First year Stanford Biosciences students in class

Getting Started

Welcome to Stanford University and the Biosciences Home Programs! This page provides an introductory list of essential tasks, orientations and training, and other resources.

This will be a transformative and rewarding year for you. You will complete courses that teach you how to ask new questions and produce scientific knowledge. You also will explore the biosciences; interact with other students, postdocs, and faculty; and discover new interests through your lab rotations.

As a graduate student, you are part of a broader community that accounts for over half of the University's student body and much of our campus life. We hope you find Stanford intellectually and personally enriching, and take advantage of all the University has to offer—attending seminars, taking courses from other departments, and interacting with people from a range of disciplines and backgrounds.

You are starting an exciting new chapter in your life—keep your eyes open and enjoy your time at Stanford!

New-student checklist

Keep track of what you need to do before starting at Stanford. The Office of Graduate Admissions' checklist lists essential deadlines, including:

  • Responding to admissions offer and financial aid
  • Uploading a student-ID photo
  • Updating mailing address
  • Entrance medical requirements
  • Housing
  • English for Foreign Students summer program
  • Signing the Patent and Copyright Agreement
  • Payment
  • Academic calendar

For additional resources and links, consult Resources for Admitted Students.

International-student information and checklist

The Bechtel International Center's checklist for international students lists important tasks, including:

  • Maintaining visa documents
  • Opening a bank account and credit card
  • Getting phone service
  • Obtaining Social Security and Taxpayer Identification numbers
  • Applying for a driver's license
  • Subscribing to the I-Center's email newsletter

For comprehensive information for both new and continuing members of the Stanford community, please refer to our Resources page.

The Bechtel International Center (I-Center) provides information on a wide range of issues that are important to international students, scholars, and their families: immigration matters, social and cultural concerns, and personal issues. In addition, the I-Center offers programs and events to help our international students adjust to life in the United States. The staff and volunteers at the I-Center are here to assist you and answer your questions and concerns.

The I-Center also extends a warm welcome to the families and partners of international students and scholars at Stanford. All of us at Stanford hope your time here will be an enriching experience for every member of your family.

SUNet login: Email and Axess, your online hub


This login is your key to access Stanford's online resources.

Your account identifies you, uniquely and permanently, as a member of the Stanford community. It is what is used to log in to Stanford computer systems.

Computing and Communication provides a helpful starter's guide for Stanford technology, from purchasing a laptop to managing your SUNet ID and connecting to the campus network.


This web-based system is the go-to hub for most student business. Students use Axess to accomplish the following tasks:

  • File or adjust a study list (the courses in which you wish to enroll) and elect grading options each quarter
  • Confirm that the University has your correct address and phone number
  • Update emergency-contact information
  • Print a history of courses and grades
  • Check registration status each quarter (e.g. pending holds)
  • Review grades
  • Ensure University bill is paid

Axess also hosts services for official transcript requests, campus housing applications, and printing enrollment certifications.

Orientations and programs for first-years

Don't miss these key orientations and programming for first-year Biosciences students:

  • Summer Online Orientation

    Hit the ground running! Join the other incoming first-years for online discussions about transitioning into graduate school, choosing rotation and thesis labs, achieving success in graduate school, and setting goals for your target career. Current students and faculty will be available to answer questions and offer advice. We expect all incoming students to participate. Watch your email for more details.

  • Fall Orientation Dinner and Discussion (September 22, 2015)

    All Biosciences first-years attend this dinner along with current faculty and students. Everyone participates in small-group discussions on the transition from undergraduate to graduate school, choosing rotations and a thesis lab, and how to succeed in graduate school.

  • Laboratory Safety Training*

    Every person working in a laboratory is required by various agencies to undergo safety training. During Orientation Week, it is mandatory that new graduate students take the online "University Laboratory Safety Training" in Axess via the Training tab.

    *Remember to check with your individual home programs for specific information on IDs, safety training, HIPAA, department orientation, and other essential programs.
  • Poster Session and Social Mixer (September 24, 2015)

    The Stanford Biosciences Student Association (SBSA) poster jamboree is a laid-back poster session with only grad students in attendance—a great opportunity to learn about research and feel out labs!

  • Lab Coat Ceremony (September 30, 2015)

    Biosciences first-years attend this ceremony for presentation of lab coats, marking students' entrance into the School of Medicine. Incoming students then gather for a class photo.

  • Alumni Roundtable: Joys and Challenges of Graduate Research (May)

    This forum provides first-year students an opportunity to engage with recent Biosciences alumni and obtain advice on pursuing a rewarding research experience. The casual networking dinner includes a keynote from a prominent alumnus and roundtable discussions with 20-25 alumni.

  • Graduate Education Forums (TBA)

    Targeted to first- and second-years, these workshops focus on skills like poster presentations, goal-setting and time management, and making the most of your relationship with your advisor.

Student services

The following list is a sampling of resources available to Biosciences graduate students.

  • Health and Wellness

    There is a wide variety of health and wellness resources available to you at Stanford, and we encourage you to take full advantage of them to ensure your success as a graduate student. The Vaden Health Center provides free short-term counseling services to students as well as couples. You can find information on the Vaden Health Center, health insurance, mental-health services, and other Stanford health services in the Current Students section.

  • Graduate Life Office (GLO)

    The Graduate Life Office (GLO) is a comprehensive resource for information and advice on graduate-student life. It is housed in the Graduate Community Center (GCC) at 750 Escondido Road (phone: 650-736-7078). The GCC also has meeting rooms and a pub.

  • Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE)

    The Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE) will help connect you to University resources and opportunities in addition to those provided by your department. From advice to workshops to information on University policies and resources, the VPGE wants to make sure you have all the information you need to succeed at Stanford.

For a more complete listing, visit Resources for Current Students.

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