An Ultimate Guide: Stanford University Admission Requirements

Stanford University. The name alone can already tell you many things. Apart from being a competitor to the ever-elite Harvard, Stanford sets itself apart. It is because it's one of the many elite colleges that's got a colorful community you don't often see. Sandford accepts students who excel in their exceptional experiences in life.

But before you think Stanford can let you in like you're knocking on a door, you'll have to know it's going to be a battle. So how can you get admitted into this place? How can you be worthy of being part of this place as you begin your journey in college? 

You will know this with our guide. This guide will show you what Stanford is looking for, its score requirements, application requirements, and everything else that will help you. But before that, let's see an overview of Stanford University.

Stanford University Overview:

Founded in 1885, Stanford University is in Stanford, California, USA. 

As per the "2021 US news ranking", Stanford is the 6th (tie) best University in the USA. As per the "2021 QS World University Ranking," Stanford is the World's 2nd best University.

The tuition fee for admitted students at Stanford is $56,169 (2020-21). The total enrollment in the school is 17,249. 5:1 is the student to faculty ratio in Stanford. For every six students, there is one faculty, which gives personalized attention to every student. 69.3% of classes in Stanford consist of fewer than 20 students.

Stanford University has notable names in the World as its alumni. Some notable alumni are Larry Page (Google Co-Founder), Sergey Brin (Google Co-Founder), Mukesh Ambani (Indian Billionaire), Jawed Karim (Youtube Co-founder). 

Stanford University

Now, Let's see what Stanford is looking for in its students.

What Is Stanford Looking For In A Student?

Stanford has their way with its selection process. The factors that influence their process are as ordinary they can be. You may even think they're like some average college who didn't spend so much time determining the factors for the applicants who can apply. But it takes an excellent glance to know they have excellent reasons for this. Here are the elements:

  • Academic Excellence

This factor in their selection process is primary. It means Stanford is looking for students who exhibit vigilance and audacity in their academic studies and challenge themselves. 

Another suitable way to put this is to see applicants who can do well in their studies and still do it with style. Thankfully they're not very strict on the minimum GPA or the courses needed to take. When they see this excellent factor in you, they'll have consideration.

  • Intellectual Vitality

Stanford will look for an applicant who's got the ability to expand their horizons and improve their intellect. You can think of this as the kind of factor where they're hoping to see the next Isaac Newton or Ernest Hemingway build in the future students. 

Another way to put it: They want to see applicants like you pursue things beyond the ordinary. So if you're the kind who reads challenging books or participate in scientific stuff that most students your age don't do, then you've got this one.

  • Extracurricular Activities

For this one, Stanford will evaluate a student based on the many activities they pursue outside of their school time. From the athletic to the musical, they want to see if a student isn't only dedicated to school and their lives and enrich it with things that give them experience. They'll even consider those high school clubs you join as a nice boost.

By having a good idea of these factors, you'll be able to see whether or not you have them. And from the looks of it, it can be easy to find out because they're not that difficult to have. But it pays to be honest in assessing yourself thoroughly to the max.

With these three things, Stanford also considers the "context" as an essential factor.

What Is The Importance Of "Context" For Stanford?

They also listed the factors of the selection process in the context. Stanford talked more about it when they say, As no two Stanford students are similar, each Stanford applicant is unique. 

All applicants are born and brought up in a unique environment. The circumstances one applicant was living in may be different from the other. Stanford understands this very well. Thus, when they review the application, they pay attention to the applicant's unique circumstance. 

By considering applicant achievements in context, they will know how you excelled in your environment. Stanford is interested in learning what was available to you in your school and how you took advantage of it.

Why Stanford?

Open Culture

Open and encouraging, less stressful, and more cooperative. Your mental health and academic health are equally essential. And, whether you pursue an academic or industry career, you have everyone’s support—unconditionally


Group work is highly supported by peers and faculty alike. Crucial decisions affecting students are made only after consultation and discussion. They value your input. And there are no research fiefdoms – you can move freely between advisors and subfields.


Nowadays, economics is highly a cross-disciplinary field. The great thing about studying a Stanford is that you can take courses, collaborate, and research with faculty from equally top-notch departments across the university, including Computer Science, Statistics, Mathematics, Psychology, and Political Science, as well as groups within the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Business, the School of Education, and the Law School.


The program is intentionally designed to foster student connections—with each other, faculty, and even top tech firms in nearby Silicon Valley. Programs like the First-Year Seminar Series, Second Year RA Match, and Third Year Seminars where students present their work-in-progress and papers to peers and faculty, can lead to co-authorships and lifelong collaborations. 

The Beauty of California

Never undervalue the influence of sunshine and fresh air. That’s what you’ll experience almost every day you’re here.

Stanford SAT Score Requirements:

Stanford University is an enormously competitive school considering scores requirements. The SAT 25th percentile score of this college is 1440. It means only less than 25% of Stanford students scores below 1440. 

The SAT 75th percentile score of Stanford is 1570. It means around 75% of admitted students score less than 1570. The average (50th Percentile) SAT score of Stanford we could find is 1505.

You can also focus on the 25th percentile and 75th percentile in both sections. For Math, the 25th percentile and 75th percentile are 740 and 800, respectively. 

For EBRW, the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile are 700 and 770, respectively. Here, we can see you need to gain more Math marks to achieve the same percentile score.

If you're weak in one section, try to score higher in the other section than required. So, even if you get more marks than needed in one section but less in another, you may still come to the necessary composite score.

Stanford University Required SAT Scores

SAT Score Policy:

Every college has its SAT score policy which decides its college's approach in evaluating student's scores. In the case of Stanford University, the path they have is the "highest section."

This policy is also known as "superscoring." In this policy, the college will consider your highest section SAT score from all tests.

For example, if one student takes the SAT exam twice, for the first attempt, the composite score is 1510. In the score of 1510, 775 is of maths, and 735 is of EBRW. In the second attempt, he again receives 1510 as a composite SAT score. But this time, he received 735 in Maths and 775 in EBRW.

Thus, your highest Math score is on the first attempt, and the highest score in EBRW is on the second attempt. And as SU has a policy of the highest section score, they will consider each subject's highest score.

Hence, Stanford will take your Maths score as 775 and EBRW as 775. It will benefit the student as his score raised by 40 points, which now became 1550.

Thus, due to the highest section policy, it's a must to retake the SAT examination. It gives you a great chance to raise your score.

Stanford ACT Score Requirements:

Stanford's composite 25th percentile score is 32, and the 75th percentile score is 35. Stanford doesn't have any minimum score requirements. However, less score than given will make conditions hard for you to get admitted.

The composite score of ACT is an average of all 4 section scores. Hence, to get the aimed composite score, you need to score the aimed score in every section.

ACT Score Policy

Stanford will review all your ACT subscores and focus on your highest composite ACT score from all attempts.

Stanford GPA Requirements

You need a solid GPA to get admitted to Stanford. The GPA required for Stanford is 4.18 on a scale of 4. It would help if you had a high school grade of "A" to get this much GPA. If you're sure that you are not getting this much GPA score, focus on gaining more marks in SAT / ACT.

Also, check the below table published on Stanford University's website. The table shows the High School GPA Ranges of students admitted.

High School GPA Ranges of Students Admitted

Stanford University Application Requirements

Application Through Coalition Application Or Common Application.

Common Application and Coalition Application is a portal to apply for your desired college. To apply for Stanford, you need to register in Common App or Coalition App and add Stanford University to your college list.

While applying, you need to fill in the application sections, a need for all schools. You also need to answer the specific questions asked by Stanford University. With both of these, both portals also consist of essay prompts for your personal essay.

To know more about this, go to -

Application Fee/Fee Waiver:

While submitting the form, you also need to submit $90 application fees. Keep in mind that the application fee is non-refundable. You can use the application portal's fee waiver guideline to check your eligibility in case of fee waivers. 

If you think that your financial condition could meet the guidelines, you can request a fee waiver. You can do this by selecting the "fee waiver" option in the application.

To know more about this, go to

ACT or SAT scores

As a standardized test score, Stanford requires either SAT or ACT scores. You can report the score in the "testing" section of the application. To know everything in detail, go to


If you are from the USA, you need to submit the official transcript (grades 9–12).

If you are not from the USA, you need to submit:

  • Official transcripts
  • A midyear transcript (by February 15)
  • A final transcript (by July 1) if admitted and choose to enroll.
  • A high school diploma (or equivalent) if decide to enroll.

All this must send by a school official or testing agency.

School Report And Counselor Recommendation

These documents should send by a high school college counselor or other school administrators.

In Case Of Coalition Application:

  • School Report 
  • Student Assessment 
  • Recommendation letter

In case of Common application:

  • School Report
  • Counselor Recommendation form (this includes recommendation letter)

Letters Of Recommendation

You should also submit a recommendation letter from two teachers of grade 11 or 12. It should be from teachers who taught you major subjects like Math, English, Science. If your coursework was advance in grade 10, you could also send a letter of recommendation to the grade 10 teacher. 

If you are to send the letter to the classroom teacher, then it's best as Stanford will prefer it the most.

To know more about this, go to

In addition to all submissions, you also have the option to submit Arts Portfolio and attend the interview with the Stanford alumnus.

The following are the application deadlines for First-year applicants:

Freshmen Application and Testing Deadlines

Stanford Admission Process:

The process of selecting the candidate is holistic. The admission staff will see every part of your application. Some factors will help them to know your background and what was your life experience. Other factors will tell them about your academic achievement and your school. Few pieces will also help them to know your intellectual contributions and character.

With the essay you submit, they will learn about your interests and ideas and what is vital to you. 

Every year, Stanford aims to admit diverse students. They should be diverse in the background, academic interests, talents, experiences, and how they see the World. Stanford wants to know how you grow yourself, contribute to the World, thrive at Stanford, etc.

The college will look for a student primarily with academic excellence. With this, they will see Intellectual Vitality, Extracurricular Activities, and Context as mentioned above.

Stanford University Acceptance Rate:

You also need to know the acceptance rate of the college. The acceptance rates show how many percentages of students get admitted. The World's top colleges are very selective while selecting applicants. And as Stanford University is a leading college in the World, the acceptance rate is little.

The current regular acceptance rate of Stanford is 4%. It means, in every 100 applicants, only 4 get accepted. 

The early application acceptance rate for the class of 2021 of Stanford is 9.24%. So as we see, the early applicant's percentage selected is high compared to regular decision. Although, keep in mind that this could be because the brighter students apply early.

Every year, both these acceptance rates are decreasing. In the following years, it may go even lower. 

In short: only a few get selected. You could be among a few who get admitted to Stanford if you work hard.

What if Not Accepted? 

There are a few alternatives you can try if your application gets rejected. However, they're not the kind of options rejected applicants will do right away since they all take time. But if you don't mind the patience needed, then here they are:

Alternative Option A: Apply for a different college and transfer to Stanford later

You can always apply for a different college and then transfer to Stanford later. So the strategy here is when you're in the other college, get some experience. Later in midway, you can apply again for Stanford as a transfer applicant. 

From there, you can do all the things we've discussed here and give your application a boost. It'll let Stanford have another look and see why you're actively going for their place. If it seems fishy, you can have a look at Stanford's requirements for transfer applicants.

But take note that it's going to be pure luck with this one because the transfer admissions rate is shallow. How low can it go? The acceptance rate is 1-2%. Yes, lower than the acceptance rates for new applicants. So you'd better make sure that when you're going for this, you'll show Stanford that you deserve a second chance. 

The following are the application deadlines for transfer applicants:

Transfer Application and Testing Dates

Alternative Option B: Apply again after going through a gap year

Another way to get yourself into Stanford is to apply again after going through a gap year. A year-long break before or after college to pursue other activities for further development in education and other parts of life. It's also a marvelous way for you to take a nice long break from your time with school and pursue things that can expand your mind and body. 


Stanford may seem like a place you can apply for as easy as 1, 2, and 3, but they've got hidden agendas that are never said to the public. Sure, their selection process makes it look anyone can apply, but they have other factors that the accepted had learned when they could enroll with them, as you've already realized. 

It can even seem like it's not worth the effort to apply for a place that's going for the student with exceptional academic scores topped with superb intellect and experiences with great extracurricular activities. But deep down within, you can give it a go and show Stanford you're the one they'll gladly accept. 

By knowing the truths and myths with their process to upping up your applications with the positives they look for, you'll know with certainty that you can find your way into the World of Stanford.