BMC Core

All BMC students take courses to get a solid foundation in the component disciplines of biomedical computation. Most of these courses are typically taken during freshman and sophomore year. These courses include:


For the upper division courses in the major, a student must choose between one of the four tracks of BMC. The four tracks are

The Informatics and Simulation tracks place a greater emphasis on the computational aspects of the discipline, while the Cellular/Molecular and Organs/Organ Systems tracks provide more depth in biology.

Each of the tracks consists of a core of about three to five courses. These are courses that provide students the core knowledge related to their in-depth area of study. The tracks also have elective requirements, to ensure students gain breadth in upper division courses as well. The entire track portion of BMC is composed of nine to ten courses in total. Lists of electives can be found on the BMC website at


Every BMC student must complete 6 units of directed research under a faculty member. This requirement of research is fairly unique to BMC among majors at Stanford. It allows our students to work on cutting-edge projects as a part of their undergraduate curriculum. This research typically occurs during the junior or senior year, and may be undertaken with faculty members from any school at Stanford. The main requirement is that the student does actual, hands-on biomedical computation as a part of the research project. The student must get approval from the BMC Program Directors before undertaking his or her research project.

The student is responsible for finding a faculty member with which to complete his or her research. Unlike the academic advisor, the research advisor does not have to be a School of Engineering faculty member, so long as the student is doing substantial biomedical computation research. Projects must be preapproved by the BMC directors. In the event that a student is unable to find a research advisor, he or she may conduct research under supervision of his or her academic advisor to fulfill the research requirement.

There are numerous excellent summer research opportunities available to BMC students. The School of Engineering maintains an excellent central list. Unfortunately, students' research work can be compensated with money or units, but not both, so paid summer research cannot directly count towards the BMC requirementw. However, completion of a paid summer research project can allow students to be exempted from some of the BMC research units and instead replace them with other coursework units. Contact us if you are interested in this option.


The Writing in the Major requirement gives students an opportunity to learn to effectively communicate ideas in their fields of study. In BMC, there are two ways to satisfy this requirement:

  1. Students may fulfill the WIM requirement by writing a ~15 page technical report concurrently with performing the research for the research requirement. This report is in the form of a technical publication about the students work, and is completed under supervision of research mentor and the School of Engineering writing tutors. For this option, student can complete either CS191W or E199W as described below.

    For either of these options, students are required to complete and submit the Research WIM Form.

    1. Enroll in least 3 of the 6 research units as CS191W, and complete the requisite writing during the CS191W course, or
    2. Instead of 6 units of research, enroll in 5 units of research (any department) and 1 unit of E199W. In this arrangement, the research mentor is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's writing. If the research mentor is outside of the School of Engineering, contact Russ Altman or Daphne Koller to find a faculty member in the School of Engineering with whom you can enroll in E199W.
      Students are not allowed to enroll in E199W if they are not enrolled in at least 2 units of research in the same quarter.
  2. Students wishing to satisfy their WIM requirement independently of their research work may enroll in CS272, the Biomedical Informatics project course.

Capstone Class

The BMC Capstone class gives students the chance to take a rigorous course that thoroughly integrates various aspects of biology and computation. This course is typically taken during junior or senior year. Currently, this requirement is satisfied by one of the following courses: CS270, CS273A, CS274, CS275, CS278, or CS279

Copyright Stanford University, 2002-2012.