Although not technically part of the Ivy League, Stanford is virtually as selective as any of the institutions within this esteemed group of colleges. While they did not release admission data for the class of 2026, Stanford’s acceptance rate was 3.95% for the class of 2025, and we expect the school to continue at this level of selectivity moving forward.
While it’s no doubt that a Stanford acceptance letter requires tremendous academic ability and a serious work ethic, there are several steps students can take to increase their admissions odds. Keep reading to learn more about the elite college and what it takes to successfully apply to this top school.
Applying to Stanford: The Basics
Stanford University is a private research institution in Stanford, California that enrolls a total of approximately 7,600 undergraduate students. The school was founded in 1885 by Leland Stanford, a former senator, and his wife, Jane, in memory of their only child. There are 98 different areas of study at the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as four professional programs that focus on law, medicine, business, and education. Students compete in 36 varsity sports at a Division 1 level. Stanford is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for startups.
Given Stanford’s acceptance rate, many students are eager for an admissions edge. Applicants who are interested in applying early should note that Stanford does not offer traditional Early Decision, but instead follows a Restrictive Early Action policy. Restrictive Early Action is a non-binding early application option that is only recommended for students who believe Stanford is their first choice and have the time to prepare a competitive application prior to November 1.
Students who apply in this round are accepted, rejected, or deferred, in which case final decisions will be sent out by April 1. Students who apply to Stanford through Restricted Early Action may not apply to other private institutions in their early rounds and they must also forgo applying to any other colleges through binding plans, like Early Decision. However, these applicants can apply to other colleges through regular round applications as well as Early Decision 2, if they are deferred or rejected from Stanford.
What to Include in Your Stanford Application
Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, students applying to Stanford in the 2022-23 admissions cycle are not required to submit ACT or SAT scores, though they may do so if they want their scores to be considered. All applicants must include a school report, a letter of recommendation from their high school guidance counselors, official transcripts, and two additional letters of recommendation from teachers. For creative students, there is also an option to include an arts portfolio to highlight their commitment to their craft. Students can apply through the Common Application and must also answer three short answer supplemental questions, which Stanford outlines on their website.
What it Takes to Stand Out at Stanford
Applying to such a renowned college is particularly competitive, and receiving an acceptance from Stanford is no small feat. While every application is reviewed holistically, and there is no one-size-fits-all formula for admission, there are certain academic benchmarks applicants should aim for. According to Stanford’s website, the middle 50% for SAT scores for the Class of 2025 was a 750-800 for Math and a 720-770 for Reading. For ACT scores, the middle 50% range was a 34-35. Stanford received slightly over 55,000 applicants and 2,190 were admitted for the Class of 2025.
Although it is impossible to predict an acceptance to Stanford, students who do their research and have strong academic records and extracurriculars have the best admissions odds. If you are interested in applying to Stanford and looking for personalized guidance, contact us to learn more about our expert admissions counselors and how they can help you gain admission to Stanford and other top-choice universities.