CSB

Stanford School of Medicine

Chemical & Systems Biology

 

Student Guide & FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Admissions And Training

  1. How do I choose a home program?
  2. Can I apply to other graduate programs (e.g. Bioengineering, Chemistry, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, etc.) in addition the Biosciences Programs?
  3. Can I apply for an application fee waiver?
  4. Is there a minimum GPA or GRE score requirement?
  5. How do I submit my official GRE and/or TOEFL scores to the Stanford Biosciences Program?

  6. Can I apply for a fellowship?
  7. Is there a teaching assistant requirement?
  8. How do I join a research laboratory?
  9. What courses should I take?
  10. What are the requirements for graduation?
  11. What other educational resources are available?

1. How do I choose a home program?

Although the Stanford Biosciences Program spans the Schools of Medicine and Humanities & Sciences, each student joins a home program with a specific scientific focus.  During the admissions process, applicants are allowed to select and rank up to three Ph.D. programs based on their research interests.  Choosing an appropriate home program is an important decision, and students should carefully review each program’s scientific scope and the research activities of individual faculty members.  We generally advise students to select programs that include several faculty whom they could consider as dissertation advisors.  If the Chemical and Systems Biology Ph.D. program matches your scientific interests, please rank it as your first choice on the Stanford Biosciences online application form.

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2. Can I apply to other graduate programs (e.g. Bioengineering, Chemistry, Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, etc.) in addition the Biosciences Programs?

No, an applicant must only apply to one-degree program per academic year. An exception is within the Biosciences, in which you may apply to up to three Ph.D. programs within your one application.

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3. Can I apply for an application fee waiver?

Applicants can view fee waiver information on the Graduate Admissions web site to see if they are eligible. Fee waiver requests must be submitted 15 business days before the December 1, 2012 deadline.

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4. Is there a minimum GPA or GRE score requirement?

No, there are no minimum GPA or GRE score requirement. Each application is viewed as a complete packet, and the reviewers will consider letters of recommendation, personal statements, transcripts, etc.

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5. How do I submit my official GRE and/or TOEFL scores to the Stanford Biosciences Program?


Yes, applicants will need to use recipient number 4704 to communicate their official GRE and/or TOEFL to the central Biosciences Graduate Admissions Office at Stanford.

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6. Can I apply for a fellowship?

Students are highly encouraged to apply for outside fellowships, and our trainees have historically been very competitive for the most prestigious predoctoral fellowships.  Students are therefore expected to apply for outside funding if eligible (e.g. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowships, Hertz Graduate Fellowships, and Ford Foundation Fellowships.  Matriculated students can also apply for internal funding opportunities at Stanford, including Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowships, Bio-X Fellowships, DARE Doctoral Fellowships, and Gerald J. Lieberman Fellowships.

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7. Is there a teaching assistant requirement?

Chemical and Systems Biology Ph.D. students are not required to teach or serve as teaching assistants (TAs). Nevertheless, many students in our program are considering academic careers, and they have found TA positions helpful in assessing their interest in and aptitude for teaching. TA positions also provide some extra income to students, and they are regularly available through the numerous undergraduate- and graduate-level courses at Stanford.

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8. How do I join a research laboratory?

First-year graduate students are required to rotate in three laboratories before selecting a faculty advisor, spending one quarter in each laboratory. The purpose of the rotation system is to broaden the students’ research experience, to familiarize them with ongoing projects, and to find a laboratory that matches their needs both intellectually and culturally. The fall rotation is performed within the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology; the winter and spring quarter rotations may be within the Department, or alternatively, students may arrange to rotate with faculty in other programs. After the laboratory rotations are completed, students can approach faculty members about dissertation research opportunities under his/her guidance. These discussions guide the final matching of students and faculty advisors.

The Stanford Community Academic Profiles website is a useful resource for learning more about the research activities of individual faculty, and most laboratories have websites that describe their areas of scientific interest, research group members, and recent publications.  In addition, research papers from Stanford laboratories can be obtained through PubMed.  Incoming students should meet with faculty members to discuss possible rotation projects and their ability to accommodate new trainees.  It is also a good idea to talk with current students in the laboratories and ask them about their experiences.  This information will help students decide which laboratory rotations to pursue during their first year of graduate training.

The Chemical and Systems Biology Graduate Student Advisory Committee can assist students with this process. All first- and second-year graduate students meet once per quarter with this Committee to discuss progress and problems, consider course offerings, plan schedules, and arrange laboratory rotations. Faculty members of the Graduate Student Advisory Committee currently include Profs. Tobias Meyer, James Chen, Mary Teruel, and Dan Jarosz.

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9. What courses should I take?

The Chemical and Systems Biology Ph.D. program offers two coursework options: (1) a Chemical/Systems Biology Track that emphasizes basic science and (2) a Medical Pharmacology Track that focuses on human health and disease. Course requirements for each track are summarized below, and more details are provided in the Chemical and Systems Biology Student Guide.

The Chemical/Systems Biology Track requires the following “core” courses:

BIOS 200. The Nucleus (Stanford Biosciences core curriculum)
BIOS 204. Practical Tutorial on the Modeling of Signal Transduction Motifs
CSB 210. Cell Signaling
CSB 220. Chemistry of Biological Processes
CSB 240A. A Practical Approach to Drug Discovery and Development. Part I

Students pursuing the Chemical/Systems Biology Track should also take at least one of the following “elective” CSB courses:

CSB 230. Current Methods in Proteomics
CSB 240B. A Practical Approach to Drug Discovery and Development. Part II
CSB 250. The Biology of Chromatin-Templated Processes
CSB 260. Concepts and Applications in Chemical Biology
CSB 271. Principle of Cell Cycle Control

Students in the Medical Pharmacology Track are required take three of the courses described above, including at least one “core” course. The following classes are also required:

INDE 220. Human Health and Disease I
INDE 221. Human Health and Disease II
INDE 222. Human Health and Disease III
INDE 223. Human Health and Disease IV

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10. What are the requirements for graduation?

Students receiving a Ph.D. in Chemical and Systems Biology must complete the following requirements. More information on these requirements is available in the Chemical and Systems Biology Student Guide.

Qualifying Exam
“Admissions to Candidacy” application
Dissertation Reading Committee selection
Two or more peer-reviewed research publications
“Terminal Graduation Registration” petition
University Oral Examination
Ph.D. Dissertation

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11. What other educational resources are available?

The Department of Chemical and Systems Biology organizes several events and programs to enhance graduate student training. The Department maintains a vibrant seminar series throughout the academic year, allowing students to hear from and interact with internationally renowned scientists. In addition to these seminars, the Department hosts four special events each year: the Dorfman Lecture, the Cutting Symposium, Stanford Chemical Biology Symposium, and the Stanford Systems Biology Symposium.

Graduate students have regular opportunities to share their research discoveries with the Chemical and Systems Biology community. Throughout the academic year, the Department convenes each week for “pizza talks,” during which students and postdoctoral fellows present their work. The Department also hosts an annual three-day retreat at an off-site location, typically near Monterey or Lake Tahoe. The retreat is held at the beginning of the fall quarter and allows new trainees to rapidly acquaint themselves with ongoing research within the Department to meet current faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows.

Other Stanford programs are available for students interested in translational medicine, biotechnology, and entrepreneurship.  These include the Stanford SPARK Program and courses available through Stanford Ignite and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program.

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