Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision


Stanford offers two decision plans for first-year applicants:

  • Restrictive Early Action; and
  • Regular Decision

We evaluate applications in the same way whether you apply early or regular. We do not give an advantage to early applications, so we recommend you apply when you feel your application is ready.

Regular Decision

Regular Decision is Stanford's traditional decision plan. Most students and a majority of admitted students apply during this round.

You may want to consider Regular Decision if any of the following applies:

  • Your grades are on an upward trend;
  • You are taking classes in your senior year that are significantly more rigorous than in grades 10 and 11;
  • You are taking (or retaking) standardized exams;
  • You are working on a significant project or activity in the fall of your final year in high school.

Restrictive Early Action

Restrictive Early Action is Stanford’s non-binding early application option.

Restrictive Early Action may be a good option for you if all of the following apply:

  • You have identified Stanford as your first choice;
  • You have taken a challenging academic schedule through grade 11 and have done well;
  • You have enough time before the November 1 deadline to write a thoughtful application.

Three Possible Restrictive Early Action Decisions

  • You are offered admission, and you have until May 1 to respond to your offer. If you apply for financial aid by the November 15 priority deadline, Stanford will provide a financial aid award by December 15.
  • You are not offered admission. This is a final decision, and you may not reapply in Regular Decision.  
  • Your application is deferred to Regular Decision, and you will receive a final decision by April 1.

Stanford's philosophy is to make final decisions whenever possible. As a result, Stanford defers only a small percentage of Restrictive Early Action applications to Regular Decision.

Restrictive Early Action Policy

  • If you apply to Stanford with a decision plan of Restrictive Early Action, you may not apply to any other private college or private university under their Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Early Decision, or Early Notification plan.
  • In addition, you may not apply to any public university under an early binding plan, such as Early Decision.
  • If you apply to Stanford under Restrictive Early Action, you may apply to other colleges and universities under their Regular Decision plan.
  • If you apply to Stanford under Restrictive Early Action and your application is deferred, you may apply to another college’s Early Decision II plan.


You may simultaneously apply to Stanford with a decision plan of Restrictive Early Action and to the following:

  • any public college or public university with a non-binding early application plan or early application deadline.
  • any college or university with a non-binding rolling admission process.
  • any foreign college or university with a non-binding application plan on any schedule.
  • any college or university with an early deadline for a scholarship or special academic program, as long as:
    1. the decision is non-binding; and
    2. in order to be considered for the scholarship or program, the student must apply in the early round or by an early deadline.

If you are considering applying early to another college or university whose early application plan does not appear to qualify as an exception, please email for clarification. In your email, include the page link to the early application plan you are considering and copy and paste the website description of the program’s application deadlines and requirements. 



Updated on July 23, 2019 4:23 PM