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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.

How to Apply

Application and Deadline

Applications to the Stanford Biology PhD Program must be made through Graduate Admissions. The application deadline for Autumn Quarter 2020 matriculation is December 1st, 2020 at 11:59 pm(PST) . All transcripts and supporting documents must be submitted to the address below by the deadline in order for your application to be considered in the review process. In addition to the information below, please review the Graduate Admissions website prior to starting your application. Applications are considered for admission in Autumn Quarter only.


  • U.S. Bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent
  • Graduate application
  • Non-refundable application fee of $125
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Three Letters of Recommendation (a maximum of six letters will be accepted)
  • Transcripts - Unofficial transcripts from all universities and colleges you've attended for one year or more must be uploaded to the online application.  If you are selected for an interview, you will be required to mail two official transcripts from each school to the Biosciences Admissions Office. 
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores are OPTIONAL
  • TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language (required for non-native English speakers)
  • A current Curriculum Vitae/Resume

In light of the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanford reaffirms its commitment to perform individualized, holistic review of each applicant to its graduate and professional programs. We recognize that students may have faced significant challenges during the period of disruption caused by the pandemic, and we will take such individual circumstances into account during application review. Importantly, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Credit/No Credit and other grading options during this unprecedented period of COVID-19 disruption, whether they are made by institutions or by individual students. Our goal remains to form graduate student cohorts that are excellent and encompass a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences that enrich the graduate educational experience.


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. If you are selected to interview, please arrange to have official transcripts mailed directly to the Biosciences Admissions Office:

Biosciences PhD Admissions Office
Stanford University
1265 Welch Road, MSOB X100
Stanford, CA 94305-5421

Certified electronic transcripts or other official electronic application materials should be sent to

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Knight-Hennessy Scholars 

Knight-Hennessy Scholars develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. This year, the program will award up to 75 high-achieving students with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including PhD's in Biology. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by October 14, 2020 at 1:00pm Pacific Time, and separately apply to the Biology department by December 2nd, 2020.

Application Status

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.


We encourage applicants with diverse backgrounds to apply to our program. While race and ethnicity are commonly cited in relation to diversity, we recognize that there are many different aspects to identity, including culture, socioeconomic and educational background, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, life experiences, hobbies, and interests. 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.

China Scholarship Council-Stanford-AZ Fund Fellowship

Doctoral applicants from China are also encouraged to apply for a China Scholarship Council-Stanford-AZ Fund Fellowship following their admission to the PhD program in Biology. This Fellowship provides five years of financial support, round-trip international airfare, and visa application fees to selected students. To be considered, applicants must first be admitted to the Biology PhD program and then apply to the China Scholarship Council

Biology PhD Program General Info

Inquiries about the PhD in Biology should be directed to