Incoming PhD Students

PhD Student Orientation Schedule

Here is a schedule of orientation events sponsored by the Computer Science Department. There are many other campus-wide orientation events that you might like to explore. Please visit the Graduate Student Information Center's website in September for detailed information:

Date Time Event
September 21, 2016 (Wednesday) 10:00 am - 5:00 pm New Student Orientation, Gates Bldg.

9/21/2016 10:30 am - 5:00 pm Computer Science Department Orientation Meeting:

Please do not miss this meeting! It is the most important orientation event for all new CS graduate students and will be held from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. Registration will be from 10:00 - 11:00 am. Lunch will be served from 11:00 am - 11:45 am in Gates 104. There will be an informal meeting starting with a welcome address and an overview of research in the department by the Chair of the Department, followed by various members of the department who will speak about CAships, RAships, the Honor Code at Stanford, computing facilities, etc.

After a short break at around 2:00 pm, the Ph.D. students will reassemble in Gates B03 for an information session with Professor David Dill, Director of Graduate Studies. The CSD Ph.D. Program Officer, Department Manager and Financial Aid Specialist will also be on hand to answer questions and distribute information. This meeting leads into a month-long series of specially designed seminars for all new Ph.D. students, which serves as an introduction to the faculty and their respective research areas and groups. This meeting is mandatory for all Ph.D. students including Change of Degree and Additional Degree students.

PhD Contact and Additional Information

The first day of classes is September 26th and we recommend that you arrive one week prior to this date. Consider arriving even earlier if you will be looking for housing. If you are an international student and will be attending the orientation activities at the Bechtel International Center (I-Center), please check the I-Center's website at: in mid-August for detailed information about their orientation.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to send an email to your student buddy. You may also contact CS Graduate Admissions at (650) 725-3140 or For Ph.D. program information, contact Jayanthi Subramanian via e-mail.

Our mailing address is:

Computer Science Graduate Admissions
Gates Bldg., Room 196
Stanford, CA 94305-9015

To contact someone else in our department, call the Computer Science Department (CSD) switchboard at (650) 723-2273. To reach another department at Stanford, please call the University switchboard at (650) 723-2300 or browse the index of Stanford sites at the Stanford home page at: .

We look forward to seeing you at our new student orientation this Autumn!!

PhD Student Advisor

Your student advisor is your former student buddy mentioned in your admit letter. This student advisor is in addition to your faculty advisor and will provide you with less formal and more broad-ranging help. We encourage you to get to know your student advisor, as he or she can be of assistance with problems big and small, academic, social and otherwise. Your student advisor can assist you with getting in touch with other students and faculty members, and help you to find out what's going on in the department as a whole. If you  are unsure about who your student buddy is please email

First Year Rotation Program

Research Rotation Program 

First-year Ph.D. students can spend 1 quarter each in 3 groups. They must align with a permanent advisor by the middle of Spring quarter of the first year.

Look over the department website and research group pages to get ideas or information about specific faculty you might be interested in working with for rotations.

You are encouraged to line up your own research rotations. Be sure to contact the faculty directly to confirm their consent.

You need to tell the Graduate Program Office about your autumn quarter rotation by August 15. Information on any rotations that you have lined up must be e-mailed to

Alternatively, you can tell us your preferences for advisors or research areas, and the Graduate Program Office will line up a research rotation for you. (Note that this requires you to be somewhat flexible in the positions that you’ll accept.) Send your e-mail to with your preferences for advisors or research areas by August 15.

An entering Ph.D. student and a faculty member may opt out of the rotation system by mutual consent. In this case, the faculty member must agree to serve as the student's research advisor and notify the Graduate Program Office by e-mailing Fine print: If a student starts as a rotation student, but then does a second quarter in the first year with the same advisor, then the student has ceased to rotate and counts as permanently aligned with the advisor, who fully supports them in the second and further quarters.

Remember that the goal of the rotation program is to find an advisor. You should make sure that, by the end of the year, there’s at least one faculty member who is impressed with you and with whom you’d like to work.

Life in Gates Building

Office Assignments: Students will be seated as close as possible to their advisor’s groups, and will move each quarter as they rotate advisors. Preliminary office assignments are listed with the roster.

Keys: We use a security system called Intellikey. Keys can be picked up from Christine or Hector in Gates room 176 starting Wednesday, September 21 from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.  A photo ID is required as is a $20 deposit that is refunded when you return the key. The key will be programmed to open all external doors (5), the elevator call button in the basement, the key hole inside each of the two elevators, and your office door. As you move to other spaces in the future, Christine or Hector can reprogram your same key; you need to bring the key to Room 176 to have it reprogrammed. Requests for reprogramming are made by your professor or his/her faculty administrator and are sent to The building is locked between 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. weekdays, all weekend, and on holidays. After hours, you can use your Gates key to enter at the end of the A and B wings or the main doors, or use your Stanford ID card to enter through the classroom stairway door. If you want to go from the basement to the upper floors of the building after 7:00 p.m., you’ll need to use your Intellikey to call the elevator.  You need to activate your key in each door once within the first 7 days or your key will lose access to that door.

Health and Safety: We are required by law to provide you with information about health and safety in this building. Please visit and read the instructions thoroughly.

The Environmental Health and Safety department provides information about office/computer ergonomics at


  • There is a pantry on each wing; coffee and tea are provided free to building residents.  DO NOT TAKE FOOD FROM THE REFRIGERATORS THAT DOESN'T BELONG TO YOU. "Free" food will be left on countertops or pantry tables. Wing residents are expected to clean up after themselves in the pantries (coffeemaker, microwave, refrigerator, etc.) These tasks are not part of the janitor's routine work.
  • To make reservations in the conference rooms we use Infomaster,  Conference rooms in the building are available to residents for official business. Some rooms have restrictions (e.g., 211 "The Library" is not available for study sessions, grading, course section meetings; it's reserved for faculty and senior staff meetings). Full "rules" can be found at Please be considerate of your fellow Gatesians and clean up after yourself (especially if food is served).
  • Any problems with the physical building, send an email to Fixit@cs is monitored Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. If there is a problem with building facilities outside of those hours, please phone the Stanford Facilities Hotline, 3-2281; please also send an email to so we can track issues.
  • Any problems with the computing/networking environment, send an email to
  • The Gates-Internal web site has more info about the department, administrative and building matters. (This site is restricted to people with a CS account.)
  • Free food is announced through an email distribution list To subscribe, go to and enter your email address. Free food will be left on countertops and table tops. Food that is in the refrigerators is NOT free, don't take it.
  • Students are responsible for the condition of their office space when they are here AND when they leave.
  • Please report any suspicious people to I realize it's hard to know what suspicious looks like, especially in CS, but if someone makes you uncomfortable then send a note. We'd rather check out a full professor than have a burglar go unnoticed. Do not let people into the building after hours if you don't know them. Please don't prop the external doors open (they have alarms).
  • Anything purchased with Stanford funds (computers, lab equipment, supplies) belongs to Stanford, it is not yours to keep.
  • Students who plan to travel on Stanford business should familiarize themselves with Stanford Travel policies summarized at more in-depth resource can be found at
  • Stanford has implemented an energy savings program that includes our heat and ventilation system. Office temperatures are controlled during weekday hours (M-F 5am-9pm) to between 70-76 degrees Fahrenheit. After-hours (evenings, weekends, holidays), the Override button will bring the temperature in your office to the 70-76 range for a 3 hour period, but that is the only function for Override. If the temperature in your office is uncomfortable, please send email to and report the exact temperature reading and your room number. A technician from the central facilities team will be called.


New students! You may find the slides that was used last year for orientation talks here.

Please refer to "The Redbook".


Q. Can I enroll in Autumn quarter courses before Orientation?

Yes, new CS Ph.D. students will need to pre-enroll in CS300 and in CS499. There are multiple sections of CS499. Be sure to enroll in the section being offered by the faculty member that you will be rotating with in Autumn Quarter. You can enroll as early as August 1st and must enroll by 5:00 pm on September 26th. You must be enrolled in 8 - 10 units to maintain student status. CS Ph.D. students should enroll in 10 units. You will have the option of adding and dropping classes until Friday, October 14th, at 5:00 pm. Course enrollment and units will be discussed in greater detail at the orientation.

Q: Is there a graduate handbook or something similar with more details about graduate student policy?

Yes, the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures handbook (the GAP handbook) is a compilation of university policies and other information related to the academic progress of Stanford graduate students -- from their application and admission, to the conferral of degrees and retention of records. The direct link to GAP is

Q: How can I find out more about course requirements for the Ph.D. program?

See the Stanford University bulletin for course requirements or visit

Q: Where can I find information on the CS Ph.D. program requirements?

CS Ph.D. program policy can be found at

Q: Does the CS department offer a MS/Ph.D. program?

No, the MS program and Ph.D. program are two separate programs. The MS degree also does not automatically lead into Ph.D. degree. Applicants planning to pursue a Ph.D. degree should apply directly to that program. For more information about the MS & Ph.D. programs, see the MS versus PhD section of the graduate admissions web page.

Q: How am I assigned an advisor?

Each Ph.D. student spends the first few months becoming better acquainted with the various faculty and their research areas before aligning with a faculty member to pursue their doctoral research.