The Department of Chemical and Systems Biology admits Ph.D. students through the Stanford Biosciences Program, which spans the Schools of Medicine and Humanities & Sciences. All applicants are required to use Stanford’s online application. The Stanford Biosciences website also provides information on specific training programs and the admissions process.
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.
We believe that having a diverse community of students, faculty and staff promotes scientific discovery and innovation. We welcome applicants from diverse cultures, races and ethnicities, genders, political and religious beliefs, physical and learning differences, and sexual orientations and identities.
The Stanford Biosciences Admissions Office, not the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, processes applications for the Ph.D. program. All materials should be uploaded electronically to the online application.
Graduate Admissions only requires admitted applicants who accept the offer of admission to submit official transcripts that shows their degree conferral. Please do not send or have sent any official transcripts to us at this time.
Student Services Manager
Autumn 2021-22 applications must be received by Tuesday, December 1, 2020 (11:59:59 pm PST). Late applications will not be accepted.
After the submission deadline, the Admissions Committee for the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology will select candidates to attend a three-day virtual interview session scheduled for Wednesday, March 3 – Saturday, March 6 (these days may shift).
Please note that the Biosciences Admissions Office will be closed on Thursday, November 26 through Friday, November 27, 2020 and Monday, December 21, 2020 through Friday, January 1, 2021.
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.
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.
Applicants who need assistance with the application fee are encouraged to apply for a fee waiver. Preference is given to low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applying to more than one fee waiver option will not increase your opportunity of receiving a fee waiver. For a complete list of fee waiver options and eligibility requirements, please visit the Graduate Diversity website.
Please note that fee waiver requests are required to be submitted 10 or 15 business days prior to the application deadline (Tuesday, December 1 at 11:59:59 pm PST) so please plan accordingly.
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. GRE General Test is optional for the 2021-22 cycle.
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. GRE General Test is optional for the 2021-22 cycle.
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.
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.
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 and winter rotations are performed within the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology; the 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.
Course requirements for The Chemical and Systems Biology Ph.D. program are provided in the Chemical and Systems Biology Student Guide.
Students receiving a Ph.D. in Chemical and Systems Biology must complete the following requirements. More information on these requirements are available in the Chemical and Systems Biology Student Guide.
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.