How Hard Is It to Get Into the Stanford Honors Program?

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Stanford University was founded in 1885, spanning seven schools and areas for athletics, the arts, and research institutes. It is one of the world’s leading research and teaching universities, finding solutions to big problems and questions. As the world has evolved over the years, so has Stanford- it’s known to be a place of discovery, innovation, and learning.

Perhaps you like a challenge and are applying to the university’s honors program. Keep reading as we look at how hard it is to get into the Stanford honors program and the factors you must consider to secure admission.

What is the Stanford Honors Program?What is the Stanford Honors Program?

Stanford’s honors program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to take on an educational, interest-based research project besides their declared majors. Qualified students can decide to extend learning in their degree by undertaking a supervised research thesis and pursuing education courses.

As an honors student, you can choose from various thesis projects using intellectual tools from different humanities and social sciences academic disciplines. Students also work with reformers and educators on and off campus while engaging directly with communities of practice.

The groundwork for the honors theses is usually laid out during a student’s first three years at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education (GSE). An honor cord ceremony is held every year before commencement by the GSE to recognize graduating honors and minors students.  If you get in, you then apply for the honors program in your junior year and prepare for your thesis year the following summer. This is often done through the Bing Honors College.

What is the Stanford International Honors Program?

What is the Stanford International Honors Program?

The Stanford International Honors Program (IHP) is a collaboration between specific research and teaching institutes and Stanford Summer Session. A selective admissions process is conducted at the IHP student’s home institution before they can be endorsed. Stanford Summer Sessions has a partnership for this program with 30 different universities in 17 countries worldwide. In order to apply, you should:

  • Get selected by your home institution
  • Be at least 18 years old by the program’s start
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or a B grade’s equivalent
  • Have graduated from secondary school, high school, or an equivalent
  • Have completed at least one term of university or college after graduating from high school before applying to the program
  • Students who have graduated from university or college are also eligible to apply
  • Demonstrate fluency in the English language with the relevant certification

What Kind of Student Does Stanford Looking For?

What Kind of Student Does Stanford Looking For?

Stanford admissions officers look for the following characteristics, unique circumstances, and qualities when they review student applications:

Intellectual Curiosity

If you’re eager to expand your knowledge and experiences and are excited about what the world has to offer, you are bound to stand out to the admissions teams. When they go through your recommendation letters and essays, they seek enthusiasm and energy for professional and personal growth, genuine interest in specific ventures, and curiosity about the world.

Whether performing on stage, on the field, as part of a community organization, or in the classroom, students who exhibit characteristics like initiative and intellectual curiosity are the ones who typically get into Stanford.

Academic Excellence

The primary criterion for admission is academic excellence. Stanford admissions teams focus on your high school transcripts to determine whether you are successful in challenging academic courses and are ready for college success. Although Stanford doesn’t require a specific test score or minimum GPA to apply, it would be helpful if you aimed for a 4.0 GPA.

Unique Circumstances

The admissions team is aware that people come from different situations and backgrounds. For this reason, they review applications by also considering your background, education path, family responsibilities, and other exceptional circumstances. They want to know how you excelled in your specific environment and how you used all the resources offered by your school and community.

At Stanford, applications are reviewed holistically, meaning you must integrate your characteristics, unique circumstances, and qualities into your application. Honesty and authenticity will take you a long way and help you stand out from other applicants. Don’t be afraid to be passionate about your future goals, embrace your interests, and tell your story.

Extracurricular Activities

Ever heard of the phrase: ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none”? That’s exactly what Stanford doesn’t want. Rather than selecting students who participate in multiple activities without depth, Stanford admissions opt for those who showcase their passions through just a few activities.

These activities don’t have to be related to school but can be on campus. Additionally, family responsibilities and jobs help demonstrate your commitment to an activity and how you will align with the university’s campus and off-campus communities.

How Competitive is the Stanford Honors Program?

How Competitive is the Stanford Honors Program?

You might be wondering how to get into the Stanford Honors Program and whether it will be challenging. Since Stanford is one of the top schools in the world, it’s no surprise that it’s highly competitive to get into. If your project application is a creative and reasonable extension of your prior courses, it will be given serious consideration by the Graduate School of Education.

Qualified applicants with a Stanford average GPA of 3.5 and higher have a good possibility of securing admission. You should also be comfortable working independently at most times and demonstrate exceptional initiative. Remember that the best of the best apply to the honors program, and your application must stand out for you to be considered.

At some point in your junior year, you should set up an informal meeting with the Honors Director to discuss how the GSE honors work and your potential project. Potential applications are expected to include the nature of their future honors project’s and brief academic background in their inquiries.

What is Stanford’s Distinction GPA?

What is Stanford’s Distinction GPA?

Stanford’s distinction GPA is an honor awarded to students recommended by any program or major department due to their exceptional undergraduate achievement. This honor is for students in the top 15% of the graduating class based on their cumulative GPAs at the Winter Quarter’s end. The Bachelor’s Degree with Distinction is noted on both your diploma and transcript.

What is Stanford Honors Program’s Acceptance Rate?

What is Stanford Honors Program’s Acceptance Rate?

It’s getting harder to get into the prestigious university, which is evident from the low acceptance rate of 3.9% for the Class of 2025. According to the National Center for Education, the Stanford honors program acceptance rate stood at 11.5% in 2020, and continues to decrease every year. However, the acceptance rates vary by department, with the highest ones found in popular majors like psychology, education, and social policy.

Advantages of Stanford’s Honors Program

Advantages of Stanford’s Honors Program

There are several advantages to pursuing an honors program at Stanford:

  • It gives you an edge with future employers or postgraduate programs as it demonstrates that you can handle creative, independent work
  • You can participate in high-level and original research by working closely with a faculty member
  • It initiates in-depth field research you can continue throughout your career or in graduate school
  • Mental discipline and self-confidence
  • It helps increase the world’s knowledge and even discover your life’s intellectual passion
  • The ability to plan, implement, and see a project to its end
  • Intellectual independence and judgment

How to Get Into Stanford Honors Program: What are the Requirements?

How to Get Into Stanford Honors Program: What are the Requirements?

In order to get into the Stanford Honors Program, you have to meet the following requirements before and after admission:


A qualified student should:

  • Be in good standing with a cumulative 3.5 GPA or higher
  • Be comfortable working with a high degree of independence
  • Portray extraordinary initiative
  • Have knowledge and experience when it comes to appropriate research methodologies


An honors student application must include:

  • The proposed research questions
  • The general nature of the proposed inquiry
  • A one-page resume
  • Descriptions of the applicant’s interest in the research methodology experience and the GSE’s honors program


If you wish to be admitted to the honors program, you should:

  • Take three courses with at least nine units and receive a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Complete the Honors Research (EDUC 140 ) and the Undergraduate Honors Seminar (EDUC 199 A-C)

The honors program coursework you’ve conducted and completed in GSE should include various topics within the education field and be approved by your faculty advisor and the honors director. You can review scheduling information and course offerings using Explore Courses.

Honor Theses

Once you complete the requirements of the honors program, student theses are posted on the Stanford Digital Repository in the GSE’s collection. This repository is a service offered by Stanford that supports and maintains scholarly information resources. Researchers, faculty, and students use the repository to protect and promote the work they produce.

7 Tips to Make Your Stanford Honors Application Stand Out

7 Tips to Make Your Stanford Honors Application Stand Out

Of course, stressing over your application is normal, especially if getting into the honors program has been your dream for some time. Still, there are certain things you can do to make the application process much smoother. In this section, we’ll look at some ways you can achieve this without feeling overwhelmed:

1. Determine what excites or interests you through an internship, class, or other opportunities, and then start researching it.

2. Research the honor requirements in your field and related ones once you consider declaring a major.

3. Explore Interdisciplinary Majors programs that enable you to do an honors project outside your field.

4. Consider applying for the Chappell-Lougee grant if you are a sophomore focused on a qualitative social sciences or humanities project. That way, you can start your research early and have a solid base by the time you apply to the honors program.

5. Develop a research plan and methodology, and find a faculty advisor you want to work with.

6. Apply to an Interdisciplinary Honors program or your department’s honors program. You should note that there are different application deadlines for different programs; it’s your responsibility to keep track of the ones that apply to you.

7. Take a few months to gather and organize all required materials

Wrapping Things Up: How Hard Is It to Get Into Stanford Honors Program?

One question crosses the mind of every student planning to apply to Stanford at least once: how hard is Stanford to get into? And it’s no different for the university’s honors program. While the application process can seem daunting and rigorous, you can achieve anything you put your mind to with the right tools.

Focus on academic excellence and plan your school workload and activities beforehand to make the best of your experiences.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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