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Doctor of Philosophy in Immunology

University requirements for the Ph.D. are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

The Immunology Program offers instruction and research opportunities leading to a Ph.D. in Immunology. The goal of the program is to develop investigators who have a solid foundation in Immunology and related sciences to carry out innovative research. The program features a flexible choice of courses and seminars combined with extensive research training in the laboratories of participating Immunology faculty.

Students applying to the program typically have an undergraduate major in biological sciences, but majors in other areas are acceptable if the applicants have had sufficient course work in biology and chemistry. Formal application should be made by December 1st. Applications are evaluated by the Immunology predoctoral committee based upon: GRE scores; grades; evidence of research experience; letters of recommendation, including letters from research sponsor(s); and commitment to a career in biomedical research. Subject tests are not required. Interested Stanford medical students are welcome to apply to the program and should submit a formal application by December 1.

Students admitted to the program are offered financial support covering tuition, a living stipend, insurance coverage, and an allowance for books/travel. Applicants are urged to apply for independent fellowships such as from the National Science Foundation. Fellowship applications are due in November of the year prior to matriculation in the graduate program, but Immunology graduate students may continue to apply for outside fellowships after matriculation. Because of the small number of department-funded slots, students who have been awarded an outside fellowship have an improved chance of acceptance into the program. On matriculation, each student is assisted by a first-year advising committee in selecting courses and lab rotations in the first year and in choosing a lab for the dissertation research. Once a dissertation adviser has been selected, a dissertation committee including the dissertation adviser and two additional Immunology faculty, is constituted to guide the student during the dissertation research. The student must meet with the dissertation committee at least once a year.

Candidates for Ph.D. degrees at Stanford must satisfactorily complete a program of study that includes 135 units of graduate course work and research. At least 3 units must be taken with each of four different Stanford faculty members.

Requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Immunology include—

  1. Training in biology and cognate disciplines equivalent to that provided by the undergraduate Biology major at Stanford.
  2. Completion of the following courses (or their equivalents from undergraduate work):
    1. Basic Immunology (BIO 230A, Molecular and Cellular Immunology Literature Review)
    2. Advanced Immunology (IMMUNOL 201, 202, 203)
    3. Chemistry of Biological Processes (BIOC 220)
    4. Biostatistics (BIO 141or STATS 141)
    5. Principles of Biological Technologies (IMMUNOL 215)
    6. One elective course; suggested courses include:
      • MPHA 210. Signal Transduction Pathways and Networks
      • SBIO 241. Biological Macromolecules
      • CBIO 241. Cancer Biology
      • DBIO 210. Developmental Biology
    7. MED 255. Responsible Conduct in Science
    8. Students have the option to select from two of the following three courses in the first year:
      • GENE 203. Advanced Genetics
      • BIO 214. Advanced Cell Biology
      • MI 210. Advanced Pathogenesis of Bacteria, Viruses, and Eukaryotic Parasites
    9. IMMUNOL 305. Immunology Journal Club
  3. Prior to enrolling for Autumn Quarter, first-year students are required to read Janeway's Immunobiology, 7th edition, in preparation for their graduate studies. First-year students are required to take both the IMMUNOL 311, Seminar in Immunology, and the companion course, IMMUNOL 311A, Seminar Discussion in Immunology, and participate in IMMUNOL 305, Immunology Journal Club.
  4. Students in their second year and above must participate in the IMMUNOL 311, Seminar in Immunology and may opt to take the companion course, IMMUNOL 311A.
  5. Students who have not yet achieved TGR status must register for 1 unit for IMMUNOL 311. Students attend the Immunology Seminar Series (12:00 p.m., Tuesdays). Students read the papers of visiting seminar speakers and meet to discuss the material in IMMUNOL 311A.
  6. Elective courses as agreed upon by the student, adviser, and advisory committee. Electives may be chosen from graduate courses and seminars in any of the biomedical science departments and programs.
  7. Part I of the Qualifying Examination process is given in mid-June and consists of five questions on different areas in immunology. After the students submit their written responses, the Predoctoral Committee discusses with each student their written answers. This oral session provides an opportunity for faculty to follow up with students on their answers, and for students to discuss/clarify their answers and respond to faculty comments. Completion in the first year of three one quarter rotations. Medical students who are accepted into the Ph.D. program must do at least three rotations. First year students, including MSTP and M.D./Ph.D. students, present their lab rotation research projects to the predoctoral committee in early July.
  8. Teaching assistantship in two Immunology courses (IMMUNOL 290, Teaching in Immunology). A teaching assistantship requirement may be fulfilled by proposing a graduate student-initiated course: IMMUNOL 315, Topics in Immunology. Before fulfilling their teaching assistantships, Immunology graduate students are required to attend a teaching assistantship orientation offered at the beginning of every quarter by the Center for Teaching and Learning. MSTP students may submit one of their medical school TAships as partial fulfillment of the TA requirement for the Ph.D. in Immunology.
  9. For admission to Ph.D. candidacy, a comprehensive written examination (qualifying examination process, Part I) in Immunology and related biomedical sciences, and a rotation presentation on one of three lab rotations, must be completed satisfactorily by the middle of Summer Quarter of the first year. Students must prepare and defend a research proposal on their dissertation research (qualifying examination process, Part II) by December 17, the end of Autumn Quarter of their second year, and complete all core course requirements by the end of the second year. Administration and evaluation of these requirements leading to Ph.D. candidacy is the responsibility of the Predoctoral Committee; the student's dissertation committee is responsible for advising the student through the research and other courses as needed towards the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation.
  10. Participation (through regular attendance and oral presentation) in the student-run Immunology journal clubs for at least the first three years (IMMUNOL 305), the Tuesday Immunology seminars, and the annual Stanford Immunology Scientific Conference. Students are required to give one poster and one scientific presentation at these annual Stanford Immunology scientific conferences. Fourth-year and above students present their current research to fellow students and faculty in a monthly forum, The Next Generation.
  11. Passing the University oral examination on the dissertation research, which is to be taken only after the student has substantially completed the research. The examination is preceded by a public seminar in which the candidate presents his/her research.
  12. Completion of a Ph.D. dissertation, resulting from independent investigation and constituting a contribution to knowledge in the area of immunology.

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