Graduate Studies

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology is one of 14 Stanford “home programs” that cooperatively recruit and train graduate students in the Biosciences. Students apply to up to three such programs and then enter through one. As the name implies, the “home” program serves as the student’s home from which to explore all that Stanford has to offer. Research rotations lasting three months (one quarter) can be done in any bioscience lab in the University (a total of over 280!) but at least one must be done in a lab that is part of the home program; in our case, that means over 25 faculty. The final thesis lab is chosen based on these research rotations and while most student ends up staying in the original home program, ones who discover a new passion during their rotations can transfer to a different home program or simply stay within the M&I home but do their thesis work outside the Department (assuming their thesis work will bear at least some connection to our discipline). In the autumn of their second year, students take their qualifying exam, which is a oral defense of an original research idea on some topic other than their eventual thesis project. In the spring of this same year, each student presents a research proposal that will form the basis of the Ph.D. thesis.  All students are required to obtain some teaching experience, usually by serving as a teaching assistant in at least one department course. The normal time for completion of the Ph.D. is about 5 to 5.5 years.