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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 1st. 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 1.

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. The PhD Program has a limited number of department-funded slots for trainees such that students who have been awarded an outside fellowship are also encouraged to apply. 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 at least once a year.

Candidates for Ph.D. degrees at Stanford must satisfactorily complete a program of study that includes 135 units of graduate course work and research. At least 3 units must be taken with each of four different Stanford faculty members. All core course requirements must be completed by the end of the second year.

Requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Immunology include—

  1. Training in biology and cognate disciplines equivalent to that provided by the undergraduate Biology major at Stanford.
  2. Completion of the following courses (or their equivalents from undergraduate work):
    1. Basic Immunology (BIO 230A, Molecular and Cellular Immunology Literature Review)
    2. Advanced Immunology (IMMUNOL 201, 202, 203)
    3. Two of the following three courses: Gen 203. Advanced Genetics, Bio 214. Advanced Cell biology, MI 210. Advanced Pathogenesis of Bacteria, Viruses, and Eukaryotic Parasites
    4. Chemistry of Biological Processes (BIOC 220)
    5. Biostatistics (BIO 141or STATS 141)
    6. Principles of Biological Technologies (IMMUNOL 215) or another techniques course by permission
    7. 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
    8. MED 255. Responsible Conduct in Science
    9. IMMUNOL 305. Immunology Journal Club
  3. Prior to enrolling for Autumn Quarter, first-year students are required to read Janeway's Immunobiology, 8th edition, in preparation for their graduate studies. 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.
  4. Students in their second year and above must participate in the IMMUNOL 311, Seminars in Immunology (4:00 pm, Tuesdays) and may opt to take the companion course, IMMUNOL 311A, in which students read the papers of visiting seminar speakers and meet to discuss the material. Students who have not yet achieved TGR status must register for 1 unit for IMMUNOL 311.
  5. Participation (through regular attendance and oral presentation) in the Immunology journal clubs for the first three years (IMMUNOL 305).
  6. 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.
  7. Students must complete three one quarter rotations in the first year. Medical students who are accepted into the Ph.D. program must also complete three rotations.First year students, including MSTP and MD/PhD students, present one out of their three lab rotations (First Year Rotation Presentation, mid-July). The faculty advising and feedback portion of the First Year Rotation Presentation also is an important opportunity for the Predoctoral Committee to give critical advice and comments to students in choosing mentors and relevant courses.
  8. The students complete their Qualifying Examination before December 17th, the Autumn Quarter of the Second Year. Students must submit to a general oral examination of broad fields in immunology and defend a research proposal on their dissertation research.
  9. Students may apply for Ph.D. candidacy upon successful completion of the First Year Rotation Presentations and the Qualifying Examination -- General Oral examination and the Research Proposal. 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 advising the student through the research and other elective courses as needed towards the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation.
  10. Teaching assistantships in two Immunology courses (IMMUNOL 290, Teaching in Immunology). Before fulfilling their teaching assistantships, Immunology graduate students are required to attend 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.
  11. Students are required to attend the annual Stanford Immunology Scientific Conference. Students are required to give one poster and one scientific presentation at these annual Stanford Immunology scientific conferences. Fourth-year and above students present their current research to fellow students and faculty in a monthly forum, The Next Generation.
  12. Students must pass 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.
  13. A Ph.D. dissertation, resulting from independent investigation that constitutes a contribution to knowledge in the area of immunology but be submitted to and approved by the Thesis Committee.

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