STANFORD UNIVERSITY Requirements and Campus Guide

School Name: Stanford University

School Location: Palo Alto, CA

School Type: Research University / Liberal Arts

Class of 2024

  • Total Admitted: 2,349
  • Total Applicants: 45,227
  • Total Acceptance Rate: 5.2%

General Info (Test Optional)

Historical SAT/ACT Score

  • SAT Math: 720-800
  • SAT ERW: 700-770
  • ACT: 31-35


  • High Reach


  • Restrictive Early Action: November 1
  • Early Results: By December 15
  • Regular Deadline: January 2
  • Regular Results: By April 7

School Info

  • Schedule: Quarter System
  • Curriculum Type: General Education
  • Greek Life: Yes
  • Athletics: D1

Stanford Admission Requirements and Guide to Campus:

How hard is it to get into Stanford? 

Stanford accepted 4.4% of the 47,451 total applicants who applied for the class of 2022, so it is a Stanford requirement to have an excellent application in order to gain acceptance. Of those admitted, 82% matriculated, resulting in a class of 1,706 students. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Stanford has maintained its ACT/SAT requirement but has announced that if students are unable to submit AP or Subject Test scores or are graded on a Pass/Fail scale that it will not hinder their application.

Early Action

To break it down further, Stanford accepted 9.5% of early action applicants under their single-choice early action program. While the university declined to publish their early decision results, as is customary, there is no reason to believe there is a substantial boost when applying early as Stanford states they give no preferential treatment to these applications.

Regular Decision

Students who applied at the traditional time for the class of 2022 had a 3.3% acceptance rate. This doesn’t necessarily mean that applying early action to Stanford is easier. In fact, students who typically apply to Stanford early can have stronger applications so the pool of students can be more competitive–when to apply should be considered on a case by case basis. Nonetheless, an overall 4.4% acceptance rate makes Stanford a reach school for any student and requires Stanford applicants to have an excellent application to be admitted.

Where is Stanford? 

Not many people know that Stanford, CA is actually its own city. It’s located directly adjacent to Palo Alto so any time you step off campus you’re technically setting foot in a new city, though you’d never know it. Nestled between San Francisco and San Jose, Stanford is in the heart of Silicon Valley, an area known for its innovative spirit, beautiful landscapes, and mild weather.

How diverse is the student body at Stanford?

Based on information published by Stanford about the Class of 2022, 6% of students identified as African-American, 22% identified as Asian, 36% as White, 16% as Hispanic, and 10% are international students. Stanford reports an even 50/50 split of women and men in their undergraduate population and note that 35% are from California while the remaining 65% represents all other 49 States including D.C. and Puerto Rico and 60 other countries. 17.5% of students in the class are first-generation college students.

What is the Stanford known for?

Stanford is fondly referred to as “the Farm” by its many alumni because before the formation of the university, the campus was used as a family farm, housing the Stanfords horses. Fast forward to 2019 and you can still see remnants of this time gone by, horses are still stabled in the foothills of campus. The meaning of “the Farm” has taken on a new life (here’s a link to some other fun Stanford lingo). Stanford is also known as one of the top research universities in the world and is particularly notable for being a pioneer in the field of computer science. The University fuels the startup culture in Silicon Valley and has alumni at the heart of nearly every tech giant you have heard of. Additionally, Stanford is known for its lively, creative, and whacky culture that is representative of the progressive San Francisco Bay Area as a whole.

Can I afford Stanford?

Like other private universities, the cost of attending Stanford can seem quite exorbitant at first glance. Stanford expects the average student without any form of financial aid to spend $74,570 over the course of the 2019-2020 academic school year. Fortunately, Stanford provides some form of aid to 58% of its students. Athletic scholarships aside, 47% of students receive need-based aid and pay an average of $13,600 for an academic year, a far cry from the advertised sticker price. There is a helpful tool called the “Net Price Calculator” on Stanford’s financial aid website that will tell you exactly what you can expect to pay once you input some personal financial details. 

What are the academic requirements at Stanford?

Like other liberal arts schools, Stanford provides its students with a large degree of academic freedom by allowing them to explore their curiosities during their first two years. Students only have 4 general education requirements: Thinking Matters, Ways of Thinking/Doing, Writing and Rhetoric, and Language. According to Stanford’s Undergraduate Admissions page, students have the flexibility to choose courses that appeal to them from a wide variety of topics, “while building critical skillsets, exploring interests, forming relationships with faculty and peers, and forging connections between educational experiences in many spheres.” After sophomore year, once students have declared a major, many begin to specialize a bit more, but others continue to explore new subjects and departments up until their graduation. The choice is yours!

How challenging are the academics at Stanford?

Stanford is home to some of the most brilliant minds in the world so it’s natural to think that the academics are soul-crushingly difficult and only the most intelligent and dedicated students will succeed. While it is true that Stanford encourages all of its students to take rigorous courses and challenge themselves, they also believe students should have autonomy over their education and can self select their own path. Stanford didn’t publish student transcripts until 1996, meaning students were able to take any class they wanted without the fear of performing poorly or having a stain on their record. Although transcripts are now made available to students, the sentiment remains that you get out of your education what you put in. The harder you work, the more you will learn and vice versa–the degree in secondary. The goal is to learn as much as possible while you have the privilege of being on campus. Nearly every department on campus stresses collaboration so you will be able to work alongside peers as well as faculty to achieve your academic goals. Stanford is what you make it and no two curriculums are the same! You will be surrounded by amazing minds, resources, and facilities so you are encouraged to be a sponge and pursue your passions.

How is campus life at Stanford?

Stanford University has an enormous campus–over 12 square miles. The campus is a joy to walk around, with everything from lakes, to creaks, to hills that can be hiked all without leaving campus. Most students will spend the majority of their time in the central portion that is ever-expanding but contains the main quad and primary housing buildings as well as many athletic facilities. 97% of students live on campus all 4 years of school, which is a huge plus because of the incredibly high housing prices in the area. This results in a tight knit community at Stanford. There are plenty of opportunities to be part of different groups on campus, live in a culturally themed house like Casa Italiana or Haus Mitt, join a club sports team, or do research at a lab. If you think you’re going to miss those home-cooked meals, don’t worry, the food on campus is great! There are multiple restaurants on campus ranging from take-out to upscale and the dining halls provide consistently delicious and healthy options for students. Stanford students take their academics very seriously, but they also pride themselves on being able to let loose and enjoy themselves–it is California after all!

Does Stanford have a good athletic department?

Stanford is a great place for both athletes and fans. Stanford has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup, an award given annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to the colleges and universities with the most success in collegiate athletics, for the past 25 years! While the football team and women’s basketball may receive the most press, Stanford has a storied history as a powerhouse in many sports such as baseball, swimming, golf, and tennis. Stanford has won at least one national championship for the past 44 years, so the university trophy case is starting to look more like a trophy building. There’s always a game to attend on-campus with your classmates and you’ll usually be greeted by the famous Stanford Band in full force and maybe even the Stanford Tree!