Biomedical Informatics Training Program Student Handbook

Table of Contents

1 Introduction and overview of Stanford resources

This handbook contains policies, procedures, and advice specific to the Biomedical Informatics (BMI) program, and augments other information from the School of Medicine's Biosciences Program, and Stanford University. Relevant information can be found on the following webpages, which are listed here for reference.

2 For students

2.1 How to get a computer

BMI loans laptop computers to first-year PhD students, and, when there are sufficient computers, Academic MS students. If you borrow a laptop, you should return it at the end of your first year. Your research supervisor is responsible for your computing resources from then on.

2.2 How to get ergonomic equipment

If you need ergonomic support or special equipment please contact BMI Student Services. BMI will finance items needed for health issues as requested. More information can be found on Stanford's Environmental Health & Safety webpage

2.3 How to send BMI email

  • The following are the BMI-related email lists. Send to <listname> If you send from a non-Stanford email address, your message will be held for moderation.
Listname Description
bmi-students All BMI Students
bmi-coterms Coterminal Students
bmi-honors-coop HCP: Honors Cooperative part-time MS Students
bmi-phdms-students PhD & MS students, Full-time
bmi-first-years First Year Full-time BMI MS & PhD Students
bmi-second-years Second-year BMI PhD students
bmi-third-years Third-year BMI PhD students
nlm-trainees NLM National Library of Medicine BMI Trainees
bmi-postdocs Postdocs affiliated with BMI
bmi-program-exec BMI Executive Committee
bmi-job-openings Job Openings in Biomedical Informatics

2.4 How to view the BMI google calendar

2.5 How to receive and send US Mail

BMI students have mailbox space in the MSOB 3rd floor Department of Biomedical Data Science suite (3 West). BMI-related U.S. outgoing mail requires either adequate postage affixed or a departmental postage code, available through Student Services. The BMI campus mail code for interdepartmental mail is [need new mail code for MSOB 3 West].

The USPS mailing address is:

Biomedical Informatics Training Program
Stanford University School of Medicine
1265 Welch Rd, MSOB, X-343, MC [new mail code]
Stanford, CA 94305

2.6 How to submit a help request

You can submit a help request on a wide variety of topics through Stanford Services (formerly HelpSU). This cover computer/information technology issues, and those for involving the registrar, finance, and other administrative offices.

2.7 What to do in a personal emergency

2.10 How to use photocopier/fax machine

The copier/fax is a shared resource that is intended for research-related use and for reasonable amounts of academic copying. Copying for personal purposes is inappropriate; students should use the copy machines in Lane Library for making personal copies.

2.11 How to reserve a conference room

Ask BMI Student Services if you want to reserve a conference room in MSOB 3 West.

3 Academics and Research

3.1 Tuesday Talks: Research in progress/journal club

BMI has a regular seminar series that meets each Tuesday, 12:15 pm–1:15 pm. All PhD and Academic MS students are required to attend. All Coterminal and HCP students are encouraged to attend.

You can get one unit of course credit by signing up for BIOMEDIN 201. You may enroll up to 3 times.

Each session has two 30-minute student talks. Second-year and later students present their research-in-progress. First-year students can do that, or present a journal club. During the Summer Quarter there is a special format in which BMI faculty lead a discussion of a paper of their choosing.

  • Journal Club. The purpose of a journal club presentation is to gain practice in oral presentation skills, and to learn to present and fairly critique a published paper in some area of biomedical informatics.

    1. Pick a paper.
    2. Clear it with Steve Bagley.
    3. Prepare your talk/slide presentation.
    4. Practice that with Steve Bagley, usually the week before the scheduled presentation.
    5. Give the presentation.

    The paper should reflect your own interests, and be likely to engage other students. A paper about biomedical informatics methods published in the last couple of years with at least a moderate number of citations is ideal; you might want to look at Russ Altman's Translation Bioinformatics year-in-review talks (on the BMI website) for suggestions. Please avoid papers that are very long or that require excessive background in some niche area of biology or medicine. Drafts or papers in press are generally not acceptable. There is more Journal Club advice on our website: Helpful Documents and Videos.

  • Research-in-Progress. The purpose of a research-in-progress talk is to gain more practice in presentation skills, to present your work to the BMI community, and to get useful feedback on both your presentation and your work. You should:

    1. Prepare your talk/slide presentation in consultation with your PI.
    2. Practice it with Steve Bagley, usually the week before the scheduled presentation.
    3. Give the presentation.

    Because this venue is open the public, it is important that you discuss issues about disclosure of intellectual property with your advisor prior to giving the talk. The talk title and abstract are viewable by the outside world, and anyone may attend the talk. This is different from presentations at lab meetings, which are considered to be closed meetings. You may include a slide at the beginning of your talk, saying: "This is research in progress and not for public disclosure. Please do not take photos of the slides or discuss outside of this venue."

3.2 Advisors

  • Academic Advisor: Each new student is assigned an academic advisor. If the student later joins the lab of their academic advisor, a new academic advisor will be assigned.
  • Research Advisor: Each student in the Academic MS and PhD degree programs will have a research advisor, chosen by mutual agreement at the end of their research rotations (by end of first year). This research advisor should be on the Core Faculty or Advising Faculty list on the BMI website. If your research advisor is on the Collaborating Faculty list, then you will need to choose a co-advisor from the advising faculty list.

3.3 Course registration

3.3.1 Study list

By 5 pm on the first day of class each quarter you must submit a study list in Axess to register for classes. Note that there is a late fee.

3.3.2 Grading basis and minimum GPA

Refer to the BMI section of Explore Degrees for details of which courses must be taken for a grade, and which can be taken pass/fail. If you sign up for the Pass/Fail option in a course that should have been taken for a letter grade, you should email the instructor to ask what the letter grade would have been, then forward the response to the Student Services Officer to be included in your file.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0. If your GPA does not meet the minimum requirement, the BMI Executive Committee may require that you submit a plan that explains how you will remediate any deficiencies, resolve any incomplete grades, and bring your GPA back above the threshold.

3.3.3 Units

All funded BMI students are required to enroll in exactly 10 units every quarter. If you enroll in more than 10 units, you will be responsible for paying the additional unit rate charged by the Registrar's Office.

With Research Assistantships (RAships), the 10-unit rate is considered half time (20 hours per week), meaning that for 20 hours per week you are working on the research project, and for 20 hours per week you are taking classes towards your degree requirements.

3.3.4 Cross-listed courses

When taking a course that is listed in both BMI and another department (such as Computer Science), please sign up for it under the BIOMEDIN number. This is especially important for BIOMEDIN 299 Directed Reading and Research.

3.4 Waivers and exemptions

You may petition the BMI Executive Committee to be excused from specific courses or domain unit requirements. You should explain why you should be excused from the requirement, how you have met the requirement through other means, and include a copy of an up-to-date course plan. Submit your request in an email to BMI Student Services.

Any PhD student may request waivers of BMI course requirements for prior academic coursework. These course waiver requests are due in November of your first year.

MS students should contact their academic advisor about waivers. Note that prior coursework from outside Stanford cannot reduce the 45 unit requirement for the MS degree.

3.5 Course flow sheet

The BMI MS and PhD course flow sheets are available on the BMI Forms and Downloads webpage.

When submitting a course flow sheet:

  1. Make sure you put your name and the date on it.
  2. List the course number in the column on the left. List all courses, past, present, and future. Put one course per line.
  3. Put the number of units for the course in main part of the grid.
  4. Enter the grade (A+, CR) in the grade column near the right. For the January report, make sure it includes grades from Autumn Quarter.
  5. If you don't see meaningful row and column sums, and the flowsheet does not compute your GPA, then you have done something wrong.

3.6 Progress reports

All students are required to submit progress reports twice a year, in January, and in June/July.

  • If you are an MS student or a PhD student still taking classes, you should submit a complete, up-to-date course flow sheet.
  • If you are a first-year PhD student, you should submit one Rotation Report form for each first year rotation.
  • If you are on leave during Winter quarter, then you can skip the January report. However, please submit a Summer report even if you are not on campus (unless you are graduating at the end of the summer).
  • As part of the progress report process, it is highly recommended that you meet with your Academic and Research supervisors.
  • See the following table for more details.
Degree program, status What you should do
MS, co-term Contact Academic Advisor as needed.
  Submit flow sheet.
MS, HCP Contact Academic Advisor as needed.
  Submit flow sheet.
MS, Academic Meet with Academic Advisor.
  Meet with Research Advisor.
  Submit flow sheet.
PhD, year = 1 Meet with Academic Advisor.
  Submit flow sheet.
  Submit Rotation evaluation for each rotation.
PhD, year > 1, still in classes Meet with Academic Advisor.
  Meet with Research Advisor.
  Submit flow sheet.
PhD, year > 1, done with classes Meet with Academic Advisor (optional).
  Meet with Research Advisor.

3.7 Teaching Assistant (TA) requirements and guidelines

There are three kinds of TA positions:

  1. Assigned. The BMI Executive Committee determines the TA assignments once a year, typically in late June. Typically, the assignments that satisfy the BMI requirement are to BMI core courses. PhD students are required to TA two courses. Academic MS students receiving fellowship support through BMI are required to TA one course. Others, including HCP and co-term MS students, are exempted from this requirement. The TA requirement is usually completed during the second and third years. TA's are expected to review and understand the TA Guidelines (below).
  2. Voluntary. The instructor and student agree that the student will help with course development or serve as TA. This may be for pay (``moonlighting''). If not for pay, the student can petition BMI Executive Committee to have this count towards the BMI TA requirement. Typically, these moonlighting TA positions go to senior graduate students who have passed their Quals, and completed their coursework and TA requirements.
  3. Formal TAship. Some departments (such as CS, but not BMI) offer students formal TAship positions, which may cover some or all of stipend and tuition. Sometimes these are offered to BMI students.

3.7.1 TA Guidelines

The purpose of the teaching assistant (TA) requirement is to help students understand the process of organizing and delivering a course as an intellectual academic exercise, and learn about course administration. Students should consider their unfunded teaching partly as a contribution back to the program and their fellow students, as well as an opportunity to learn pedagogical methods.

Each course may have different specific requirements, but these are general guidelines for faculty and TA to use as a starting point for discussion. These should be reviewed before each course begins to set common expectations.

  1. It is expected that a course will have administrative personnel (often the administrative assistant of the instructor) who will handle routine administrative issues such as room reservations, copying, logistical coordination of guest lectures and procurement of supplies for the course.
  2. TAs may be assigned in-class logistical support tasks, such as in-class homework logistics (distribution/accepting assignments), videotaping, information dissemination, and communication with the administrative support personnel.
  3. TAs should have regular office hours for interaction with students.
  4. Unless specifically exempted, TAs should attend all classes. Vacations should not be scheduled during the quarter, unless it is pre-arranged with the Instructor.
  5. TAs may create and grade assignments and exams. Instructors should examine and approve these, and must take overall responsibility for them.
  6. TAs are encouraged to give at least one lecture during the course, in order to have the experience of preparing a course lecture (and to appreciate the differences from research talks).
  7. TAs may be asked to maintain a course website, with relevant materials. Routine administration of these sites should be shared with the administrative support personnel.
  8. TAs may be asked to create class newsgroups or email lists, and to monitor activity on these, and respond appropriately.
  9. Decisions about final grades rest with the faculty, but they are encouraged to consult with the TAs to learn of extenuating circumstances, particularly if the TAs have had the major responsibility for grading homework assignments and/or examinations.
  10. Instructors will complete a TA evaluation form, based on the TA's experience with the course. The evaluation form will be kept in the student's file and he/she will receive a copy. The evaluation should be included in the Quals folder.

Special challenges arise in supporting the distance education students who take BMI courses via SCPD, the Stanford Center for Professional Development. These students have the task of following the class without the benefit of live interaction with faculty, TA or other students. Often these students do not know where to look for information that might be considered common knowledge.

  1. TAs should familiarize themselves before the course with SCPD policies and procedures. SCPD offers orientations to faculty and TAs. You can contact SCPD at
  2. TAs should arrange a procedure for talking with SCPD students on the phone or by email during office hours. The hardest part about TA-ing an SCPD course is figuring out when SCPD will support the student and when you have to step in. Mainly, your job is to cover the material in the class, not provide technical assistance to the student.
  3. SCPD handles student registration and tuition.
  4. The students should know the difference between an incomplete and a withdrawal. They should know if a crisis occurs they can request an incomplete.
  5. Many SCPD student are unaware of the difference (if any) between the SCPD course description and the course description in the Stanford Bulletin. Most of the time, the course descriptions on the SCPD webpages are adequate.

3.8 Publishing a paper

  1. Review of Publications by Stanford faculty

    All papers and abstracts submitted to journals, conferences, books or other publications must be reviewed by a Stanford faculty member. This policy applies to any publication, regardless of authorship, that describes work done at Stanford, has research support through Stanford, or that mentions a Stanford affiliation. It is the responsibility of the first author to ensure that sufficient time is allocated for this review process. No publication may be mailed to a journal or conference without final approval from the faculty member.

  2. NIH Public Access Policy and PMCIDs

    If you or your work has been support by NIH, then you are required to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy. In particular, each publication must be submitted to PubMed Central (PMC), and get a PMCID assigned. This is extremely important. Follow the instructions on their webpage.

  3. Issues about authorship

    It is best to discuss the scope and ownership of a project at the beginning; this includes who will be an author and in what order they will be listed. It is important to include all who have contributed in some non-trivial way to the research. The first author (or co-first authors) usually take primary responsibly for drafting the paper, and the mechanics of submitting it. All of the coauthors may contribute to the writing as appropriate, and all should review the paper prior to submission. The senior author (listed last) is usually the project's principal investigator. If problems arise over authorship, first raise them with the PI; if issues remain then considering asking your Academic Advisor, or Stanford's Office of The Ombuds.

  4. Whom to acknowledge

    NLM requires that each publication, press release, or other document about research supported by an NIH award must include an acknowledgment of NIH award support and a disclaimer such as:

    Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number T15LM007033. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

    For those supported by the BD2K Training Grant, use grant number T32 LM012409.

    Anyone involved in the work described in a paper and not listed as an author should be included in the acknowledgments section, as should those who provided other financial support or gifts of equipment. The primary author of the paper should confer with all co-authors to make sure that all appropriate grant support is listed.

  5. Mailing costs

    The BMI program will pay for regular mail charges, but not Express Mail or Federal Express costs, unless specifically approved by a member of the senior staff. Please take this constraint into consideration when working against a deadline for mailing an abstract or other publication.

3.9 MS degree

3.9.1 Curriculum

The MS curriculum is described in full detail in ExploreDegrees. The curriculum consists of four main components:

  1. Core BMI classes
  2. Electives from Computer Science, Statistics, Mathematics, and Engineering. The complete list of allowable courses is listed at BMI Electives.
  3. Social and Ethical Issues. A complete list of allowable courses is listed at ExploreCourses by entering "bmi::ethics".
  4. Unrestricted Graduate Electives. Any course at the level 100 or greater may count.

Note that there are additional rules in ExploreDegrees about the number of P/F courses, and the number of 100-199 courses that may be counted.

There is more on the BMI website for Coterminal MS and HCP MS students.

3.9.2 Milestones

During their first quarter in the program, all MS degree students should submit the Program Proposal for a Master's Degree form. This form is required—instead of listing any courses on it, just write "See attached" and then attach a completed BMI course flow sheet.

All Academic MS students should submit an Academic MS Milestones form with each progress report.

3.9.3 Academic MS research rotation and research paper (Practicum)

All students in the Academic MS program should be engaged in research under the supervision of a Stanford faculty member. You should pick a lab after doing one or two research rotations. Please notify the BMI Student Services Officer when you have done so. You are required to submit a research paper prior to graduation. This paper should be publishable, although it is not required that it be submitted or published. Please submit this to BMI Student Services. Make sure that the senior author is aware and has approved your manuscript.

3.9.4 Finances

  1. Terminal Graduate Registration

    Students enrolled in master's programs with a required project (such as BMI post-docs funded by the NLM training grant) should apply for Terminal Graduate Registration Status upon completion of all required courses and completion of 45 residency units at Stanford. You then enroll in BIOMEDIN 801.

  2. Graduate Petition for Part-Time Enrollment

    If you need only 3-7 units in the last quarter before qualifying to go TGR, or in the last quarter before graduation, discuss the "Graduate Petition for Part-Time Enrollment" with the Student Services Officer prior to the first day of the quarter.

    If the petition is granted, you may enroll in 3-7 units. Co-terminal students with an active undergraduate degree program and international students are not eligible for this petition. Before registering at less than the regular full-tuition rate, consider the effects of that registration on your degree progress and on eligibility for financial aid and awards, visas, deferment of student loans, and residency requirements. Submit the form prior to the Preliminary Study List deadline (5 pm first day of classes) of the effective quarter.

3.10 PhD degree

3.10.1 Curriculum

The PhD curriculum is described in full detail in ExploreDegrees. The curriculum consists of five main components:

  1. Core BMI classes
  2. Electives from Computer Science, Statistics, Mathematics, and Engineering. The complete list of allowable courses for this component appears at BMI Electives.
  3. Social and Ethical Issues. A complete list of allowable courses is listed at ExploreCourses by entering "bmi::ethics".
  4. Unrestricted Graduate Electives. Any course at the level 100 or greater may count.
  5. Biology/Medicine Electives

If you were admitted before August 1, 2016, the old curriculum is on the BMI website.

3.10.2 Academic milestones overview

An informal overview of the major milestones by year:

  • Year 1: Take classes, do lab rotations, pick a lab
  • Year 2: Take classes, TA, do research, take the Written Qualifying Exam.
  • Year 3: Finish up classes, TA, do research, pick Reading Committee, give Pre-Proposal talk, submit applications for outside funding.
  • Year 4: Do research, give Thesis Proposal Defense
  • Year 5: Finish research, submit Dissertation, give Final Talk, graduate

3.10.3 Research rotations

Research rotations are critical for students in choosing their research lab or project. In addition, rotations broaden a student's research experience and familiarize students with ongoing research projects. Rotations are set up by mutual agreement between the student and the faculty member.

PhD students should at least two rotations, and usually do three. Rotations are typically one quarter in length, but the student can arrange more, shorter rotations, or end early if the lab is or is not the right fit. Rotations longer than one quarter are discouraged, as the primary purpose of the rotation is to find a suitable thesis lab, not to obtain publication quality results. Students are strongly encouraged to make their lab choice by the end of spring quarter. Students must choose their lab and research advisor by the end of their fourth quarter in the program. Typically, this is the end of the summer quarter of first year. There is some advice here: Choosing Rotations and a Thesis Lab | Incoming Students | Stanford Biosciences PhD Programs

When you and a PI have reached a mutual agreement about you joining their lab, let BMI Student Services know.

3.10.4 Graduate Student Tracking System

Biosciences is now using a web-based system for tracking some important milestones. You enter information directly into that system. You can read more about it on the GST page.

3.10.5 Required Committee Meetings

The following is a list of the required number of thesis committee meetings for each year of graduate study.

Years Requirement
2, 3, 4 One meeting per year
5 and up Two meetings per year

Note that required milestone meetings can count, so, for example, the Pre-proposal would satisfy the requirement for your third year. Please enter your meeting dates in the Graduate Student Tracking System.

3.10.6 Individual Development Plan (IDP)

The IDP is an annual process to review your professional development with your research advisor. It is important and required for all PhD students. Failure to comply with IDP requirements will negatively impact Stanford's ability to receive NIH funding, and create a hold on student registration that prevents stipends from being funded. The IDP is separate from the BMI Progress Report, but you should consider doing both in a single meeting.

The details, including deadlines and forms are at the Biosciences Individual Development Plan page.

When you have completed your IDP for a given year, please record that you have done so using the Graduate Student Tracking System. The forms and the content of your discussions remain private.

3.10.7 Funding support and finances

  1. Applying for outside funding

    All BMI PhD students are admitted with a funding plan in place. However, you are required to apply to internal and external funding for which you are eligible. Receiving such funding provides validation of your research ideas, and also allows us to support more students. There is more general information on our funding webpage.

    The rest of this section describes the process for applying for NRSA fellowships. You do not need to apply for NRSA F31 funding if:

    1. you are an international student, or
    2. if you have both SGF and NSF funding, or
    3. if you have SIGF, HHMI or other funding that will carry you through the 5th year.

    Details and Timing:

    • Please let BMI Admin know about your plans early. The process is a bit complicated and you will need help.
    • The F31 program is described here:
    • You should apply sometime between the summer of your second year and the summer of your third year. You should start thinking about this even earlier: the skills you learn in BMI 212 about proposal writing and your written Quals are both valuable in constructing a strong NRSA application.
    • You must take a 3-hour class at Stanford, "NRSA F Series Computer Lab Session," before you apply. The fellowship application requires a lot of forms, so you should take the class several months in advance of applying, perhaps even for an earlier cycle. You register for the class using this website:
    • Grant applications are submitted through Stanford's Research Management Group (RMG), which requires submission at least 5 full working days before the NIH deadline.
    • You must ask for a start date in your grant application; these depend on the cycle and are listed in the table.
    What you should do Cycle II Cycle III
    Take required class June/early July or earlier! Oct/early Nov or earlier!
    Application due at Stanford RMG August 1st December 1st
    Application due at NIH August 8th December 8th
    Start date if awarded Ask for July 1st Ask for Sept 1st
  2. Terminal graduate registration (TGR)

    When PhD students have completed the University's residency requirement, been admitted to candidacy, completed 135 units of coursework, and submitted the Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form, they should apply for Terminal Graduate Registration Status. TGR greatly reduces the tuition rate. Typically, you are eligible for TGR status in the Spring of your fourth year. When enrolling under TGR status, a student may only enroll in only 1-3 units of non-required coursework (with PI's knowledge), in addition to the zero-unit TGR course (BIOMEDIN 802). It is the student's responsibility to be aware of when he/she is eligible for TGR. To be considered on TGR status, the student must submit the TGR form to the Registrar prior to the beginning of the quarter for which the request is being made.

  3. Graduate Petition for Part-Time Enrollment

    If you need only 3-7 units in the last quarter before qualifying to go TGR, or in the last quarter before graduation, discuss the "Graduate Petition for Part-Time Enrollment" with the Student Services Officer prior to the first day of the quarter.

    If the petition is granted, you may enroll in 3-7 units. Before registering at less than the regular full-tuition rate, consider the effects of that registration on your degree progress and on eligibility for financial aid and awards, visas, deferment of student loans, and residency requirements. Submit the form prior to the Preliminary Study List deadline (5 pm first day of classes) of the effective quarter.

3.10.8 Written Qualifying Examination

  1. Goal

    The goal of the Qualifying Examination Procedure is to evaluate the suitability of a student to advance to PhD candidacy. This evaluation proceeds along two dimensions: (1) the student's mastery of the core ideas of biomedical informatics, as summarized in the Stanford BMI Syllabus document, and (2) the student's ability to create a research proposal that shows deep understanding of the prior relevant work, and proposes a technically feasible and innovative set of specific aims to create methods that address an important application problem in biology or medicine. The qualifying examination consists of two corresponding written components: (1) the informatics content exam, and (2) the research proposal.

  2. How to apply

    Students should plan to submit their application package by the end of the Spring Quarter of their second year or earlier, with the goal of ideally completing both parts of the Qualifying Exam before the end of the summer of the second year. Note that successful completion of both parts is required to advance to PhD candidacy. Deviations from the timeline will require approval from the BMI Executive Committee.

    The student should submit an application package for each component of the exam; these may be submitted together, or at separate times. The informatics content exam will be offered each year in January and in June. There are no timing constraints on the research proposal other than what are listed above. The BMI Executive Committee will inform the student if they are exam-eligible.

    • To apply for the informatics content exam, submit an up-to-date copy of your course flowsheet, with units and grades. The student should have completed the core curriculum and substantially completed additional coursework required for the PhD (i.e., no more than 1 class pending). The student also should have completed at least one TAship.
    • To apply for the research proposal, submit a title and abstract of proposed research, as well as a brief letter of support from the research advisor. The student must have been accepted into the lab of their permanent research advisor.
  3. Exam details
    1. Informatics content exam.

      This is a written take-home exam testing the student's mastery of the material in the BMI PhD Syllabus. All BMI PhD students will be supplied with the Syllabus during their first year to guide their education and their preparation for this exam. The material in the syllabus identifies key content areas that are covered in the courses that constitute the BMI core curriculum.

      • A subcommittee of the BMI Executive Committee will construct an exam broadly covering elements of the syllabus and consisting of about 6 questions. For each question, the instructions will specify whether it is open book, and whether internet resources may be used, or any other restrictions.
      • Each question will be designed to take less than 2 hours to answer.
      • The student will complete and return the exam within the specified time limit, which is expected to be approximately one day. Upon handing it in, the student should affirm that the work is entirely their own and that, in accordance with the Stanford Honor Code, they have not worked with any other people nor communicated the contents, scope, or difficulty of the exam to anyone else.
      • Each question will be scored by at least one faculty member, without initial consultation with other faculty members, on a scale of 1–5:

      1: Outstanding, displays special insight and unusual creativity or depth
      2: Excellent, fully professional answer at a high level of competence
      3: Good, relatively complete answer with only minor missing elements.
      4: Fair, incomplete answer with more positive than negative elements
      5 : Poor, unacceptable answer with major gaps, errors or misunderstanding of concepts

      • The BMI Executive Committee will review the performance on all sections of the exam, and recommend pass/fail for the informatics content.
    2. Research Proposal

      This component is a NIH-style grant proposal with title, project summary (abstract), project relevance, one page specific aims, and (max) 10-page research proposal (significance, innovation, approach, including all text and figures), as well as references cited (not part of page limit). The document should use 12 point font, be single spaced, have 1 inch margins on left/right, and top/bottom. Documents not satisfying these requirements will be returned ungraded.

      • The proposal should be written entirely by the student after discussion and feedback from the research advisor and colleagues.
      • The proposal must be approved in writing by the primary research advisor, who should warrant that it is the primary product of the student, and that the advisor supports the aims of the work.
      • A subcommittee of at least three BMI Executive Committee members, appointed by the Chair of the Executive Committee, should independently read and score the proposal using NIH scoring criteria (shown below). The committee will then discuss the proposal at a BMI Executive Committee meeting and recommend pass/fail for the proposal.
      • NIH scoring criteria:


  4. Outcome

    The possible outcomes of a qualifying exam are:

    • Qualifying Examination Overall PASS (both elements): Student advances to candidacy.
    • Informatics Content Exam FAIL: Student may be offered a partial exam (in focused areas of weakness) or complete retake of exam within 2-4 months.
    • Research Proposal FAIL: Student may resubmit Research Proposal within 1-2 months.

    Students who failed to complete or fail either component a second time will have their performance reviewed by the BMI Executive Committee for the suitability of continuing in the graduate program.

3.10.9 PhD Candidacy

After passing the Qualifying Exam, students must submit the required Application for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree form to BMI Student Services.

3.10.10 Pre-Proposal

The pre-proposal is a work-in-progress talk that you give during your third year. It occurs roughly 6 to 9 months after the Quals exam. The purpose is to show preliminary results, modifications to the specific aims, and to get feedback on your methodological approach and innovations. The talk, which should last about 45 minutes, is public, and is followed by a private session with your committee. It is important that the student should invite those faculty members whom he or she is planning to have as readers of the dissertation. Some advice: Pre-Proposal Talk Guidelines

3.10.11 Setting your reading committee

Each PhD candidate is required to establish a reading committee for the doctoral dissertation by late 3rd year-early 4th year. Students should consult frequently with all members of the committee about the direction and progress of the dissertation research and are required to meet annually with their committee. Students must have at least three faculty members:

  • the principal dissertation advisor,
  • two other readers serve on their Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee, to read and certify their dissertation.

At least two members must be on the Stanford Academic Council. It is not necessary that the committee include a member of the BMI Exec. The Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee Form should be completed and filed with the BMI Student Services before scheduling a University oral examination that is a defense of the dissertation. On occasion, the department chair may approve the appointment of a reader who is not on the Academic Council, if that person is particularly well-qualified to consult on the dissertation topic and holds a Ph.D. or equivalent foreign degree. Approval is requested on a Petition for Doctoral Committee Form.

3.10.12 Thesis Proposal Defense (University Oral Examination)

The BMI Thesis Proposal Defense is the University Oral Examination and represents the last major milestone for completion of the PhD degree. In most other departments, the final defense is the final talk. For BMI, this is split into the Thesis Proposal Defense (occurring earlier than final defenses), and the Final Talk.

Stanford's requirements are listed at Graduate Degrees | Stanford University and 4.7.1 Doctoral Degrees, University Oral Examinations & Committees: Policy | Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures

The University oral examination committee has at least five members: at least four examiners and a University chair.

  1. Schedule the exam

    Start at least two months before your desired date. Plan on one hour for a public presentation, including time for questions from the audience, followed by up to 90 minutes of closed session with your committee, leading to a vote. This means that committee members should set aside 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

  2. Find a chair

    When a date and time for the oral exam is identified, then search for the exam committee chair. The chair CAN be from another department that is represented on the committee by one of the examiners other than the thesis advisor. For Interdisciplinary Degree Programs (IDPs), the chair of the examining committee may not have a full or joint appointment on the BMI Executive Committee. Once the full committee is chosen, fill out the University-mandated paperwork and provide the form along with your title and abstract to Student Services Officer at least two-three weeks prior to the Defense.

  3. Meet with the committee

    Make sure that you meet with all members of the committee (and optionally, the chair) as needed in the months leading up to the exam. Be sure that they understand what you are doing, agree with your thesis statement and evaluation plan, and believe that what you are proposing is worthy of a Stanford PhD.

  4. Plan your presentation

    Develop your oral defense in consultation with your thesis advisor. Decide in advance what points you need to make, what background needs to be provided to the audience, and what you can leave out or save for questions.

    Practice the talk. Go over the slides with your advisor. Avoid glibness, or excessive informality; this is one time when a presentation needs to be rather formal. You are trying to demonstrate that you are already master of a field and are striking out to break new and important ground of some kind. Even though you will have shared your proposal with your committee and often with other members of the audience, do not assume that everyone will have digested it in detail.

    Dissertation defenses should be serious scientific presentations of a student's dissertation research, similar to a postdoc interview talk, rather than a talk aimed at a lay audience. State your goals clearly; make sure people understand the motivation for what you are doing, as well as the technical details. The defense should close with a summary of what remains to be done before your dissertation will be complete, including a detailed time line of tasks, milestones, and their anticipated completion dates. Students should limit acknowledgements to one slide and a couple of minutes, saving more extended acknowledgements of friends and family for the Final Talk.

  5. Prepare the written proposal

    The proposal document is supposed to be a complete and compelling document that presents the problem, reviews the literature, and then describes your plan for completion. It should be polished and have a full set of references, figures etc. It is NOT a draft dissertation but should be a compelling and complete proposal for work to be done. Although this document may yield significant fragments that end up in the final dissertation, it should present a defendable proposal. Its acceptability is judged by the oral defense committee, using their judgment. In general, you should write a complete document (text, figures, tables, complete references) that makes a scholarly case for the problem being addressed, relevant previous work, and presents a scientifically logical plan for how it will be approached. One possible outline would be:

    • Ch. 1: Introduce the problem you are addressing, why it is important, why it may be solvable, and what you consider to be the key things you will investigate and try to make contributions to.
    • Ch. 2: Deep, critical and scholarly literature review of the relevant areas.
    • Ch. 3: Preliminary work that has been completed. You can use papers that you have written (as first author), each in its own chapter. The key thing there is that the writing should be your own, and so your full draft is better than something that was heavily edited by co-authors.
    • Ch. 4: Proposed work to be done in detail with validation, possible problems, and backup plans, along with a schedule/timeline.
    • Ch. 5: Summary of anticipated contributions to biomedicine and biomedical informatics.

    The document should be fully referenced, with figures, tables, complete sentences, and no sections that are empty. There is no length requirement (or limit) but most proposals are between 30-50 1.5-spaced typed pages.

    The primary advisor should read and approve the proposal document before it is sent to the committee. This is to ensure that the student and the advisor have a clear and shared understanding of the proposed work plan, and that it has been captured by the student in the written proposal document.

    In the case where one or more committee members is not satisfied by the written proposal, there are several options:

    • The oral defense can be postponed, but this would be an extraordinary event based on conversations with the advisor and program director, and would have to be considered well in-advance of the scheduled date of the oral defense.
    • The oral defense can go on, and if the oral defense and Q&A is an otherwise passing performance, the committee can either: (1) provide informal feedback about how to improve the document, or (2) grant a "conditional pass" conditioned on submission within a designated time of an acceptable proposal document.

    Work out an arrangement with your thesis advisor to assure that he or she has read all chapters of your proposal and has agreed that they are adequate no later than THREE WEEKS PRIOR TO YOUR EXAM. If your advisor has not seen drafts of all chapters by this time, and agreed that everything is on track, it is his or her responsibility to notify Student Services Officer that the scheduled exam should be cancelled; you will need to reschedule it at a time when the 3-week window is likely to be achievable.

    Incorporate comments from your advisor and generate a final thesis proposal for delivery to your committee no later than TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO YOUR EXAM. This provides your committee with enough time to have a reasonable chance of reading the document prior to your oral defense. Failure to meet this deadline will also trigger a cancellation of the oral exam by your thesis advisor so that the exam can be rescheduled for a time when the committee will have had adequate time to read the proposal.

    It is a courtesy to provide your orals committee chair with a copy of the proposal and the Orals Guidelines, and to offer to meet with him/her before the event. They will generally not require that you do this, but make the offer. Also, be sure they understand that you will be defending a proposal and not a completed dissertation.

    The University Oral Examination form should be submitted to the Student Services Officer at least two weeks prior to the examination date.

  6. Thesis Proposal Defense Oral Presentation Guidelines
    1. What is the scientific problem in the biological/medical domain that motivated your research?
    2. Why is that problem important to solve?
    3. What other research has been previously attempted to solve the problem described in Question 2 above?
    4. What are the limitations of the existing approaches described in Question 4 above?
    5. What are your hypotheses about how to overcome the limitations in Step 5, and how well do you predict it will resolve the problems described in Step 2?
    6. In a few minutes describe the underlying computational approach that you have taken to address a biological/ medical data analysis problem.
    7. Describe in depth the details of your research aimed at the level of expertise of your committee.
    8. How will you show that the research described in Question 7 resolves the problems described in Question 2?
    9. How do you propose to complete your research and evaluation during the time remaining before you graduate?
    10. What are the contributions to Biomedical Informatics and what are the contributions to the biological/medical domain?

3.10.13 Final talk

The Final Talk is a summary of the work accomplished on the PhD research, and should occur when the student is still matriculated. The final talk should primarily emphasize the research that has been completed since your thesis proposal defense presentation. It lasts about an hour, including time for questions. Extended acknowledgements of family and friends are appropriate in this celebratory venue.

The student's Final Talk must be scheduled during the regular academic quarter, and may not be scheduled during finals week or during the break between quarters. There is no mandatory attendance by the committee (although this is encouraged) and therefore there should be no particularly onerous scheduling constraints.

3.10.14 Submitting your dissertation

University regulations specify the composition of the examination committee and the format of the dissertation defense. See the Registrar's Dissertation and Thesis Submission page.

A thesis draft should be submitted to your thesis committee four weeks before the deposit deadline. The thesis committee should have no less than two additional weeks to read the final dissertation before the deadline for signing off and deposit with the registrar's office.

Once your thesis has been submitted to the Registrar, the Stanford University libraries will provide electronic access through the SearchWorks Web catalog in the ProQuest Digital Database. Bound copies of dissertations can be purchased through the HF Group Thesis on Demand in contract with the University to provide the standard red binding. Please check the Registrar's website for current information and instructions.

3.10.15 Getting an MS while in the PhD program

  1. Getting an MS from BMI

    There is no tradition in the Biosciences of routinely offering MS degrees on the way to a PhD, although our program has awarded them in the past under special circumstances at the request of the student. The BMI Executive Committee will consider requests to be awarded an MS degree. Upon completion of MS coursework requirements, students must submit a Master's Program Proposal, submit a Graduate Authorization Petition ($125), and (if approved) apply for graduation, selecting the MS (not PhD) program.

    Note that there are major financial consequences of PhD students obtaining a second MS degree along the way. Typically this would occur if you request the BMI MS, and then add an MS in statistics or CS. Generally, you shouldn't do this; please discuss with the Student Services Administrator at the earliest opportunity.

  2. Getting an MS from another program

    Some students choose to pursue an MS in another department, typically Statistics or CS, while they are a PhD student in BMI. (Note that you shouldn't do this if you have chosen to get the BMI MS.) You will need to petition the BMI Executive Committee to add the outside MS. You should do this in advance of applying to the other department and this requires planning ahead. Please submit to the Exec:

    1. A cover letter from you about why this is academically a good idea for you,
    2. Your BMI flowsheet showing how you fit in coursework from both programs,
    3. A letter of support from your PI. This should indicate that they are aware your MS could lengthen the time to degree, and that they will pay the tuition differential between regular full-time tuition and TGR tuition if you take longer than Spring quarter of 4th year to reach TGR.

4 Travel

The official Stanford rules are described on the Fingate webpage: Fingate - When Students Travel for Stanford

4.1 How to request support for travel

BMI can provide financial support for conference travel. Priority is given to those who have a presentation or a poster accepted. You need to request support for travel ahead of time, using the procedure described below. If you first travel, and then request payment for the travel, your request will be denied. Once you are affiliated with a lab, you should be able to get at least partial support from that lab, so discuss this with your PI.

Up to $1000 is usually available each year for all research students. Co-terminal students: if you had a presentation or poster accepted, let us know; we may be able to support your travel. NLM-supported students must attend the annual NLM meeting, usually held in early June; this travel does not count towards the annual spending limit. A year for the NLM Training Grant runs July 1-June 30; the BD2K year is slightly different.


  1. Submit a Travel Request Form to BMI Student Services. You should do this ahead of time (weeks to months, not days). Failure to submit the travel request form before the travel will mean that the student is responsible for the entire cost of the trip.
  2. Submit a Student Certificate for Authorized Expense form so that the travel reimbursement will not be considered taxable income to the student.

4.2 How to make travel arrangements

Students are responsible for making their own reservations for approved travel to conferences. (BMI Student Services will make the arrangements for the annual NLM Informatics Training Conference.) Use Egencia through Stanford Travel's Online Booking Tool. All students are expected to arrange for the lowest, restricted fare, using a US air carrier under the Fly America Act. Tickets can be purchased with the BMI Travel card or the student's personal credit card. If the student uses a personal credit card reimbursement will be issued to the student upon completion of the travel. Travel insurance and seat upgrades are not covered by BMI travel funds.

Students should complete the required travel request forms and certification as well as registration forms for meetings well in advance, and attempt to qualify for early registration discounts whenever possible. Normally only the Early Bird registration amount will be reimbursed. The registration fee, if it is an approved expense, is often charged directly to the grant supporting the travel and therefore is not a liability to the student. Membership fees will be reimbursed if required for an early registration discount.

It is also the student's responsibility to arrange for lodging at most conferences (except the NLM conference). Again, frugality is encouraged, both because there is a maximum per diem that the University will pay for living expenses away from Stanford, and because the ability of other students to travel in the future will depend on each student working to keep travel costs low. Students should ordinarily stay two to a room, and should not expect reimbursement for items such as dry cleaning, room service, telephone calls, pay-per-view movies, and other sorts of entertainment. Students should carefully consider if a car rental is really necessary. Since the travel policies can be confusing, please ask the Student Services Officer for clarification.

If you plan other trips around business travel please check with Student Services in advance of your booking to discuss the potential cost adjustment. Subsequent changes could result in you being responsible for change fees.

If there is a problem with the travel itinerary such as cancelled flights, fees for changing dates or times of travel, or change of date of the conference, you must contact the Student Services Officer or your academic advisor to get guidance about changing the flights and/or hotel and still maintain the requirements of the travel guidelines. Failure to get approval for these types of changes may mean that you will be responsible for the expenses.

4.3 Receipts

Please save all original receipts! It is almost impossible to reimburse you if we do not have the original receipts of all expenses (food, lodging, registration, etc). Yes, please keep your receipts for purchases under $25. When purchasing the airline ticket online, the student MUST provide proof of payment for the ticket. If the receipt from the vendor does not clearly state how the ticket was paid for, the student needs to provide a copy of the credit card statement for proof of payment. Travel and Reimbursement have strict rules about reimbursements and they will not reimburse a student unless they have the required back up paperwork. If a group of students are eating together, it is preferred that each student receives his or her own bill or that one student pays the entire bill. Each student's name should be written on the back of the receipt. This will not be counted against the student's overall travel budget if one student pays for the whole bill for 8 students, for example. Students are encouraged to take turns at each meal, however, when paying for the entire bill. We do not reimburse for alcoholic beverages.

4.4 Reimbursement after you travel

Submit to BMI Student Services:

  1. Spreadsheet of daily costs, including amounts
  2. Electronic or print of airline receipt, including proof that you paid for it (Copy of credit card statement, Expedia receipt, etc., showing the amount with your name and method of payment.)
  3. Boarding passes from the airline
  4. Registration receipt, including proof that you paid for it
  5. Lodging receipt
  6. All original receipts for other purchases
  7. Program of the conference

It takes 2 weeks for Stanford Financials to issue the reimbursement deposit. Students should enroll in direct deposit through Axess.

You may be reimbursed for the registration fee as soon as it is paid (prior to travel) and you submit the appropriate documentation. You may not be reimbursed for the other expenses until your return from the trip. Submit all documentation promptly. If submission is completed more than 60 days after travel, the reimbursement is taxable income.

4.5 Local Travel

Stanford policy is that conference or other travel to San Francisco, San Jose or other local cities less than 50 miles from Stanford does not qualify for overnight stay or for reimbursable meals. Students may be reimbursed for mileage and parking or train fare with a receipt. Consult with the Student Services Officer before you travel if you have questions about reimbursement policy. We are not able to reimburse students for gas mileage to the annual BMI retreat. We encourage carpooling.

4.6 Foreign travel

If you are an NLM-supported student and wish to travel to a conference outside the US, you should contact the Student Services Officer at least 3 months prior to registering to allow time for the Student Services Officer to request permission from the NIH for the international travel. In most cases, permission is given if the student purchases the airfare from an approved American carrier or their foreign partner. Refer to the Fly America Alliances Policy before booking a flight.

Other funded BMI students must also request permission for international travel 3 months in advance of the travel so that coordination between the advisor's department and BMI can be arranged before booking your reservations since your research advisor will be asked to contribute toward the travel. If the trip includes foreign travel, refer to the Fly America Alliances Policy before booking a flight.

5 Time away

5.1 Leave of absence

5.2 Family leave

The pregnancy, childbirth, and adoption policy is described in 5.9.1 Pregnancy, Childbirth and Adoption: Policy | Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures

5.3 Internships

Internships can be a great learning opportunity, but also can cause delays in your research or potential conflicts of interest. Note that there are some time constraints, so you need to plan ahead.

  • Talk to your research and academic advisors to see if an internship makes sense given your status in the program. Also consider what period of time and its relationship to your BMI milestones to minimize delays in your progress. In general, the BMI Executive Committee has a very strong preference that internships happen after you pass the Written Qualifying Exam, in order to ensure that you pass the Exam by end of second year, and to ensure that you have sufficient scientific knowledge and maturity to get the most out of your internship.
  • While internships should be related to Biomedical Informatics, make sure that the specific area of proposed internship research is distinct from your Stanford research, so that there are no intellectual property issues, such as who owns your work product and whether it is publishable. This issue can lead to very large problems. The topic of the internship project should be reviewed by your primary research advisor, who will be able to evaluate for potential overlap.
  • Notify the BMI Student Services Officer well in advance your plans.
  • Ask your research advisor to send an email to the BMI student services officer supporting your plan at least 1 full quarter before the start of the internship. This is important to getting approval from your funding source.
  • If you are on an NIH training grant, you will have to go off the grant for the time you are away, and permission will need to be obtained in advance from the NLM or NIH. This may take more than 1 quarter, so best to ask for permission with the student services officer ASAP. The NLM allows this for only one summer during your degree program. You might be eligible to extend your NLM support for one extra quarter if you do an internship, with prior approval.
  • If you are supported on any other type of fellowship or grant, such as the NSF, SGF, NDSEG, etc., you need to verify the rules for internships.
  • You cannot receive payment from the internship and your Stanford sources for the same time period. You are taking a break from full-time registration in the BMI program and will not be funded by the BMI program while participating in a full-time internship. Internships may affect your University benefits, such as health insurance and Vaden services. International students: see the next section.
  • If your proposed internship is not during summer quarter, then you need to make special arrangements. Please see the section about taking a leave of absence.
  • Additional information about internships from the School of Medicine Career Center is available on their webpage.

5.3.1 Special Notes for International Students

International students with internships in the US need to sign up for Curricular Practical Training (BIOMEDIN 390 A, B or C) and receive authorization through Bechtel International Center to maintain their visa status. Carefully read and follow the instructions at: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) | Bechtel International Center

International students who have already completed all course/unit requirements for their degree are not eligible for curricular practical training. CPT may not be used as a reason for delaying graduation. International students who are offered internships outside of the US will need to allow significant lead time to consult with Bechtel and multiple embassies. The conditions for visas and internships will depend on individual treaties signed between nations.

6 External employment

Past experiences with our program have taught us that external work commitments, especially in areas that overlap with research interests in the lab, essentially always lead to problems, especially with respect to intellectual property. Such involvements are not in your best interest, and they can significantly delay the completion of your training.

If you do take part-time or hourly positions outside the university, you are required to inform the BMI Exec. A maximum of eight hours per week is allowed for outside work. Failure to get approval before doing work off campus is a cause for concern about progress towards degree. Students must register for all quarters and be on campus, unless specifically approved otherwise.

The University restricts students on fellowships to no more than 8-10 hours per week of on-campus assistantships (such as a paid Teaching Assistantship in a different department). International students also have strict limits on work hours—please check with the Student Services Officer or Bechtel International Center.

7 Finances

7.1 Fellowship Stipends

Students on fellowships (NLM, SGF, SIGF, NRSA, NSF, etc.) receive stipend payments at the beginning of each quarter for the entire quarter. If you are living in campus housing, the system is set up to automatically subtract the housing fees from the stipend amount. Stipends for living expenses usually are taxable but income taxes are not withheld.

7.2 Assistantships (Salary)

Students being paid on any type of assistantship, usually a Research Assistantship funded by the PI, or students paid on any other type of hourly appointment that requires submission of hourly time sheets, are paid on the same schedule as the staff and faculty: work completed on the 1st-15th will be paid on the 22nd of the month, and work completed on the 15th through the end of the month will be paid on the 7th of the next month.

  • The I-9 form must be completed before assistantship checks can begin. Make an appointment to see the Student Services Officer and bring appropriate identification to complete this mandatory paperwork.
  • Please note that housing and other fees are not automatically deducted from your salary.
  • Your salary is taxable and taxes will be withheld as you request on the W-4 Tax Data form, submitted through Axess.

Switching between the two payment systems requires careful budgeting. For example: Switching from a fellowship (SGF, NLM) stipend to an assistantship salary: If the fellowship ends after Summer Quarter, and you have an RA appointment for Fall Quarter, you will receive your Summer stipend payment at the beginning of that quarter in June. You will not receive your first paycheck until October 22, as the Fall Quarter does not begin until October 1 (in Payroll terms), and you are paid for the first half of the month (October 1-15) on October 22nd and for the second half of the month (October 16-31) the following month on November 7th.

7.3 Direct Deposit

Fellowship stipends and assistantships payments are best handled through direct deposit to your bank account. To set up your direct deposit, login to Axess > Employee Information tab > Financial Information > Direct Deposit, and follow the directions.

7.4 Holds

Checks and other types of payments to the student will not be issued if the student has unpaid fees from previous quarters (housing, activity fee, etc.), has not submitted the federal employment eligibility form (I-9 for employee Payroll only), federal and state tax withholding certificate, and patent agreement form (SU-18, done online in Axess). Outstanding bills from the library, University, or Vaden Health Center will also result in holds. Holds must be cleared with the originating office before stipend checks will be issued. Please pay your housing and other miscellaneous fees.

If you owe money for tuition or health insurance and receive funding from BMI, please see Student Services Officer. If another department is responsible for your funding, please contact the appropriate department. The BMI Student Services Officer is happy to help in those situations too. Check your account in Axess often! Please see Student Services Officer if you need help resolving any issues.

7.5 Taxes

Unfortunately BMI Student Services cannot give tax advice. Here are some useful resources.

  • Start here: 1098-T FAQ's & Resources | Student Financial Services
  • According to this site you do NOT have to pay income taxes on Vaden Health Services Fee, Health Insurance, or Required Fees (such as 1st year student Document Fee or ASSU Fee).
  • Stanford issues an annual tuition statement, IRS Form 1098-T, to provide information necessary for students or parents to claim educational tax credits ( It has come to our attention that some online accounting programs (i.e., Turbo Tax) inappropriately refer to Form 1098-T as an income form. Using the 1098-T form to determine income rather than claim educational tax credits can cause misunderstanding and errors. Do NOT use the 1098-T form to determine fellowship/scholarship income.
  • International students may contact Bechtel International Center
  • Also, IRS website:

8 Graduation

8.1 Graduation Photo

All PhD students should have their photograph taken before they defend their proposal. Full-time academic MS students should have photos taken the quarter before graduation. Photos will hang with the BMI photo gallery in the MSOB x275 conference room. Photos sittings are available on campus in the hospital atrium and at the Stanford Daily Studio. The BMI program will pay for the photography session and print. See the Student Services Officer for additional information and to provide your name as you want it to appear on the brass plate.

HCP MS and Coterminal MS students will have their names added to plaques in MSOB X275.

8.2 Degree Conferral

In order to have your degree conferred, you must have completed all of the University and Department requirements, and submitted all work before the deadlines. The University imposes requirements such as residency, submission of official scores and transcripts, payment of fees, and return of library books, that the BMI program has no control over and sometimes no knowledge of. You should make sure that this have been addressed.

8.3 Notice of Intention to Graduate

You must file a Notice of Intention to Graduate (“apply to graduate”) through AXESS for the quarter you complete the degree requirements. If you do not finish in time, you will need to annul the initial Intention to Graduate and submit a new one for the quarter in which you intend to finish. Please refer to the University calendar for deadlines. There are no exceptions for missed deadlines. This is a University rule. The deadlines are listed in AXESS and on the academic calendar.

8.4 Graduation Quarter

If you have completed everything except for depositing the report, thesis or dissertation, you may submit that and graduate while registered for a Graduation Quarter your very last quarter. This Graduation Quarter option is only available for one quarter. You must be an Active student registered the quarter prior to this or on an approved Leave of Absence and you must have filed TGR papers and defended your thesis before this. You will still need to file an Intention to Graduate for that last quarter in AXESS. A small tuition fee will be charged and you will be considered a full-time student for various administrative purposes. Your degree will not be conferred until the official conferral date for that final Graduation Quarter

8.5 Commencement

BMI students from all degree programs are encouraged to participate in Medical School Commencement, which is coordinated by the Office of Student Services in the School of Medicine. If you complete your degree in June or in a previous quarter during that academic year, you will be encouraged to attend the ceremony.

If you intend to finish your degree in Summer or next Fall quarter, or have unusual personal circumstances which would make going through the ceremony in a particular year most meaningful, permission may be granted for you to walkthrough the Commencement ceremony. The Office of Student Services also handles the walkthrough process. Please submit the following form:

9 Change log

  • September 2017: entirely new format with heavily revised content, including description of Written Qualifying Examination for PhD students.

Created: 2017-09-15 Fri 09:05