There’s neither a typical Stanford student nor one ideal Knight-Hennessy Scholar. As Phil Knight would say, we’re seeking Scholars who can out-think, out-work, and out-care others.
If you remember only one thing from this admission section, please remember this: to be selected as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, you must apply separately to the Stanford graduate degree program you wish to pursue in addition to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program. We can’t select you as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar if the department doesn’t admit you (though the department may admit you even if you’re not selected as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar).
You should check each department’s website for a sense of what it seeks in candidates. For Knight-Hennessy Scholars, we look primarily at three areas:
1. Independence of Thought
- First-step mental sharpness
- Seeks out knowledge and new experiences
- Full of original ideas
- Makes sense of ambiguous situations
- Can hold a contrarian or dissenting point of view
2. Purposeful Leadership
- Ambitious, in the best sense of the word
- Driven to improve self
- Willing to take risks
- Persists and bounces back from adversity
3. Civic Mindset
- Personally humble and kind
- Respects differences
- Concerned for and helpful to others
- Low ego
Where we find evidence of these criteria is throughout your application materials and, if you are selected as a finalist, at Immersion Weekend. We look forward to getting to know you, what you have done, your influences, ideals, hopes, and dreams.
Are you a potential Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University? Below is a general listing of the eligibility factors.
All Citizens Welcome
We encourage applications to Knight-Hennessy Scholars from citizens of all countries. That’s natural since we expect Knight-Hennessy Scholars to have global impact.
We expect that over time about one-third of our scholars will be from the U.S., and about two thirds will be from countries outside the U.S. Those numbers will fluctuate from year to year, since our goal is to admit the world’s very best students, regardless of location.
Did you earn a degree at an institution outside the U.S.? To be eligible for graduate study, you must hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing. See Stanford’s guidelines for minimum level of study. (For questions on this policy, contact the Office of Graduate Admissions, not the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.)
All Graduate Programs at Stanford; Only for Graduate Degrees
You are eligible to apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program if you are applying to enroll in any full-time graduate degree program at Stanford (for example, but not limited to, DMA, Eng, JD, MA, MBA, MD, MFA, MS, or PhD) or if you plan on pursuing one of Stanford’s many joint- and dual- graduate degree options (for example, but not limited to, MD+PhD, JD+MA, MBA+MS).*
The Stanford education of Knight-Hennessy Scholars is fully funded. The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program funds up to the first three years of your graduate education, and if your degree program exceeds three years — such as an MD or PhD program, or a Stanford dual- or joint-degree program — then your Stanford home department will fund the remainder of your education to the extent consistent with its standard funding commitment for that program. (For example, some programs typically fund six years for PhDs, while others fund five years for PhDs.)
While we are excited to build a cohort that reflects the breadth of excellence at Stanford, there are no allocations or quotas by discipline or program. Please note, however, that we will give priority to applicants who will spend at least two years at Stanford: we do not believe one year is sufficient to form the community we envision and benefit from the leadership platform we are developing.
*The Department of Philosophy does not participate in the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. As such, we cannot consider candidates applying only to Philosophy degree programs. You may, however, apply for an MA or PhD in Philosophy as the second degree in a Stanford dual-degree program (e.g., JD+PhD, MD+MA).
First/Bachelor’s Degree Received in 2014 or Later; Enrolling at Stanford in 2020 or Later
You are eligible to apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars if you apply during your final year of study for your first/bachelor’s degree or within five years of earning your first/bachelor’s degree. For the cohort that applies in 2019, that means you must have graduated in January 2014 through September 2020 to enroll at Stanford in September 2020. For U.S. military (active or veteran) applicants, you are eligible if you earned your undergraduate (bachelor’s or first) degree in 2012 or later.
If you’re still in college studying for your first/bachelor’s degree, you’re eligible to apply as long as you complete your first/bachelor’s degree before you enroll as a graduate student at Stanford. If you have earned a graduate degree, you remain eligible to apply in 2019 as long as you earned your first/bachelor’s degree in 2014 or later.
If you graduated with your first/bachelor’s degree more than five years ago (in 2013 or earlier), then you are not eligible for consideration as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar. This applies even if you have earned an additional degree in 2014 or later. The good news is that you still may apply to the Stanford graduate program of your choice, and there are many other options for funding your graduate education at Stanford.