Genetics Student Handbook


Course Requirements For Ph.D. or M.S. Degree

All students must take a minimum of nine medical school coursesa divided into three general categories (see below) and register for exactly 10 units each quarter (including summer). Students must earn a minimum grade of B- in all nine courses and maintain at least a B average for continuation in the program. Courses not taken for a letter grade do not count toward the total of nine courses.

Core Requirements
GENE 200 (Training Camp)
BIOS 200 (Foundations in Experimental Biology)
GENE 205 (Advanced Genetics, Win)
GENE 211 (Genomics) Class URL
GENE 215 (Frontiers, Fall & Spr) – must register each quarter
MED 255 (The Responsible Conduct of Research, Aut, Win, Spr) – register early, fills up fast
bHRP 258 (Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Clinical Research, Spring) Or
bSTAT 141 (Biostatistics, Fall)

Other Electives (at least 2 required) such as

GENE 210 (Personalized Medicine, Spr) Class URL
GENE 214 (Representations and Algorithms for Computational Molecular Biology, Spr)
GENE 244 (Introduction to Statistical Genetics, Aut, alternate years)
GENE 245 (Computational Algorithms for Statistical Genetics, Spr, alternate years)
GENE 233 (Biology of Small Modulatory RNAs, Fall, alternate years)
GENE 206 (Epigenetics, Win, not every year)
GENE 218 (Computational Analysis of Biological Information: Intro to Python for Biologists, Smr, alt yrs)
BIO 244 (Molecular Evolution, Spr)
BIO 222, BIO 237, BIO 258, CBIO 275, CS 278, PATH 210, DBIO 201, DB 210, GENE 221, GENE 234, GENE 235, IMM 230, STAT 202.
GENE 267 (Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegenerative Disease, Win, alternate years)

aCourses outside the medical school (e.g., CS, STAT) are encouraged and can be applied to the minimum requirement of nine courses.

bThe statistics requirement counts towards the minimum of nine courses. Students may petition the Graduate Program Director to receive approval for any course, including statistics, that they have completed elsewhere and that may substitute for a required Genetics course. All such petitions must be submitted no later than Friday of the second week of classes during the quarter in which the course that is the subject of the petition is taught.

Example first year curriculum

Fall – 10 units
GENE 200 – Training Camp
BIOS 200 – Foundations in Experimental Biology
GENE 215 – Frontiers in Biology Rotation

Winter – 10 units
Genetics 211 – Genomics
GENE 203 – Advanced Genetics
GENE/MED 255 – The Responsible Conduct of Research Rotation

Spring – 10 units
GENE 215 – Frontiers in Biology
HRP 258 – Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Clinical Research Rotation and Electives

Your Individual Development Plan and Annual Planning Meetings

Your Individual Development Plan (IDP) and annual planning meeting with your advisor are intended to help you:

  • Take ownership of your training and professional development.
  • Pause and reflect! Amidst daily research activities, it is easy to lose sight of longer-term goals.
  • Think intentionally about your short-, mid- and long-term training and development goals.
  • Identify and use resources to help you achieve your goals.
  • Have open and direct dialogue with your mentor(s).
  • Establish clear expectations/steps.

As of March 31, 2014, the Committee on Graduate Admissions and Policy (CGAP) has adopted a new policy requiring all Biosciences PhD candidates and their mentors in the Schools of Medicine and H&S to create and discuss their Individual Development Plans (IDPs) on an annual basis.
Students and their advisors share responsibility for completing the IDP, as well as the consequences of not completing the IDP by the deadlines below. Failure to comply with IDP requirements will

  • negatively impact Stanford's ability to receive NIH funding; and
  • incur a hold on student registration that prevents tipends from being funded.

Key Deadlines


First Year Students

All Other Students

Schedule a planning and mentoring meeting with your advisor

Within 30 days of joining your thesis lab

Before June 1

Download and complete the appropriate IDP form. (Ideally, share the completed form with your advisor in advance.)

Before your meeting

Before your meeting

Hold your annual planning/ mentoring meeting with advisor

Within 30 days of joining your thesis lab

By August 1

Verify that you and your advisor met to discuss your IDP

Within 30 days of joining your thesis lab

By August 1

See for more information and IDP forms, including extensive FAQs and resources for both faculty and students.

Questions? Please email


Students in the Genetics Graduate Program take the Qualifying Examination in the Fall Quarter of their second year of study. There are two parts to the exam, a written research proposal and an oral examination. 


The dissertation is expected to be an original contribution to scholarship, to exemplify the highest standards of the discipline, and to be of lasting value to the intellectual community. The work for the dissertation will be in progress from the time a student chooses a permanent laboratory in which to work. Before defending her/his dissertation, every student must have submitted for publication or published at least one first author or co-first author manuscript arising from their thesis work.


Outcome of Qualifying Exam
Dissertation Advisory Committee Meeting Form