Stanford University Admission Statistics

Learn About Stanford and the GPA and SAT / ACT Scores You'll Need

Stanford University
Stanford University. Explore the Stanford campus in this photo tour. Daniel Hartwig / Flickr

Stanford University is one of the most selective universities in the nation—the acceptance rate hovers at a mere 5 percent. Students will need exceptional grades and standardized test scores to be considered for admission. As part of the application, prospective students will need to submit high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay.

Why Stanford University

  • Location: Stanford, California
  • Campus Features: Stanford's huge 8,180-acre campus is home to nearly 700 buildings, many built in the university's striking Romanesque Revival architectural style. 93% of students live on campus.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 12:1
  • Athletics: The Stanford Cardinal compete in the NCAA Division I Pacific 12 Conference.
  • Highlights: Stanford ranks as one of the top universities in the U.S., and its selectivity rivals Harvard. The university has strengths from the arts and humanities to engineering, and its $25 billion endowment gives it plenty of resources for financial aid.

Stanford Admissions Statistics 2017-18

In the 2017-18 admissions cycle, Stanford had an acceptance rate of 5 percent. The great majority of admitted students had SAT and ACT scores that are well above average. Score percentiles are presented in the tables below.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75 Percentile
ERW 690 760
Math 700 780
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

If you compare SAT scores for selective California colleges and universities, you'll quickly see that Stanford has the highest admissions bar in the state.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 33 36
Math 30 35
Composite 32 35

When it comes to ACT scores, you'll see that typical scores for Stanford are similar to the ACT scores that are typical for Ivy League admissions on the east coast.

Stanford University GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

Stanford University GPA, SAT Scores, and ACT Scores for Admission
Stanford University GPA, SAT Scores, and ACT Scores for Admission. Data courtesy of Cappex. 

You can see the real-time graph and calculate your chances of getting in with a free account at Cappex. The data in the graph is reported by actual applicants to Stanford, and GPAs are unweighted.

Discussion of Stanford's Admissions Standards

In the graph above, you can see that the blue and green dots representing accepted students are concentrated in the upper right corner. Most students who get accepted to Stanford have "A" averages, SAT scores (ERW+M) above 1200, and ACT composite scores above 25 (more common are SAT scores over 1400 and ACT scores over 30). Also, realize that a lot of red dots are hidden beneath the blue and green (see the graph below). Many students with 4.0 GPAs and extremely high standardized test scores get rejected by Stanford. For this reason, you should consider a highly selective school like Stanford to be a reach school even if your grades and test scores are on target for admission. 

At the same time, keep in mind that Stanford has holistic admissions. The admissions officers will be looking for students who will bring more than good grades and standardized test scores to their campus. Students who show some kind of remarkable talent or have a compelling story to tell will often get careful consideration even if grades and test scores aren't quite up to the ideal.

Stanford Waitlist and Rejection Data

Rejection and Waitlist Data for Stanford University
Rejection and Waitlist Data for Stanford University.  Data courtesy of Cappex

If we strip away the acceptance data points from the graph, you can see the unfortunate reality that plenty of academically stellar students get rejected from Stanford. As this graph of rejection data reveals, the upper corner of the graph—students with straight "A" averages and excellent standardized test scores—are frequently rejected. As a school with a 5% acceptance rate and a very high admissions bar, Stanford is going to reject plenty of valedictorians and academic all-stars. 

Assuming you have "A" grades and high test scores, the admissions decision is going to come down to other factors. What will you contribute to the diversity of the campus? What special talents and interests do you have that will enrich the campus community? Also, you'll want to make sure that your application essay and supplemental essays shine, and be sure to get letters of recommendation from teachers who know you well and can speak about your potential to succeed at Stanford.

More Stanford University Information

Only half of Stanford students receive grant aid from the institution, so the university clearly has a large population of well-to-do students. That said, students who do qualify for aid receive excellent financial support, and most graduate without loan debt. It's also worth noting that Stanford has significantly more graduate students than undergraduates, so not all faculty members are going to be devoted to undergraduate education.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 17,534 (7,064 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 50 percent Male / 50 percent Female
  • 100% Full-time

Costs (2017 - 18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $49,617
  • Books: $1,455
  • Room and Board: $15,112
  • Other Expenses: $2,925
  • Total Cost: $69,109

Stanford Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 67 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 50 percent
    • Loans: 8 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
    • Grants: $50,134
    • Loans: $8,155

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: Biology, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Human Biology, Interdisciplinary Studies, International Relations, Political Science, Psychology
  • What major is right for you? Sign up to take the free "My Careers and Majors Quiz" at Cappex.

Retention and Graduation Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 98 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 75 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 94 percent

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics, rowing, sailing, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo, wrestling
  • Women's Sports: basketball, beach volleyball, cross country, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, rowing, sailing, soccer, softball, squash, swimming and diving, synchro, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo

Like Stanford University? Then Check Out These Other Top Universities

Applicants to Stanford University tend to be strong students who want to attend one of the nation's most selective and prestigious universities. For options within California, applicants are likely to consider the strongest of the University of California Campuses: UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD. Engineering and science applicants are also likely to apply to Caltech.

Outside of the region, Stanford Applicants are drawn to Ivy League Schools such as Yale, Harvard, Cornell, and Columbia. Other popular choices include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke. Keep in mind that every school listed here is highly selective, and you should apply to a few schools with a lower admissions bar to make sure you get in somewhere.

Data Source: Graphs courtesy of All other data from the National Center for Education Statistics.