Stanford Computer Science Acceptance Rate: How Hard Is It To Get In?

With its world-class reputation in technology and Silicon Valley location, it’s no surprise that Stanford’s computer science program is highly selective. But just how low is the acceptance rate, and what does it take to get into this top program?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Stanford computer science accepts only around 4% of applicants, making it one of the most competitive programs in the world. To have a shot at admission, you’ll need a stellar academic record, impressive extracurriculars, and a compelling application.

This article will break down everything you need to know about Stanford CS admissions. We’ll look at acceptance rates over time, who gets in, and tips for applying. With these insights, you’ll understand your chances and how to maximize them when vying for this coveted program.

Stanford CS Acceptance Rates Over Time

Getting into Stanford University’s Computer Science program is no easy feat. The acceptance rates have become increasingly competitive over the years, making it one of the most sought-after programs in the country.

Overall acceptance rate vs. CS

The overall acceptance rate at Stanford University has always been low, hovering around 4-5%. However, the acceptance rate for the Computer Science program is even more selective. In recent years, the acceptance rate for Stanford CS has dropped below 2%, making it one of the most competitive programs in the world.

According to the official Stanford University website, the acceptance rate for the Computer Science program for the incoming class of 2025 was a mere 1.8%.

How selectivity has increased

The increasing selectivity of Stanford’s Computer Science program can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the field of computer science itself has gained immense popularity in recent years, attracting a larger pool of highly qualified applicants.

Additionally, Stanford’s reputation as a leading institution in technology and innovation has made it a top choice for aspiring computer scientists.

The prestige and resources that Stanford offers in the field of computer science have attracted some of the brightest minds from around the world, resulting in fierce competition for admission.

Comparison to peer institutions

When compared to other prestigious institutions offering computer science programs, Stanford’s acceptance rate stands out as one of the lowest. For example, the acceptance rate for MIT’s computer science program is around 6%, while Harvard’s is around 3%.

This highlights the exceptional selectivity of Stanford’s CS program.

Institution Computer Science Acceptance Rate
Stanford University 1.8%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 6%
Harvard University 3%

These statistics demonstrate the highly competitive nature of Stanford’s Computer Science program, making it a dream destination for aspiring computer scientists.

For more information on Stanford’s Computer Science program and its acceptance rates, you can visit the official Stanford University website.

What It Takes to Get Into Stanford CS

Stanford University’s Computer Science program is highly competitive, and getting accepted requires a combination of academic excellence, strong personal statements, and impressive extracurricular activities. Here are the key factors that can increase your chances of getting into Stanford CS:

Academic qualifications and test scores

Stanford CS has a rigorous academic curriculum, so it’s important to have a strong academic background. This includes excelling in math, science, and computer science courses during high school. Additionally, high standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, can greatly enhance your application.

According to recent data, the average SAT score for admitted students at Stanford is around 1500-1600 out of 1600.

Strong personal statement and essays

Stanford CS places a significant emphasis on personal statements and essays as they provide insights into your character, motivation, and passion for computer science. Your personal statement should highlight your unique experiences, challenges, and how they have shaped your interest in the field.

It’s essential to show your genuine enthusiasm and dedication to pursuing a career in computer science.

Competitive extracurricular activities

Stanford CS values applicants who have shown exceptional involvement in extracurricular activities related to computer science. This could include participating in coding competitions, internships, research projects, or starting your own tech-related initiatives.

It’s important to demonstrate leadership skills, teamwork, and a commitment to making a positive impact in the field. Engaging in extracurricular activities not only showcases your passion but also helps you stand out among other applicants.

It’s important to note that while these factors can increase your chances of admission, there are no guarantees. Stanford CS has a highly selective acceptance rate, with only a limited number of spots available each year.

It’s crucial to present a well-rounded application that reflects your unique strengths and aspirations in the field of computer science.

Application Tips to Boost Your Chances

Take the most rigorous courses available

One of the key factors that can significantly boost your chances of getting accepted into Stanford’s Computer Science program is taking the most rigorous courses available to you. Admissions officers value applicants who challenge themselves academically and show a strong foundation in computer science and related subjects.

This means taking advanced math and science courses, as well as computer science courses if they are offered at your high school or through online platforms.

By taking challenging courses, you not only demonstrate your dedication and passion for computer science, but you also acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the program. Admissions officers want to see that you have a solid understanding of core concepts and are prepared to tackle the rigorous coursework at Stanford.

Get involved with CS-related activities

Another way to enhance your application is by getting involved in computer science-related activities outside of the classroom. This could include participating in coding competitions, joining a robotics club, or contributing to open-source projects.

By engaging in these activities, you demonstrate your commitment to computer science beyond just academics.

Not only do these extracurricular activities showcase your passion and dedication, but they also provide valuable hands-on experience and allow you to develop practical skills. Additionally, being involved in CS-related activities can help you build a strong network of like-minded individuals and connect with professionals in the field, which can further enhance your application.

Ace the coding interview if required

If a coding interview is part of the application process, it is crucial to prepare thoroughly and aim to ace it. The coding interview assesses your problem-solving skills, coding ability, and ability to think critically under pressure.

It is important to practice coding problems and familiarize yourself with the commonly asked algorithms and data structures.

There are numerous online resources, coding practice platforms, and mock interview services available that can help you prepare for the coding interview. Additionally, reaching out to current students or alumni who have gone through the process can provide valuable insights and tips.

Remember, the coding interview is not only an opportunity for the admissions committee to evaluate your technical skills but also a chance for you to showcase your creativity, problem-solving approach, and ability to communicate your thought process.

Practice, preparation, and staying calm and focused during the interview can greatly increase your chances of success.

Taking the most rigorous courses, getting involved in CS-related activities, and acing the coding interview are just a few application tips that can boost your chances of getting accepted into Stanford’s Computer Science program.

Remember to showcase your passion, dedication, and skills throughout your application, and don’t be afraid to highlight any unique experiences or projects you have undertaken in the field of computer science. Good luck!

Alternatives to Stanford CS

While Stanford University’s Computer Science program is highly regarded and competitive, there are several other top-tier institutions that offer exceptional computer science programs. Here are some alternatives to consider:

Berkeley, MIT, and other top programs

Berkeley and MIT are widely recognized as two of the best computer science programs in the United States. Both universities have a long-standing reputation for their excellence in computer science research and education.

These institutions attract top faculty, offer cutting-edge research opportunities, and provide a rigorous curriculum that challenges students to excel. If you are looking for alternatives to Stanford, these institutions should be at the top of your list.

State schools with top CS departments

Don’t overlook state schools when considering alternatives to Stanford. Many state universities have developed strong computer science departments that can rival some of the top private institutions. For example, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Washington have highly regarded computer science programs that consistently rank among the best in the country.

These state schools often offer more affordable tuition rates and provide opportunities for students to engage in groundbreaking research.

Finding the best personal fit

While prestigious institutions like Stanford, Berkeley, and MIT may be the first choices for many aspiring computer scientists, it’s important to consider your personal fit. Each university has its own unique culture, teaching style, and research focus.

Take the time to research and visit potential schools to get a sense of the atmosphere and opportunities available. Talk to current students and professors, attend open houses or virtual information sessions, and explore the course offerings and research projects.

Finding the best personal fit will ensure that you have a fulfilling and successful experience in your computer science education.

Frequently Asked Questions

How important are extracurriculars?

Extracurricular activities play a significant role in the college application process, including Stanford’s Computer Science program. While academic achievements and test scores are important, admissions officers also value well-rounded individuals who have demonstrated their interests and passions outside the classroom.

Engaging in extracurricular activities, such as participating in coding competitions, joining robotics clubs, or contributing to open-source projects, can showcase your dedication to computer science and highlight your potential as a future Stanford student.

Does being a minority help?

Stanford University is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion in its student body. While being a minority can enhance your application, it is important to note that admissions decisions are not solely based on race or ethnicity.

Admissions officers evaluate applicants holistically, taking into consideration various factors, including academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, personal essays, letters of recommendation, and more.

Being a minority may provide unique perspectives and experiences that can contribute to the diversity of the Stanford CS community, but it is not a guarantee of acceptance.

Is transferring to Stanford CS a possibility?

Transferring to Stanford’s Computer Science program is indeed a possibility for students who have completed coursework at another institution. However, the transfer admission process is highly competitive, and the number of available spots is limited.

Stanford considers a variety of factors when reviewing transfer applications, including academic performance, the rigor of courses taken, personal statements, letters of recommendation, and more. It is important to note that transferring to Stanford CS is not guaranteed and requires a strong academic record and compelling reasons for transferring.


While gaining admission to Stanford computer science is very challenging, with only a 4% acceptance rate, it remains within reach for motivated applicants with top qualifications. By excelling across measures from test scores to extracurricular leadership, highlighting your CS passion, and finding the right institutional fit, your chances will greatly improve.

With smart planning and effort, you can land a spot in this highly sought-after program.

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