Degree Progress Outline

First Year

Courses & Research

Rotations (Autumn, Winter, and Spring if necessary)

  1. You will need to work on your first rotation prior to arriving / starting Autumn quarter on campus. Please make sure to contact your faculty of interest in summer.
  2. E-mail Kathleen/Amy when you rotate in a new lab in Autumn and Winter quarters, or Spring quarter if you do a third rotation.

Thesis Lab (Spring or Summer)

  1. E-mail Kathleen/Amy when you decide on your research lab. If your advisor is not a Biophysics faculty, you will need to have a faculty who is in Biophysics as your co-advisor on your reading committee*.

    * reading committee (administrative/faculty term) is your thesis committee (Biosciences term), as well as your dissertation reading committee (University term).

Individual Development Plan (IDP)

  1. Complete your first IDP meeting with your advisor within 30 days of joining your thesis lab.
  2. IDP meetings are required annually, apart from Thesis Committee Meetings (see below).
  3. Update your record in Graduate Student Tracking (GST).

Course Requirements

Course Title Units
BIOPHYS 241 Biological Macromolecules 3-5
     or BIOE 300A  Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering  
BIOPHYS 242 Methods in Molecular Biophysics (Offered every other year) 3
BIOPHYS 250 Seminar in Biophysics 1
MED 255 The Responsible Conduct of Research 1
AND, 4 graduate level courses in physical or biological science, with
     at least 1 course in physical science
     at least 1 course in literature-based biological science

Notes on Courses:

  1. Students should always register for 10 units total each quarter.
  2. All required courses must be taken with letter grade, except BIOPHYS 250 (C/NC) & MED 255 (P/N).
  3. The "+/-" grading basis is for MD students only.
  4. Prof. KC Huang, Director of the Biophysics Program, is your program advisor during your 1st year until you settle in a lab. Please register under KC for your research units (BIOPHYS 300). After you chose your research lab, you should register under your advisor’s name.
  5. The same Course Requirements can also be found on the Stanford Bulletin here.
  6. For information on the University's general requirements for the Ph.D. degree, please see the "Graduate Degrees" section of Stanford University's Bulletin.


Second Year

Courses & Research

Reading Committee

  1. Form your Reading Committee (form available on website) and prepare for your Qualifying Exam.
  2. If your PI is not in Biophysics, you will need to have a Biophysics faculty as your co-advisor on your reading committee, and you should register your research units under your co-advisor.
  3. E-mail Kathleen/Amy when your Qual Exam date has been set.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)


Third Year

Courses & Research

Qualifying Exam

  1. Regulations for the Qual Exam can be found here.
  2. Qualifying Exam, or Qual Exam in short, should be completed no later than Autumn quarter of your third year.
  3. Right after you've taken your exam, submit your Qual Exam Form to Kathleen/Amy.

Reading Committee Form

  1. The form must be signed by all committee members and the director.
  2. Use HelloSign (account required) to obtain director and/or other committee members' signatures.
  3. Submit your Reading Committee Form to Kathleen/Amy.

Candidacy Form

  1. The form must contain you, your advisor and the director's signatures (skip the middle column "Program Advisor"), with list of all required courses completed (see Course Requirements).
  2. You are not required to list all taken courses, only required courses listed will suffice, and must be listed.
  3. Use HelloSign to obtain director and/or other committee members' signatures.
  4. Submit your Candidacy Form to Kathleen/Amy.

Thesis Committee Meetings (TCM)**

  1. Your Qualifying Exam is considered your first Thesis Committee Meeting.
  2. Submit your TCM Forms to Kathleen/Amy.
  3. Update your record in GST.

** Students are required to meet with advisory committee once a year in 3rd & 4th years, and twice for 5th years and above.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)


Fourth Year

Courses & Research

Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR)***

  1. Kathleen/Amy will contact and send you the TGR Form a quarter prior to you reaching 135 units, return the completed form to Kathleen/Amy for submission.
  2. Make sure to notify Kathleen/Amy once you receive approval from the central office.
  3. Once your TGR status is approved, register under BIOPHYS 802 for your TGR units (not BIOPHYS 801).
  4. Graduates on TGR status can enroll in 0 - 3 units per quarter.

*** Biosciences' policy requires that all graduate students must enroll in TGR status upon reaching Spring Quarter of their 4th year in graduate studies.

Thesis Committee Meetings (TCM)

Individual Development Plan (IDP)


Fifth Year & Above

Courses & Research

University Oral Examination (also Dissertation, or Defense)

  1. Meet with Kathleen to discuss about your defense committee. Please fill, print, and bring your University Oral Examination Form with you to the meeting.
  2. Complete your University Oral Examination with your defense committee.
  3. Submit your thesis to the University here.****

 **** E-submission: please review the web page information carefully to prepare for electronic submission of your thesis.

Thesis Committee Meetings (TCM)

  1. Complete two required TCM meetings annually with your reading committee.

Individual Development Plan (IDP)


Additional Information

  1. TA-ship is optional, and is not required by Biophysics. Students who express interest will work with their faculty and course instructor to make arrangements.



Outline of degree progress can be downloaded/printed here.