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Stanford News Service
May 1, 2017

Seeking the world’s brightest minds, Stanford’s Knight-Hennessy Scholars program begins accepting applications

The program seeks applicants from diverse backgrounds and nationalities who would receive full funding to pursue graduate studies at Stanford in fall 2018.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is now accepting applications for its first cohort of students. The program aims to prepare a new generation of leaders from around the world to address increasingly complex global challenges.

John Hennessy and Philip Knight

Stanford President Emeritus John Hennessy, director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, and philanthropist Philip Knight. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Fifty scholars will join the first cohort that enrolls in fall 2018, with up to 100 scholars admitted annually thereafter. Those selected as Knight-Hennessy Scholars will receive full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford. Scholars may pursue studies at any of the university’s seven internationally top-ranked graduate schools, and will be educated to navigate across business, government, academia and the nonprofit sectors.

“We recognize that an application cannot fully reflect who Knight-Hennessy Scholars are and how they live,” said Derrick Bolton, dean of Knight-Hennessy Scholars admission. “We believe it’s essential that we learn not only about what they have done, but also who they are: their influences, ideals, hopes and dreams.”

It is anticipated that the program will attract students from around the world, with about two-thirds of participants from countries outside the United States, including rising leaders from the developing world who would otherwise not have a path to an education at Stanford. Over the course of a generation thousands of scholars will be at various stages of their careers effecting positive change across all sectors.

The online application requires academic transcripts, test scores, a resume, two recommendation letters, two essays and a brief video submission. The application is due Sept. 27.

Applicants from all backgrounds and nationalities are encouraged to apply. To be eligible to apply in 2017, they must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2013 or later and meet all the requirements of the Stanford graduate program of their choice, to which they must apply separately.

The program’s faculty advisory board and global advisory board, respectively comprising faculty from all seven schools and leaders from business, government, health care, law, technology and other fields, shaped the criteria to guide in the selection of scholars. The three primary criteria when evaluating applications are independence of thought, purposeful leadership and a civic mindset.

Domestic and international outreach for the program began in January and will continue through the application period. Knight-Hennessy Scholars staff have visited more than 50 universities and colleges, both public and private, across the United States, and have sought candidates in China, Egypt, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, South Korea and United Arab Emirates. In-person outreach at universities in Africa, Europe, India and Latin America will continue through the summer and early fall.

“To build the diverse cohort we seek, we need to reach far and wide in our recruitment efforts,” said Jeff Wachtel, the program’s executive director. “We meet great candidates at every school we visit. Promising students and recent alumni from any university are encouraged to apply.”

Knight-Hennessy Scholars staff are working closely with university officials around the world to ensure that the application process is accessible and straightforward.

“We see fellowship officers as our natural partner in this endeavor,” said Wachtel. “Our application process is intended to be inclusive and we rely on their input.”

About Knight-Hennessy Scholars: The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford University is the only program of its kind with a distinctly multidisciplinary focus and the only one based at a U.S. institution. In addition to full funding for any degree or combination of degrees at Stanford, scholars will have additional opportunities for leadership training, mentorship and cohort-based experiential learning. The program, which was announced in February 2016, is named for alumnus Philip H. Knight, MBA ’62, philanthropist, American businessman and co-founder of Nike Inc., who is contributing $400 million to launch the program, and Stanford President Emeritus John L. Hennessy, who served as the university’s 10th president from 2000 to 2016. Hennessy, who is the academic architect and visionary behind the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, is serving as the program’s inaugural Shriram Family Director. Knight-Hennessy Scholars is the world’s largest fully endowed scholars program in the world. Of the $750 million endowment, more than 85 percent directly supports the graduate education and living expenses of the Scholars.

About Stanford University: Stanford University offers world-class expertise in an uncommonly comprehensive range of fields, with over 125 graduate degree programs all within walking distance on a single campus. Surrounded by Silicon Valley, Stanford is located in the epicenter of global innovation and recognized worldwide as a birthplace of breakthrough ideas and technologies. This remarkable ecosystem is the ideal springboard from which Knight-Hennessy Scholars can translate what they learn to achieve maximum impact over the course of their careers.



Ari Chasnoff, Associate Director, Marketing and Communications, Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program: (650) 721-5996,


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