Yale Vs Stanford – Which School Is Better?

Founded in 1718, Yale University is a private research college located in New Haven, CT. It is one of the eight universities that make up the elite Ivy League, placing it among the most well-renowned colleges in the entire world.  

In addition to being one of the best universities out there, Yale is also the third oldest institution for higher education in the United States, having granted its very first degrees in 1718. 

Total undergraduate enrollment at the school is around 4,700 as of the fall of 2020.

Spanning 373 acres of urban Connecticut, Yale’s campus is home to fourteen constituent schools that collectively make up the university. These include the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 10 professional schools, and the original undergraduate college.

Additionally, the school has over 500 different student clubs and extracurricular activities, offering tons of opportunities for students to engage with their interests.

Located in the heart of California’s Bay Area — and all the way on the opposite side of the country from Yale — is the famous Stanford University, another private research university with a reputation for excellence.  

Although not one of the Ivies, Stanford is considered by many to be a similarly strong school. In fact, Stanford regularly outranks multiple Ivy League schools on publications such as US News and World Report’s annual list of the best colleges in the country.

The college was established in 1885, with just 555 students enrolling when the school first opened its doors. As of the fall of 2020, Stanford had a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,366 students.  

For those who are interested in learning more about how Yale and Stanford are similar and how they differ, we have compiled the following article comparing factors such as acceptance rates, academic requirements, rankings, and much more. 

Yale Vs. Stanford – Academic Requirements for Admission

Yale University
Helpfullguy99, Jonathan Edwards Courtyard, CC BY-SA 4.0

Yale University and Stanford University are known for having extremely high admissions standards, a logical result of being highly sought-after institutions for higher education.

Neither Yale nor Stanford requires a specific minimum GPA or standardized test scores. In lieu of having strict admission requirements in terms of test scores and grades, each of the two schools uses its own version of a more holistic approach to the undergraduate admission selection process. 

That being said, it remains true that the two schools only admit students with solid academic credentials. 

Additionally, both schools require that applicants submit an official high school transcript — including a list of all courses taken and grades earned — so it is safe to say that academic ability is one of the essential considerations in the admissions process.

The median high school GPA of those who are accepted to Stanford as first-year students at Stanford is an impressive 3.96. This means that in order to be a competitive applicant to the school, students should earn mostly As in all of their high school courses.

Stanford students are certainly a high-achieving bunch, but Yale students are perhaps ever higher achievers, at least in terms of academic performance during high school. 

The average high school GPA of first-year students at Yale is 4.14 — meaning that taking AP or IB classes is absolutely essential to being in the top 50% of applicants at this college.

The average accepted student at Yale has a slight edge over the average Stanford student when it comes to standardized test scores as well. While the average Stanford freshman got an impressive SAT score of 1505 and an ACT score of 34, the middle 50% of Yale first-years earned an SAT score 1515.

Yale Vs. Stanford – Ranking, Acceptance Rates, and More

According to the most recent edition of US News and World Report’s annual ranked list of the best global universities, Yale University ranks twelfth among all colleges worldwide. Looking only at colleges and universities in the United States, it is ranked fifth.

Coming in right behind Yale in the #6 spot on the list of best national universities is Stanford University. Stanford University, on the other hand, Stanford University is currently ranked sixth best in the nation. Interestingly, according to the list of best global universities, Stanford is ranked third in the world. 

Yale received more first-year applications during the 2022 application cycle than ever before in school history. That year, an astounding 50,015 students applied for admission to Yale’s first-year class of 2026.

This year was significant for Yale admissions in another regard: the acceptance rate also hit an all-time low, with just 2,234 students — which is equal to a mere 4.46% — out of the record-breaking applicant pool being offered admission to the school.

During the 2021 admission cycle, Stanford also made school history in terms of the record-breaking size of the applicant pool and lower-than-ever acceptance rates. Stanford received  55,471 applications for the first-year class of 2025, accepting just 2,190 students into the school.

This means that the acceptance rate for that year was a little under 4% — down by more than a percent from the 5.19% acceptance rate seen the year before.

 From this pool of applicants — the largest in the school’s history — only 2,190 students were offered admission, making the acceptance rate this year just under 4%. 

In general, Yale’s and Stanford’s admissions have been following similar trends in recent years.  More and more students are applying to these colleges, which partially contributes to each school’s seemingly ever-shrinking acceptance rate. 

Deciding Whether to Attend Yale or Stanford

Stanford University Department of Psychology
Emma Pease, Jordan Hall, Stanford University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Suppose you are considering going to either Yale University or Stanford University. 

In that case, you should rest assured: no matter which one you ultimately decide to attend, you are sure to receive a very high-quality education, complete with all the resources, opportunities, facilities, and faculty mentorship you will need to succeed throughout these crucial four years of your life.

That being said, several important aspects of each school can play a huge role in determining student satisfaction at one given school versus another, such as location.

Yale’s New Haven is a coastal city situated along Long Island Sound, with a population of just over 130,000 people. The charming urban landscape is a well-loved locale with ample entertainment, dining, and other recreational opportunities.

On the other hand, Stanford is located on the coast of Northern California, not far from major urban centers like San Jose and San Francisco. The town of Stanford has a population of just 16,000, making it far smaller than New Haven.

Some students may find the bustling atmosphere of a well-populated city appealing, while others may prefer smaller towns’ peaceful, charming calm. The former group of students may be more likely to be content at Yale, while the latter may be happier at Stanford. 

In terms of campus size, however, Stanford is actually far larger than Yale. Stanford’s campus occupies a vast 8,180 acres of suburban territory, while Yale’s campus spans a comparatively small 373 acres. 

For many people, the cost is one of the primary concerns in mind when looking at different colleges. 

For the 2022-23 academic year, the estimated cost of one year of undergraduate study — including tuition, fees, and other expenses — at Stanford is approximately $82,000. Yale is nearly the same price, with tuition and fees for one year coming to $80,700.

RECAP – Which Is the Better School, Yale or Stanford?

If you have been waiting for the moment when we will finally reveal to you which of the two schools, Yale or Stanford, we think is the superior one, then we are sorry: we will have to let you down. 

Neither school is better than the other, as both are amazing, highly-prestigious colleges that are known for providing some of the best undergraduate education the world has to offer.

At the end of the day, it is more worthwhile to ask yourself what you are looking for in a college, what your career goals are, where you would like to spend your college years, and other questions relating to your individual needs and preferences.

There is no way to know for certain if Yale University or Stanford University will be a better fit for you as an individual student — at least without experiencing each of the two schools firsthand — but asking yourself these questions is a great way to strengthen your sense of what you are looking for.

For example, the size of the student body and the average class sizes are factors that significantly shape student experience at a given school.

Yale has a student-to-faculty ratio of just 4:1, with 77% of classes having 20 or fewer students. Stanford trails closely behind, with about five students per faculty member and almost 70% of classes with 20 students or fewer.

Each school has its own set of strengths and areas of expertise. 

Over the course of its long history, Yale has earned itself a reputation for having excellent program offerings in the performing arts, especially music and theater. Yale is also known for its law school, which has been ranked #1 in the country by US News and World Report every year since 1994.
For students considering STEM majors, Stanford may be the better choice. It is currently tied for being the best college for studying computer science in the US and ranking second for its excellent undergraduate engineering programs.

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