Biology is a diverse and exciting field. Both as preparation for specific professional careers and as the focus of a general liberal arts curriculum, a major in Biology is an excellent choice for many students. Undergraduate Admissions is handled in the central admissions office.
The MS program in Biology is only available to current Stanford students. Coterminal MS admissions is handled by the Student Services Office. Please see the Coterminal MS page for more information.
The application for Autumn 2016 admission is now open. Please apply here.
Applicants who are selected for interviews will be notified no later than mid-January. Applicants invited to interview will be expected to arrive on Wednesday, March 2 and depart on Saturday, March 5, 2016. This is our only interview session.
The PhD program trains students for careers in research and teaching. In addition to a wide range of courses, the PhD program offers informal but intensive instruction in laboratories and seminars, characterized by close contact between students and their faculty advisors. Biology is one of fourteen home programs in the Biosciences, which span the School of Medicine and the School of Humanities and Sciences.
Stanford University’s Graduate Admissions website contains information about programs, applying online, requirements, and Frequently Asked Questions. All applicants are required to use Stanford's online application.
Autumn 2016 PhD applications, including supporting documents, must be received by December 1, 2015. Applications are considered for admission in Autumn Quarter only.
- U.S. Bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent
- Graduate application
- Application fee = $125.00 (non-refundable)
- Statement of Purpose
- Three Letters of Recommendation (a maximum of six letters will be accepted)
- Transcripts - Unofficial transcripts from all universities and colleges you attended for one year or more must be uploaded to the online application and two official transcripts should be mailed directly to the Biosciences Admissions Office. Official transcripts do not need to be received by the December 1st deadline.
- GRE Graduate Record Examination
- TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language (required for non-native English speakers)
- A current Curriculum Vitae/Resume
General Admissions Information
Applications for the PhD program are processed by the Biosciences Admissions Office, not the Department of Biology. All materials should be uploaded electronically to the online application. Please arrange to have official transcripts mailed directly to the Biosciences Admissions Office:
Biosciences Ph.D. Admissions Office
1265 Welch Road, MSOB X1C12
Stanford, CA 94305-5421
Certified electronic transcripts or other official electronic application materials should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To check the status/activity of your application materials, please log into your application account. There you will find the most current status of all your application materials. You will also be able to send reminders to those recommenders who have not yet submitted their letter of recommendation.
General Information about the PhD Program in Biology
We encourage applicants with diverse backgrounds to apply to our program. This includes, but is not limited to, underrepresented minorities, women, as well as students with disadvantaged socio-economic or geographic backgrounds. Providing this information in the application assists the admissions committee in its goal of creating a diverse class. Please see the websites below for more information and resources.
- Cultural Diversity in Biosciences Ph.D. Programs
- Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Frequently Asked Questions:
You should have the equivalent to an undergraduate degree in Biology from Stanford University. This typically includes organic and inorganic chemistry as well as a year of biology, physics and calculus at a minimum. For more detailed information about the undergraduate degree, please visit the Bulletin.
All applicants are required to take the general GRE exam. The subject GRE exam is not required. Be sure to take the GRE in time for official scores to be received by the application deadline. Official GRE scores can take 3-4 weeks for receipt from the Educational Testing Service.
Scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Exception: individuals who have completed a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a two-year master’s degree (or the equivalent of either degree) at a recognized institution where all instruction is provided in English are not required to submit TOEFL scores; this exception does not apply if the courses were completed in a country where English is spoken, though not all courses were provided in English. Being a citizen of the United States does not automatically exempt an applicant from taking the TOEFL: if the applicant’s first language is not English, the applicant must meet the exception above or submit TOEFL scores.
There are no minimum GPA or GRE scores required. Admitted students typically have GRE scores in the 80th percentile or higher. The admissions committee looks at letters of recommendation, research experience, and personal statement in addition to test scores and grades when evaluating applications.
For our department to confirm that your test scores have arrived you must have completed and submitted your online application. All test scores are received by the Graduate Admissions office and matched with completed applications before being sent to our department. We recommend contacting ETS to confirm that your test scores have been sent.
If you are applying to an Ecology/Evolution lab, or a lab at Hopkins Marine Station, it is strongly recommended that you contact faculty with whom you are interested in working before submitting your application. If you are interested in a cell and molecular biology lab, you are welcome to contact faculty, but it is not required.
Yes, we accept both domestic and international students.
Information about requesting a fee waiver can be found on the Graduate Admissions website. Departments cannot grant fee waivers. The application fee is not waived for international students.
Yes, all PhD students (including international students) receive an annual stipend, and 100% coverage of tuition and health insurance.
Students complete the Biology PhD program within 5.5 years.
No, our MS program is only open to current Stanford students.