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 and 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, an on-topic oral defense based on research that a student will be working on at Stanford. In the spring of this same year, each student presents a research proposal that will form the basis of the PhD 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 PhD is about 5 to 5.5 years.

Graduate Advising Expectations
The Department of Microbiology and Immunology is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the adviser and the advisee. As a best practice, advising expectations should be periodically discussed and reviewed to ensure mutual understanding. Both the adviser and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity.

Faculty advisors guide students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing of teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways.

Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program.

Expectations of faculty advisors in Microbiology and Immunology:

  • actively promote a diverse and inclusive work environment
  • serve as intellectual and professional mentors to their graduate students including regular meetings/interactions that focus on the student and student's project.
  • provide knowledgeable support concerning the academic and non-academic policies that pertain to graduate students 
  • help to prepare students to be competitive for employment
  • maintain a high level of professionalism and open dialogue in the relationship
  • establish and collaboratively maintain expectations of the advisor/advisee relationship consistent with departmental standard

Additional details and resources can be found in the Guidelines for Advising Relationship Between Faculty and Graduate Students.

General Responsibilities of Faculty Advisors
The University requires that within each department or program minimum advising expectations be set for both advisor and advisee.  Such minimum expectations must differentiate between master’s and doctoral programs, and between different types of advisors (academic/program vs. research.)  These department or program expectations must be distributed to faculty and graduate students on an annual basis at the start of each academic year and must be easily accessible on the web. Faculty are expected to affirm that they have received the advising expectations.  Each faculty member has the prerogative to augment the departmental advising expectations with their specific additional expectations, while remaining consistent with the departmental advising policies.