Stanford Biology PhD Preview Program

Stanford Biology PhD Preview Program: Navigating the Biology PhD application process

The 2021 Biology Preview Program Application has closed! 


Program Overview

The future challenges of biology will require new generations of creative thinkers dedicated to tackling the unknown. Research has shown that teams with diverse perspectives are best suited for making progress on such challenges. This will require recruiting the next generation of excellent scientists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and strengths.

To facilitate the recruitment of the next generation of excellent scientists  we are offering a Biology PhD preview program. Our program aims to provide workshops to build on the strengths of prospective students and encourage students to apply to Biology PhD programs, as well as help students identify programs that fit their goals and interests. In addition to workshops focusing on leveraging your strengths as a scientist in graduate school, we will cover general aspects of applying to Biology PhD programs. We will also provide insight into the application process for programs ranging from cellular, molecular and organismal biology to ecology and evolution. We especially encourage students who have the potential to enhance the diversity - broadly defined -  in STEM fields to apply.

Selected candidates will be invited to participate in two days of activities intended to build upon their strengths as scientists and prospective graduate students, facilitate the application process, connect with faculty, and receive one-on-one guidance on applications and interviews. Last year’s schedule of events is available below.

Please note that participation in this preview program is not a requirement for prospective Stanford Biology applicants, nor is it a guarantee of being accepted into the PhD program.

Please direct any questions about the program or application to the Preview program committee:

Program Details & Eligibility
Program Details 

The application is due August 30th, 2021 (instructions for how to apply can be found here. Successful applicants will be notified by September 27th and invited to participate in the Stanford Biology Preview program. The program will take place October 14-15th from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm Pacific time (PDT), which will include sessions focused on navigating the application process for the three Stanford Biology tracks, one-on-one and group meetings with faculty, and academic and social meetings with graduate students in the department. Some of the material covered during the program will be recorded and available for future reference.


You are eligible to apply to the Stanford Biology preview program if:

  • you are a college graduate, or will graduate by Summer 2022.

  • you are considering applying to the Biology PhD program at Stanford.

International students are eligible to apply.

We especially encourage students from historically underrepresented groups (based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic class, physical and mental abilities, religion, citizenship status, and age, among others) to apply.


How to Apply
Preview application instructions

To be considered for the preview program, fill out an online application here by August 30th 2021 at 11:59PM PDT. Please direct any questions about the application to the Biology Preview Program Committee: 

Applying to the Stanford Biology PhD program

Regardless of whether you apply to the Preview program, check out these resources for applying to Stanford’s Biology PhD program.

Application deadline: Tuesday, November 30th, 2021 (11:59:59 pm PDT)

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources that you might find helpful when thinking about your application to the Stanford Biology PhD program.

Stanford Biology PhD Application requirements

How to apply  to the Stanford Biology PhD program. Application deadline: Tuesday, December 1, 2020 (11:59:59 pm PDT)

When applying for the Stanford Biology PhD program, you will need:
  • Online Application (The application is quite long, so give yourself time to fill it out)

  • Statement of Purpose

  • Letters of Recommendation

  • Transcripts

  • CV/Resume

  • TOEFL (required for non-native English speakers) 

  • Non-refundable application fee of $125 (however this can be waived, find information about the fee waiver here

Stanford Biology is a home program in the Stanford Biosciences and is a department in the School of Humanities & Sciences. Refer to this page from the Office of Graduate Education for information about applying to Stanford Biosciences PhD programs and this page from the Stanford Humanities & Sciences.

Prospective Student Resources from Yale University


Other Programs:

  • Stanford Biosciences' ADVANCE Undergraduate Institute is is a three-day intensive institute designed to introduce diverse sophomores and juniors to the Stanford University campus and provide guidance on the graduate school admissions process.
  • SSRP-AMGEN Scholars Program is intended for students who plan to pursue PhDs to gain valuable research experience.  SSRP matches is a fully-funded research-intensive residential program that takes place on Stanford’s beautiful campus for an eight-week period. 

2020 Program Agenda
Day 1 
  • 8-8:50 am - Welcome and orientation. Short statement and Q&A about Stanford Biology and the three tracks with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and representatives from each track

  • 9-9:50 am - Focused workshops (student selected)

  • 10-10:50 am - Breakout session for EcoEvo/Hopkins and CMOB about discipline specific considerations on initial contact with faculty and how the application/matching process works

  • 11-11:50 pm - Students work one-on-one with graduate students on their CV

  • 12-12:50 pm - Virtual social lunch/coffee break out rooms with graduate students

  • 1-1:50 pm - Finances and grad school Q&A

  • 2-2:50 pm - Guided tour of the Stanford graduate application, highlighting sections that are especially important in review

Day 2
  • 8-8:50 am - Q&A with graduate students about life at Stanford, application process, and general grad school experiences

  • 9-9:50 am - Focused workshops (student selected)

  • 10-10:50 am - Students receive one-on-one feedback on personal statement section of their applications

  • 11-11:50 pm - Breakout session for informal discussions with faculty from different areas (TBD based on student interests). 

  • 12-12:50 pm - Virtual housing/lab tours and lunch/coffee

  • 1-1:50 pm - Practice interviews with faculty and feedback

  • 2-2:30pm - Closing meeting

Possible topics for focused workshops include:

  • Identifying and leveraging your key strengths as a graduate student

  • Mentoring up: How to evaluate a potential mentor and their commitment to your success

  •  Dealing with imposter syndrome

  • Protecting your time and success in graduate school

  • Wellness, mental health, self-compassion and work life balance in graduate school

  • Science communication - designing your research elevator pitch

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) & Preview Contact Information
Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I apply to the Preview program if I haven’t graduated from college or if I am not yet a senior/rising senior?

Answer: Due to programming limitations, we will only accept applications from students who will graduate no later than Summer 2021 and plan to apply to graduate school in Fall 2020 (to start a program in Fall 2021).

Question: Do I need to apply or be accepted in the Preview program to be eligible for applying for the Biology PhD program?

Answer: No. You are not required to apply to or participate in the Preview program to be eligible for the Stanford Biology PhD program. These two programs are independent from each other. Participating in the preview does not guarantee being accepted into the PhD program. The preview aims to work with participants to navigate the application process and encourage prospective students to apply to both the Stanford Biology PhD program and other biology PhD programs., especially students from underrepresented backgrounds. 

Question: When is the application deadline?

Answer: The deadline for applying to the Preview program is August 30th, 2021. You can fill out your application here.

Question: Do I have to pay a fee to apply for the Preview program?

Answer: No, this program is free to all participants. When the program is held in person, this includes the cost of travel, accomodation, and meals.

Question: What supplies will I need to participate in the program?

Answer: You will need access to a device that can share audio (such as a computer, tablet, or phone) for both days, however if you do not have access to one, this should not discourage you from applying. Please contact us at if this is a concern for you.

Question: Do I need to participate in the entire program?

Answer: Participants are strongly encouraged to attend all activities. However, if you have any concerns about potential conflicts, please contact us at

Question: Can I apply to the program if I am considering applying for other graduate degree programs (MD, JD, professional degrees)?

Answer: Our Preview program is intended for students who are interested in pursuing a PhD in Biology at Stanford. Therefore, we are not accepting applications from students that plan to enroll in other graduate degree programs. You can find more information about other Stanford graduate programs here.

Question: Can international students apply to the Preview program?

Answer: Yes, international students are eligible to apply to the program.

Biology Preview Program Contact Information 

If you have any questions about the Biology Preview Program, please email

If you have general questions about applying to the Biology PhD Program, please email

We will get back to you as soon as possible.