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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Core Curriculum and Program Requirements in Biomedical Informatics


Students are expected to participate regularly in the Biomedical Informatics Student Seminar (BIOMEDIN 201) and a research Colloquium, such as BIOMEDIN 200 or BIOMEDIN 205. In addition, all students are expected to fulfill requirements in the following five categories:

  1. Core Biomedical Informatics (17 units): students are expected to understand current applications of computers in biology and medicine and to develop a broad appreciation for research in the management of biomedical information. Required courses are: BIOMEDIN 210, 211, 212, 214, and 217, all of which should be taken during the first and second year in the program.
  2. Computer Science (9 units): the student is expected to acquire a knowledge of the use of computers, computer organization, programming, and symbolic systems. It is assumed that prior to matriculation students have computing experience at least equivalent to a course introducing the fundamentals of data structures and algorithms, such as CS 103A,B, 103X, 106A,B, 106X, or other courses approved by academic adviser or executive committee. Students are required to take a minimum of 9 units of courses in the Department of Computer Science. If similar courses have not been taken previously, these units must include CS 161, a class in artificial intelligence or learning (for example, CS 121, CS 228, CS 229, STATS 315A, STATS 315B), and a course that requires significant programming and knowledge of machine architectures (for example, CS 108). For those who have taken such courses previously, replacement units may be taken from any other course in CS selected by the student and approved by the academic adviser. A course in databases is especially recommended. With the exception of CS 108 and 121, all other CS courses applied to the degree requirements must be numbered 137 or higher.
  3. Probability, Statistics, and Decision Science (9 units): students are required to take at least three courses from the following five topics: basic probability theory, Bayesian statistics, decision analysis, machine learning, and experimental-design techniques. Prior courses in statistics at least equivalent to STATS 60 and calculus equivalent to MATH 42 are prerequisites. A prior course in linear algebra equivalent to MATH 103 or 113 is recommended. For the probability requirements, students may, for example, take MS&E 220, STATS 116, or MS&E 221. For the statistics requirements, students should take STATS 141 or STATS 212, if they have not had an equivalent class prior to entry to the program. Otherwise, sequences (taken after STATS 116) may include STATS 200 followed by a course in stochastic modeling, machine learning or data mining, such as STATS 202 or 315A,B, or CS 228 or 229. Options for decision analysis include MS&E 152 or 252, or cost effectiveness analysis (BIOMEDIN 432). Also recommended is a course in the psychology of human problem solving. Specific courses should be chosen in consultation with the student's academic adviser.
  4. Biomedical Domain Knowledge (6 units): students are expected to acquire an understanding of pertinent life sciences and how to analyze a domain of application interest. Prior courses in biology at least equivalent to BIO 41 and 42 are prerequisites. All students must have completed a course in basic biochemistry, molecular biology, or genetics. Other areas of basic biology may be an acceptable alternative. Exposure to laboratory methods in biology is encouraged. All students without formal health care training are encouraged to take IMMUNOL 230 (formerly BIOMEDIN 207).
  5. Social and Ethical Issues (4 units): candidates are expected to be familiar with issues regarding ethics, public policy, financing, organizational behavior, management, and pertinent legal topics. Students are required to take MED 255, The Responsible Conduct of Research, or the equivalent. Students may choose at least 3 units from suitable courses, including BIOMEDIN 432; CS 201; MS&E 284, 197; HRP 391, 392; or any other advanced course in policy and social issues proposed by the student and approved by the Biomedical Informatics academic adviser.

The core curriculum generally entails a minimum of 45 units of course work for master's students and 54 units of course work for Ph.D. students, but can require substantially more or less depending upon the courses selected and the previous training of the student. All courses must be taken for a letter grade. Students may request an elective course be taken for a grade of credit/no credit by submitting a petition to the BMI executive committee. BIOMEDIN 299, 801 and 802 may be taken for satisfactory/no credit (S/NC). The varying backgrounds of students are well recognized and no one is required to take courses in an area in which he or she has already been adequately trained; under such circumstances, students are permitted to skip courses or substitute more advanced work. Students design appropriate programs for their interests with the assistance and approval of their Biomedical Informatics academic adviser. At least 27 units of formal course work are expected.


Students enrolled in any of the M.S degrees must complete the program requirements in order to graduate. Programs of at least 45 units that meet the following guidelines are normally approved:

  1. Completion of the core curriculum.
  2. Masters candidates who are able to attend classes on campus should sign up at least once for BIOMEDIN 201, Student Seminar, plus a Research Colloquium in their field of research, such as BIOMEDIN 200 or BIOMEDIN 205. Regardless of their registration status, students should participate in the Student Seminar and Research Colloquium every quarter.
  3. Electives: additional courses to bring the total to 45 or more units as necessary.
  4. Masters candidates should sign up for BIOMEDIN 801 for their project units.

The University requirements for the M.S. degree are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

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