Our Selection Process

Academic Preparation

Academic preparation is the foundation of your college application. Throughout your high school years, we recommend that you:

  • take a course load of reasonable and appropriate challenge in light of the academic opportunities available at your school
  • work hard and achieve at a high level in a full complement of academic subjects, including during your final year
  • consult early on with your secondary school counselor

Please note: A high school diploma or the equivalent is required in order to enroll at Stanford.

Recommended High School Curriculum

We respect the responsibility that high schools, principals and teachers have in the development of courses and curricula for their students. For that reason, we do not have a set of required courses for admission to Stanford. We have found, though, that a curriculum emphasizing depth and breadth across the core academic subjects is the best preparation for the academic rigors at Stanford. Our experience has suggested that students who excel in a curriculum like the one below are well-suited for the demands of college academics:

  • English: four years, with significant emphasis on writing and literature.
  • Mathematics: four years of rigorous mathematics incorporating a solid grounding in fundamental skills (algebra, geometry, trigonometry). We also welcome additional mathematical preparation, including calculus and statistics.
  • History/Social Studies: three or more years, with courses that include the writing of essays.
  • Science: three or more years of laboratory science (including biology, chemistry and physics).
  • Foreign Language: three or more years of the same foreign language.

Our admission process allows—and indeed encourages—the flexibility of a high school to design the most appropriate curricular offerings and opportunities for its students. For some schools, this curriculum includes Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or A-Level classes, while other high schools choose to offer equally demanding courses that neither carry a particular designation nor lead to an exam. We hope a school’s curriculum offers students the opportunity to contribute to the learning process and to pursue questions and ideas with energy and curiosity. We do not have a preference for any particular curriculum.

Choosing Courses

We recommend you pursue a reasonably challenging curriculum, choosing courses from among the most demanding available at your school. We ask you to exercise good judgment and to consult with your counselor, teachers and parents as you construct a curriculum that is right for you. Our hope is that your curriculum will inspire you to develop your intellectual interests, not suffer from unnecessary stress. The students who thrive at Stanford are those who are genuinely excited about learning, not necessarily those who take every single AP or IB, Honors or Accelerated class just because it has that designation. Overall, we look for thoughtful and highly engaged students who will make a difference at Stanford and in the world beyond.

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and A-Levels

Students currently enrolled in AP courses are not required to submit AP scores as part of our admission process. However, we welcome the self-reporting of these scores as additional information to your application.

Students currently enrolled in an IB Diploma program outside the U.S. are required to send us their predicted IB marks (including TOK/essay bonus points).

Students currently enrolled in the British education system are required to submit their GCSE results and predicted A-Level marks for consideration. Generally, students applying to Stanford from the British education system will have taken at least three full A-Level courses (though they may not have taken the final examinations).

Updated on June 15, 2022 6:36 AM