Frequently Asked Questions

The Basics

Not at all. Contacting the Admission Office is neither a requirement nor an advantage in our admission process. We offer campus tours and information sessions to provide you with the information you need to make an informed college choice, not to evaluate you. Please do not feel compelled to contact us to demonstrate your interest in Stanford; we know by the very fact of your applying that you are seriously interested in Stanford. We do not keep records of prospective student contacts with our office.

We do not have a preference for students who attend Stanford specific summer programs, but overall, engaging in enrichment opportunities and advanced courses may demonstrate your enthusiasm for learning and discovery. The fact that you are taking summer or enrichment programs is not in and of itself the value-add to your application; it is what you take from that experience, how you share that experience with us through your essays and how that experience has enhanced your intellectual life that is of importance.

We do not have a required curriculum or set of courses for applicants, although we do make general recommendations to all applicants. It will be to your advantage if your home curriculum meets or exceeds these recommendations.

Read more in the Home-Schooled Applicant Guidelines section.

More information can be found on the Office of Accessible Education's website for prospective students with physical, psychological and learning disabilities. This website has information pertaining to the application process, visiting campus, admission policies and more.

The Application Process
Freshman Applicant

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 received a high school diploma or the equivalent but have not enrolled full-time at a post-secondary institution nor entered a college or university as a degree-seeking student.
  • You have not yet received your high school diploma or the equivalent and are enrolled in an early college program or dual enrollment program.

Incoming freshmen are allowed to 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.

Transfer Applicant
You are considered a transfer applicant if any of the following apply:
  • You have enrolled as a degree-seeking student at a college or university at any point after you received your high school diploma or the equivalent.
  • You graduated from high school or received a high school diploma equivalent and subsequently enrolled in a college or university for more than half time.

If either of these conditions applies to you, you may not disregard your college record and apply as a freshman. You must apply as a transfer.

Incoming transfer students are allowed to 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.

Stanford requires just one exam—either the SAT with Essay or the ACT with Writing. SAT Subject Tests are optional. Because SAT Subject Test scores can highlight your areas of strength, we welcome the self-reporting of these results in your application.

You may submit one additional recommendation from someone who knows you well, other than a teacher or counselor, and can provide information about you not available elsewhere. Please remember that a letter from a famous person or Stanford alumnus will not help us reach a decision if that person is unable to add new insights to your application. Ask your recommender to note your full legal name, school name and date of birth at the top of the letter. Your recommender may upload the letter to your application or send by email (, mail or fax: (650) 723-6050. No form is required.

The Academic Experience

During the academic year, the Visitor Center can provide a list of classes open to prospective students who wish to observe. Prospective students can drop by the Visitor Center to obtain this information.

If visiting a class is a high priority for you, be advised that those courses which allow prospective students to sit in generally have a lecture-based format, are offered on the hour during weekday mornings and last for approximately one hour. To ensure that you will be able to sit in on a course in an academic area of your interest while visiting Stanford, be sure to coordinate your intentions and itinerary when making reservations for other tours or programs. Also, ensure that you are visiting 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 that you see walking around campus.

The Student Perspective

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.