Thank you for your interest in the 14 Biosciences PhD Programs at Stanford University! The online application for Autumn 2024-25 is now open.
The Stanford Biosciences Programs recognizes that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2023 about the consideration of certain types of demographic information as part of an admission review. All applications submitted during upcoming application cycles will be reviewed in conformance with that decision.
The Biosciences welcomes graduate applications from individuals with a broad range of life experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds who would contribute to our community of scholars. The review process is holistic and individualized, considering each applicant’s academic record and accomplishments, letters of recommendation, prior research experience, and admissions essays to understand how an applicant’s life experiences have shaped their past and potential contributions to their field and how they might enrich the learning community at Stanford.
Applying and Deadline
In addition to the information below and our FAQ page, please review the Graduate Admissions website and their FAQ page prior to starting your application. When you are ready to start your application, click here to Apply Now.
The 14 Stanford Biosciences PhD programs only accept applications once per year for the Autumn quarter entry only. The application deadline for Autumn 2024-25 is Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at 11:59:59 pm (PST). Late applications will not be accepted. Note: Knight-Hennessy Scholars applicants are required to submit their Stanford Biosciences PhD application by Friday, December 1, 2023, at 11:59:59 pm (PST).
The admissions committees of the 14 PhD programs will promptly begin to review applicant files the day following the application deadline. It is important that all of your application materials, including letters of recommendation, are submitted by the deadline. We cannot guarantee the review of any materials received after the deadline.
To check your application status, click here to Visit Your Status Page. There you will find the most current status of your application materials.
Eligibility for Admission
To be eligible for admission to graduate programs at Stanford, applicants must meet one of the following conditions:
- Applicants must hold, or expect to hold before enrollment at Stanford, a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association.
- Applicants from institutions outside the U.S. must hold, or expect to hold before enrollment at Stanford, the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing. See the Office of Graduate Admissions for the minimum level of study required of international applicants.
- A Master’s degree is only required if you do not meet the above eligibility requirements.
The majority of the 14 Biosciences PhD programs do not have specific course requirements for admission. The faculty like to see that you have taken a rigorous course load, but they will be particularly interested in your research experience. While many of our graduate students have undergraduate preparation in a life sciences curriculum, it is feasible to enter from other programs, including chemistry, computer science, mathematics, psychology, or physics.
The Biomedical Data Science, Biophysics, Molecular and Cellular Physiology, and Structural Biology programs have some course background requirements. We strongly recommend that you reach out to the programs to which you plan to apply, to ask for specific course requirements/suggestions.
Application Fee and Fee Waivers
The application fee is $125 and is non-refundable. You will be prompted to pay the application fee at the time you submit your application. The acceptable form of payment is via credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club) or bank transfer from a U.S. checking account. If you do not have a credit card then you should make arrangements with a family member or friend to use theirs. Checks by mail are not accepted.
Applicants who need assistance with the application fee are encouraged to apply for a fee waiver. Priority for fee waivers is given to applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. International applicants who need assistance with the application fee are eligible to apply for the School-Based fee waiver. For a complete list of fee waiver options and eligibility requirements, please visit the Graduate Admissions website.
Please note that fee waiver requests are required to be submitted 10 business days prior to the application deadline (Tuesday, December 5 at 11:59:59 pm PST); so please plan accordingly.
Home Program Selection and Faculty of Interest
Home Program Overview
The Biosciences program encourages students to explore research opportunities, carry out rotations, and choose dissertation research in any of the 14 Home Programs. Each student is admitted to a particular Home Program, which then provides a primary academic base. Your program selection should be based on the alignment of your interests with a program’s faculty, and the specifics of the program curriculum. Regardless of your Home Program, you have full access to faculty in all of the other Home Programs for laboratory rotations and potential thesis work. The Biosciences program at Stanford encourages students to explore research opportunities, do rotations, and eventually decide on dissertation research in any of the 14 Home Programs. Each student is admitted to a particular Home Program, which then provides the primary base for training during the first year. Please review the Home Program Overview web page carefully before making your Home Program Selection on your application.
Home Program Selection
When completing the “Program Selection” section of the application, you will be asked to select your primary Degree Program. In addition, you will also be able to select one alternative Home Program. Only select an additional program if you have a genuine interest in the field. Including a poorly matched program will not necessarily increase your chances of being accepted. You will be required to answer additional questions related to your Home Program selection(s) on the Supplemental Form. The information you provide in this section will help the Admissions Committee match you with the Home Program that seems most suited to your background and research interests.
Faculty of Interest
When completing the “Program Supplemental” section of the application, you will be required to submit a rank-ordered list of eight to twelve Biosciences faculty of interest to you. The majority should be in your primary Home Program. Being admitted through any individual Home Program allows you full access to faculty in all of the other Home Programs for laboratory rotations and potential thesis work. You will not need to secure a research supervisor prior to applying. For more information on faculty research interests, please visit the Biosciences Faculty database.
Statement of Purpose
Because each Home Program requires significant original research activities in fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD degree, the admissions committees are interested in obtaining as much information as possible about your previous research experiences. Those who already have such experience are in a better position to know whether they are truly interested in performing laboratory research as part of a graduate program. Please include specific information about your research experience in your Statement of Purpose. You may also use the Statement to amplify your comments about your choice of Home Program(s), and how your past experiences and current interests are related to your choice.
The Statement of Purpose should not exceed two pages in length, single-spaced, and font size 12. Make sure to set your computer to Western European or other English-language settings. We cannot guarantee the ability to access your statement if it is submitted in other fonts.
Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are required, but you may have up to four letters submitted on your behalf. As part of the online application, you will be required to register the names and contact information, including e-mail addresses, of your recommenders. Recommenders will then receive an e-mail with directions on how to proceed. All recommendations must be submitted using the online application system as recommenders are required to respond to specific evaluation questions on the recommendation form. Letters of recommendation cannot be mailed, emailed, faxed, or submitted through a letter service (with the exception of Interfolio). For letters submitted via Interfolio, please remember that letters written specifically for your Stanford graduate program tend to be stronger than letters written for general use purposes.
Please be sure that you ask for a recommendation from at least one individual who can address your potential for original and creative research. In most cases, that individual would be the person guiding your most recent research activities. It is very important that you contact your recommenders before submitting their information in the online application. You must choose whether or not to waive your right to see a recommendation. It may be that a recommender will not submit a recommendation if you have not waived the right to see it. This should be discussed in advance. Your choice will be transmitted to the recommender in the instructional email they will receive.
Transcripts (Academic Records)
When completing the “Academic History” section of the application, you will be asked to list and provide your unofficial transcript for every post-secondary institution where you were enrolled — or are currently enrolled — in an undergraduate or graduate degree program.
- Stanford considers unofficial transcripts to be sufficient for the review process. If you are offered admission to Stanford and accept the offer, you will be required to submit official transcripts/degree conferral documents. Please do not send or have sent any official transcripts to us or to your program.
- Your academic records should give detailed information on the content and quality of your performance, the courses you took each year, and the grades you received (including any legends/keys for the institution’s grading scale).
- If your institution does not issue records in English, you must submit original language records with official English translations. We accept translations issued by the institution or a professional translating service. Translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) - General Test and Subject Test
The GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test score requirements vary across the 14 Home Programs. Some programs have optional score submission, while others do not consider the scores in their review process. Please consult the table below for specific program GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test score requirements. For those programs with a listing of “Optional”, scores will be considered if submitted and may be helpful for applicants to complement their academic records, or for applicants with gaps or weaknesses in their academic records. For those programs with “Not Considered”, that admission committee will not have access to your self-reported or official GRE scores.
If you are reading this in early November, you should have already taken the GRE General Test and/or GRE Subject Test so that your scores can reach us by the application deadline. Since our initial reviews of all applications are virtually complete by mid-January, it is unlikely that scores from those who take the late November or December tests will reach us in time for adequate review.
Reporting Official Scores
Official scores must be reported directly to Stanford from Educational Testing Service (ETS). Stanford’s ETS institutional code is 4704. Individual department code numbers are not necessary. As long as the institutional code of 4704 is selected, the score will be electronically delivered to Stanford. Scores expire after five years and will not be available from ETS. The earliest valid test date is September 1, 2018. Any scores you self-report on the application are considered unofficial, but sufficient for the initial review process.
Please Note: It can take up to three weeks for Stanford to receive official GRE Test scores from ETS. Once received, scores are connected to your application in Stanford’s database after approximately seven business days from the date the online application is received. If after checking your application status you find that the test information is not received, contact the Biosciences Admissions Office.
|Home Program||GRE General Test||GRE Subject Test||GRE Subject Test Notes|
|Biochemistry||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Biology||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Biomedical Data Science||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Biophysics||Not Considered||Optional||GRE Subject Test optional in the area of Physics.|
|Cancer Biology||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Chemical and Systems Biology||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Developmental Biology||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Genetics||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Immunology||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Microbiology and Immunology||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Molecular and Cellular Physiology||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Neurosciences||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine||Not Considered||Not Considered|
|Structural Biology||Not Considered||Not Considered|
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) - Requirements, Exemptions, and Waiver Requests
If your first language is not English, you are required to submit an official test score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and earn at least the University minimum required TOEFL score to be eligible for admission.
- We accept the TOEFL iBT Home Edition and TOEFL iBT Paper Edition if you are unable to take the traditional TOEFL iBT test in a test center. If you take the Home Edition or Paper Edition, you may be required to complete additional English placement testing prior to enrollment.
- We do not accept TOEFL Essentials scores or any other English proficiency test (e.g., IELTS, PTE).
- The TOEFL Test must be taken prior to the application deadline to confirm your eligibility for admission.
Minimum TOEFL Requirements
- A minimum TOEFL score of 100.
- If you score below 109 on the TOEFL and you are admitted, you will likely be required to complete additional English placement testing prior to the start of classes.
Reporting Official Scores
Official scores must be reported directly to Stanford from Educational Testing Service (ETS). Stanford’s ETS institutional code is 4704. Individual department code numbers are not necessary. As long as the institutional code of 4704 is selected, the score will be electronically delivered to Stanford.
Scores expire after two years and will not be available from ETS. The earliest valid test date is September 1, 2021. Any scores you self-report on the application are considered unofficial but, sufficient for the initial review process.
We accept MyBest scores, which combine your highest section scores from all test dates within the last two years.
Please Note: It can take up to three weeks for Stanford to receive official TOEFL Test scores from ETS. Once received, scores are connected to your application in Stanford’s database after approximately seven business days from the date the online application is received. If after checking your application status you find that the test information is not received, contact the Biosciences Admissions Office.
You are exempt from submitting a TOEFL score if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You (will) have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a regionally-accredited college or university in the United States (excluding territories and possessions).
- You (will) have an equivalent degree from an English-language university in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, or the United Kingdom.
The online application will not require you to submit a TOEFL score if you meet one of the criteria listed above for an exemption.
U.S. citizenship does not automatically exempt you from taking the TOEFL if your first language is not English.
You may request a waiver in the online application if you (will) have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a recognized institution in a country other than Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom in which English was the language of instruction.
You will be asked to provide the following:
- Upload an official statement certifying that your program was taught exclusively in English
- You may also link to your institution’s official website stating the language of instruction
Your waiver request will be routed to Graduate Admissions after you submit your application and pay the application fee. Allow up to 15 business days after submitting your application for a response. This will not delay the receipt of your application by your graduate program.
Additional Supporting Application Materials
While research experience is not an application requirement, admission committees assume that applicants will have some prior experience, as they are applying for a research-related degree.
When completing the “Experience” section of the application, you will be asked to list experiences in order of significance to you, with the most meaningful experience listed first. Do not include labs associated with a course (e.g. organic chemistry course with lab). You may list up to six experiences in this section. If you wish to share more, include this information in your Resume/CV.
Applicants will be required to submit a current copy of their Resume/CV in the “Experience” section of the application. A good resource for developing your Resume/CV would be your college’s or university’s Career Center.
Other Supporting Materials
For most applicants, the credentials described in the “How to Apply” are sufficient to allow the Admissions Committee to reach a decision regarding an interview or further action on the application. Please do not upload/send additional materials or information to us if they have not been requested. For example, reprints of recent publications, copies of master’s degree dissertations, etc. are not used by the Admissions Committee.
Application Review Timeline and Decisions
The deadline to apply to the Stanford Biosciences PhD Programs is Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at 11:59:59 pm (PST).
Note: Knight-Hennessy Scholars applicants are required to submit their Stanford Biosciences PhD application by Friday, December 1, 2023, at 11:59:59 pm (PST).
Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Deadline
The deadline to apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is Wednesday, October 11, 2023, at 1:00 pm (PST).
The admissions committees of the 14 Home Programs will promptly begin to review applicant files the day following the application deadline. It is important that all of your application materials, including letters of recommendation, are submitted by the deadline. We cannot guarantee the review of any materials received after the deadline.
During the week of January 15, 2024 (and the weeks that follow), the Home Programs will start to contact those applicants who have been selected for an in-person interview. The selected applicants will be invited to interview, at our expense, arriving on Wednesday, March 6 and departing on Sunday, March 10, 2024. This is our only interview session. Highly qualified applicants residing in other countries and for whom a visit would not be possible may be selected for a virtual interview.
In general, if an applicant has not heard about a possible invitation by mid-February, it is unlikely that they will be invited or admitted. Applicants who are not selected for an interview will receive a letter that states that no further action will be taken on their application.
Feedback is not available to applicants denied admission. We recognize that you devote a great deal of time and effort to your application, and may wish to discuss it with a member of our admissions committee or a faculty member. Regrettably, we are unable to provide individual feedback to any applicant.
Please note the Biosciences Admissions Office will be closed on Thursday, November 23 through Friday, November 24, 2023, and Thursday, December 21, 2023, through Wednesday, January 3, 2024.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A list of the most frequently asked Biosciences questions (i.e. Eligibility, Funding, Knight-Hennessy Scholars, etc.) can be found on the Biosciences FAQ web page. In addition, please also visit the Graduate Admissions FAQ web page for a more expansive list.
Biosciences PhD Admissions
For Stanford Biosciences PhD Admissions inquiries, visit our How to Apply and FAQ pages along with the Graduate Admissions website and their FAQ page for more information. Please be sure to read through these pages carefully. A vast majority of the commonly asked application questions will be answered there. If you are unable to find the answer to your questions, please contact us.
For Home Program-specific questions, please contact the program(s) to which you are applying to for further information.
The Biosciences Admissions Office will be closed on Thursday, November 23 through Friday, November 24, 2023, and Thursday, December 21, 2023, through Wednesday, January 3, 2024.