How to Get into Stanford As An Indian Student [2024]

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question – how to get into Stanford as an Indian student, then here’s an article that’ll break it down for you and give you the information you need. Ranked number 3 in the world, according to QS Rankings, Stanford University is an aspirational name name for higher education and international students looking to study in the USA.

Even though it’s not an Ivy League university, it is equally sought after and is equally good in terms of quality of education, cutting-edge research and faculty.

In this article, we’ll look at:

So, before we delve deep into the whys and hows of Stanford, here is an interesting tidbit about the Ivy Leagues of the US.

The name Ivy League was originally given to eight private research universities in the Northeastern United States. The eight schools – Brown University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University – essentially formed an athletic conference. The name ivy came from the fact that these universities had a tradition of planting ivies on their buildings.

Very soon, the schools distinguished themselves also with their academic superiority, selective admissions, and, to an extent, social elitism. So, the name Ivy League became synonymous with top universities. It is why it comes as a surprise when world-class, well-rounded universities such as Stanford or even MIT do not feature in the Ivy League list. The reality is, it takes nothing away from Stanford’s academic or technical excellence.

Stanford’s Story

Located on the Western coast of the USA, in the state of California, the origins of Stanford can be traced back to 1885. The university was founded by former California Governor and railroad mogul Leland Stanford and his wife Jane Stanford, in memory of their son Leland Jr. The official name of the university, till today, is Leland Stanford Junior University.

At its formation, the aim of this new university was to be non-sectarian, co-educational, and affordable, designed to teach both the humanities and the technical subjects. From then, it has been a journey filled with trials and triumphs. Today, Stanford comprises seven schools and 18 different interdisciplinary institutes with over 16,000 students from over 90 countries across the globe.

Former American President Barack Obama praised the university as “the place that celebrates our ability as human beings to discover and learn and to build, to question, to reimagine, to create new ways to connect and work with each other.”

Most renowned Stanford alumni

  • Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States
  • John Steinbeck, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author
  • William Hewlett of Hewlett Packard
  • Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla
  • Doris Fisher, Cofounder of Gap
  • Phil Knight, Cofounder of Nike
  • Brian Acton, Cofounder of Whatsapp
  • Ted Koppel, Boardcaster, journalist
  • Andre Braugher, Actor
  • Ted Danson, Actor, and Producer

These are only a few names. Graduating from Stanford University creates a privileged platform that launches you directly into the elite echelons of your industry.

Why study at Stanford as an Indian Student?

As an aspirant from India, why must you consider Stanford University? Besides being one of the top US colleges, there are numerous benefits to graduating from Stanford University.

Here’s a look.

1. World-Class faculty and research facilities:

The quality of the faculty in a university is one of the essential components of building its reputation. Since its founding, Stanford has been known for retaining world-class faculty. You can count 7 Nobel Prize winners among its illustrious ranks. In addition to stalwart profiles, what makes Stanford work is the student-to-faculty ratio. Even at the undergraduate level, the average student-teacher ratio is about 5:1. This helps the faculty to pay individual attention and each student to build meaningful relationships with the course and his/her mentors.

The resources for research are simply immense. The university allocates about $1.3 billion a year for research in various fields. In addition to a top-notch library and faculty, the Stanford name also invites pioneers from other parts of the world to present their research. Moreover, since the university is situated in the thick of Silicon Valley, true tech luminaries often drop in to teach a course.

2. Interdisciplinary Courses

As a student from India, you are probably steeped in the multi-disciplinary approach. Stanford offers a wide array of courses in multiple fields to provide for every student’s educational needs. The university encourages interdisciplinary studies, especially at the undergraduate level. Even if you are enrolled in the engineering program, you can sign up for a few courses from the business school and learn other skills that are transferable and scalable. It gives you a well-rounded educational experience and the skill sets necessary to build your own brand in the real world.

In addition, the university is aware of how limited a student’s time is. Hence, they have designed mini-courses that are about three to four weeks long. These courses set Stanford apart from most other universities. It gives you a chance to experience and gain functional knowledge of different fields without committing an entire semester to it.

3. Residential Campus

Affectionately referred to as “the Farm”, Stanford’s campus has over 8000 acres. One of the largest in the United States, it is a stunning campus that brings together history and modernity. The campus is entirely residential for both faculty and students, allowing you to create more professional networks during your time there. It is located away from major cities, creating a kind of Stanford Bubble. Its sheer size and population result in creating a close-knit Stanford community. And for students from India, the weather on the western coast of the US is far more manageable than that in the East.

4. The Stanford Brand name

With a history that spans nearly 150 years, Stanford has built an impressive and formidable reputation for itself. Graduating from Stanford means that the privilege of the school’s reputation is now shared with you. The very name opens doors for you when you step outside into the professional world. Besides, the kind of learning and the work ethos within the university would have trained you to rise to the challenges an industry might throw at you.

5. A Culture of Entrepreneurship

It is no coincidence that Stanford University has generated some of the top-notch entrepreneurs of the 21st century. The university encourages leadership, professional development, innovation, creativity, and other characteristics that make for excellent entrepreneurs. StartX, for instance, is a Stanford student-started incubator for start-up ideas that is now run by the university.

6. Familiarity and Diversity

For Indian students, Stanford provides a comfortable balance of familiarity and adventure. With the huge number of Indians who migrate to Silicon Valley, there are plenty of options when one is looking for Indian food or communities or associations. The campus also has international students from 90 different countries. It exposes you to different cultures and helps you prepare for a global work environment.

7. Balance between Work and Play

While there is no doubt that Stanford is one of the top academic institutions that expects a lot from its students, there is no dearth of enjoyment on campus. The campus has a thriving social life and numerous clubs and associations to explore. They also have a culture of sports, with their teams dominating in a number of games. On a day off, you can also explore the gorgeous locales of the Bay Area.

8. Financial Support

Stanford has always featured in the top 5 for the U.S. News and World Report’s latest list of the Top Value Colleges. This ranking is a combination of the school’s education quality and affordability. Nearly 50% of the students at Stanford get some kind of financial aid or the other, with specialized scholarships available for Indian students.

9. Notable Alumni

As mentioned earlier, the list of Stanford Alumni is filled with stalwarts and pioneers in different fields. From Sunder Pichai to Elon Musk to Reese Witherspoon, the Stanford alumni community is strong. If you graduate from Stanford, you will not only join this notable list but also be able to network with them through the university.

10. Community Involvement

One of the philosophies of the university is that its students make a positive impact on society through their discipline of choice. While there is no pressure on you to build the next Whatsapp or win the next Nobel, there is an emphasis on seeking to make a difference, no matter how small. The HAAS Centre for Public Service is one of the mediums through which students can engage with the community. The Stanford Daily is another student-run organisation that publishes the Stanford newspaper.

All things considered, life at Stanford for an international student is filled with opportunities that will help you grow and prepare you for the world outside. Also, you may want to know why you would pick Stanford over another well-known west-cost university, like UCLA.

How much does it cost to Study at Stanford for an Indian student?

Considering it is one of the top universities in the world, the fees at Stanford University cannot be tagged ‘affordable’. Typically, postgraduate fees are higher. Especially for students from India, when conversion rates are applied, the numbers do get larger. That said, do not get disheartened, for your return on investment is just as big. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, Stanford is also known for providing financial aid to its students.

Here’s a ballpark figure of the Tuition fees, in rupees. (This is subject to change based on conversion rates also.)

B.A. / B.Sc 3 – 4 years 38 – 43 lakhs
BBA 4 years 43 lakhs
B.E. / B.Tech 4 years 40 – 50 lakhs
MBA 2 years ~60 lakhs
MIM 6 weeks – 2 years 30 – 95 lakhs
M.A. 1 – 2 years 25 – 40 lakhs
M.S. 1- 2 years 25 – 45 lakhs

Disclaimer: These are ballpark figures to give you an idea so that you can work on your financial planning. Note that these are tuition fee figures. You can add about 5 – 8 lakhs annually, for the cost of living and other miscellaneous expenses.

Scholarship options for students from India

While the numbers do seem intimidating, there are multiple scholarship options that are provided by the university, the government or private trust funds. Some of these scholarships cover the cost of living and travel, in addition to tuition. You can also apply for a fee waiver, if eligible.

Like any typical American university, Stanford scholarships can be divided into these four categories:

  • Stanford University Scholarships, awarded to new students
  • Federal Grants, awarded by the US government
  • State Grants, issued directly by the state to meritorious students
  • Outside Scholarships, distributed by external organisations

Of these four, international students can consider only the university scholarships and those provided by external organisations. At the undergraduate level, the university has need-based financial aid and about 15,000 endowment funds, of which about 100 of them are allocated to international students. If you require financial assistance, you must make it known at the time of your application.

There is also the TOEFL Scholarship Program, wherein the organisation that conducts the TOEFL exam extends scholarships to students from India, China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Eligible students are selected based on their TOEFL scores, and individuals who have scored more than 80% can apply for it. The scholarship amount ranges from $10,000 – $20,000.

In graduate school, there are a few scholarship options for Indian students:

Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship:

Sponsored by Reliance Industries, this scholarship is meant for Indian students pursuing MBA at Stanford. Every year, 5 students are awarded this prestigious scholarship. It covers tuition and other associated fees of the MBA program.

Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program

An external scholarship, it is meant for Indian students pursuing their master’s degree in any reputed international university.

Knight- Hennessy Scholarship

This is one of the Stanford University fellowships dedicated to international students at the graduate level. It encourages students to take up leadership roles and provide their solutions to global issues. This scholarship covers an individual’s tuition fees and accommodation.

This list is merely a sampler of the kind of scholarships that exist for Indian students. Many more options exist, such as funding for research or private trust funds that sponsor Indian students at Stanford. You can find them on your research or ask the experts at TC Global to help you. Application for scholarships is a separate procedure with its own sets of documentation. Some are applied for along with your college application, while many can be accessed only when your enrollment has been finalised. It is a lot of research and even more paperwork, but it is a worthwhile effort to ease the financial burden of global education.

If you are considering applying for scholarships, you must rework your timeline. Scholarship agencies and offices are particular about deadlines and carefully filled out application forms. Considering the stress of application that you might be going through, it is easier to have an international education consultant who is far more experienced in the planning and documentation.

Confused between USC and Stanford? Know the differences.

What are the Eligibility Criteria?

Stanford’s acceptance rate is at about 5.2%. It means that only 5.2% of applicants get enrolled in the university. While the statistics can be intimidating, you still stand a chance. If Stanford is your goal, you start working towards it well in advance.

Your academic preparedness, for instance, is not something that can be put together at the last minute. You ensure that the application form is filled out diligently, all transcripts are uploaded before the deadline and all the criteria are met. Each application is individually scrutinised by the Stanford admissions committee and valued for its individual merit. Is it tough to get in? yes. Is it impossible? No. By way of comparison, it’s easier than taking the hardest exams in the world for sure!

What are the eligibility criteria and admission requirements? Here’s a look…

Academic Criteria: Undergraduate Applications

First and foremost, due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, Stanford has made the 2022 – 2023 application cycle also test optional. However, the university has made it clear that this is not a permanent decision but only applicable to this cycle. So, the following criteria that you see are based on the general application criteria to get into Stanford.

1. High School Diploma:

To apply for the undergraduate program, you must have a completed high school diploma. For students from India, it is 10 + 2 years of schooling. Stanford is not particular about which board you complete it from. You also do not need to convert your scores to any international standards. There is no particular cut-off score the university is looking for. However, you must be in the top percentile. In your school, you build a diverse profile, balancing curricular, and extracurricular activities and leadership. It helps the admissions officer get a complete picture of who you are.

2. Standardized Tests:

When the university brings back standardized testing, the average SAT score is around 1505 or an ACT score of 34. The essay or the writing component is not required.

3. English Language Proficiency:

The same policy as that of standardized testing also applies to English language tests. The tests will be considered but are not mandatory. Language proficiency is a prerequisite since the entire course is conducted in English. However, you might choose to demonstrate your proficiency through parts of your application such as the essays or the SOP. If you choose to take up the tests, then the scores should be submitted to the university. The university has no preferred tests. It accepts TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, Cambridge ESOL, or DuoLingo.

4. Other Application Requirements:

  • A completed Common Application with the completed essays
  • $90 non-refundable application fee
  • School transcripts
  • Other test scores
  • Recommendation letters (LOR) from three teachers
  • Proof of financial need, if applying for scholarships
  • Passport and other immigration documents for applying for a student visa.

Academic Criteria: Graduate Programs/ Postgraduate Applications

Bachelor’s Degree:

Stanford requires its graduate applicants to have a four-year bachelor’s degree. This can cause an issue for Indian students as, typically, B. A and B.Sc programs in India are three years long. In those cases, Stanford expects you to complete the two-year’s master’s degree also in India before applying. A minimum GPA of 3.7 or higher must be maintained. Your college admission is not based only on your GPA but it is seen as an indicator of your academic preparedness.

Standardized Tests:

Tests such as the GRE or GMAT are not mandatory but are recommended by counsellors. The average GRE scores from selected profiles are 161 in quant and 162 in Verbal, while the GMAT score is 650+.

English Language Proficiency:

Non-native speakers are expected to take the TOEFL iBT. A minimum score of 100 is required.

Other Application Requirements:

  • Stanford Application (different for each course unlike the common application)
  • Degree transcripts
  • Original Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  • Two Letters of Recommendation
  • GRE/ GMAT scores
  • TOEFL scores
  • Work experience certificates (especially in the case of an MBA – is preferred but not mandatory)
  • Proof of financial need, if applying for scholarships
  • Passport and other immigration documents for applying for a student visa.

How to Get Admission to Stanford University from India: Admission Process

Stanford University admissions are not easy. Admitted students are in the top percentile of their previous school and in the SAT/ ACT score. Let us not sugarcoat this. The application process can be long and arduous. It needs a lot of planning and a great deal of diligence to ensure all the ‘i’s are dotted and all the ‘t’s crossed. Each step carries a specific deadline.

The typical application deadline for an undergraduate course is November 1 (early action) or January 5 (for regular application). There should be no discrepancy between the common application and any of the supporting documents. In addition, if you are in need of financial aid, those applications must also be submitted at the time of applying. The process can get a little overwhelming.

You can choose the easier path and get onboard with TC Global where all your application needs can be taken care of at one go. From counselling sessions to choose your course and test prep all the way to getting help with your visa (and even after you reach your destination),  TCG stands with you every step of the way.

Here’s how to apply through TC Global.

Step 1: Choose the right course

The first step is to know what you want to do. With the number of interdisciplinary options available, you delve deep into the different programs or even disciplines and see what combinations will work the best for you. It is also a good idea to reach out to current or past students and get a more realistic view of how things work.

You can also reach out to us at and schedule a counselling session or aptitude test to figure out which course would be the right fit for you.

Step 2: Log in to the TC Global Student Portal

Once you have an idea about what you want to study, visit and “Get Started”.

Step 3: Update your Profile

Once you have logged in, update your profile, especially your Education and Work background and your Study Plans. This will help us tailor-fit our recommendations for you.

Step 4: Choose Stanford University and the Course

This page provides all the information you need, collated logically, in one page. You don’t need to go hunting under each department page of the university website. The list of all the courses will appear here. You can even use our filters to narrow down on what you are searching.

Step 5: Read up and Shortlist

The website will give you the top options, keeping in mind your profile and your preferences. Click on any of the courses or search for them and get an overview in one go. All of these are accessible to anyone, for free. All you need to do is sign up.

Step 6: Read more on Insights

Want the latest updates about a country or an industry? Are you looking for in-depth reviews about top universities? TCG Insights has it. Plus, it comes with an easy search option for you to specifically look for our research on any of the countries or courses. Check out our insights, here

You need to look into each of the courses, in addition to just knowing the specialisation. You must keep yourself updated on the scope, employment opportunities, and transferable skills. Insights might just be the place that will give you insights into how each of the universities designs their courses.

Step 7: Schedule a Session and Apply

Once you have all the information that you need and have shortlisted all the courses, you begin the application process. You can schedule a meeting with one of our Relationship Members. From here on in, an experienced member of our team will guide you through the process of applying to all your shortlisted universities. Your TC Global Student portal will help you with deadlines, checklists, tests, and a one-shot platform to monitor all your applications’ progress. Besides, our RM will be with you every step of the way. Now that you know the process on  how to get into Stanford as an Indian student, you can try to apply by giving it your best shot.

Keep an eye out for the dates when they open applications, and begin to gear yourself a year in advance, with TC Global.

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