Admission Requirements

Eligibility for Admission

To be eligible for admission to graduate programs at Stanford, applicants must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Applicants must hold, or expect to hold before enrollment at Stanford, a bachelor's degree from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association.

  • Applicants from institutions outside the U.S. must hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree from a college or university of recognized standing. See the Office of Graduate Admissions for the minimum level of study required of International applicants.

Application Fee

The application fee is $125, is non-refundable, and must be received by the application deadline. 

The Stanford School of Medicine grants fee waivers to applicants who are part of a group that the NIH considers to be in need of a special recruitment and retention plan in order to diversify the biomedical sciences workforce. For information about Fee Waiver eligibility please click here.

Selecting Home Program

Please review the information about each Home Program very carefully before starting your application.

The Biosciences programs offer each student a wide range of choices, while also ensuring that s/he is integrated into a cohesive academic community both immediately upon entering the graduate program and thereafter. The increasingly clear interrelationships among areas of biology and biomedical sciences that were previously viewed as distinct make it all the more important for students to do research in an interactive and cooperative research environment. Cross-disciplinary research and training has always been a great strength of the Biosciences at Stanford.

The Biosciences program at Stanford encourages students to explore research opportunities, do rotations, and eventually decide on dissertation research in any of the 14 Home Programs. Each student is admitted to a particular Home Program, which then provides the primary base for training during the first year.

When completing the "Program Selection" section of the application, you will be asked to select a "proposed program." Although Biosciences applicants can apply to up to three Home Programs, at this point please select your top Home Program choice.

When completing the "Biosciences PhD Admissions Supplemental Form," which is part of the "Supplemental Information" section of the application, you will have the opportunity to select up to two additional Home Programs. Only select additional programs if you have a genuine interest in the fields covered by each. You will be required to answer additional questions related to your Home Program selection(s) on the supplemental form. The information you provide in this section will help the Admissions Committee match you with the Home Program that seems most suited to your background and research interests.

Being admitted through any individual Home Program allows you full access to faculty in all of the other Home Programs for laboratory rotations and potential thesis work.

Statement of Purpose

Because each Home Program requires significant original research activities in fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD degree, we are interested in obtaining as much information as possible about your previous research experiences. Those who already have such experience are in a better position to know whether they are truly interested in performing laboratory research as part of a graduate program. Please include specific information about your research experience in your Statement of Purpose. You may also use the Statement to amplify your comments about your choice of Home Program(s), and how your past experiences and current interests are related to your choice. Personal Statements should not exceed two pages in length (single spaced). Make sure to set your computer to Western European or other English-language setting. We cannot guarantee the ability to access your statement if it is submitted in other fonts.

Letters of Support

Three letters of recommendation are required. Please be sure that you ask for a recommendation from at least one individual who can address your potential for original and creative research. In most cases, that individual would be the person in charge of or guiding your most recent research activities. It is very important that you contact your recommenders before submitting their information in the online application. You must choose whether or not you waive your right to see a recommendation before you submit the recommender's information. It may be that a recommender will not submit a recommendation if you have not waived the right to see it. This should be discussed in advance.

All recommendations must be submitted using the online application system. As part of the online application, you will be required to register the names and contact information, including e-mail addresses, of your recommenders. Recommenders will then receive an e-mail with directions on how to proceed. Letters of recommendation cannot be emailed or faxed.


Applicants are required to upload copies of their official transcripts/academic records directly into the online application. When completing the Educational History section of the application, you will be asked to list every college and university you have attended for a year or more, and any degree program in which you are currently enrolled. You will also need to upload copies of your transcripts/academic records (including any legends/keys). If your institution uses, as an institutional identification number, your Social Security Number, please ensure that you obscure (using whiteout or a black marker) before scanning and uploading to your application. Please ensure that they are legible since the Admissions Committee will use them in their review process.  Please list the highest undergraduate degree awarded (e.g. Bachelor's, Diplom, Maitrise, etc) in the Post-Secondary Institution 1 section. If you have more than three previous institutions, list them in the Additional Educational History section of the application.

Official transcripts will be required for applicants who are selected for an interview. Please do not send, or have sent any transcript to us or to your program until that time.

GRE Requirements 

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test:

Applicants to the Biosciences are required to take the GRE General Test.  Scores must be from an examination taken within the last five years. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers the GRE. Be sure to take the GRE in time for official scores to be received by the application deadline. For information on test dates and registration please go to the ETS web site. If you are reading this in early November, you should have already taken the GRE Examinations so that your scores can reach us by the application deadline. Since our initial reviews of all applications are virtually complete by mid-January, it is unlikely that scores from those who take the December tests will reach us in time for adequate review.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Subject Test:

Biochemistry encourages, but does not require, taking the GRE Subject Test in one of the following areas: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, or Chemistry.

Test Of English as a Foreign Language Requirement (TOEFL)

Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission. Scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English (Stanford does not accept International English Language Testing System [IELTS] scores). Exceptions are granted for applicants who have earned a U.S. bachelor's or master's degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association in the United States, or the equivalent of either degree from a non-U.S. college or university of recognized standing where all instruction is provided in English. This exception does not apply if the courses were completed in a country where English is spoken but not all courses were provided in English. Being a U.S. citizen 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. Scores must be submitted from a test taken within the last 18 months. Applicants are urged to take the TOEFL by November to be eligible for admission for the following Autumn Quarter. Evidence of adequate English proficiency must be submitted before enrollment is approved by Graduate Admissions. Please consult the Exam Requirements for International Applicants webpage for minimum TOEFL requirements. 

Submitting GRE and TOEFL Test Scores

Scores must be reported directly to Stanford from the Educational Testing Service (ETS).The institution code for Stanford University is 4704; a department code is not necessary. Test scores received by Graduate Admissions prior to September 1, 2014 are no longer retained on file. If you had ETS send test scores to Stanford, but you did NOT submit an application, you must request that ETS resend the scores if you submit an application in the future.

Please Note: Official GRE and TOEFL test scores can take up to three weeks for receipt from the Educational Testing Service. Once received, scores are connected to your application in Stanford's database after approximately seven business days from the date the on-line application is received. If after checking your application status you find that the test information is not received, contact the Biosciences Admissions Office.

Other Supporting Materials

For most applicants, the credentials described above should be sufficient to allow an admissions committee to reach a decision regarding an interview or further action on the application. Please do not send additional materials or information to us if they have not been requested. For example, reprints of recent publications, copies of master's degree dissertations, etc. are not used by the Admissions Committee.

Application Review and Interview Process

The Admissions Committees will start to review applicant files a few days following the application deadline. It is important that all of your application materials are submitted by the deadline.  The selected applicants will be invited to interview, at our expense, to arrive on Wednesday, March 1 and depart on Saturday, March 4, 2017. This is our only interview session. Highly qualified applicants residing in other countries and for whom a visit would not be possible may be selected for a telephone interview.

In general, if an applicant has not heard about a possible invitation by late January, it is unlikely that he or she will be invited to Stanford or admitted. Applicants who are not selected for an interview will receive a letter which states that no further action will be taken on their application by the Committee on Graduate Admissions and Policy.