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Spring 2020 Update: In light of the university's announcement about the spring quarter grading basis policy, classes taken S/NC in Spring 2020 will fulfill major and school requirements for BioE and BMC majors.


All BMC students take foundational in the component disciplines of biomedical computation. Most of these courses will be taken during freshman and sophomore year. These courses include:

  • Math: Math 19/20/21 (or AP equivalent), CS 109 (or equivalent), and one additional math course specific to your track.
  • Biological Sciences: Biology or Human Biology Core (3 courses, ideally taken in sophomore year)
  • Chemistry: Chem31A+B or X; Chem 33
  • Physics: Physics 41
  • Computer Science: CS103; CS106A+B or X; CS107; CS 161
  • Engineering Fundamentals: CS 106 (see above) plus one additional elective (see Undergraduate Handbook for list of SoE approved courses)
  • Technology in Society (TIS): One course required (see Undergraduate Handbook for list of SoE approved courses)


For the upper division courses in the major, a student must choose between one of the four tracks of BMC. These are:

  • Informatics
  • Simulation
  • Cellular/Molecular
  • Organs/Organ Systems

The Informatics and Simulation tracks place a greater emphasis on the computational aspects of the discipline, while the Cellular/Molecular and Organs/Organ Systems tracks provide more depth in biology.

Each of the tracks consists of a core of two to five courses. These are courses that provide students the core knowledge related to their in-depth area of study. The tracks also have elective requirements, to ensure students gain breadth in upper division courses. For each track, the core and electives together total about nine to ten courses.


The BMC Capstone class gives students the chance to take a rigorous course that thoroughly integrates various aspects of biology and computation. This course is typically taken during junior or senior year. Currently, this requirement is satisfied by one of the following courses: CS270, CS273A, CS274, CS275, CS278, or CS279.


Every BMC student must complete 6 units of directed research under a faculty member. This requirement of research is fairly unique to BMC among majors at Stanford. It allows our students to work on cutting-edge projects as a part of their undergraduate curriculum. This research typically occurs during the junior or senior year, and may be undertaken with faculty members from any school at Stanford. The main requirement is that the student does actual, hands-on biomedical computation as a part of the research project. The student must get approval from the BMC Program Directors before undertaking his or her research project.

The student is responsible for finding a faculty member with which to complete his or her research. Unlike the academic advisor, the research advisor does not have to be a School of Engineering faculty member, so long as the student is doing substantial biomedical computation research. Projects must be preapproved by the BMC directors. In the event that a student is unable to find a research advisor, he or she may conduct research under supervision of his or her academic advisor to fulfill the research requirement.

There are numerous excellent summer research opportunities available to BMC students. The School of Engineering maintains an excellent central list. Unfortunately, students' research work can be compensated with money or units, but not both, so paid summer research cannot directly count towards the BMC requirement. However, completion of a paid summer research project can allow students to be exempted from some of the BMC research units and instead replace them with other coursework units. Contact us if you are interested in this option.


The Writing in the Major requirement gives students an opportunity to learn to effectively communicate ideas in their fields of study. In BMC, there are two ways to satisfy this requirement:

Students may fulfill the WIM requirement by writing a ~15 page technical report concurrently with performing the research for the research requirement. This report is in the form of a technical publication about the students work, and is completed under supervision of research mentor and the School of Engineering writing tutors.

To fulfill the requirement using this option, students may do one of the following:

  • Enroll in least 3 of the 6 research units as CS191W, and complete the requisite writing during the CS191W course, or
  • Instead of 6 units of research, enroll in a total 5 units of research (any department), and concurrently with the last quarter of research, 1 unit of ENGR199W. In this arrangement, the research mentor is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's writing. If the research mentor is outside of the School of Engineering, you may email the BMC Directors to find a faculty member in the School of Engineering with whom you can enroll in E199W.
  • Students are not allowed to enroll in E199W if they are not enrolled in at least 2 units of research in the same quarter.

Students wishing to satisfy their WIM requirement independently of their research work may enroll in CS272, the Biomedical Informatics project course.