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Application Requirements

You must apply separately to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program and to your Stanford graduate degree program.

Application One: Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program

We highly recommend that you apply using a current version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

You must submit all Knight-Hennessy Scholars application materials in English.

For reference only, here is a PDF sample of the application for the 2020 cohort.

Application Requirements

You must complete and submit the online application for admission (including personal and academic information, etc.). We ask for contact information; basic biographic and demographic details; explanations of your activities, experiences, and interests; and other information to provide context about you. There is no application fee for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, but you must pay the application fee required of your graduate degree program.

Prepare a one-page resumé that includes highlights of your experiences, interests,  and academic record in reverse-chronological order. Stick to one page. Really. Remember that you have an entire application that will provide details to complement the resume.

Scan and upload transcripts of your academic performance at the  undergraduate level and beyond, for each institution you attended for an academic year or longer. This can be an unofficial or self-reported transcript. Your transcript must, if applicable, include the degree conferred and the conferral date. We do not need transcripts from study-abroad experiences if those credits are included on your transcript.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program follows the practices of your graduate degree program: if your graduate degree program does not require standardized tests, then neither does  the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. Any required test scores are due to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program by your graduate degree program's application deadline or the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program's application deadline, whichever is later. If your testing date is after the October 10 Knight-Hennessy Scholars deadline, then you simply leave that section of the application blank and provide the scores from your application status page (which you can access only after submitting your application). For the GRE, your unofficial scores (i.e., the quantitative and verbal scores you receive immediately upon taking the test) will suffice for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.

You must be fluent in English — listening, reading, speaking, and writing — to study at Stanford. If you earned or expect to earn a degree from a university where English is the official and sole language of instruction, then you do not need results of an English proficiency exam. Otherwise, you do. Your citizenship, residence, and/or work experience do not exempt you from this requirement.

All Stanford graduate degree programs accept the TOEFL. The minimum TOEFL score for most graduate programs at Stanford is 100iBT or 600PBT. Some departments only accept scores obtained within the last 18 months, while others accept scores for 24 months. The MBA Program is  the only Stanford graduate program that also accepts the IELTS and PTE. You may read more about this policy on the Graduate Admissions website (TOEFL) or MBA Admissions Office website (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE).

Ask two individuals who know you well, whose opinions you trust, and who want to see you succeed to write your reference letters. These recommenders must be able to provide specific examples, anecdotes, and evidence. Register the recommenders through your online application as early in the application process as possible. Recommendations are due by the application deadline: October 10, 2019 at 1:00 Pacific Time. (Don’t worry: you can submit your application even if your recommenders haven’t submitted your letters.)

The application system will send each recommender a personalized link to submit her/his recommendation online. For verification purposes, register your recommender using her/his work email account, not a personal account such as Gmail, Yahoo!, etc. Here are a few things to consider as you choose recommenders:

  • We care about the content of the letter, not about merely the title or status of the person who wrote it.

  • The strongest letters we receive come from individuals who have interacted with you closely, extensively, and recently. The recommendations may be academic or professional.

  • It is inappropriate to ask a family member to provide a recommendation. Also, consider that a peer is different from a friend.

  • Your Knight-Hennessy Scholars recommendations are the only reference letters that we will review before we provide input to your graduate program.

  • Once your graduate program shares its feedback with the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, we also may review your departmental recommendation letters. As such, your recommendation choices for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program should make a compelling independent case, and also complement the references of your graduate program.

  • It's fine to ask the same person to provide recommendations for your graduate program and for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, but ensure that he/she submits distinctive letters of reference.

  • You may not write, draft, edit, translate, or submit the letter of reference.

We ask your recommenders to assess some character and leadership traits in the reference letters, and to address the following:

  1. How do you know and interact with the applicant?
  2. How have the applicant's actions and insights benefited others? Please provide specific examples. 
  3. What is the most important constructive feedback that you have given the applicant? How did the applicant respond?
  4. How has the applicant changed most since you have known each other?
  5. Is there anything else that we should know about the applicant?

These responses help to see a different side of you. We ask you to answer three questions:

  1. What are your immediate and long-term intentions after graduating from Stanford?
  2. Please tell us eight improbable facts (things that are unlikely but true) about you.
  3. Please tell us when you: made someone proud of you, were most challenged, did not meet expectations.  

These reflections give us a chance to understand who you are and how you aspire to grow and learn. There are two prompts:

  1. Connect the dots. How have the influences in your life shaped you?
  2. How will your Stanford education and your Knight-Hennessy Scholars experience prepare you to realize your intentions?

Do not exceed 1,000 words for both essays combined.

After you submit your online application, you will be able to access the video statement through your application status page. You have until December 11, 2019 at 1:00pm Pacific Time to submit your video statement.

Although we cannot meet in-person with each applicant to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, the video gives us a chance to "meet" each applicant. There is no attention — zero emphasis! — on the "production value" of your video.

You must record the video using the online application. We cannot review videos on other sites, and you may not upload external videos to the online application. 

Your video can be no longer than two minutes. If you only need 30 seconds, that's fine.

Prompt: Teach something to your cohort of fellow Knight-Hennessy Scholars.

We will select 150-175 applicants to visit Stanford, at our expense, for Immersion Weekend on February 7-8, 2020. Immersion Weekend is a chance to learn more about graduate degree programs, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, Stanford University, your fellow Scholars, and — we hope — yourself. It is also an opportunity for Stanford to learn more about you.

Application Two: Graduate Degree Program

You still need to apply separately to the specific Stanford graduate degree program that you want to pursue for autumn 2020. This is essential!

Review the full list of Stanford’s graduate degree programs to ensure Stanford offers the degree program that you wish to pursue. (Applicants to the Honors Cooperative Program or the Master of Liberal Arts are not eligible for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.)

  • The deadline to submit your graduate degree program application depends on the specific degree program (see the table below for details).
  • When you submit your graduate degree program application, all materials must be complete — personal statements, recommendation letters, transcripts, standardized test scores (if required), etc.

The deadlines below apply if you want to be considered as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar:

Graduate Degree Program Application OpenED  Application Deadline
MS in Physician Assistant Studies,
School of Medicine
April 2019 August 1, 2019
MBA Program,
Graduate School of Business
June 2019 Round 1 (Rounds 2 and 3 are ineligible):
September 12, 2019
MD Program,
School of Medicine
June 2019 AMCAS Deadline:
October 1, 2019*
MS in Management Science & Engineering,
School of Engineering
September 2019 October 29, 2019
MA and PhD in Education,
Graduate School of Education
September 2019 November 14, 2019
JD and advanced degrees,
Stanford Law School
August 2019 November 22, 2019*
Any other Stanford graduate degree program September 2019 Program's standard deadline or
December 10, 2019, whichever is earlier

*MD and JD/LLM/SPILS applicants: The deadline shown in this table corresponds to the date by when Stanford must receive your complete application materials. Since it may take a couple of weeks for applications to be processed through AMCAS or LSAC, we strongly encourage you to submit your application well in advance of the posted deadline.

Tips for your graduate degree program application

Your application for your graduate degree program must stand on its own. Focus your application solely on your candidacy for that program. Do not consider the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program in your graduate degree program application.

We ultimately will receive access to the degree program applications — the reference letter(s), in particular  as we are making final decisions on candidates to invite to Immersion Weekend. As such, these departmental materials will complement your Knight-Hennessy Scholars application. Again, it's fine if you select the same person(s) to provide recommendations for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program and for your graduate program. Ensure, however, that the letters themselves address the questions each application requires.

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.)


Last updated October 2, 2019

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