For Prospective Students

Introduction to the Biomedical Data Science Graduate Program

Biomedical Data Science is an interdisciplinary field that combines ideas from computer science and quantitative disciplines (statistics, data science, decision science) to solving challenging problems in biology and medicine. Applicants enter our program with many different backgrounds, so the program is designed to be flexible. Training in informatics and biocomputation is also available through other departments at Stanford, such as Bioengineering, Computer Science, Statistics, and Genetics. We recommend your explore the various options to find the best fit for you.

Important Dates:

Application Deadlines: December 5th for PhD and Academic MS; other MS applications accepted quarterly.

Mentoring and Info sessions:
Faculty Online Information Sessions will be scheduled in the summer for the fall term, 2024.
Meet-the-Students Online Panel will be scheduled in the summer for the fall term, 2024.
Peer-to-Peer Application Mentoring Program registration deadline will be scheduled in the summer for the fall term, 2024.

What DBDS Offers

  1. Degree Programs
    1. The PhD
    2. The Academic (Research) MS, with NLM-funded positions for postdoctoral trainees; others may also apply, but are not guaranteed funding from DBDS.
    3. The Honors Cooperative Program (Professional Masters) MS, a part-time distance education program
    4. The Coterminal MS for Stanford undergraduates
  2. Non-Degree Programs
    1. Distance education programs:
      1. Certificate in Bioinformatics
      2. Individual courses
    2. Post-doctoral research training (not pursuing a degree)
    3. Scholarly Concentration and Med Scholars programs for Stanford Medical Students

Why apply to this program?

  • Reputation. Stanford is ranked #1 for graduate training in Biological Sciences (including Genetics/Genomics), Bioinformatics, Computer Science, and Statistics. You will work with world-renown leaders in these areas.
  • Interdisciplinary Research. DBDS is part of the Stanford Biosciences PhD program, and draws on faculty from research and clinical departments located throughout Stanford’s School of Medicine. We have access to the extensive research clinical database and clinical informatics expertise at Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. In addition, we have strong ties to Bioengineering, Computer Science and Statistics. All of these are in close physical proximity on Stanford’s main campus.
  • History. Founded in 1982, our program is one of the oldest and most illustrious in the United States. Our graduates have gone on to become distinguished faculty at top universities and medical schools, industry leaders at major corporations and startups, or high-ranking positions in government.
  • Curriculum. Our core courses span a wide array of topics, from the analysis of biological sequences and structures, to translational and imaging informatics, the use of clinical data to drive health care, and understanding the principles of developing models and representations of biomedical phenomena. Much of the course material is based on cutting-edge research conducted here at Stanford. Electives come from DBDS, Computer Science, Statistics, and other departments.
  • Scientific Communication. We place a very high value on being able to present complex ideas to colleagues, collaborators, and the public in speech and in writing. Students present annually at our research seminar. All students make presentations regularly in their labs.
  • Community. DBDS is a small, collegial, friendly program. We have an annual off-campus retreat, and a strong alumni network.
  • Location. Stanford University’s campus occupies over 8000 acres, bordering Palo Alto, California. It has an ideal Mediterranean climate, is the heart of Silicon Valley, and provides easy access to the amenities of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Prerequisites for Graduate Degrees in Biomedical Data Science

Our program is quite quantitatively and computationally rigorous, and our students take graduate-level coursework in statistics and computer science at Stanford. Therefore, we expect strong preparation in these areas in order to make reasonable progress through our curriculum. All of our degree programs have the same prerequisites. Note that these are the minimum requirements, and that many applicants exceed them.

  • Calculus: at least one year, preferrably the track taught for engineering or physical science. Additional coursework in multivariate calculus is strongly recommended
  • Probability and statistics: at least one course, and preferably one course in both areas
  • Linear algebra
  • Computer science: one year, preferably the introductory sequence for CS majors. The focus should be fundamentals of computer science (data structures and algorithms) and software engineering principles (abstraction, modularity, object-oriented programming)
  • Biology/Medicine: at least some coursework in this area, preferably the introductory sequence for biology majors

Diversity and Inclusion

The Department of Biomedical Data Science recognizes that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2023 about the consideration of certain types of demographic information as part of an admission review. All applications submitted during upcoming application cycles will be reviewed in conformance with that decision. 

The Department of Biomedical Data Science welcomes graduate applications from individuals with a broad range of life experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds who would contribute to our community of scholars. The review process is holistic and individualized, considering each applicant’s academic record and accomplishments, letters of recommendation, prior research experience, and admissions essays to understand how an applicant’s life experiences have shaped their past and potential contributions to their field and how they might enrich the learning community at Stanford.

We would like to make applicants aware of the following Stanford programs and resources:

DBDS Peer-to-Peer Application Mentoring Program

DBDS Peer-to-Peer Application Mentoring Program

The DBDS Peer-to-Peer Application Mentoring Program is a student organized initiative that strives to assist individuals who:

  1. Identify as part of one or more groups that are historically underrepresented in STEM and
  2. Are applying to the DBDS PhD or MS program.

Participants may receive one round of feedback on their statements of purpose, up to the limit of our time and resources. Participation does not guarantee nor increase chance of admission.

The Peer-to-Peer application will be available in the fall term, 2024.

Meet the Students Panel

The Biomedical Informatics graduate students panel will be scheduled in the fall term, 2024.

Meet the Faculty Panel

Join our Meet the Faculty Panel will be held in the fall term, 2024.

Other Programs:


We have admitted students who have previously studied at the following institutions across the world:

All India Institute Medical Sc
Amherst College
Andhra University
Arizona State University
Ateneo De Manila University
Bar-Ilan University
Baylor University
Beijing Inst Chem Fiber Engine
Bharathidasan University
Birla Institute of Tech and Sc
Boston College
Boston University
Brandeis University
Brigham Young University
Brown University
Calif Polytechnic State Univ
Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve Univ
Central University of the East
City College of New York
Claremont Graduate School
Claremont McKenna College
Clark College
Clark University
Colby College
Columbia University
Cornell University
CUNY Mount Sinai School Me
Dartmouth College
Davidson College
De Anza College
Drexel University
Duke University
Ecole Polytechnique
Emory University
Florida State University
Fudan University
George Mason University
George Washington University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Tech
Harvard University
Harvey Mudd College
Hendrix College
Hitotsubashi University
Howard University
HS Affiliated Renmin Univ
Indian Institute of Technology
Indiana University
Indiana-Purdue University Indi
Iowa State University
Iran Univ Science & Technology
Johns Hopkins University
Leeward Community College
Lomonosov Moscow State Univ
Louisiana State Univ Medical C
Loyola University of Chicago
Ludwig Maximilian Universitat
Marlborough College
Massachusetts Inst of Tech
McGill University
Mesa Community College
Monash University
Morehouse College
Mumbai University
National Chiao Tung University
National Taiwan University
National University Singapore
New College of Florida
New York Medical College
New York University
North Harris County College
Northwestern University
Parkland College
Peking Union Medical College
Pennsylvania State University
Pomona College
Portland State University
Princeton University
Queens University at Kingston
Rush University
Rutgers University
S.U.N.Y. State Univ at Bingham
S.U.N.Y. State Univ at Buffalo
Saddleback College
Saint Andrew’s College
Saint Andrew’s Junior College
San Diego Miramar College
San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
San Jose City College
Santa Clara University
Seoul National University
Shanghai Jiaotong University
Smith College
Solano Community College
Southwestern College
St John’s College
St Marys College
Stanford University
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
Technion Israel Inst of Tech
Temple University
Tsinghua University
Tufts University
Tulane University of Louisiana
Univ of California Berkeley
Univ of California Davis
Univ of California Irvine
Univ of California Los Angeles
Univ of California San Diego
Univ of California San Francis
Univ of Illinois Urbana-Champa
Univ of Michigan Ann Arbor
Univ of Southern California
Universidad De Los Andes
Universidad Del Valle
Universidad Nacional Autonoma
Universidad Nacional De Rosari
University of Akron
University of Alabama Tuscaloo
University of Alberta
University of Baghdad
University of Calgary
University of Cambridge
University of Canterbury
University of Chicago
University of Cincinnati
University of Edinburgh
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Guelph
University of Hawaii Manoa
University of Maryland Balt
University of Maryland College
University of Massachusetts Bo
University of Melbourne
University of Miami
University of Minnesota Twin C
University of Missouri Kansas
University of New Mexico
University of New South Wales
University of Notre Dame
University of Oxford
University of Pennsylvania
University of Phoenix
University of Pittsburgh
University of Pune
University of Rajasthan
University of Sydney
University of Texas Austin
University of Tokyo
University of Toronto
University of Utah
University of Virginia
University of Waterloo
University of Western Ontario
University of Wisconsin Madiso
Vellore Institute Technology
Virginia Commonwealth Universi
Washington State University
Washington University
Weizmann Institute of Science
Wesleyan University
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Yale University

The PhD Degree in Biomedical Data Science

The PhD degree allows graduates to lead research in academic, industry, or government positions. All prospective applicants should note that the program in Biomedical Data Science is intellectually rigorous, and emphasizes research in novel computational methods aimed at advancing biology and medicine. You may also want to investigate degree programs from other computational and quantitative graduate programs (Bioengineering, Computer Science, Statistics) and other programs in the Biosciences Programs (such as Genetics, Chemical & Systems Biology, or Structural Biology). In contrast to the other computational/quantitative programs, DBDS focuses more on informatics issues of knowledge representation and reasoning, data mining and analysis, and machine learning, while in contrast to the Biosciences programs, DBDS places greater emphasis on method development and evaluation than on basic science. Faculty from many departments have research projects of a computational nature, and in some cases there is considerable overlap, but our applications committee evaluates the fit of your application to our program, so the choice of a home program is an important one.

Our students come from diverse backgrounds and training experiences. Some enter straight from baccalaureate training, while others have pursued advanced degrees, such as an MS, MPH, or MD, or worked in clinical medicine, bioengineering, biotechnology, or software engineering.


Please see the prerequisites page.

Degree Requirements

The curriculum is described on Stanford ExploreDegrees.

The doctoral program is a full-time, residential, research-oriented program. DBDS does not offer part-time or distance education leading to the PhD. However, some students have applied to the part-time distance education MS program, completed that degree, and then submitted a separate application to the PhD program. There is no guarantee that Masters graduates will be accepted into the PhD program.

PhD students typically start in the fall quarter, but may begin in the preceding summer. They spend an average of about five years at Stanford.

Candidates are encouraged to explore the various research interests of the biomedical informatics core and participating faculty. Lab rotations during the first year expose students to different labs and faculty. Prior to being formally admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree at the end of the second year of study, each student must demonstrate knowledge of informatics fundamentals and a potential for succeeding in research by passing a qualifying examination. Students later complete and defend a doctoral dissertation.

MDs interested in the PhD should contact us early, especially if you are coordinating the DBDS training with further medical residency or fellowship training. It is also important to ensure that sufficient math and computer science prerequisites are completed before applying.


BMI follows the same funding model as other programs in Biosciences: all of our PhD students are fully funded, and, at time of starting graduate school, your funding does not tie you to any particular lab, giving you the freedom to explore your research interests at Stanford. All funding sources cover tuition, a stipend, and health insurance. However, there are some restrictions:

US Citizens and permanent residents are eligible for our National Library of Medicine (NLM) Training Grant. They can also apply for National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships, and other external fellowships; this is encouraged, but not required.

Join dozens of Stanford Medicine students who gain valuable leadership skills in a multidisciplinary, multicultural community as Knight-Hennessy Scholars (KHS). KHS admits up to 100 select applicants each year from across Stanford’s seven graduate schools, and delivers engaging experiences that prepare them to be visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders ready to address complex global challenges. As a scholar, you join a distinguished cohort, participate in up to three years of leadership programming, and receive full funding for up to three years of your PhD studies at Stanford. Candidates of any country may apply. KHS applicants must have earned their first undergraduate degree within the last seven years, and must apply to both a Stanford graduate program and to KHS. Stanford PhD students may also apply to KHS during their first year of PhD enrollment. If you aspire to be a leader in your field, we invite you to apply. The KHS application deadline is October 11, 2023. Learn more about KHS admission.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Open to first or second year graduate students. Eligibility: No previous graduate training (e.g., masters degree), must be US citizen or permanent resident. Due date: late October.

We do not accept “self-pay” PhD students.

Application Instructions and Deadlines

Applications are due late November/early December each year. See details on the Graduate Admissions webpage and on the Biosciences Application website.

The Application Deadline: December 5, 2023 (11:59:59 pm PST).  

  • Complete the Biosciences PhD application online.
    • Note that the Biosciences Program allows you to select two departments/programs from which you will receive simultaneous consideration. Also note that only one PhD application per academic year is allowed, and that Computer Science, Bioengineering, and Statistics are not part of the Biosciences Program.
    • Submit scanned (unofficial) transcripts as part of the Biosciences application. Graduate Admissions only requires admitted applicants who accept the offer of admission to submit official transcripts that shows their degree conferral. Please do not send or have sent any official transcripts to us at this time.
    • See our page about the Personal Statement.
    • Please include an up-to-date version of your CV.
    • The GRE General Test score is not required and will not be considered if submitted. We do not require any GRE Subject Test scores.
    • Letters of recommendation cannot be mailed, emailed, faxed, or submitted through a letter service (with the exception of Interfolio). For letters submitted via Interfolio, please remember that letters written specifically for your Stanford graduate program tend to be stronger than letters written for general use purposes.
    • For materials that are mailed, please use our Contact Address.
    • Please do NOT upload supporting materials, such as published papers, unpublished manuscripts, BS or MS theses, writing samples, posters, or class projects, with your application.
  • To check your application status, click here to Visit Your Status Page. Interview invitations go out in early January, and interviews are in late February or early March. Offers of admission are made on a rolling basis starting in March. Finals decisions from admitted candidates are due by April 15.
  • The selection of PhD students admitted to DBDS is based on an individualized, holistic review of each application, including the applicant’s academic record, the letters of recommendation, the statement of purpose, personal qualities and characteristics, and past accomplishments.
  • Deferral of admission: DBDS generally does not allow deferral of admission to the PhD program, and it is better for you to apply when you are ready to begin your graduate study following the normal timeline. However, sometimes one’s circumstances change; please contact us if that happens to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is highly recommended that you review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

The PhD with Masters of Medicine

The Masters of Medicine (MOM) is for students also pursuing the PhD. This combined degree program trains graduates who will conduct basic research with relevance to current problems in medicine. Candidates receive shared training with Stanford medical students and through seminars in translational medicine. The MOM program takes at least one additional year. Students interested in the MOM and PhD program must be accepted into the PhD program before they are eligible to apply for the MOM.


The MOM program supports students through a scholarship during their MOM training. The program does not accept candidates who do not qualify for the scholarship. The balance of the PhD training is funded through the usual DBDS mechanisms.

Application Instructions

See Masters of Medicine website for application instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is highly recommended that you review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Combined MD/PhD

The MD and PhD degrees may be pursued jointly through the Medical Scientist Training Program.

The PhD Minor in Biomedical Data Science

The PhD minor in Biomedical Data Science is designed for graduate students in allied departments to acquire specialization in biomedical informatics during their graduate studies. The PhD minor is open to Stanford graduate students only, and is not a formal degree. The minor may be of particular interest to those in Bioengineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Statistics, Biology, or any of the Bioscience Programs. Consider if the minor will advance your research career, and consult with your academic and research advisors in your home department.


Prerequisites depend on the classes you select for the minor but generally you should have completed at least most of what we have listed on our Prerequisites page. Note that you cannot use any class numbered below 200 to contribute to the 20 units required for the minor.


See the section on Biomedical Data Science PhD Minor in the Stanford Bulletin, especially the information about not double counting course units.


The Biomedical Data Science Training Program is unable to fund the PhD minor.

Application Instructions

You will need to submit the following three documents:

  1. The application form from the Registrar’s office. List the courses for your program of study that fulfill the University’s and DBDS program requirements.
  2. A copy of your unofficial transcript.
  3. A one-page statement of purpose.

You may submit your application any time during the academic year to our Contact Address.

Academic MS in Biomedical Data Science

The Academic MS degree is a full-time, on-campus, research-oriented program, and is for candidates with an interest in academic or research positions. The MS requires 45 units taken at Stanford. Most will be taking 10 units per quarter, so this program typically lasts 1.5 to 2 years.


Please see the prerequisites page.

Degree Requirements

The curriculum is described on Stanford ExploreDegrees.

A research project is required for completion of the degree. Trainees are encouraged to participate in one or more research rotations during their first year.

All students are expected to participate fully in the program events including Journal Clubs, research presentations, orientations, retreats, and the National Library of Medicine’s Informatics Training Conference (if funded by NLM).

MDs interested in the Academic MS should contact us as early as possible, especially if you are coordinating the DBDS training with further medical residency or fellowship training. It is also important to ensure that sufficient math and computer science prerequisites are completed before applying. This degree program is not appropriate for those with little to no quantitative or computational skills; you might want to consider Health or Clinical Informatics masters programs elsewhere, or the Clinical Informatics Fellowship.

Clinicians who wish to maintain their clinical activities may do so, but should be aware that the NLM training grant restricts outside employment to eight hours per week. The DBDS program does not arrange appointments to clinical positions or to subspecialty fellowship training.


Our NLM funding for this degree is limited to post-doctoral scholars who are US citizens or permanent residents; others, including predoctoral or international candidates, will have to get external funding or pay themselves. In this context, postdoctoral means those holding one of these degrees: PhD, MD, DDS, DMD, DO, DVM, OD, DPM, ScD, EngD, Dr PH, DNSc, DPharm, DSW, or PsyD. Post-doctoral scholars are required under the terms of the funding to devote at least 50% time to research and 50% towards classes, and because of the terms of the NLM funding, we would prefer they remain in the program in increments of full years (typically, two). Note that there are limits on the number of years of NIH funding one may receive. The exact rule is: “No individual trainee may receive more than 5 years of aggregate Kirschstein-NRSA support at the predoctoral level and 3 years of aggregate Kirschstein-NRSA support at the postdoctoral level, including any combination of support from Kirschstein-NRSA institutional research training grants and individual fellowships.” (National Institute of Health Grants Policy page)

Also, if you are currently pursuing a PhD degree (at Stanford, or elsewhere) you may apply for our postdoctoral MS funding. Note that we cannot appoint you to the NLM Training Grant until your PhD has been conferred, so it is important that your estimated graduation date be correct.

For applicants who are not postdoctoral, we do not guarantee funding, and you are responsible for arranging your own support. You can pursue external fellowships (although these are rarely available for MS students). If admitted, you can contact faculty in whose research you have interest, and see if they have research funds to support you. International applicants should read our webpage.

Application Instructions and Deadlines

Applications are due early December each year. Note: Applications should be submitted beginning mid-September and will not be considered before that. See details on the Graduate Admissions webpage and on the Biosciences Application website.

The Application Deadline: December 5, 2023 (11:59 pm PST)

  • Complete the Biosciences application online. This is the same as the PhD application.
    • See our page about the Personal Statement.
    • Please include an up-to-date version of your CV.
    • The GRE General Test score is not required and will not be considered if submitted. We do not require any GRE Subject Test scores.
    • Application materials, including letters of recommendation, should be received by the deadline. We do review all applications, including incomplete ones.
    • For materials that are mailed, please use our Contact Address.
    • Please do NOT upload supporting materials, such as published or unpublished papers, posters, or class projects, with your application.
  • If the application is incomplete, the Biomedical Data Science Admissions Officer will notify the applicant by February. For post-doctoral candidates, there is no special paperwork or application required to apply for NLM funding. There is no in-person interview for the Academic MS program. Offers of admission are made on a rolling basis starting in March. Finals decisions from admitted candidates are due by April 15.
  • Letters of recommendation cannot be mailed, emailed, faxed, or submitted through a letter service (with the exception of Interfolio). For letters submitted via Interfolio, please remember that letters written specifically for your Stanford graduate program tend to be stronger than letters written for general use purposes.
  • The selection of MS students admitted to DBDS is based on an individualized, holistic review of each application, including (but not limited to) the applicant’s academic record, the letters of recommendation, the statement of purpose, personal qualities and characteristics, and past accomplishments.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is highly recommended that you review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Distance Education MS in Biomedical Data Science

The Biomedical Data Science program offers a Honors Cooperative Program (HCP), a part-time, distance education Masters program. The HCP MS program is designed for working professionals, generally those employed in biomedical informatics or related fields. Other candidates may also apply. Note that the HCP MS is a regular MS degree awarded by Stanford University.

Students receive course content and interact via the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD). It is highly recommended that candidates start by reviewing the information about this program on the Stanford Online website, especially their HCP student handbook. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider starting as a Non-Degree Option student (either a single course, or a three course certificate). Taking at least one of the DBDS core courses before applying is recommended but not required.

Currently all of the curriculum content is available for fully-remote access. HCP MS students are allowed to attend class on campus if that is better for them. Remote access is not fully under DBDS’s control, and might change in the future; however, we would make every reasonable effort to accommodate alternatives if needed.

Meet the Students Panel

To learn more about our programs, consider attending the Meet the Students Panel.


Please see the prerequisites page.

Degree Requirements

Our graduate curriculum is described here. Candidates may wish to begin with SCPD Certificate program in Biomedical Data Science, or individual courses through the SCPD’s Non-Degree Option. Up to 18 units of academic credit from relevant Certificate programs may be transferred upon acceptance into the degree program. In addition, you can complete some prerequisite coursework through SCPD, such as a Computer Science Certificate.

Students spend on average of 3.5 years in the program. The program must be completed within five years.

Switching MS Programs

Requests to transfer from part-tIme (HCP) to full-time (Academic MS) are reviewed by the DBDS Executive Committee on a case-by-case basis. Final decisions are at DBDS’s discretion. Please note the following limitations (for students enrolling in the HCP program starting Fall 2020):

  1. Students must complete a minimum of two (2) quarters in the part-time program excluding summer quarter or enrollment as a non-degree option student, before requesting to transfer to full-time. Therefore, the soonest the transfer can be discussed and approved is during the first DBDS Exec meeting of the third quarter of the student in the HCP program
  2. Students must complete a minimum of 10 units of letter-graded courses that meet requirements for the DBDS MS degree before commencing their first full-time (Academic MS) quarter
  3. GPA will be considered as part of the request.
  4. Students can make a maximum of two (2) transfers during the program (e.g. transfer from part-time to full-time and back to part-time).
  5. Students should consider the availability of courses online before requesting to switch from full-time to part-time, especially if this may interfere with their ability to satisfy the requirements of the degree.


The Stanford Center for Professional Development sets the tuition for all of the Honors Cooperative Programs. There is a three unit minimum enrollment per academic quarter. Check the latest tuition and fees at the Stanford Center for Professional Development website. The DBDS program does not set rates or policies or collect tuition.


Some employers will support tuition for students enrolled in graduate studies while employed. Check with your Human Resources department for programs and policies. Students in the HCP MS program are not eligible for funding from many US government fellowships and other scholarships due to the required research component of the awards. Many student loan programs require full-time registration status. DBDS does not provide financial aid for this program.

Application Instructions

Review the information on the Bioscience Application website.

Complete the Biosciences Application (same as PhD) online. Applications are accepted most of the year, and students can start any quarter except Summer. The deadlines for HCP applications are specific to this degree program, and are listed here.

The GRE General Test score is not required and will not be considered if submitted. We do not require any GRE Subject Test scores.


Applications are accepted for admission each quarter except summer. The application deadlines are shown here:


Winter Quarter

September 10, 2024

Spring Quarter

January 6, 2025

Autumn Quarter

June 17, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

It is highly recommended that you review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Coterminal MS in Biomedical Data Science

The Biomedical Data Science program offers a coterminal Masters program for Stanford undergraduates.

Policies and Degree Requirements

The Registrar’s webpage on Coterminal Degree Programs is here. Graduate Education website on coterminal degrees is here.

The MS curriculum is described here. Coterminal Masters students are not required to perform research rotations or submit a research project, although they are welcome to do so.


Please see the prerequisites page. In addition, we recommend (but do not require) that you take at least one DBDS core course before applying.

Application Instructions and Deadlines

We accept applications to the coterminal Masters program quarterly. These application instructions are for the Coterminal Masters only. The deadlines to submit your applications are listed in the table below. Letters of recommendation are required by the deadline.

For Matriculation in Submit by
Autumn quarter June 28, 2024
Winter quarter September 10, 2024
Spring quarter January 6, 2025
Summer quarter March 14, 2025 Undergraduates must complete 120 units before they can apply for the coterminal program. The last quarter for application is the quarter prior to your anticipated quarter of graduation.

If you lose your undergraduate status prior to the completion of the application for the coterminal MS, you must apply as a regular candidate to the DBDS program.

Application Procedure

Fill out the Coterm on-line application. The application will ask you for:

  • A Stanford Transcript
  • GREs: Applicants to DBDS’s Coterminal MS program are not required to submit GRE scores.
  • TOEFL: The TOEFL is not required.
  • Personal Statement (1-2 pages): See here.
  • Enriching the Learning Community: Stanford University welcomes graduate applications from individuals with a broad range of experiences, interests, and backgrounds who would contribute to our community of scholars. We invite you to share the lived experiences, demonstrated values, perspectives, and/or activities that shape you as a scholar and would help you to make a distinctive contribution to Stanford University.
  • Your Curriculum Vitae: If you listed Awards and Publications on your CV, then you can skip the Awards and Publications question on the application.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation: You may submit more if you feel this enhances your chances of admission. The letters should come from faculty or others who are familiar with your academic/research activity.
  • Prerequisites: We expect strong preparation of our prerequisites in order to make reasonable progress through our curriculum. Otherwise, please clearly indicate what your plan is to complete them, preferably prior to enrolling in DBDS. They will be reviewed on a case by case basis. The Registrar’s package contains the Preliminary Program Proposal Form; it is better to list all the proposed courses on the DBDS Flow Sheet, and then just write “see flow sheet (attached)” on the Proposal Form. Please make sure you have a clear set of classes and schedule that will complete your prerequisites, your undergraduate degree requirements and graduate degree requirements. If you are uncertain, make your best estimate. These instructions (for current students) are also likely to be of use when applying.
  • Additional Materials: If you are submitting any additional materials, send them directly to the DBDS program at our Contact Address.
  • Other: Supplemental or additional department application requirements.

Decisions and Acceptance

In general, you will be notified by the end of the month in which you apply. If offered admission, you should reply by email to the offer.

Getting an Advisor

Upon acceptance into the program, you will be assigned a course advisor. You will revise your Program Proposal at this time. Please contact the DBDS program office if you need advice about coterminal status between acceptance and your first appointment with your course advisor.

Funding Sources

Access to financial aid and other options is very different for coterminal students and depends on the number of units and quarters as a registered student at Stanford.

Coterminal students have full access to undergraduate sources of financial aid until their twelfth quarter or four years of study. Coterminal students who have completed 180 units of are eligible for University fellowships and assistantships. However, many federal and private fellowships and assistantships are awarded only to students who have received the bachelors degree. Even after the conferral of the bachelors, there is no guarantee that a coterminal student will be awarded financial support via a RAship, TAship or fellowship.

Upon completion of the requirements for the bachelors, coterms may choose to obtain their bachelors degree early. However, all classes after conferral of the degree may only be counted towards the graduate degree. Please note, part of the strategy which allows coterms maximal flexibility in their course of study is their dual status as both undergraduates and graduate students.

Frequently Asked Questions

You should definitely look at our page for current coterm students. Also, it is highly recommended that you review our Frequently Asked Questions page

Personal Statement for applying in Biomedical Data Science

Instructions for Writing Your Personal Statement (Statement of Purpose)

You are required to submit a Personal Statement (Statement of Purpose) as part of the Graduate Application for either the MS or PhD degree.

Please note that the DBDS program focuses on the development of novel computational and quantitative methods that can advance biomedicine. If your primary interest lies in the application of such methods to pursue problems in a particular domain of biomedicine, then other Biosciences home programs are likely a better choice. The Admissions Committee will read your Personal Statement carefully to determine how well your aspirations align with the mission of the DBDS Training Program.

In your Personal Statement, please tell us how your schooling, work, research, and life experiences prepare you for study at DBDS, describe your current research interests and career goals, and explain how our training program will enable you to achieve them.

The Personal Statement should be 1-2 pages. Please do not append class projects, research proposals, draft manuscripts, published papers, posters, or other ancilliary materials.

Postdoctoral Training in Biomedical Data Science

Postdoctoral training is for those who already possess a doctoral level research degree (PhD, DSc), or professional degree (MD, DO, DDS).

  • If you are interested in postdoctoral training which leads to an MS degree, then apply to our Academic MS program. (You could also apply to the PhD program if for some reason you wanted a second PhD, but we do not recommend this.)
  • If you are looking for a postdoctoral research position without required classwork, then you should apply directly to the relevant faculty, generally in response to posted listings of postdoctoral positions. See the general information about postdoctoral training at Stanford. Also, see our Resources for Postdocs page and our Faculty page.

Clinical Informatics Fellowship

Stanford offers an ACGME-approved fellowship in Clinical Informatics for board-eligible MDs. For more information, see the main page for that fellowship.

Note that although there is some overlap in name, content, and personnel, the CI fellowship and DBDS graduate program are organizationally separate and serve different career goals. You may only apply to one of the two programs. The CI fellowship is for clinicians seeking further training in the broad area of applied clinical informatics; the DBDS program is for those seeking research training in quantitative and computational methods. Please review the materials for both programs and contact either program if you have questions.

Distance Education Programs in Biomedical Data Science including Certificate Program

In addition to the distance education MS degree, DBDS offers a non-degree option of obtaining a certificate (three classes) or for taking individual classes. Students receive course content and interact via the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD). All of the coursework is on-line; no time at Stanford is required. It is highly recommended that you start by reviewing the information on the SCPD website, especially their handbook for non-degree option students. Information about any course can be found in Stanford’s Explore Courses.

Certificate Program Eligibility and Prerequisites

The following are required for entry into the Certificate Program. Note that these prerequisite courses do not count towards the Certificate, even if taken at Stanford.

  1. A bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 (B) grade point average or better.
  2. One year of computer programming/software engineering coursework or equivalent experience. We recommend that students take the equivalent of Stanford’s CS 106A and CS 106B prior to entering the Certificate Program.
  3. One year of college biology.
  4. One year of calculus is required for some classes.
  5. Classwork in probability and statistics is a prerequisite for some classes.
  6. Some BIOMEDIN courses may have additional prerequisites. These are listed in Stanford’s catalog, Explore Courses.

You need to achieve at least a B (3.0) in each Certificate class to continue in the program.

Student with good reasons may request waiver of these requirements through DBDS program staff.

Certificate in Biomedical Data Science: Data, Modeling and Analysis

Three courses are required for the Biomedical Data Science Certificate. These courses are chosen from the following DBDS core courses.

  1. BIOMEDIN 210: Modeling Biomedical Systems: Ontology, Terminology, Problem Solving (Win quarter)
  2. BIOMEDIN 214: Representations and Algorithms for Computational Molecular Biology (Aut quarter)
  3. BIOMEDIN 215: Data Driven Medicine (Aut quarter)
  4. BIOMEDIN 217: Translational Bioinformatics (Win quarter)
  5. BIOMEDIN 260: Computational Methods for Biomedical Image Analysis (Spr quarter)

Individual Courses (Non-degree Option)

You can enroll in individual courses without pursuing a degree or certificate. You can use up to 18 Stanford units towards a degree (including those from a certificate) if you are later accepted into one of our degree programs.

Application Instructions

You should apply directly through SCPD, not DBDS or Biosciences.

Frequently Asked Questions

See here.

Biomedical Data Science for Stanford Medical Students

There several ways that Stanford medical students can be involved in DBDS-related activities. Some of these are integrated into the medical curriculum. Others involve applying to DBDS degree programs.

Scholarly Concentration

The Stanford medical curriculum provides medical training and an intellectual foundation to support future medical investigation through the required Scholarly Concentrations. Stanford medical students interested in Biomedical Data Science can choose the Informatics and Data-Driven Medicine concentration, one of the Foundation areas. These students take several classes in this area, including BIOMEDIN 205, where leading researchers from Stanford and the Bay Area present overviews of their work.

Medical Scholars

Medical students who want a more in-depth research experience are invited to participate in the Medical Scholars research program.

Graduate Programs (MS or PhD)

Medical students can apply to our MS or PhD programs. Follow these procedures for normal graduate applications and these procedures for MSTP students or applicants.

Postdoctoral Programs

Medical students can also apply to pursue either the MS or PhD degree after receiving their MD.

Biomedical Data Science for Stanford MSTP (Medical Scientist Training Program) students

For those already in the MSTP program

  • You do rotations during the first two years (M1-2). When you join the DBDS PhD program during the Autumn quarter of your 3rd year, file a Graduate Authorization Petition (via Axess) by the second week of the quarter.
  • You should request that the MSTP office send us a copy of your MSTP application.
  • You should submit directly to us:
  • Note that GREs are not required, and there is no personal interview.

For current medical students applying to the MSTP program

  • You can apply to the internal track of the MSTP and you also apply to DBDS through the standard Biosciences PhD procedure.
  • MCATs can be supplied in place of the GREs (but strong performance on GRE could increase chance of acceptance in some cases).
  • In-person interviews are typically early March.
  • If you are not chosen by MSTP for funding, DBDS will consider you in the normal application pool with training grant funding through DBDS.

For Stanford Graduate Students

These instructions are for those currently enrolled in graduate study at Stanford (including medical students) who want to add our MS degree. However, if you are applying to DBDS for a degree to start after your current degree has been conferred, or if you are applying to DBDS to the PhD degree or the postdoctoral MS degree, then skip this page and follow the normal application instructions for the desired degree; note that generally you will have to apply in the Autumn to start in the following Autumn (or Summer).

You should submit directly to us:

  1. A Graduate Authorization Petition (via Axess)
  2. Two letters of recommendation (have recommender send directly to us, or submit in sealed, signed envelope)
  3. An unofficial copy of your Stanford transcript and of any previous transcripts
  4. Your CV
  5. A 1-2 page personal statement
  6. The DBDS supplemental application form
  7. a DBDS course flowsheet with your proposed plan of study

Applications are accepted throughout the year. The deadlines to submit your applications are listed in the table below.

For Matriculation in Submit by 1st day of
Autumn quarter August
Winter quarter November
Spring quarter February
Summer quarter May

Biomedical Data Science for Stanford Undergraduates

The Biomedical Data Science Program does not offer an undergraduate major.

For students interested in an undergraduate major with an option to specialize in the area of Biomedical Data Science, see the Biomedical Computation major.

Stanford undergraduates may choose to combine their major with the coterminal Masters degree. The Biomedical Data Science coterminal MS may be combined with many undergraduate majors; Computer Science, Biomedical Computation, Mathematical and Computational Science, Bioengineering, or any of the biological science programs offer the most efficient combination of the two degrees. See our webpage on the coterminal degree, and the University rules.

Information for International Applicants

We welcome applications from international applicants. International applicants follow the same application process as other applicants, with additional rules and requirements listed here.

Required Academic Credentials

You need to hold a four-year bachelors degree in order to apply. The exact requirements vary by country and are listed on the Office of Graduate Admissions International Applicants page.


Scores are required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Note that if all instruction for your bachelors or master degree program was in English, then the TOEFL is not required. See the Biosciences Admissions page for more details. Note that Stanford only accepts the TOEFL, not other tests of English.


We do not advise applicants about visas. The Bechtel International Center has information about how to maintain visas for international students. The US State Department has information about student and exchange visitor visas.


Please look at the webpage for the degree program (PhD or MS) to which you are applying. Unfortunately, funding for international students is quite limited, and you are encouraged to seek external funding. You should consider applying for Stanford’s Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. Your home country may have programs to support study overseas. The Fulbright program funds international scholars. The Fogarty International Center maintains a Directory of Funding Opportunities. The Institute of International Education has a search engine which will help you locate programs which fund international study.

For MS applicants: We have very occasionally had self-funded international MS students. You need to show funds equivalent to one year of tuition and board to meet the visa requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

See here.