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Bulletin Archive

This archived information is dated to the 2008-09 academic year only and may no longer be current.

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

Master of Science in Biology

For information on the University's basic requirements for the M.S. degree, see the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

The M.S. degree program offers general or specialized study to individuals seeking biologically oriented course work, and to undergraduate science majors wishing to increase or update their science background or obtain advanced research experience. Students who have majored in related fields are eligible to apply. However, course work equivalent to the Stanford B.S. in Biology is recommended. The M.S. program does not have an M.S. with thesis option.


The department only accepts M.S. program applications from matriculated Stanford students.


The M.S. program consists of Department of Biology and/or Hopkins Marine Station course work, approved out-of-department electives, and foundational breadth courses totaling at least 45 units at or above the 100-level, distributed as follows:

  1. A minimum of 23 of the 45 units must be courses designated primarily for graduate students (200-level or higher).
  2. A minimum of 36 units must be chosen from the offerings in the Department of Biology (BIO), Hopkins Marine Station (BIOHOPK), the list of approved out-of-department electives, foundational breadth courses, and/or research and teaching.
    1. a maximum of 18 of the 36 units may be a combination of Biology research, directed reading, and/or teaching (BIO 198, 198X, 290, 290X, 291, 300, 300X; BIOHOPK 175H, 176H, 198H, 290H, or 300H).
    2. a maximum of 9 units may be foundational breadth courses in chemistry, mathematics, statistics, computer science, and/or physics beyond the level required for the undergraduate degree in Biology and at least at the 100-level.
  3. The remaining 9 units may be other Stanford course work relevant to a student's professional development. Students are required to petition for courses that fall into this category using the General Petition form, available in the student services office or downloadable at

Each candidate designs a coherent program of study in consultation with her or his department adviser. Although there are no specific courses required, program proposals must adhere to department parameters.

A program proposal, signed by the student's adviser and approved by the chair of the M.S. committee, must be filed by the third week of the first quarter of enrollment. Students may take only 6 units CR/NC and must receive a grade of 'B-' or better in all courses taken for the degree.

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