Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Do students receive grades or credits?

No course grades or credits are given for completing a Summer Humanities Institute course. After the conclusion of the program, students are sent a written evaluation from their Instructor and a certificate of completion.

May I participate in the on-campus portion of the program as a commuter student?

No. All students in the Summer Humanities Institute must participate fully in the residential portion of the program. The Summer Humanities Institute places a high value on the integration of the program's academic and social components, which is accomplished by bringing together students and mentors who share interest and talent in a particular subject. Students interested in non-residential opportunities should explore other Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies Programs.

What type of visa do international students need?

International students who have attended our program in the past have been able to enter the U.S. on a visitor’s visa. The number of hours per week in the classroom is 12–15 hours on average. This is below the 18 hours per week typically required for a student visa. Please visit the U.S. State Department’s website or your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate for official information. Please note that the Summer Humanities Institute can't assist participants in obtaining visas. This is a process that students and their families must undertake themselves with the U.S. Immigration office. If you need a formal acceptance letter to use in your visa application, we can provide one.


To what does “grade level” refer? Will exceptions be made to the grade or age requirements?

Grade level refers to the student's current grade that when he or she submits an application (in Spring). No exceptions will be made to the grade restrictions, but age restrictions allow for some flexibility. Students currently in grades 10–11 are assumed to be ages 15–17; those who are within three months of the age requirement are also eligible. These restrictions are important in providing a social environment that maximizes the value of the Summer Humanities Institute experience, and take into account considerations for students in the same courses living together in the same residence. Because our social and academic components are tightly integrated, students will enjoy greater academic benefits by learning alongside others who are close in age and grade.

Are there grade point average or standardized test score cut-offs?

There is neither a test score “cut-off” requirement nor a GPA cut-off. The Summer Humanities Institute seeks students who demonstrate passion for and overall academic excellence in subjects related to the humanities. All application materials (such as work samples, written responses, test scores, teacher recommendations, etc.) are considered together.

Is it okay for my parents to help me write my application?

No. Due to the intensive, challenging nature of our courses, it is important that the application reflect the interests and abilities of the applicant only—not the parent—as accurately as possible. Therefore, applicants complete all responses in the application on their own and parents only sign after reviewing the completed application. Any misrepresentation in application materials is grounds to revoke an offer of admission to our programs.

I haven't taken a standardized test. May I still apply?

The standardized test score requirement may be waived for those attending a school outside the U.S. where testing is not available. If you attend school in the U.S. but do not have test scores, you will need to provide a letter from your school on school letterhead certifying that there are no testing records for you, and that the school does not require tests. 

I am an international student. Do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS?

Given that the Humanities Institute program requires strong reading, writing, and discussion skills, we seek students who can successfully engage in the course through active participation. Strong speaking and listening skills in particular are essential for success. Students whose native language isn't English and those who attend schools where English is not the primary language of instruction are encouraged to provide English-language proficiency tests if they have them. However, they are not required. If additional information about an applicant's English language proficiency is needed, a member of the Admissions Committee will contact the applicant directly to schedule a brief interview via Skype or other web conferencing platform. 

I don't have a writing sample that fulfills the requirement. What do I do?

On the application, we provide some prompts that you can use to create a new writing sample. You may select any of the prompts to write about; you need select only one. Be sure the sample you submit is at least five pages long. We recommend that you ask a teacher or tutor to provide some editorial feedback on your essay before you submit it.

Financial Aid

Does Stanford Summer Humanities Institutes offer financial aid?

Yes. Our financial aid funding is limited, and we typically experience a higher demand for financial aid than we are able to accommodate. Awards are allocated by need and typically take the form of a partial scholarship. 

We encourage all families who make less than $60,000 a year to apply for aid. If your family is above this bracket, you may still apply, but should include a supplementary letter clarifying your family's circumstance in your application. Aid can be awarded to both domestic and international participants and does not have an effect on your admissions decision as the financial aid committee only views financial aid applications once admissions decisions have been sent.

What is the deadline for the financial aid application?

We ask for applicants to submit their financial aid application within one week of submitting their academic application. Financial aid applications are due by the corresponding admissions deadline of which applicants submitted their academic application. Applicants can look at the Admissions Page on our website to find the corresponding admissions round they are in. 

Where is the financial aid application?

Applicants can submit a financial aid application once they have started their Online Application. Applicants will receive an email titled "Instructions to complete your Stanford Summer Humanities Institute Online Application." The link for the financial aid application is provided in this email. Applicants must be logged into their Online Application account in order to access the financial aid application. In addition to completing the financial aid application, applicants will be asked to provide their parent or guardian's tax information from the past two years.

Can tuition be paid in installments?

No. Unfortunately, Stanford Summer Humanities Institute is not able to offer an installment plan.

Does Stanford Summer Humanities Institute have a refund policy?

Application fees are non-refundable. Program deposits are non-refundable, except in cases where an accepted participant who applied for financial aid is not awarded sufficient aid to attend and therefore must decline enrollment. To withdraw the student or parent must notify Stanford Summer Humanities Institute staff in writing via email, prior to the start of the program. No refunds or discounts will be given for early departures once the program has begun. Refunds will not be considered until a formal (written or email) request is received.

Online Application

I am having trouble with the Online Application. Where can I go for assistance?

The Summer Humanities Institute administrative team is happy to assist you. Send an email to or call 1-650-721-9325.

I submitted my Online Application and paid my application fee, but my Student Page still says that my application is incomplete. Why?

A complete application consists of a submitted Online Application, a Teacher Recommendation, and receipt of payment for the application fee, if any. If your application is incomplete, it is possible that your teacher hasn't yet submitted a recommendation on your behalf. Contact your teacher or check your account page to manage your recommendations.

I applied to the Summer Humanities Institute last year. When I open my application for this year, it is already populated with some information from last year. What do I do?

This is an intentional feature of the Online Application system meant to streamline the submission process for returning applicants and those applying to more than one Stanford Pre-Collegiate program. Simply replace your uploaded documents with more up-to-date information, and update your responses to the application questions to reflect your current grade level and course preferences. You must add new requests for recommendations as these don't carry over from year to year.

How do I change or delete a recommender?

  • To Delete a Recommender: You cannot delete a recommender once they have been entered into the application system. Applicants may add a recommender as needed to the list.  As long as one recommendation is received by the deadline, your application will be complete.
  • To Change a Recommender’s Information: You can edit your recommender information or send a reminder email to your recommender through the application system.  Sign in to the system and click the “Edit” button next to the recommender you wish to edit. You can edit/change the recommender information as long as the recommender has not yet begun the recommendation process.  You are able to send a reminder email to your recommender at any point in the recommendation process.

How does my recommender get notified of my request?

  • In your Online Application, you will enter the recommender’s contact information. Your teachers will receive an email with a link to the recommendation system. If they cannot locate the email, please first instruct them to search their spam folders for your name; it's not uncommon for the emails to end up there. 
  • Please note that it is the applicant’s responsibility to monitor the status of their recommendations and assure that recommendations are received by the Summer Humanities Institute by the intended admissions deadline.

How will I know when a recommendation in support of my application has been received?

An email will be sent to the student email address provided on the application when a recommendation has been received.

Do I have to wait for teacher recommendations to be received before I can submit my Online Application?

No. We encourage applicants to submit teacher recommendation requests as early as possible and to submit your Online Application as soon as you have provided all the information required—don't wait for your teacher to respond. Your recommender may submit a recommendation before or after you submit your Online Application. Once you submit your Online Application, you will be able to check the status of your recommendation requests by logging onto your account.

Admitted Students

I have been admitted, but not to my first choice course. Can I change courses?

Students are reviewed on a course by course basis, therefore qualifying for one course does not mean a student will be selected for a different course. In order to be reviewed for admission into another course, it is our policy you must first give up your seat in your admitted course, with no guarantee of being admitted into your new course. We will then place your application into the next application cycle to be compared in the pool. If you end up not being accepted in that cycle we would not be able to readmit you back into your first course. We encourage students to keep their current seat. Students are allowed only one switch request per summer.

Will I have an opportunity to speak to someone in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions?

While not guaranteed, a representative from the Stanford Office of Undergraduate Admissions is often scheduled to give a presentation to program participants during their stay at Stanford. If you are interested in a more formal meeting with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, please make arrangements independently. Note that these arrangements must not interfere with any scheduled program activities.

Can you accommodate students with food allergies or other special needs?

Yes. Upon admission into the program, students will be asked to provide health information and information regarding any other specific needs. The Summer Humanities Institute administrative staff will work with students to plan necessary accommodations.

Does the program provide airport transportation to and from Stanford?

The Summer Humanities Institute provides transportation to and from the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as long as participants arrive and depart on the designated days for the session they are attending. The Summer Humanities Institute can't provide transportation for students if they arrive or leave on other days.

Students who are admitted to the program will be given detailed information regarding airport transportation procedures. Students using the airport shuttle service will provide their flight information to the Summer Humanities Institute. Summer Humanities Institute staff members will meet students at the airport and accompany them back to Stanford University. The Summer Humanities Institute also provides transportation to take students to the San Francisco airport on the day of departure. The use of airport shuttle service on arrival and departure days is included in Summer Humanities Institute tuition.

May I participate in other camps while I am attending the Summer Humanities Institute?

No. The Summer Humanities Institute is an intensive, full-time program, so students are expected to participate in all course and program activities for the duration of the session.

Do I have to attend the entire program?

Students are required to arrive on the first day of the program and leave on the last day; late arrivals are not permitted because housing and staff will not be available before the official arrival day. Students who miss more than two academic days will not be considered as having completed the program, and will not receive a letter of evaluation or certificate of completion. Students who miss three or more academic days will be released from the program.