How Hard is it to Get Into Stanford?

Gaining admission to Stanford is often met with a mix of awe and apprehension. Whether you’re a student, or a parent supporting your child, the right preparation and mindset is crucial.

The journey to Stanford University is renowned for its competitiveness, reflecting the university’s selectivity and the exceptional calibre of its student body.

In this article, we’ll explore the complexities of Stanford’s admissions process, and dive into how you can catch the eye of the admissions committee.

Is Stanford a good university?

Stanford University, nestled in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, represents a pinnacle of academic excellence, innovation, and research. Its esteemed faculty offers students an exceptional learning experience across various disciplines. [1]

Stanford, with its cutting-edge facilities, fosters innovation and high-level learning across multiple academic fields. Beyond academics, Stanford’s commitment to diversity has helped to create a vibrant community, enriching students’ educational journey with a multitude of perspectives and experiences. [2]

If you choose to study at Stanford, you will be joining an alumnus of leaders and innovators poised to become a changemaker who are equipped to contribute significantly to society and their respective fields. [3]

The entry requirements for Stanford University

The Stanford University application process is designed to capture your academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, and personal character.

Understanding each component can help applicants present themselves in the most compelling way possible.

Grade Point Averages (GPA)

Although Stanford states there is no minimum GPA to gain admission, statistics reported by the College Board show that 94% of admitted students in the most recent class had unweighted high school GPAs of 3.75 or higher while just 4% had GPAs ranging from 3.50 to 3.74. [4] [5] 

Below is the GPA breakdown of Stanford students that have applied for the Stanford class of 2025:

GPA percentage of Stanford University class of 2025

GPAPercentage of Stanford University Class of 2025
2.50-2.99Not available
2.00-2.49Not available
Below 2.00Not available

Standardised Test Scores (SAT/ACT)

Although Stanford has moved to a test-optional policy for applicants through the Class of 2025, those who submit SAT or ACT scores can still benefit from showcasing their standardised test performance. [6]

If you choose to submit ACT/SAT test scores as part of your application, Stanford recommends that you 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 them to review your application.

If you are offered admission to Stanford, and choose to enrol, official scores will be required. In order for test scores to be considered official, they must be sent directly from the College Board or the ACT. [7]

Extracurricular involvement

Although It is not a necessity, Stanford University places a significant emphasis on extracurricular involvement. Stanford is interested in applicants who demonstrate leadership, initiative, and sustained commitment in activities outside the classroom and how you have made a tangible impact through these extracurricular activities. [8]

This can include accomplishments like leading a successful project, initiating a new club or service activity, achieving recognition in your area of interest, or significantly contributing to the growth or success of an organisation.

Essays and Referrals

Essays and letters of recommendation are integral components of the Stanford University application process, offering a view of the applicant beyond academic metrics.

Stanford requires applicants to submit several essays as part of their application. These essays are an opportunity for students to convey their personality, values, and life experiences. They are a critical tool for the admissions committee to understand applicants in a more nuanced and personal way. [9]Letters of recommendation from two academic instructors is also a requirement when applying to Stanford. These letters provide a third-party perspective on an applicant’s academic abilities, character, and potential to thrive at Stanford. [10]

Why is it difficult to get into Stanford University?

Gaining admission to Stanford University is notably challenging, largely due to its low acceptance rate and the holistic nature of its admissions process.

The current acceptance rate is sitting at 4% for the class of 2026. This statistic alone underscores the intense competition applicants face, with thousands of students vying for a very limited number of spots each year. [11]

Stanford’s admissions process is characterised by its holistic approach, where every component of the application is evaluated to assess an applicant’s intellectual vitality, character, and potential contributions to the university community. This holistic review ensures that Stanford only admits students who are academically gifted but also poised to make significant contributions to the campus and beyond.

What subjects are hardest to get accepted into Stanford for?

Stanford University does not publicly release detailed admissions statistics by major or department, making it challenging to pinpoint which specific subjects are the hardest to get accepted into. However, the overall competitiveness of Stanford’s admissions process means that all areas of study are highly selective.

Admission difficulty can vary based on the popularity of the program, the number of applicants, and the specific requirements of the department.

How can Dukes Plus help your Stanford application succeed?

At Dukes, we provide support for applications to various universities across the world, including Stanford. Our programs offer personalised guidance, and strategic advice to strengthen your Stanford application. 

We can support you to identify and showcase your unique strengths, align your application with Stanford University’s values, and effectively communicate your accomplishments and potential contributions to the admissions committee. For more information on how Dukes can assist with your Stanford application, please visit our private US admissions consulting page. Alternatively, you can contact us here, and we can help you submit a winning application.


[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11]