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.
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 2. 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 2.
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 once a year.
Candidates for Ph.D. degrees at Stanford must satisfactorily complete a three-year program of study that includes 72 units of graduate course work and research. At least 3 units must be taken with each of four different Stanford faculty members.
The requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Immunology include:
- Training in biology and cognate disciplines equivalent to that provided by the undergraduate Biology major at Stanford.
- Completion of the following courses (or their equivalents from undergraduate work):
- Basic Immunology (BIO 230A, Molecular and Cellular Immunology Literature Review)
- Advanced Immunology (IMMUNOL 201, 202, 203)
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BIOC 220)
- Advanced Genetics (GENE 203)
- Cell Biology of Physiological Processes (MCP 221)
- Biostatistics (BIO 141)
- Principles of Biological Technologies (IMMUNOL 215)
- 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.
- Responsible Conduct in Science (MED 255)
- Immunology Journal Club (IMMUNOL 305)
- 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. 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. Students who have not yet achieved TGR status must register for 1 unit for IMMUNOL 311. Students attend the weekly Immunology Seminar Series (4-5 p.m., Tuesdays). Students read the papers of and have dinner with visiting seminar speakers two or three times each quarter, and meet to discuss the material.
- 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.
- Completion in the first year of three one quarter rotations. Two weeks after taking the comprehensive written examination (part 1 of the qualifying examination process) in mid-June, students, including MSTP and M.D./Ph.D. students, present their lab rotation research projects to the predoctoral committee. Medical students who have declared Immunology as their scholarly concentration major, and who are accepted later into the Ph.D. program, must do at least three rotations.
- 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 undertake 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.
- For admission to Ph.D. candidacy, a comprehensive written examination (qualifying examination process, Part I) in immunology and related biomedical sciences, 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 15th, 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 for advising the student through the research and other courses as needed towards the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation.
- Participation (through regular attendance and oral presentation) in the student-run immunology journal clubs for at least the first 2 years (IMMUNOL 305). First- through fourth-year students are also expected to attend the graduate students' journal club, the Tuesday evening immunology seminars, and the annual Stanford Immunology Scientific Conference at Asilomar. Students are required to give one poster and one scientific presentation at these annual Stanford Immunology scientific conferences.
- 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.
- Completion of a Ph.D. dissertation, resulting from independent investigation and constituting a contribution to knowledge in the area of immunology.