We've put together the most frequently asked questions about Stanford admission so you can find what you're looking for quickly. Select a topic to get started.
We recommend you pursue a reasonably challenging high school curriculum, choosing courses from among the most demanding available at your school. Though we do not have a set of required courses for admission to Stanford, we have found that a curriculum emphasizing depth and breadth across core academic subjects is the best preparation for the academic rigors at Stanford.
Please visit our Academic Preparation page for a general framework of recommended high school courses and other information about preparing for college.
There is no GPA or rank in class required to apply or to be admitted to Stanford. Similarly, there is no score or quantitative measure that guarantees admission. At Stanford, we review applications holistically, meaning every component of the application is valuable to us as we get to know each student.
When you apply to Stanford, you apply to the university as a whole, not to a particular major, department or school. As a result, no specific courses are required. Similarly, if you would like to pursue pre-med, pre-law, or pre-business coursework, there are no prerequisites.
Please note that Stanford does not offer pre-med, pre-law, or pre-business majors, although many students do pursue careers or graduate studies in those areas. Those students choose from one of our many major options, while also fulfilling requirements to apply to graduate school. You can find a list of all Stanford majors on the Undergraduate Majors webpage .
Students will also find pre-professional advisors and student groups who can help them prepare for graduate school applications.
There are a number of factors to consider as you think about whether you would like to submit your application for Restrictive Early Action or Regular Decision.
Restrictive Early Action may be a good option if all of the following apply:
- You have identified Stanford as your first choice;
- You have taken a challenging academic schedule through grade 11 and have done well;
- You have enough time before the November 1 deadline to write a thoughtful application.
When we review your early application, it is important to have a strong transcript through grade 11 because we will not have your grades from the first semester of your senior year. If your Restrictive Early Action application is accepted, the decision is non-binding, and you are free to apply to other colleges and universities during Regular Decision.
You may want to consider Regular Decision if any of the following applies:
- Your grades are on an upward trend;
- You are taking classes in your senior year that are significantly more rigorous than in grades 10 and 11;
- You are taking (or retaking) standardized exams;
- You are working on a significant project or activity in the fall of your senior year.
In a Regular Decision application, we will have additional information such as your transcript from the first semester of your senior year, scores from exams you may be taking in the late fall, and more details about your senior year activities and projects.
Regular Decision is Stanford’s traditional option chosen by the majority of our applicants. The application deadline is January 2.
We consider each student’s educational journey to be unique, and if graduating from high school early is a good fit for you, you should follow that path. At Stanford, no single educational pathway has an advantage over any other. We will review your application holistically, taking into account your context and the unique factors that have shaped your education thus far.
Please visit Stanford’s Office of Accessible Education website , which has information for prospective students with physical, psychological and learning disabilities.
Yes. Stanford has a strong commitment to admitting and enrolling a student body that is both highly qualified and diverse. We review all applications with a sensitive awareness to the applicant's personal experiences, family background and potential to add to the rich and dynamic texture of our campus. We recognize special circumstances and pay close attention to the unique educational contexts and life experiences of students from low-income families and nontraditional backgrounds. At Stanford, students benefit from unparalleled diversity of thought, experiences, cultures, and ways of viewing the world. We believe that the best education can develop only in a vibrant, diverse community that actively affirms both the differences among its members and the numerous points of connection. At a place like Stanford, where students learn so much from one another, a dynamic range of perspectives and experiences influences learning both in and out of the classroom. We are committed to making Stanford as strong a university as possible, and this entails enrolling the most promising students from all backgrounds.
Please visit this resource to read about Stanford University's Nondiscrimination Policy .
Summer Programs at Stanford
Stanford's Summer Session offers programs for both high school and college students.
We do not have a preference for students who attend Stanford-specific summer programs. Overall, we encourage you to pursue any summer activity, class, program, or work you are interested in. The fact that you are participating in a given program, activity, or work is not in and of itself the value-add to your application. What is important to us is how you learn, grow, and contribute because of these experiences.
Stanford does not track what is often referred to as "demonstrated interest." Contacting the admission office or the admission officer for your region is not a requirement and not an advantage. We offer campus tours and information sessions to provide you with the information you need to get to know Stanford better, not to evaluate you. Please do not feel compelled to contact us to demonstrate you are interested. We do not keep records of prospective student contacts with our office.
During the academic year, the Visitor Center can provide a list of classes open to prospective students who wish to observe.
If visiting a class is a high priority, be advised that the available courses generally have a lecture-based format, are offered on the hour during weekday mornings and last for approximately one hour. Be sure to coordinate the timing of the class you are interested in with reservations for other tours or programs. Also, be sure to visit while classes are in session and not during finals or academic breaks. Stanford University operates on the quarter system, and our class calendar can differ significantly from those of other institutions.
Be advised that sitting in on a class during Summer Quarter is not possible, as course options are limited and often cater specifically to summer camp or conference audiences.
Current students are on staff at the Visitor Center and welcome your questions. In addition, Stanford students typically enjoy talking about their experiences, and you are welcome to ask questions of any student you see walking around campus.
Stanford is committed to making the college application process accessible to every student. To determine if you are eligible for a fee waiver, please review the fee waiver eligibility guidelines in either the Coalition Application or the Common Application. Any student who meets the eligibility guidelines may request an application fee waiver.
If you requested but are not eligible for a fee waiver, you can return to your Application Submission Page at commonapp.org , change your payment method, and pay the fee.
The Financial Aid Office does not issue fee payment codes for the CSS Profile for freshman or transfer applicants. However, your fee may be waived by the College Scholarship Service (CSS) if you meet their criteria. If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact CSS at (844) 202-0524.
In a typical year, Stanford requires just one exam—either the ACT or the SAT. The Writing/Essay section is not required. Please visit our COVID-19 page for updates to our testing requirement for 2020-21.
We recommend taking the ACT or SAT well in advance of application deadlines. Please see our testing deadline chart for the last acceptable ACT and SAT exam dates.
Yes; we recommend that you simply self-report your highest scores in the testing section of the application. You can also have official scores sent to Stanford, but this is not required for us to review your application. If you would like to have official scores sent, it is fine to use the College Board’s Score Choice option or the equivalent offered by the ACT.
Though we do not require the writing/essay section of the ACT or SAT, if you took the exam with writing/essay, we request that you be honest and transparent and report your score as required by the application and as a section integral to the sitting of the exam you took. You challenged yourself by taking the writing/essay section, and we will recognize and honor this effort, while our consideration will be of your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math scores.
Our overall review is holistic, meaning we take into consideration the many pieces in your application including your transcript; the letters of recommendation written on your behalf; your extracurricular involvement and work and family responsibilities; and your essays. Each piece of the application is one factor among many that contribute to the whole of your candidacy. We want to reassure you of the comprehensive nature of our review and our understanding of the application and its reporting structure.
No; there are no minimum test scores, GPA, or rank in class required to apply or to be admitted to Stanford. Similarly, there is no score or quantitative measure that guarantees admission. At Stanford, we review applications holistically, meaning every component of the application is valuable to us as we get to know each student.
Stanford requires just one exam—either the ACT or the SAT. SAT Subject Tests are optional. Because subject test scores can highlight areas of strength, you are welcome to self-report these results in your application. You may also send official scores from the College Board. If you have taken a subject test more than once, it is fine to report your highest score.
Similarly, if you have taken Advanced Placement exams, you are welcome to self-report your scores in the application.
If English is not your native language and not the primary language of instruction at your current secondary school, we strongly recommend you submit English proficiency test scores as part of your application. Please visit our International Applicants page for more information about standardized testing for international students.
U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and undocumented/DACA students are considered domestic applicants in our application process. If you are a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident living and attending school abroad, you are considered a domestic applicant for financial aid purposes, while your application will be read in the context of your secondary school.
For international citizens, your request for need-based financial aid will be a factor in our admission evaluation. Financial aid at Stanford is based on the family’s demonstrated financial need and we will meet the full need of all admitted students regardless of citizenship. You can find more information about financial aid at Stanford on the Financial Aid website .
Members of our admission staff specialize in reading students' applications from countries around the world. We are familiar with the nuances of different education systems and consider your application within the context of the resources available to you. We will consider the educational procedures within your school and country, as well as cultural and regional differences.
You should consult the application instructions for freshman or transfer applicants for information about which transcripts and school reports are required as part of your application. There is no need to have your marks converted into an American GPA. We require that any official documents from your school, noting your grades, marks, or any predictions, to be sent directly from your school as part of your application.
Official copies of your original transcripts and teacher evaluations are required. These must also be translated into English and copies of the translated documents must be provided with your application. Translations may not be completed by the applicant. However, we encourage applicants to utilize other resources available to them—such as English teachers or school administrators—to provide such translations.
If you do not have a guidance counselor, you may have another school official (i.e. principal, homeroom teacher, etc.) submit the counselor letter of recommendation for you.
Stanford University does not accept applications for spring enrollment. All of our admitted students enroll in the autumn quarter. If you are applying to Stanford University as a freshman applicant, you cannot attend another University or College before entering Stanford.
The ACT or the SAT is required for all undergraduate applicants. If no sittings of these tests are offered in your country, you may request a testing waiver. The request must be submitted by a school official in writing by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), mail, or fax: (+1) (650) 723-6050. Include your full legal name, school name, and date of birth at the top of the letter. No form is required. Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. We do not accept alternate exam scores in lieu of either the ACT or the SAT.
We evaluate applicants on multiple factors, including recommendations, extracurricular activities, essays, predicted IB scores/A-Level results, and others. There are no minimum scores that will secure your admission to Stanford. However, we recommend completing the necessary coursework to apply to a university program for a bachelor's degree in your home country, and if your school gives predicted marks, please provide that information in your application.
Financial aid at Stanford is based on the family’s demonstrated financial need and we will meet the full-calculated need of all admitted students. If you are not a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or undocumented/DACA student, a request for need-based financial aid will be a factor in our admission evaluation. We will not admit a student unless we are certain either that the student is self-funded or that we are able to provide financial aid. For more information about financial aid at Stanford, and to find the required application forms, please visit the Financial Aid website .
International citizens will receive information detailing the student visa application process if offered admission to Stanford. To learn more about how Stanford supports its international and immigrant communities, please visit the Stanford Immigration website .
We do not have any exchange programs for undergraduates. If you would like to study at Stanford, you will need to apply as a transfer student, or consider graduate programs , the Stanford Continuing Studies program , or Stanford Summer Session . Please note that admission to the summer program is separate from Stanford’s undergraduate admission and does not provide an advantage in the undergraduate admission process.
You are considered a freshman applicant if any of the following apply:
- You are still in high school/home school and have not yet received your high school diploma or the equivalent.
- You have not yet received your high school diploma or the equivalent and you are enrolled in an early college program or dual enrollment program.
- You have received a high school diploma or the equivalent and have not completed courses for college credit in an associates or bachelor’s degree program.
Incoming freshmen may transfer a maximum of 45 quarter units (roughly one year of full-time college or university study) to Stanford. All credit evaluations for enrolling students are completed by the Office of the University Registrar on receipt of official college transcripts or score reports.
You are considered a transfer applicant if any of the following apply:
- You have completed high school and have completed courses for college credit in an associates or bachelor’s degree program.
Incoming transfer students may transfer a maximum of 90 quarter units (roughly two years of full-time college or university study) to Stanford regardless of the number of units earned at previous institutions. All undergraduate students are required to study at Stanford for two full academic years in order to receive a bachelor's degree from Stanford. All credit evaluations for enrolling students are completed by the Office of the University Registrar on receipt of official college transcripts or score reports.
Stanford University requires all students to have a high school diploma or the equivalent before entering.
The application requirements for transfer applicants remain the same regardless of when you were last in school. Our holistic review allows us to consider each applicant's unique circumstances and educational background. We recognize that many of our non-traditional applicants have followed non-traditional routes to higher education, and we welcome the diverse perspectives these students bring to campus.
To learn more, please visit Transfer Application Requirements.
The Office of the University Registrar evaluates and records the amount of transfer credit an undergraduate can apply toward graduation requirements according to Faculty Senate policy. There is no minimum number of credits required to apply as a transfer applicant, and a maximum of 90 quarter units may ultimately be approved. While Stanford has no articulation agreements with any college or institution, a course generally receives transfer credit if it meets the following conditions:
- It is completed at an accredited institution
- It is substantially similar to courses offered at Stanford
- It is completed with a grade of C- or better
- It does not duplicate, overlap or regress previous coursework
Transfer students are required to complete at least two years of full-time enrollment at Stanford in order to attain a bachelor's degree from the university. Standing is determined by the University Registrar upon the completion of your transfer credit review.
There is no GPA required to apply or to be admitted to Stanford. Similarly, there is no score or quantitative measure that guarantees admission. At Stanford, we review applications holistically, meaning every component of the application is valuable to us as we get to know each student.
The Arts Portfolio is an optional component in the application. Even if you indicated you would submit a portfolio, there is no obligation to do so.
You can let us know you will not be submitting a portfolio by logging in to your Stanford portal and selecting the “I am no longer interested in submitting an arts portfolio” checkbox. If the portfolio deadline has passed, the form and checkbox will no longer be available in your portal. No need to worry, and please know you do not need to follow up to let us know you will not be submitting a portfolio.
No; students may submit a single Arts Portfolio in only one of the following departments: Art Practice, Dance, Music, or Theater and Performance Studies. We recommend submitting a portfolio in the area that best represents your strength in the arts and the art form you are most likely to pursue in college.
Stanford offers optional alumni interviews as part of our freshman application. An applicant is matched to an interviewer based on the applicant's high school location (as indicated on the application) and the availability of interviewers in the area. Whether or not we are able to match a student with an interviewer has nothing to do with the student’s application; it is simply a reflection of our alumni availability.
No. Students who submit a freshman Common Application or Coalition Application and attend high school in interview areas are eligible for an interview. Please do not worry if you are not contacted, as your application will be considered complete without an interview. It may be that we do not have enough volunteers in your area to interview each applicant.
Please visit our Interview page to see where we currently offer interviews. Applicants who attend a high school that is not in an interview area may not travel to another area to interview.
No. We do not conduct alumni interviews on Stanford’s campus. The interview program is regionally based. Enjoy your visit!
The interview is meant to be an informal conversation, so no formal preparation is needed. There is no set list of questions that interviewers are required to ask, and each interview will be unique. Before the interview, you may want to think about questions to ask the interviewer. On the day of the interview, please dress comfortably. Feel free to dress however you typically dress for school. Do not share resumes, transcripts, test scores, your application or other supplementary materials. Relax and enjoy your conversation!
If an interviewer is available, he or she will email an invitation to the applicant (using the email provided in your admission application). If you would like to accept an interview, please respond directly to the interviewer to schedule a time. If you would like to decline the interview, reply to let the interviewer know. Either way, please respond promptly to the interview invitation.
Materials submitted by others, including school officials and testing agencies, may take several weeks to process. If your checklist is not complete by the deadline, simply continue to check your Application Status Portal regularly until we have received all items.
No; due to variation in time zones, your submission time stamp may show a date and time after the deadline. No need to worry. As long as you have received a Stanford confirmation email, we have your application.
No; there may be a delay for payments to post to your account (especially for international applicants). As long as you submit your application by the deadline and have the transaction receipt, your application will be received. We will accept the payment when it is posted, and no need to worry if the posting is after the deadline.
As a standard practice, we offer a grace period after the application deadline during which teachers and counselors may submit application materials. Please remind your teacher or counselor to submit the materials as soon as possible. Continue to check your Application Status Portal until we have received all items.
We strongly prefer online submission through the Common or Coalition Application. If your recommender is unable to submit a letter or other required document online, then they may send the document as an email attachment to email@example.com. Ask your recommender to note your full legal name, school name, and date of birth at the top of the letter.
You can add new information to your application by logging in to your Application Status Portal and clicking the “Update application” link.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a change to your name, date of birth or decision plan. In addition to the requested correction, please include your full name, high school and date of birth as submitted in your application.
Log in to your Application Status Portal and use the "Edit Addresses" feature. Any change you make there will be reflected in your application record.
Do not send your Social Security number in an email or form. Please call 650-723-2091 to request an update to your reported Social Security number.
We do not accept or process supplementary materials. If, however, you would like to provide more detail about your academic program, activities, honors, or background, you are welcome to use the Additional Information section in the application.