About Knight-Hennessy Scholars
Knight-Hennessy Scholars develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. Every year, up to 100 high-achieving students from around the world will receive full funding to pursue any graduate degree at Stanford, including the DMA, JD, MA, MBA, MD, MFA, MS, and PhD programs, as well as joint- and dual-degrees. Knight-Hennessy Scholars is the largest fully endowed scholars program in the world.
Why become a Knight-Hennessy Scholar?
Knight-Hennessy Scholars is a magnet for talent. We curate a multidisciplinary community of scholars, offer a platform for purposeful leadership development, and empower you to effect large-scale positive impact in the world.
Who are we looking for?
We seek rebellious minds and independent spirits. We welcome people who are sharp thinkers, but even more so curious, who will bring good ideas and maverick perspectives to old challenges.
A Unique Opportunity. We are not a one-size-fits all program. In addition to pursuing your graduate studies, shape your own experience as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar through the King Global Leadership Program.
As a Knight-Hennessy Scholar you will develop both the depth and range of subject expertise to confront the numerous grand challenges and opportunities of the future. You will be part of a unique community of change agents from a diverse range of backgrounds. This is a community that will support you, motivate you, and hold you accountable for achieving your goals even when the odds of success seem likely against you.
Knight-Hennessy Scholars receive full funding to pursue graduate study at Stanford. This includes the JD, MA, MBA, MD, MFA, MS, DMA, and PhD programs, as well as joint- and dual-degrees.
Every community needs a home. Denning House serves as our convening hub, enabling our community of scholars to share ideas and experiences.
Meet The Scholars
The first two cohorts of scholars include citizens of 32 countries pursuing degrees in 53 Stanford graduate programs.
Why Apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars?
Building on departmental programs, you will learn to communicate, collaborate, and innovate with your fellow Knight-Hennessy Scholars from other disciplines. We believe these relationships — breaking down traditional academic silos — will be essential to your ability to discover new solutions that will advance humanity. Tailored workshops and individual coaching and feedback will hone your capacity for collaborative leadership. A clearer understanding of yourself and others will allow you to influence even when you lack authority. We also will place particular emphasis on the art of storytelling and your ability to find your voice and tell your story. These essential skills form the foundation for your development as a leader in your field.
In addition to the opportunities that you will pursue through the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, you’ll find ample opportunity to build leadership skills specific to your discipline. Each of Stanford’s graduate departments offers courses and structured programs designed for students within its field. The Vice-Provost for Graduate Education also offers a comprehensive professional-development framework for all Stanford graduate students.
Knight-Hennessy Scholars will have the opportunity to spend time with established leaders in both informal and formal settings. These encounters will be available both as intimate conversations exclusively within your community as well as one-on-one meetings with experts in your areas of interest. The presence of a Fellow in Residence, a distinguished global leader residing on campus, will allow for the chance to build meaningful relationships and go in depth in the Fellow’s area of expertise.
Finally, you will also have the opportunity to work with special mentors from the Distinguished Careers Institute and meet one-on-one or in small groups with members of our Global Advisory Board, who hail from a diverse range of fields.
The pace of your graduate studies will be intense. Given the demands on your time, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program will provide a flexible array of activities — community experiences, group workshops, meetings with leaders in your field, and personal development opportunities comprising the King Global Leadership Program. In small, multidisciplinary teams, you will reflect on your own leadership ability and participate in practical group exercises designed to challenge you. You will confront real-world problems that require real-world solutions. You will weave these opportunities into your time at Stanford. A diverse and supportive community of scholars will inspire and encourage you along the way.
We’re looking for ambition, in the best sense of the word, to change things. Our scholars will bring strong internal drive — a steely determination and focus — but with the ability to reflect and adapt.
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.
What We’re Seeking in a Scholar
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.
We welcome single-mindedness as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of engaging others. We seek scholars for whom success is a byproduct, not a goal, and leaders who can drive progress for humanity rather than for a select few.
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.
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.
Other Eligibility Requirements
Beyond the eligibility requirements listed above, you are eligible for Knight-Hennessy Scholars as long as you meet the requirements of the Stanford graduate program(s) that you wish to pursue. In most cases, you are eligible to apply to a graduate degree program even if you did not study that precise field as an undergraduate; please contact each graduate degree program for specific information about its requirements.
You must complete not only your Knight-Hennessy Scholars application, but also the entire application process for your graduate degree program — including any standardized test that your graduate degree program requires (GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc.) and, if needed, an English proficiency test (TOEFL; or, for MBA program only, IELTS).
Although we expect Knight-Hennessy Scholars to have performed well, there is no minimum requirement for your grades or scores.
Each year up to 90 high-achieving students who are independent thinkers, display purposeful leadership, and have a civic orientation will receive full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford.
- Funding includes tuition, stipend, graduate program and related academic expenses, with additional financial support available.
- Pursue a graduate degree in any of Stanford’s seven schools, from PhDs in arts, education, engineering, humanities, or social sciences to professional degrees in business, law, or medicine.
- Build skills in leadership and communication that will empower you to work across disciplines and to scale creative solutions for complex challenges.
- Students who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2014 or later are eligible to apply to the 2020 cohort of Knight-Hennessy Scholars. U.S. military (active or veteran) applicants are eligible if you earned your bachelor’s degree in 2012 or later.
- The deadline to apply for the 2020 cohort is Thursday, October 10, 2019, at 1:00 pm Pacific Time.
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