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PhD Program

PhD Program in Bioengineering

Study for the PhD in Bioengineering combines rigorous coursework with novel research mentored by Stanford faculty, enabling students to develop as independent intellectual leaders working at the interfaces between biology, medicine, engineering, and the physical sciences. Our mission is to train students at the intersection of biomedicine and engineering in both academia and the burgeoning biomedical and biotechnology industries. Applicants should have a commitment to learning and a passion for research. 

On average, the program is completed in five to six years, depending on the student’s research and progress. First-year students have the opportunity to rotate in three different labs before selecting their dissertation advisor (PI). Many students choose to join labs in the Bioengineering department, but we also have several students who join labs within the Schools of Engineering, Medicine, and Humanities & Sciences. 

The Bioengineering Department also believes that teaching is an important part of graduate-level education in Bioengineering. Consequently, serving as a teaching assistant for two courses is a requirement for the PhD in Bioengineering. Current BioE and Stanford graduate students can learn more about our TA opportunities via our BioE intranet.

Along the way to the PhD degree, students have clear and defined milestones that help guide them to the successful completion of their dissertation and oral defense. More information regarding our PhD degree requirements and milestones can be found in the Stanford Bulletin.

What We Look For

BioE PhD students come from a wide variety of personal, educational, and professional backgrounds. We welcome applicants with undergraduate degrees in diverse STEM disciplines including Bioengineering, Biophysics, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biochemistry, Physics, and Chemistry. There are no specific course requirements for applicants, but a competitive candidate will have strong quantitative training in mathematics and the physical sciences, along with a background in biology acquired through coursework or prior research. All admitted graduate students should be prepared to take the core courses in the first year.

We welcome students entering directly from undergraduate programs, as well as applicants with MS degrees and/or substantial work experience in areas ranging from biotechnology to robotics. Our admissions committee will look for evidence that an applicant has demonstrated qualities of successful PhD students such as creativity, self-initiative, dedication, and perseverance. We also aim to admit bioengineering students who can thrive at Stanford because their specific interests and aspirations are well-matched with the research of our faculty and the educational environment of our department

Incoming Student Profile

The Bioengineering community is home to over 165 PhD students who come from a variety of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Below is a snapshot of our BioE PhD cohort that started in Fall 2019.

2019-20 Incoming Student Profile  
Total Number of Applications 501
Number Enrolling 23
Female 48%
International 39%
Number of Countries Represented 7
Advanced Degrees 26%
BioE 2019 PhD Students