outlined. Career planning should begin at this meeting.

  • 5th Year and 6th Year: due by November 15 and May 15. Beginning in the Autumn Quarter of the 5th year students will need to have committee meetings twice a year, every 6 months until degree completion. These meetings should include an updated progress report of work done and the timeline of experiments to finalize degree completion, which must occur no later than the winter quarter of 6th year (5.5 years total in the Ph.D. program).

General Requirements

GPA and Individual Course Grades

University policy requires graduate students to maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA. Policy also requires that students receive a B- or higher in any class in order for the class to count toward satisfactory degree progress and/or degree requirements. The Biology Department does not require that PhD students take courses for a letter grade.


At Stanford, as at other research universities, each advanced degree program has a residency requirement based on the number of academic units required for the degree. For doctoral degree candidates this requirement is 135 units. Students in the doctoral program are eligible for the TGR tuition rate when they have completed the unit-based requirement and all other requirements established by the University and the academic department. 

The fundamental reason for this requirement is educational: the minimum residency fixed for each program is the shortest period that students generally need to attain the level of expertise that a particular Stanford advanced degree signifies, by completing specified course work, research, and other degree requirements and by immersing themselves in the intellectual life of this university. Please see the Bulletin for more information on the University’s residency policies: http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#residencytext.

University policy dictates that graduate students are expected to maintain a significant physical presence on campus unless the degree program has granted an exception (GAP 3.1.1).  The Department of Biology will allow advanced PhD students (typically post-TGR)  to complete their doctoral studies remotely under the following circumstances: 

  • Remote location is within the United States
  • Advisor and committee all approve of the arrangement; 
  • Committee meetings occur and forms are submitted in a timely manner and, in these meetings, it is important that any issues arising by working off-site are discussed.

If you have any questions, please contact Student Services so that we can discuss your specific situation. 

Ethics/Responsible Conduct of Research Course

All students are required to take an Ethics course. This course should be taken in the first year of the program. Ecology/Evolution and Oceans students may choose from one of the following courses:

MED 255: Responsible Conduct of Research – required for all CMOB students. Offered all four quarters. Bio 313: Ethics in the Anthropocene – strongly recommended for Eco/Evo students when it is offered; Eco/Evo students can choose from Bio 313, Med 255, or both courses.


Regardless of the source of support, each Ph.D. student is required to serve as a Teaching Assistant (TA) and/or Course Assistant (CA) for two Biology (BIO or BIOHOPK/OCEANS) courses. One quarter must be in the undergraduate lab courses (BIO 45, 46 47, or BIOHOPK 47), introductory courses (BIO 60s level), or foundations courses (BIO 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86 or BIOHOPK 81, 84, 85). The second course may be an advanced undergraduate BIO elective course or lab/introductory/foundations course.

Eco/Evo students will typically fulfill one of their two teaching assignments by teaching Bio 46 or 47 (Introduction to Research in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), 81 (Ecology), or 85 (Evolution). In rare circumstances, particularly if students have distinctively relevant expertise, Eco/Evo students may instead fulfill the recommendation to TA an introductory course by TAing for another Foundations or undergraduate lab course (typically Bio 82 Genetics or 84 Physiology).

Biosciences mini-courses (BIOS) or summer teaching positions cannot be used to fulfill teaching requirements.

Students are expected to complete both TA requirements by autumn of their 3rd year in the PhD program. CMOB students who TA during the Autumn Quarter of their 2nd year can request to postpone their qualifying exam until the end of Winter Quarter. Petitions for postponement should be submitted to the DGS before the start of the Autumn Quarter of the 2nd year.

The department requires teaching experience for two reasons. First, the department has practical needs for teaching assistance and must satisfy some of these needs with graduate teaching assistants. Second, the teaching experience is valuable for students who later choose to pursue academic careers where they will be expected to teach and develop courses as well as for students who pursue any career in which public speaking, leadership, presentation skills and program planning are used.

TA selection/appointment process

  • The opportunities to gain teaching experience and training in specific courses will be assigned using the departmental matching system during the Spring and Summer quarters prior to the next academic year.
  • An application that includes a list of courses offered with available TA positions for the academic year will be emailed to students annually, typically in May/June. Students who have not fulfilled the required two TAships are required to submit an application.
  • Students will complete the application, ranking the courses they would most like to teach in the coming year.
  • Student Services and the Graduate Studies Committee will make a top candidate TA list for each course based on: 1) priority to intro/foundation courses/labs; 2) area of expertise and 3) additional skills required.
  • Instructors will be able to select a TA from the candidate list if there are multiple candidates. If TAs are not chosen in a timely manner, then TAs will be assigned by the Graduate Studies Committee.
  • The student should confirm with their advisor plans to be a TA.

Hopkins-Biology students will complete at least one TA requirement on campus during the first year. Any remaining TA requirements can be completed at Hopkins Marine Station. The department will work with the Biology and Oceans faculty in selecting TAs for courses at Hopkins.

The department will compile a list of teaching expectations and responsibilities for each course (instructor course information) and provide this information annually to graduate students with the application. Typical teaching responsibilities include the following:

  • Assist in the preparation and grading of exams, problem sets, etc.
  • Hold regular office hours
  • Assist in preparation and distribution of course handouts
  • Attend lectures
  • Provide student course feedback to instructor
  • Initiate and plan discussion sections
  • For lab courses: set up experiments, check equipment and supervise clean-up 

In order to fulfill their teaching requirements, students have their teaching supervisors complete the Teaching Requirement form. Students must submit the form to the Student Services Office.

Students who plan to TA for one of the core labs (BIO 45, 46 or 47) are required to attend a one-day training in the preceding quarter, BIO 291. Registering for BIO 291 to obtain units is optional.

In order to support students in their teaching, students must complete BIO 296 Teaching and Learning in Biology concurrently with their first teaching assistantship. This workshop provides students with basic training, support and professional development.

Optional Teaching

The Department of Biology considers teaching to be a core component of a doctoral student’s academic training. Students who wish to do more teaching after they have fulfilled the program’s requirement may be considered for open TA positions once students who have not yet completed their requirements have been assigned.  In all cases, students completing optional, additional TA opportunities must have already advanced to candidacy and must receive consent of their advisor before being appointed given the expectation of reduced productivity in the lab during the quarter in which they will be a TA.  

Students completing optional, additional TA work will be appointed as Mentor Teaching Assistants. The department’s rate for Mentor Teaching Assistants will be $3,000 higher than the university minimum rate for a 50% appointment. 2022-2023 assistantship rates can be found here.  This means that students TAing a course at the 50% level (BIO 40s, 60s, 80s courses) will earn an additional $3,700 in the quarter they are TAing than they normally would have, and students TAing at the 25% level (most other courses) would earn an additional $1,854.

Students can expect to be funded as follows:

  • Students normally paid via Research Assistantship (RA) from either a department or PI funding source:
    • Courses requiring a 25% appointment (10 hours/week) or lower - In the quarter the student is engaging in optional teaching, they will be paid by the Department of Biology at the department’s Mentor Teaching Assistant (TF) rate for the effort required by the course (typically 25%).  The student will then receive a RA appointment (funded by either the Department or PI depending on the student’s year in the PhD program) to total a 50% assistantship appointment for the quarter.
    • Courses requiring a 50% appointment (20 hours/week, BIO 40, 60 and 80 series courses) - In the quarter the student is engaging in optional teaching, they will be paid by the Department of Biology at the department’s 50% Mentor Teaching Assistant (TF) rate.  
  • Students normally paid via fellowship stipend 
    • Courses requiring a 25% appointment (10 hours/week) or lower - Students on fellowships (e.g. NSF, SGF, etc.) are eligible to TA courses requiring a 25% appointment (10 hours/week) or lower.  In the quarter the student is engaging in optional teaching, they will be paid by the Department of Biology at the department’s Mentor Teaching Assistant (TF) rate for the effort required by the course (typically 25%).  
    • Courses requiring a 50% appointment (20 hours/week, BIO 40, 60 and 80 series courses) - Students on fellowship are only allowed to take on a maximum additional 25% TA/TF appointment.  If a student wants to TA a course requiring 50% effort, they must defer the fellowship for a quarter. They will then be paid by the Department of Biology at the department’s 50% Mentor Teaching Assistant (TF) rate in the quarter they are engaging in optional teaching.

Note: Annual University funding rates (CA, RA, TA, TF, etc.) can be found at gfs.stanford.edu. 

Occasionally students want to co-teach a course with an instructor or design a new course.  To pursue these opportunities, teaching requirements must already be completed and students must have written approval from their advisor to teach and/or design a class. Specifically, students interested in designing a course should see staff in the Student Services Office 3 to 6 months in advance of possibly offering the course.  The Department does not currently have funds budgeted to compensate students who wish to develop and teach their own course.  Though financial compensation is not available, course development is a beneficial aspect of doctoral training. 

Graduate students who wish to design and teach a course should work with a faculty sponsor in the department and follow departmental policies and guidelines.  Faculty sponsors are expected to guide graduate student instructors in pedagogy and they accept overall responsibility for the academic quality of the course, including instruction and evaluation.  Examples of Biology courses developed by graduate students include BIO 133 (Network analysis for community ecology and conservation research), BIO 121/221 (Ornithology), and BIO 114 (bioBUDS - Building Up Developing Scientists: Science In & Beyond the Lab).  

Outreach and Service

Service and outreach are important activities for PhD level professionals.  Such activities provide students opportunities to more broadly impact society through science and to establish communication and leadership skills.  As a department, we acknowledge the importance of contributing time and effort towards service and outreach and support students as they define activities through which they serve communities inside and outside of academia.  To encourage these efforts, we encourage students to include a brief description of their efforts in service and outreach during their annual committee meetings (through their annual report and/or presentation) and we now include a question on annual committee meeting forms that ask committee members to reflect on the efforts of students in these areas.

Service and outreach can take a variety of forms depending upon the student’s interests and career goals including, but not limited to: 

  • Serving on a Department or University committee
  • Tutoring or mentoring students, at any educational level
  • Working with a local non-governmental organization (NGO) on a community-based project
  • Volunteering in an outward facing clinic or public health activity
  • Leading field trips for under-served school groups or camps.
  • Communications (e.g. creating openly available media in writing or film, etc, about your research provided to the broader local community)
  • Policy advocacy (e.g. preparing briefs, communicating with lawmakers, writing public comments) 
  • Students are encouraged to engage in one or more service projects during their PhD. We are not recommending a specific hours requirement—the student should simply work with their committee to design a service activity that suits their career path and contributes to a track record of service and initiative. 

Pre-Doctoral NSF Fellowship Applications

All eligible first year Ph.D. students are required to apply for a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF). Students must forward to Student Services a copy of the confirmation email to confirm that they’ve applied. Typically the application deadline is in late October/early November. Please see the NSF website for deadlines: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/Login.do.

Students may request a one-year deferment from submitting their NSF GRFP application to the DGS. Permission to defer must be accompanied by the expressed written consent of the faculty mentor working with the student on the proposal. Valid reasons for deferment include: inadequate preparation for field of study based on undergraduate studies or substantial personal hardship. If a deferment is approved, an NSF GRFP application must be submitted the following year.

All students are encouraged to apply for any/all fellowships for which they are eligible. Students are encouraged to consult their faculty advisors when preparing fellowship applications.

Eligible Eco/Evo students will discuss with the First Year Advising Committee whether to apply for the NSF fellowship in the first year or the second year. For Eco/Evo students, this decision will be made together with the First Year Advising Committee and communicated to the SSO and DGS.

Admission to Candidacy

All students must advance to candidacy by the end of their second year. This is contingent upon satisfactory completion of course work, teaching and the dissertation proposal. If a student does not meet the requirements for advancing to candidacy by the end of the second year, the student is subject to dismissal from the Ph.D. program. PLEASE NOTE: Prior to candidacy, at least 3 units of work must be taken with each of four Stanford faculty members. Three units of work can include lectures, labs, seminars, teaching, research, directed readings, and independent study. Please see the university’s policy on candidacy in the Bulletin at http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#doctoraltext.

The university form required for admission to candidacy is available online at: https://stanford.app.box.com/v/appcanddoct. The dissertation proposal requirement must be completed before the Application to Candidacy for Doctoral Degree can be approved. Please see the university’s policy on candidacy in the Bulletin at http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#doctoraltext.

Publishable Manuscript

In order to graduate, students must have one publishable manuscript or paper to which they have been the major contributor. Students are not required to have the manuscript already published in order to graduate; however, the paper must be ready for submission for publication.

Dissertation Defense and Dissertation Submission

The conferral of the Ph.D. is dependent upon successful completion of an oral exam and dissertation submission, along with completion of all other departmental and university requirements. The Department of Biology requires students to finish their PhD within 5.5 years. Students are required to complete their defense and submit their dissertation no later than the end of Winter Quarter of their 6th year. The oral exam is a public seminar followed by a closed session with the student’s Oral Examination Committee. At least 30 days before the oral exam, a substantial final draft of the dissertation must be turned in to the student’s Oral Examination Committee. The student should check in with the committee and incorporate any changes by the time of the exam. The exam cannot be formally scheduled or publicly announced until the student receives approval from the committee. The student should, however, start scheduling a date and time with the committee earlier than that, to ensure that everyone is available on the projected date. The dissertation presented at the defense is expected to be in the final form that will be submitted to the university barring any changes suggested by the student’s committee at the defense. University guidelines for dissertations are available online at: http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/registrar/students/dissertation-thesis. For more detailed University policies regarding these two requirements please see the Bulletin at http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#doctoraltext.

Dissertation Reading Committee

Students must have at least three faculty members serve on their Dissertation Reading Committee (the department recommends that students select four) who read and certify their dissertation. The Dissertation Reading Committee consists of the principal dissertation advisor and at least two other readers. At least one member must be from the Department of Biology (ideally two members). The Dissertation Reading Committee is generally composed of members who will serve on the Oral Examination Committee. The majority of committee members must be on the Stanford University Academic Council. Students must formally name the members of the Dissertation Reading Committee by the time TGR registration status is reached. For more detailed University policies regarding these requirements please see the Bulletin at http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#doctoraltext.

The Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form must be submitted to the Student Services Office at the end of your second year in the program with your Candidacy form.

University Oral Examination

The University Oral Examination is a requirement for the Ph.D. degree. The purpose of the examination is to test the candidate's command of the field of study and to confirm competence for scholarly pursuits. The examination should be taken as soon as the dissertation is in its final draft and has been provisionally approved by the student's Dissertation Reading Committee. Students must be registered, have advanced to candidacy and have a Dissertation Reading Committee form on file in the Student Services Office during the quarter in which the University Oral Examination is taken.

University Oral Examination Committee

The University Oral Examination Committee consists of at least five members (four examiners and a university chair from a department outside of biology). At least three of the four examiners must be Stanford Academic Council members (this does not include the outside chair). A fourth examiner who is not an Academic Council member may be appointed to the University Oral Examination Committee if that person contributes an area of expertise not readily available from the Stanford faculty. Such appointments require approval by the Department Chair prior to scheduling the oral examination. Students must petition the chair using the Petition for Doctoral Committee Members form.

The student, with the assistance of his/her faculty advisor, is responsible for locating a university chair to serve on the University Oral Examination Committee. The university chair of the committee must be a member of the Stanford Academic Council, and may be a Professor Emeritus. The chair may not have a full or joint appointment in biology. However, the chair may have a courtesy appointment in biology. Lastly, the chair may be from the same department as other outside members of the committee.

The University Oral Examination form must be completed, signed and delivered to the Student Services Office at least two weeks before the examination date. Candidates are required to give each member of their oral examination committee a copy of their dissertation at least one month before the scheduled defense date.

Many potential scheduling problems can be avoided if the date of the examination and the committee membership (including the chair) are fixed as far in advance as possible. It is the responsibility of the student to be sure that these arrangements are made in a timely fashion. If a student is having difficulty with scheduling they should contact student services for assistance and guidance. Faculty should make every effort to adhere to arrangements once they have been made.

For more detailed university policies regarding these requirements please see the Bulletin at http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#doctoraltext.

Students must schedule the exam with their committee members and request a room from the staff in the Student Services Office. Further instructions about scheduling the exam are available at the Student Services Office.


The Ph.D. dissertation is expected to be an original contribution to scholarship or scientific knowledge. It must follow the specific written format determined by the university. It is the student’s responsibility to review and follow all information and directions for writing and submitting the dissertation. Advanced graduate students should be sure to read the Directions for Preparing Doctoral Dissertations (https://registrar.stanford.edu/students/dissertation-and-thesis-submission) 6-12 months before planning to defend and submit the dissertation. The university will not accept the dissertation unless the formatting and submission steps are followed exactly.

Once the oral examination is passed and the written dissertation is completed, the dissertation must be filed with the university along with copyright paperwork. The dissertation and accompanying paperwork must be submitted by the deadlines posted in the university calendar. These deadlines are strictly enforced. All deadlines, instructions and resources for submitting the dissertation can be found at https://registrar.stanford.edu/students/dissertation-and-thesis-submission.

Conferral of Degrees and Spring Commencement

Students must apply to graduate online via Axess for degree conferral. In Axess, select the “Student Center” tab, select “Apply to Graduate.” Follow the directions given, being careful to complete your application accurately. You must save your application once completed.

Commencement ceremonies are held each June for students who have received degrees in the previous Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters. Students who wish to receive their diplomas in-person at June commencement must designate this in Axess when applying to graduate. Information about commencement activities and distribution of diplomas is posted on line: http://commencement.stanford.edu/. Information about the departmental ceremony will be sent to students by the Student Services Office. In addition, students who will graduate during Summer Quarter or the following Autumn Quarter are also eligible to attend the June ceremony. Students who are interested in attending need to contact student services in order to be listed in the ceremony program.

Laboratory Safety Training

All biology lab personnel are required, under regulations from various governmental agencies, to be trained in laboratory safety pertaining to their lab. During orientation, each new graduate student is required to attend the scheduled health and safety training session. Prior to working in the lab, new students are required to complete a number of Stanford University Environmental Health & Safety training courses online and any specialized classroom training that is required for the lab they will be entering. The department’s safety officer will give a general safety overview and provide a Safety Training Certificate form, outlining the required and suggested courses for each student.

Required courses may include but are not limited to some of the following:

  • General Safety & Emergency Preparedness
  • Chemical Safety for Labs
  • Biosafety
  • Ergonomics
  • Radiation Safety
  • Laser Safety
  • Compressed Gas Safety
  • DOT: Shipping Biological Goods or Dry Ice

In most labs, the Lab Safety Coordinator is responsible to see that every person entering the laboratory has completed the safety training. In labs with no Lab Safety Coordinator, the Principal Investigator (P.I.) is responsible for health and safety training.

Every laboratory has a Stanford Safety Manual, which describes the Health and Safety program at Stanford, and the Emergency Response Plan for the department. Reference materials can be found on the EH&S website with a list of training videos and journals. There are CD-ROMs containing Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and the Hazardous Waste Training Program available in the Falconer Biology Library. 

Additional training is required when students begin to use protocols involving radioactivity and or animals. Students who may be using radioisotopes must also attend the university’s radiation safety course and pass the radiation safety examination. Arrangements to take this class are made through the Health Physics Division of the Department of Environmental Health and Safety. Students involved with animals may be required to take additional safety training.

Individual Development Plan and Annual Planning Meetings

All Biosciences PhD candidates and their faculty mentors in the Schools of Medicine and H&S are required to create and discuss their Individual Development Plan (IDP) by August 1st of that academic year.

The IDP and annual planning meeting with the advisor are intended to help the student:

  • Take ownership of their training and professional development.
  • Pause and reflect! Amidst daily research activities, it is easy to lose sight of longer-term goals.
  • Think intentionally about their short-, mid- and long-term training and development goals.
  • Identify and use resources to help them achieve your goals.
  • Have open and direct dialogue with their mentor(s).
  • Establish clear expectations/steps.

Students and their advisors share responsibility for completing the IDP. Failure to comply with IDP requirements will negatively impact Stanford's ability to receive NIH funding; and incur a hold on student registration that prevents stipends from being funded.

IDP Process and Deadlines

  1. Schedule your annual mentoring meeting with your advisor by June 1.
  2. Download and complete the appropriate IDP form; it will prompt you to assess your skills and progress, set developmental goals and identify any training needs.
  3. Hold the meeting with your advisor by August 1 to discuss your IDP, review progress, set goals 
  4. Verify by August 1 that you have met and discussed your IDP with your advisor in Graduate Student Tracking (GST) at https://med.stanford.edu/gst/.

See http://biosciences.stanford.edu/current/idp/ for more information and IDP forms, including extensive FAQs and resources for both faculty and student.

Administrative Information

Satisfactory Degree Progress

The university’s requirements for satisfactory degree progress for graduate students are found in the Bulletin at http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#degreeprogresstext.

In addition, the department requires satisfactory and timely completion of each year’s general and track specific requirements. Students are required to complete and submit all track specific requirements by the designated deadline (including, but not limited to, committee meeting forms, lab rotation evaluation forms, TA evaluation forms, etc.). Students are required to pass all courses in which they are enrolled and earn a grade of B- or better in all courses applicable to the degree that are taken for a letter grade. Faculty continue to assess academic progress throughout a student’s academic career to ensure timely progress towards the degree and satisfactory completion of the program’s requirements and to ensure that the student is receiving constructive feedback and connected to resources.

Students not making satisfactory degree progress are subject to departmental academic review and or dismissal from the program. In cases where a student is subject to dismissal, the department will follow the Guidelines for Dismissal of Graduate Students for Academic Reasons found in the Bulletin at http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#degreeprogresstext.


All students in the Ph.D. program are required to register Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters. All students must register for exactly 10 units each quarter until they advance to Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status (135 units) unless otherwise instructed by the department.

Access to Stanford student privileges (housing, financial aid, access to courses and facilities, etc.) is contingent upon timely and accurate completion of these primary activities each term

  1. Quarterly registration for courses on-line via Axess; minimum of 10 units of courses and/or research.
  2. Updating contact information in Axess.

3. Payment of university bill. The department pays for tuition and Cardinal Care; students are responsible for other costs.

  1. Completing and confirming a final study list by the university’s quarterly deadline (study list = courses/units in which the student wishes to enroll).

Deadlines are set for each of these activities. These deadlines can be found on the login page on Axess. Deadlines include: submission of the study list, dropping or adding courses or units, selecting credit/no credit (CR/NC) grading instead of letter grading for a course, withdrawing from a course, etc. Students who fail to meet the above deadlines will be responsible for paying any associated late fees.

All students are strongly encouraged to read and keep as a reference the Stanford Bulletin which is available online: http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu

Additions of Degree Programs

Stanford University permits currently matriculated graduate students to petition to change add a new degree program without going through an external application process. If a student is considering adding a second degree program they are required to do so with enough time that they can complete the secondary program before they are eligible to register for Terminal Graduate Registration status. More information about Policy and procedures are described here.

Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR)

TGR is a full-time student status and comes with a lower tuition rate which acknowledges that formal course work is no longer needed because the student's main activity will be dissertation research. TGR status is granted once the following requirements are satisfied: advancement to candidacy, completion of all required courses and degree requirements and accrual of 135 units.

The Student Services Office will notify students when they become eligible for TGR. Students must complete the following forms prior to the start of the quarter in which they become eligible for TGR (typically Spring Quarter of the 4th year):

  • Request for TGR Status form
  • Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form

All TGR students must enroll in BIO 802 or BIOHOPK/OCEANS 802H for zero units, by selecting their primary advisor’s section. Course work is no longer considered necessary during this advanced stage of study; however, students are allowed to take 1-3 units during TGR quarters if they choose to. Talk to the staff in the Student Services Office to inquire about this.

Continuous Registration

Graduate students are required by the Department to register for Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters each year until the degree is conferred. Unregistered students will not receive university or department funds, have university paperwork processed, be eligible to take the university oral examination or be able to fulfill any other university requirements.


Participation in internships requires approval from the student’s advisor because the student will likely take time away from their academic work. Students must discuss their internship intent and plans with their advisor and explain what they will be doing, how it will benefit their training, and their plan for accomplishing their academic goals once they return to the lab. Such a discussion will be mutually beneficial for the student and advisor to set expectations and get guidance from their advisor on how to pursue their academic goals.

The student must email student services their internship plan and cc the advisor. The email should include internship dates, if it’s a paid and if the work will be directly related to their dissertation or if it is a professional development opportunity. Students are required to inform the Student Services Office immediately of their internship plan and may be required to complete necessary forms, such as a Leave of Absence Form.

Leave of Absence

In circumstances where continuous enrollment is not possible, students may request a suspension of their enrollment by means of a leave of absence. Graduate students must request a formal leave of absence from their advisor and the department chair, and the agreement must be provided to the staff in the Student Services Office. Except in the case of pregnancy or parental leaves, the granting of a leave of absence is at the discretion of the department and subject to review for approval by the Office of the Registrar. Leaves of absence are granted for a maximum of one calendar year, or four quarters. An extension of leave, for a maximum of one year or four quarters, is approved only in unusual circumstances. Extension requests must be made before the expiration of the original leave of absence. Leaves of absence for graduate students may not exceed a cumulative total of two years (eight quarters including Summer quarters).  Students are not registered and therefore do not have the rights and privileges of registered students.

Graduate students on a leave of absence do not receive any financial support from the department. Renewed financial support from the department cannot be guaranteed in the event of an extended leave of absence. Students should consult with student services staff, if considering this option; staff will discuss administrative resources, impacts, etc.

To request a leave of absence, students must initiate the Leave Absence form in Axess and route it for approval. Additional information and policies regarding leaves of absence can be found in the University Bulletin, http://exploredegrees.stanford.edu/graduatedegrees/#leavereinstatementtext.

Responsibility for Grading

Grading (letter grades, student-elected credit/no credit (CR/NC), or satisfactory/no credit (S/NC) options) for research work within the department should be discussed between the graduate student and the research advisors in whose labs they work.

Students are responsible for making sure grades are reported. If asterisks (*), incomplete grades (I), grade not reported (GNR) or No Credits (NC) appear on the end quarter grade report; students should check with their instructor immediately. The Student Services Office can assist students in clearing up missing and incomplete grades by forwarding the appropriate instructions and/or university forms to course instructors. Please contact instructors in a timely manner to ensure that grades are submitted.

Academic Accommodation - Office of Accessible Education

Students are encouraged to seek out and utilize campus resources that support health and wellness. Stanford offers diverse resources including recreation facilities and activity courses, community and academic events, contemplation spaces and programs, public service opportunities, resources for families, and other resources that support physical and mental health.

The Office of Accessible Education (OAE) supports students with disabilities, providing a wide array of support services, academic accommodations, and programs. The department is fully committed to supporting students with disabilities and providing academic accommodations as recommended by OAE.

Students with academic accommodations should provide course instructors with a copy of the OAE letter at the start of each quarter; academic accommodation will not be granted in the absence of such a letter.

Community Standards

Honor Code

https://communitystandards.stanford.edu/student-conduct-process/honor-code-and-fundamental- standard#honor-c ode

The Honor Code is the University's statement on academic integrity written by students in 1921. It articulates University expectations of students and faculty in establishing and maintaining the highest standards in academic work:

The Honor Code is an undertaking of the students, individually and collectively:

that they will not give or receive aid in examinations; that they will not give or receive unpermitted aid in class work, in the preparation of reports, or in any other work that is to be used by the instructor as the basis of grading;

that they will do their share and take an active part in seeing to it that others as well as themselves uphold the spirit and letter of the Honor Code.

The faculty on its part manifests its confidence in the honor of its students by refraining from proctoring examinations and from taking unusual and unreasonable precautions to prevent the forms of dishonesty mentioned above. The faculty will also avoid, as far as practicable, academic procedures that create temptations to violate the Honor Code.

While the faculty alone has the right and obligation to set academic requirements, the students and faculty will work together to establish optimal conditions for honorable academic work.

Examples of conduct that have been regarded as being in violation of the Honor Code include:

  • Copying from another’s examination paper or allowing another to copy from one’s own paper
  • Unpermitted collaboration
  • Plagiarism
  • Revising and resubmitting a quiz or exam for re-grading, without the instructor’s knowledge and consent
  • Giving or receiving unpermitted aid on a take-home examination
  • Representing as one’s own work the work of another
  • Giving or receiving aid on an academic assignment under circumstances in which a reasonable person should have known that such aid was not permitted

To learn more about citation styles, visit: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/programs/pwr/resources/documentation-and-citation- resources-writers.

In recent years, most student disciplinary cases have involved Honor Code violations; of these, the most frequent arise when a student submits another’s work as his/her own, or gives or receives unpermitted aid. The standard penalty for a first offense includes a one-quarter suspension from the University and 40 hours of community service. In addition, most faculty members issue a "No Pass" or "No Credit" for the course in which the violation occurred. The standard penalty for multiple violations (e.g. cheating more than once in the same course) is a three-quarter suspension and 40 or more hours of community service.

Fundamental Standard

https://communitystandards.stanford.edu/student-conduct-process/honor-code-and-fundamental- standard#fundamental-standard

The Fundamental Standard has set the standard of conduct for students at Stanford since 1896. It states: Students at Stanford are expected to show both within and without the University such respect for order, morality, personal honor and the rights of others as is demanded of good citizens. Failure to do this will be sufficient cause for removal from the University.

Over the years, the Fundamental Standard has been applied to a great variety of situations. Actions that have been found to be in violation of it include:

  • Physical Assault
  • Property damage; attempts to damage University property
  • Theft, including theft of University property such as street signs, furniture and library books
  • Forgery, such as signing an instructor’s signature to a grade change card
  • Sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct
  • Charging computer time or long distance telephone calls to unauthorized accounts
  • Misrepresentation in seeking financial aid, University housing, discount computerpurchases or other University benefits
  • Misuse of University computer equipment or e-mail
  • Driving on campus while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Sending threatening and obscene messages to another student via e-mail, phone or voice-mail

There is no standard penalty that applies to violations of the Fundamental Standard. Infractions have led to penalties ranging from formal warning and community service to expulsion. In each case, the nature and seriousness of the offense, the motivation underlying the offense and precedent in similar cases are considered.

Explanations for both of the Honor Code and the Fundamental Standard were taken from the website for the Office of Community Standards. For more information about the Honor Code and the Fundamental Standard, please visit: https://communitystandards.stanford.edu/.


As detailed in the Bulletin (Guidelines for Addressing Graduate Student Professional Conduct), there are expectations for graduate students as they prepare to be responsible members of professional communities.

Graduate students are expected to meet standards of professional behavior, including: being present on campus to meet the academic and research expectations of the school or department; communicating in a timely, respectful and professional manner; complying with institutional policies and procedures; and participating appropriately in the program’s community. Graduate students are expected to familiarize themselves with applicable University policies and degree program requirements. Failure to meet these standards may be grounds for dismissal.


Per University policy, email to a student’s Stanford email account will be presumed to have been received and read by the student (Notification/Obligation to Read Email).

Community Standards Resources

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with relevant University policies and procedures. Here are five helpful policy sources:

Because it can be difficult to locate specific policies and procedures, students are encouraged to contact the Student Services Office staff whenever they have questions.

Reporting Concerns and Grievances

There are multiple places for students and Stanford community members to report concerns and/or file grievances.  Pathways to navigate particular grievances and outcomes depend on factors specific to each case.  

There is no one right answer about where to start; the important thing is to seek guidance.  If you are not sure where to start, the Biology Student Services Office or Graduate Life Office are great first steps and other important resources are listed below if you would prefer to start there.  

Grievance Reporting

  • Academic: A Stanford graduate student who believes that they have been subject to an improper decision on an academic matter (anything related to degree progress) may file a grievance pursuant to the Student Academic Grievance Procedure
  • Non-Academic Grievances: Students should review the Non-Academic Grievance Procedure for a list of all current university policies. We recommend you begin by talking to a Graduate Life Office Dean, Student Services Officer, or confidential resource if you have questions about a non-academic grievance.  
  • ADA / Section 504 Grievances: For students who believe that they have been subjected to unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability, or denied access to services or accommodations required by law, see the ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer, Diversity and Access Office, Kingscote Gardens, 419 Lagunita Drive, Suite 130, Stanford, CA 94305-8550; (650) 723-0755 (voice), (650) 723-1791 (fax), equal.opportunity [at] stanford.edu (equal[dot]opportunity[at]stanford[dot]edu) (email); see also the Office for Accessible Education (OAE) website.
  • An individual whose matter has been substantially addressed through one of Stanford’s grievance procedures (including but not limited to the Student Academic Grievance Procedure, the Student ADA/Section 504 Grievance Procedure, the Grievance Resolution Procedure for Postdoctoral Scholars, the Student-Athlete Grievance Procedure, or the Student Non-Academic Grievance Procedure) may not raise and seek redress of the same matter under a different Stanford grievance procedure. The University retains discretion to determine when a matter has been substantially addressed.
  • SHARE (Sexual Harassment / Assault Response & Education) Title IX Office: The Title IX Office collaborates with the Stanford community to stop, prevent, and remedy interpersonal violence and gender-based discrimination through education, culture change, accountability, and empowerment. They offer options and resources to all students affected by these issues and are committed to providing a fair, thorough, and prompt investigation and adjudication process.

Confidential Resources

Financial Aid

General Policy

Students will receive funding from a variety of sources (fellowships, training grants, department, faculty, etc.) for a maximum of 5.5 years. All funding is contingent upon satisfactory progress toward degree completion. Students in the Ph.D. program are provided with a stipend/salary, tuition, and health insurance for four academic quarters each year. Departmental financial and/or other sources are used to fund students through three years and three quarters of study after which the student’s dissertation research advisor is responsible for his/her financial support. Any outside funding a student receives will be used to supplement departmental funding.

Pre-Doctoral Fellowships

All eligible first year Ph.D. students are required to apply for a National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowship unless explicit consent is given by the DGS. The application deadline is typically early November. Please see the NSF website for deadlines: https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/Login.do. Students in their third year and beyond are strongly encouraged to apply for other fellowships for which you are eligible. These include (but are not limited to) the NIH NRSA, Bio-X, DoD NDSEG, SIGF and DARE fellowships.

While the department guarantees funding for all of our students who are in good standing, applying for fellowships is an important part of your graduate training. It not only develops your scientific (and grant) writing skills, but can also assist in further clarifying the aims of your research project. Whether you choose a career in industry or academia, these skills will also be transferable to your chosen field. Finally, receiving additional graduate fellowships adds prestige to your CV and makes you more marketable to employers upon graduation.

Students are encouraged to consult their faculty advisors when preparing fellowship applications. The Financial Aid Office in Montag Hall has a complete listing of other possible fellowships. In addition, Stanford Bioscience has resources including a list of available fellowships on their website, http://biosciences.stanford.edu/current/grants-fellowships/graduate-fellowships.html.

To stay updated on workshops and fellowship deadlines, join the Biosciences fellowship mailing list: https://mailman.stanford.edu/mailman/listinfo/fellowship-mentoring/.

Notification of Support

Continuing students will receive a financial support letter at the beginning of Autumn Quarter that states the type and amount of funding for each new academic year. This information will include the schedule for payment (quarterly, bi-weekly or a combination of both) and the enrollment deadline by which each student must register for classes each quarter.

Funding Levels

All Ph.D. students supported by department or university funds receive the stipend/salary amount established by the Committee on Graduate Admissions and Policies (CGAP) for the fourteen degree programs in the Biosciences.

Direct Deposit and Billing Information

Axess (http://axess.stanford.edu) is the primary link for funding information and other sites relevant to a student’s academic career at Stanford. After receiving a SUNet ID, students visit Axess to securely enroll in direct deposit, view pay statements and declare state and federal tax withholding allowances.

Bill Notification and Payment

It is Stanford University’s policy to furnish timely and accurate billing information as well as effective payment options to students and authorized payers. Billing and payment services are delivered electronically through Stanford’s online billing and payment service Stanford ePay.

Bill notification is sent to each student’s Stanford email address as recorded in Axess. All students with balances will receive a bill notification via Stanford ePay.

Charges and credits from university departments are aggregated in a student's individual account and presented on the university bill in Stanford ePay. The Stanford University bill is made up of three sections: charges, payments/disbursed aid/other and anticipated aid.


Charges are the primary component of the university bill. Charges are compiled from various offices and departments and placed on the bill. Examples of charges a student may see on the university bill:

  • Tuition fees. These charges depend on the number of units taken. The Department of Biology will process payments for tuition fees (not to exceed the 10 unit tuition rate).
  • Housing, room and dining charges. These fees are charged by Residential & Dining Enterprises. Other housing charges may include early arrival fees, repair fees and termination of occupancy fees. The Department of Biology does NOT cover housing costs. If a student would like to have housing costs deducted from their paycheck it is the student’s responsibility to set up the deductions. For more information on payroll deductions please see


  • Health Insurance (Cardinal Care) fee. All registered students are automatically enrolled in Cardinal Care Insurance at the beginning of each quarter. The Department of Biology will pay Cardinal Care for each student.
  • Campus Health Services fee. This fee supports many of the services provided by Vaden Health Center and is mandatory for all undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Stanford. The services provided by Vaden Health Center are not covered by health insurance (Cardinal Care) fees. The Department of Biology is not permitted to pay this fee directly; however, the amount of the fee is added to each student’s stipend/salary to cover the cost

Health Care for Hopkins-Biology Students

Hopkins-Biology  students will receive funding from the Department of Biology to cover the Campus Health Services Fee (CHSF) each quarter.

Though the University does not allow departments to cover the CHSF directly, we have increased your stipend/salary level to account for this quarterly fee ($241 per quarter during the 2022-2023 academic year). NOTE - You must pay the quarterly CHSF through your University Bill.

  • If you know that you will not need to access the Vaden Health Center at all during the coming academic year, please email Student Services and we will help you enable the CHSF exemption.

Payments, Disbursed Aid and Other

The payment section of the university bill shows all payments and disbursed financial aid applied to the student account. Payments made via cash, paper checks, eCheck, wire and credit card will reduce the amount shown in the “Charges” section. Most disbursed financial aid will reduce the charges on the university bill. However, in some cases, disbursed aid will go directly to the student in the form of a stipend. Overpayments and stipends are given to the student in the form of a check (mailed directly to the address listed in Axess) or direct deposit.

Anticipated Aid

Anticipated aid is defined as any grants, scholarships, stipends, fellowships, or student loans and other aid which has not yet been applied to the charges on the university bill; it allows students and authorized payers to calculate what they need to pay to satisfy the bill. Anticipated aid is not always the amount of aid a student may receive. It is an estimate of what MAY be received. Before the term begins, Anticipated Aid shows what aid will be applied to the bill after the student enrolls at least half-time, including what aid will apply.


Current U.S. regulations for taxation of graduate student funding are as follows:

  • For degree-seeking students, the tuition portion of fellowships and assistantships is exempt from tax.
  • Fellowship stipends and assistantship salaries are subject to tax. The amount of tax varies according to the student’s total income, dependency status, treaty status for international students and individual circumstances.
  • Assistantship salaries are subject to tax withholding.
  • Tax is not withheld from fellowship stipends paid to U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents. Students are responsible for making any estimated tax payments.
  • Fellowship stipends paid to international students are subject to a 14% withholding, regardless of the number of dependents.
  • International students may be eligible for tax exemption on fellowship stipends and/or assistantship salaries if their country of residence has an existing tax treaty with the U.S.
  • The cost of fees, books, supplies and equipment required for a course of study may be claimed as a tax deduction. In some instances, expenses for conference attendance and fieldwork may also be deducted.
  • Students will receive a W-2 form covering Stanford salaries, including assistantships. They will not receive a tax statement of fellowship stipends.

Other Funding Resources

  • Graduate Cash Advance – Helps graduate students with expenses before their graduate financial support is posted to their student account and/or TA/RA salary is paid
  • Graduate Student Aid Fund – Assists with University fees (i.e., health services fee, health insurance)
  • Graduate Grant-in-Aid Funds – If graduate students experience an unexpected financial hardship (e.g., medical, legal), it is possible to apply for grant-in-aid (small grants, not loans)
  • Financial Aid Office – Information and application forms for federally subsidized student loans
  • 1:1 Financial Coaching – Mind Over Money’s 1:1 financial coaching program provides students with the opportunity to share their personal financial circumstance with university-trusted individuals and explore ideas and build skills
  • Graduate Housing Loan – assists with move-in costs for off-campus housing
  • Opportunity Fund – assistance with expenses (including conference travel) for diversity and first-generation students
  • Biosciences Travel Grant Program – defray conference fees including registration, travel, lodging, and food
  • Student Budget – provides estimated expenses
  • Bechtel – provides information on on-campus employment, CPT, OPT, internships and tax information for international students
  • Student Financial Services – provides information about the bill, tax information, third party sponsor invoicing, etc.
  • Mind Over Money – free online literacy tool

Committees and Departmental Activities

Departmental Committees

Committees composed of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate student representatives govern most operational functions of the department.

Biology Department Student Representatives (DSR): The department graduate student representatives coordinates the election of student committee members. They handle complaints, concerns, suggestions or requests from students and channel them to the proper department representatives. DSRs typically serve a two year term and lead an annual town hall meeting where graduate students volunteer for committees.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee: a departmental committee to address issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion 

Graduate Admissions Committee: Coordinates the evaluation of graduate application files, meets to rank and make offers of admission to candidates and works to achieve departmental and university diversity goals. This committee is active from December through March.

Graduate Studies Committee: Reviews and monitors graduate curriculum, requirements, admissions and financial aid policies and graduate student processes and procedures.

Ph.D. Interview Visit: Students assist staff in the Student Services Office with the three-day visit in late February/early March. Responsibilities include recruiting student hosts, scheduling social events and eating free food.

Orientation/BioPOP Committee: Students help staff in the Student Services Office with activities related to new student orientation for the incoming Ph.D. students.

Seminar Committee: Selects and invites speakers for the department seminar. The Committee also coordinates housing accommodations for visiting speakers.

Mentorship Committee: This group is responsible for establishing mentorship pairs for all 1st year students and facilitate several opportunities for mentorship development in the program


The department's seminar series is scheduled on Mondays from 4:00p.m - 5:30 p.m. in Clark Center Auditorium. Hopkins seminars and colloquia are held in the Boat House at the Marine Station on Fridays at noon. Outside speakers, departmental faculty and other university faculty present their own research at these seminars. Both seminar series are considered an integral part of the Ph.D. program and graduate students are expected to attend the seminars relevant to their area of specialization.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Plant Biology, is associated with the Department of Biology and located on the Stanford campus. The Institution offers a weekly plant biology seminar on Fridays at 4:00 p.m. Students should call (650) 325-1521 to be placed on the Carnegie mailing list. University seminar dates are posted on the bulletin board outside the department's main office. Check the Stanford Report for other special lectures held annually.


Social Activities

Graduate students in the department organize various social activities both related and unrelated to research. Think & Drink is held every Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Bass 122. CMOB students, postdocs and faculty present their research followed by drinks and snacks. Ecology and Evolution Happy Hour is every Friday at 4:00 p.m. on the 2nd floor of the Bass Biology Building. It’s an informal gathering of the ecology and evolution labs of the department to discuss current research.

The Graduate Student Seminar is an exclusive opportunity for Biology graduate students to present their research to a forum of peers every 3rd Wednesday of the month at 5:30pm. The seminar brings students across the department together each month in an informal setting in which they can hear about their peers' ongoing research, give critical feedback to strengthen each other’s work, and to enjoy some snacks, drinks and socializing among Biology peers. It serves to provide an avenue for feedback on one's own project, as well as to help the audience hone critical thinking skills and broaden their perspectives through the diversity of research done by the Biology department.

Students are encouraged to inquire about other activities (lunches, seminars, etc.) from graduate students in similar fields of interest.

Requesting Department Funds

Programs and activities planned specifically for Biology Department students may request department funding annually through this webform. Continuing programs/activities/committees from previous years will need to submit new requests and budgets for each new academic year. Requests need to be submitted with budgets and approved before any charges or reimbursements can be made. Once approved, the department will provide guidelines for making purchases, reimbursements, etc. An initial review date will be set in September each year, and all requests received after that date will be reviewed in the order that they are submitted until all funds have been utilized.

Biology E-mail Lists

Once admitted, students are automatically added to the department’s Ph.D. (biosciphd) email list. Students intrested in subscribing to other e-mail lists at Stanford for general announcements may do so by going https://itservices.stanford.edu/service/mailinglists/tools and searching for and selecting the link.

Students interested in receiving notifications about seminars on campus, can join bio-seminars. This is an open list meant to be used for electronic communications regarding seminars of potential interest to students, faculty, researchers, employees and other members of the Department of Biology.

These are open and public lists meant to be used for electronic communications. Normal network etiquette should be observed (e.g., no advertisements, no chain letters, etc.).

University Resources

Graduate Life Office http://glo.stanford.edu

Provides comprehensive and impartial guidance and information about all aspects of life as a graduate student. The Assistant Deans can help you with personal issues, roommate problems, family issues, health concerns, academic challenges, financial difficulties, etc.

Gateway for New Graduate Students - https://vpge.stanford.edu/gradgateway Find the resources you need to begin your graduate career at Stanford.

Academic Support & Policies


Confidential Resources

Family Life

Health and Wellness

International Students

Professional Development