Stanford Biosciences student looking at computer


The Extra 5% Can Make All the Difference





Incoming graduate students kick off an exciting new stage in their lives with this eight-week comprehensive, eight-week transition program. Designed to give early opportunities in their Stanford University School of Medicine Home Programs, participants attend a series of workshops, which help acclimate them to Stanford and the School of Medicine while developing academic, professional, and leadership skills.

Top skills covered: transitioning to grad school, reading primary literature, research skills, NSF application writing

Department/Program Fall Boot Camps

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Get your laboratory skills in shape, all while getting to know your new Stanford colleagues. Individually organized by most Biosciences Home Programs, these boot camps introduce first-year PhD students to a variety of advanced techniques and concepts. Students often participate in intensive seminars, hands-on laboratory exercises, and individual or group presentations.

Top skills covered: lab techniques, fundamental concepts, working collaboratively

BIOE 450 (Spring)

Advances in Biotechnology

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This quarter-long course invites speakers from academia and industry to discuss the latest research in bioenergy, medical diagnostics and beyond, while also discussing issues of ethics and entrepreneurship in the field.

Top skills covered: current research, ethics, entrepreneurship

"...the guest speakers range from venture capitalists to law professors, providing insight into how collaborations function between various disciplines and institutions."

Various Courses

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Get innovating! The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design—known as the—embraces design thinking as the glue for multidisciplinary collaboration and innovation. The teaches project-based interdisciplinary classes around themes or initiatives—including social entrepreneurship, business, and design. Participants get to tackle real—world projects to learn more about design thinking and practice innovating together. Courses and workshops are available throughout the year.

Top skills covered: innovation, collaboration, design thinking

SOMGEN 210 (Fall/Winter)

Empowering Emerging Scientists I & II

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This two-quarter sequence is a practical guide for career development, which includes training on career direction, communication, and the development and leveraging of relationships, all skills that are also easily translatable to many areas of life. Through conversations, self-analysis, and writing exercises, each participant designs a fulfilling and impactful vision for their career and life as a whole. Participants learn a practical, step-by-step process for living a more inspired and productive life.

Top skills covered: communication, building relationships, career direction

BIOS 200 (Fall)

Foundations in Experimental Biology

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Our students begin their graduate careers with Foundations, an experience designed to transform students into knowledge creators. The course revolves around three broad themes—Evolution, Energy, and Information—and emphasizes the value of communicating, learning, and thinking across disciplines. During each three-week cycle, students work in small teams to develop an original research project and compose a brief written proposal explaining the research. Teams are coached by faculty to hone the following skills: 1) reading for breadth and depth; 2) developing compelling, creative arguments; 3) communicating with the spoken and written word; 4) working in teams. Peer assessment and workshops further develop these skills, which are integral to independent research. Substantial face-to-face discussion with faculty-opening multiple mentorship possibilities—and the bringing together of students from different backgrounds are strengths of the course.

Top skills covered: reading the literature, developing independent research, communication

BIOS 225 (Winter)

Gender in Science

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Reviews social science research on factors contributing to gender disparities in the workplace such as implicit bias. Participants discuss steps individuals and institutions can take to promote advancement of women and other under-represented groups in science and to promote science by better utilizing the entire talent pool. Open to PhD and MD students and post-doctoral fellows in the biological sciences.

Top skills covered: problem solving

INDE 234 (Spring)

Introduction to Writing Research Proposals

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Practical instruction in research proposal writing. Suitable for advanced graduate students. Substantial writing component. Enrollment by instructor approval only.

Top skills covered: research proposal writing



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These intensive 1-3 week courses allow students to tailor their education across disciplines without requiring a full quarter's commitment. Students explore new directions for current research, potential postdoctoral avenues, or just topics of interest. Stanford Biosciences students and postdocs have highlighted these offerings as among the most exciting parts of their education, for the way in which they catalyze their research and open new paths. Listings for the current academic year are listed at Explore Courses under BIOS.

Top skills covered: current research topics

Stanford's many schools and departments offer courses that may be particularly inviting to graduate students from other fields. The VPGE provides a sample of these courses, including offerings from the schools of Law, Engineering, and Business.

Top skills covered: interdisciplinary learning

STVP, the entrepreneurship education and research center at the School of Engineering, offers courses in innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship for graduate students. Courses include "Creativity and Innovation"—an experiential offering that uses case studies, field trips, and expert guests to explore the factors that promote and inhibit creativity—and "Patent Law and Strategy for Innovators and Entrepreneurs."

Top skills covered: innovation, entrepreneurship


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The VPGE's series of interdisciplinary lunch discussions catalyzes interdisciplinary and cross-school learning opportunities for graduate students. Over lunch at 12 p.m., 12 students and a faculty facilitator choose a complex problem of real importance to grapple with over five monthly meetings. This open-ended format encourages students to contribute to the Stanford intellectual community, tackle interesting questions, be exposed to new ideas, and even challenge their own worldviews. Participants also expand their Stanford network across the University. Lunch is included, and each group chooses its topics at the first meeting. Past 12@12 groups have discussed evolving family structure and the role of marriage, cognition-enhancing drugs, and the role of higher education in society.

Top skills covered: problem solving, interdisciplinary learning

Academic Chats

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Join your fellow students for lunch and a discussion of academic life with guest experts. Topics for 2013-14 include "Applying for Academic Positions," "Keys to Finding the Right Postdoc," and "Establishing and Managing a Research Program." Each chat is limited to 40 attendees. Readings will be sent prior to the chat.

Top skills covered: academic careers

"I think one of the outstanding values of these academic chats lies in the varied perspectives they add to what is typically the singular source of information to which most of us grad students have access, our advisors. Not that any given advisor gives poor advice, but it's bound to be limited. These chats really help to fill that void."

Choosing Rotations and Your Thesis Lab

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Your choice of thesis lab is the most important choice you will make in graduate school. Given this, it is essential you think carefully about selecting your rotation labs. It is important for you to read the literature from the labs you are considering, get input about the faculty member's personality, understand the lab environment, talk to your peers, and learn other questions to ask. In this workshop, we give advice and suggestions on how to navigate this critical step.

Top skills covered: reading the literature, transitioning to graduate school, communication

Organized by the Hume Writing Center multiple times during the year, Dissertation Boot Camp dedicates two weeks to kick-starting your dissertation and establishing writing habits that will help graduate students complete their individual dissertations as quickly and efficiently as possible while working in a supportive, focused group.

Top skills covered: dissertation writing

"Hume Writing Center's Dissertation Boot Camp provided a quiet place and source of accountability to work on my thesis."

Goal Setting and Time Management

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Graduate students face many pulls on their time, with short-term deadlines and ongoing responsibilities. This workshop presents both new students and veterans with tips on how to make the most of your schedule, adding balance to your life while helping you produce more efficiently than ever before. Start your year off with a positive attitude, goals, and productive work habits.

Top skills covered: time management, goal setting, productivity

"Managing Up"—How to Make the Most of the Student/Advisor Relationship

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You have them. Your advisor has them. Take those expectations and learn how to talk about them with your mentor to make the most of your relationship. Targeted specifically to early stage students, this workshop provides concrete examples to develop communication skills that will aid you in graduate school and beyond. Topics include choosing the right advisor, working with your advisor, setting and managing expectations for each other, and optimizing the relationship for a win-win outcome.

Top skills covered: relationship building, communication

Quick Bytes

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These brief, information-rich sessions are held over lunch throughout the academic year. They are open to all currently enrolled Stanford graduate students. Each Quick Byte focuses on a key area of training relevant to students at any stage, whatever their future plans, such as communication, interpersonal development, or personal and career development. Sessions are led by faculty and staff from VPGE and other campus partners—with a priority on making them interactive, practical, and fun. They also will direct you to additional resources and deeper learning opportunities. Workshops during the 2012-13 academic year included "Top Tips to Manage Graduate School," "Telling Stories with Data Visualization," and "Winning Fellowships."

Top skills covered: communication, time management, successful habits

Science Posters: Best Practices

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Effective oral communication skills have always been important to success in academia, but perhaps never more than when presenting a research poster. This session focuses on improving the oral and visual communication skills you have already begun to develop as scholars and teachers, while helping you adapt these skills to the range of rhetorical situations you will encounter while presenting at conferences, seminars, job interviews, and other settings. You will discover creative ways to present your research and engage, rather than confuse, your audience.

Top skills covered: communication, presenting research

Kearns' half-day workshop details the skills and habits graduate students can implement to finish their degrees on time, increase productivity, and enjoy graduate life!

Top skills covered: successful habits, time management

CTL promotes the development of teaching skills for graduate students through personalized one-on-one feedback. Multiple services are offered, including classroom observation, small group evaluations, and courses on teaching throughout the year.

"SUCH a tremendous resource on campus for those who want to improve their teaching. Their team is dedicated to help you succeed in the classroom, from designing syllabi to acquiring impeccable oral communication skills."

"All the staff at the CTL who I have had the privilege of interacting with have been thoroughly enthusiastic, professional, and a joy to work with."

The Office of Graduate Education aims to help train and empower the next generation of leaders and innovators within and beyond academia and industry. We recognize that our graduate students are the central drivers and conductors of some of the most transformative research in the world. Our office offers programs and services to support graduate students and sustain the level of excellence achieved by the Stanford Biosciences.

Today's intellectual and social problems require the minds and talents of students from many fields. Stanford's graduate students are able to roam freely, gathering and sharing ideas across disciplines. VPGE works to expand cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary educational opportunities for students, encouraging students to enroll in classes across the University and bringing students from diverse fields together.

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