Stanford University
  • EduScore 96 /100

Stanford University: Quick Overview

  • Year founded1885
  • Number of students enrolled16,914
  • Average cost (in total)$74,570
  • Acceptance rate5%
  • SAT/ACT1420/32
  • Application dateNovember 1st

History and Mission

Stanford University was founded in 1885 and opened their doors to students on October 1, 1891. The official name of the university, which remains to this day, is Leland Stanford Junior University. Leland Stanford Jr. was the only son of California Governor Leland Stanford and his wife Jane Lathrop, who founded the university as a memorial to their son, who died of typhoid fever in 1884. The couple founded the academic institution in order “to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.”

Leland Stanford made his fortune as a railroad tycoon and he deeded the university a fortune and part of that was an 8.180 acre stock farm in Palo Alto that would become the site of Stanford University. The founding president of Stanford was David Starr Jordan and he and the Stanford family wanted the institution to be co-ed, affordable, and nonsectarian and to offer students to study in the liberal arts as well as engineering and technology.

The institution went through financial struggles in 1893 with the death of Leland Stanford. These financial issues continued just after the turn of the century in 1906 when there was significant damage to the campus because of the San Francisco earthquake. Stanford had financial issues until after the second World War when the Provost of the university Frederick Terman had the idea to make the area self-sustaining within industry in the local area and this was the seed of Silicon Valley in the area. After that the university flourished financially and not only are they one of the leading universities in terms of fundraising, but they also became the first college in the United States that would raise in excess of one billion dollars in a year.

The mission of Stanford University is spelled out in the Stanford University Founding Grant from November of 1885. The grant states the “Nature, Object, and Purposes of the Institution.” Also, in the grant is the main mission of the university, which basically lays out the goals in enriching the minds of the students of the university. Not only that, but to give the students the tools they need for success in the workplace in order to give back to the public as a whole. The mission, which can be read in full here, also takes a page from the Declaration of Independence with the last sentence of the mission stating:

“And its purposes, to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization, teaching the blessings of liberty regulated by law, and inculcating love and reverence for the great principles of government as derived from the inalienable rights of man to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

There are also unique missions for each of the seven schools of Stanford. The motto of the university is “Die Luft der Freiheit weht”, which is in German and translated into English means “The Wind of Freedom Blows.”

Areas of Study

Stanford has over 65 major fields of undergraduate study and in all of the seven graduate schools at the university they offer masters degrees, doctoral degrees, and professional degrees. There is no lack of post bachelor degree opportunities and this can be seen by the fact that there are more graduate students attending Stanford than undergrads. There are seven schools of Stanford that offer students advanced degrees.

School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences

This school is to create knowledge about everything to do with the earth and the people that inhabit it. There are both undergraduate and graduate programs in this school

Graduate School of Business

This school offers many programs that can help students integrate into and make change in the business world.

School of Humanities and Sciences

This is the largest of the seven schools at Stanford with 75 undergraduate degrees available and almost 40% of the doctorates. It is the center of a world-class liberal arts education.

School of Engineering

There are many programs available in this school, which has been at the pinnacle of engineering study for over 100 years. Students will learn about information technology, communications, medicine, energy, business and much more.

School of Medicine

Stanford’s medical school is one of the best in the United States where students are developing a scholarly, investigative approach to problems in the medical field.

Graduate School of Education

This school is one of the leading Educational grad programs in the United States with the main goal being to not only shape educational practices, but to conceptualize the meaning of education.

Stanford Law School

The Stanford Law School is a mix of classic and innovative education in all areas of the law.

Online Program

Stanford University has an online program that is administered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL). The goal of the online courses is to give people opportunities not only on the Stanford campus, but off it as well. There are many online courses, free of charge, and online students can receive graduate as well as professional certificates, various degrees, advanced degrees, and programs for executive education. To find out more information about the online programs available at Stanford University visit

Prospective students can also get more information about the Stanford online program from the Stanford Web Accessibility site. Many of the specific schools and departments at Stanford offer online options for opportunities and credentials. There are in excess of over 100 online courses at the university that offer students to take advantage of the Stanford University experience online.

How do I apply to Stanford University?

There are two ways to apply to Stanford University through the Coalition Application or the Common Application, which can both be submitted online. Also, the university requires that prospective students answer the Stanford Questions and they can be accessed through both the Coalition Application or the Common Application and the questions can be submitted online along with either of the applications.

On the Stanford website, they state that the application is applying to the university rather than a major, department, or school. Besides the typical things students put in their college applications, such as past grades and SAT scores, students are also encouraged to show their major of interest as well as what career they are interested in. Besides the Stanford Questions that must be addressed in the application students also have to complete the Coalition Application Essay Prompts or Common Application Essay Prompts and Stanford Short Essay Questions. These are short personal essays that prospective students must complete and send in with the application.

Acceptance rate

The acceptance rate at Stanford University is 5%, which means it is a very difficult university to get into. The acceptance rate differs between the seven schools when it comes to advanced degrees, but with an undergrad acceptance rate of only 5% Stanford is one of the toughest colleges in the United States to be accepted in.

Student life at Stanford University

Student life at Stanford University is aplenty from the sports scene and party scene to student organizations and student housing and dining. In excess of 97 of all of the undergrads at the university live on campus for all four years. While the institution is well known for their academic prowess their athletic prowess cannot be beat. There are 36 varsity sports (20 women 16 men), as well as 30 club sports and many intramural sporting events. The nickname of Stanford is the Cardinal and they have won 117 NCAA titles and while they are always competitive in, pretty much every sport, they have dominated tennis with 17 men’s national titles and 19 women’s national titles. Maybe the most impressive fact about Stanford athletics is that they have won the NACDA Directors’ Cups 23 straight years and that award is given to the most successful overall collegiate sports program in the United States. The sports scene at Stanford is second to none and not hard to see why with over a million gross feet in indoor sporting facilities and 94 acres of outdoor sporting fields on the campus.

There are over 600 student organizations at Stanford in the areas of Athletic/Recreational, Careers/Pre-professional, Community Service, Ethnic/Cultural, Fraternities/Sororities, Health/Counseling, Media/Publications, Music/Dance/Creative Arts, Political/Social Awareness and Religious/Philosophical. There are 29 Greek based organizations with 15 fraternities and 14 sororities and around 25% of the students at the university are members of these Greek organizations. The organizations host many events on the campus such as the 5K/10K Theta Breakers Run for the Children and Sigma Nu Arts and Poetry Slam to just name a couple.

While Stanford is not known as a party school the unofficial motto of the university is to work hard and play hard. There are no lack of parties and get-togethers at frat houses, dorms, and other places where the many campus organizations meet. The university is unique in the fact that because of its size, over 8,000 acres, the campus is surrounded by the forest, so it is not a campus that is in town and has easy access to bars and restaurants. Also, on the outside of the campus is the area where many of the workers from Silicon Valley reside and hang out, which are not the cheapest eats and drinks in the area. Still, there are never any lack of events happening on campus, as there is always something going on.

Stanford Campus

Most of the campus at Stanford is located on 8,180 acres in Palo Alto, California. One of the highlights of the beautiful campus is the Main Quadrangle, which is simply referred to as the Quad or Main Quad. It is the oldest part of the campus and not only damaged in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but also the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Much of the striking architecture has red roofs and tan walls and all of the campus really has a mixture of styles. You can tell that the campus is not only beautiful, but fascinating as well with all of the walking and biking tours available. With 60% of the campus undeveloped there is tons of nature all around and there are many walking and hiking trails all around the university area.

Costs of Studying at Stanford

Stanford is an elite learning institution and while the costs of studying there are expensive there is much financial aid available. For the 2019-2020 academic year the total cost of attending Stanford University is $74,570 with $52,857 of that amount for tuition. The budget is based on the typical undergrad student that is unmarried, financially dependent on parents, living in a residence hall or off-campus, and attending full-time for Autumn, Winter and Spring quarters. The costs, again based on the 2019-2020 school year beaks down as:

  • Tuition $52.857
  • Student Fees $1,905
  • Books and Supplies $1,245
  • Room and Board $16,433
  • Personal Expenses $2,130

One of the main expenses can be travel for the many students that are from out of state or out of the country. The costs will also differ between the undergraduate program and graduate programs, which are aplenty at the university.


Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, California on the San Francisco Peninsula. It is only 37 miles away from San Francisco and 20 miles away from San Jose. 60% of the campus land is undeveloped and there are over 700 buildings on campus. It is on the cusp of northern California and not far away from the coast. Not only did Leland Stanford found the university, but also the city of Palo Alto as well. Palo Alto is the heart of Silicon Valley with many of the top tech companies headquartered there such as Hewlett-Packard, Skype, and Lockheed Martin as well as the former home of other big tech companies such as Apple and Google, which have moved to the surrounding area. The City of Palo Alto has a population of just over 64,000.

Q: How much money will I make with a Stanford University degree? A: Typically, a graduate from the university with a bachelor’s degree can make in the range of $60,000 to $70,000. However, this is just for those with a bachelor degree and those who go for a more advanced degree can expect to make more and, in many cases,, much more. For example, in the Stanford Graduate School of Business any advanced degree can come with an average salary of at least six figures. Q: How does the accreditation process work?A: Stanford University is a regionally accredited institution that accepts graduate students as well as undergraduate ones. For those that are interested in one of the many graduate programs they must have or will have, before enrolment, a bachelor’s degree from a college or university in the United State that is accredited by a regional accrediting association. For those prospective students coming from abroad they will have to have an equivalent of a BS from an international institution that has recognized standing. Q: Can I sit in on classes when looking into applying for university? A: In the academic year at Stanford there is a list of classes that are available to sit in on, which is available at the Visitor Center or office of Undergraduate Admission. Q: What is the weather like at Stanford? A: The Santa Cruz mountains to the west of the Stanford campus protect it from the chilly fog and overall the temperature is very mild. In the summer, the highs are only in the 70’s to 80’s and the low in the winters are only in the 50’s and 60’s. It does not rain often in the area, but the “rainy season” is from the late fall to early spring.

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