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Application Requirements

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars application is now closed. All graduate degree program applications are due by November 15, 2017.

Below, we explain what the application process entails. There are two applications: one is for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, and the other is for 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.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program online application comprises the following materials, all of which you must submit in English:

1. Online application

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

For preview only, here is a sample of the application (PDF).

Are you an international student? See how Stanford assesses international academic credentials. (For questions on this policy, contact the Graduate Admissions Office, not the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.)

2. Transcript

Provide an unofficial or self-reported transcript of your academic performance in college and, if applicable, graduate school for each institution you attended for an academic year or longer. If you are unable to provide an unofficial transcript, you may download the self-reported transcript template here. 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.

3. Standardized test scores

​​Provide your scores on standardized tests for admission, as required by the graduate degree program that you are pursuing — e.g., GMAT or GRE for the MBA Program, LSAT for the JD Program, MCAT for the MD Program, GRE (with GRE subject test required) for PhD in mathematics.

You must be fluent in English  listening, reading, speaking, and writing  to study at Stanford. The minimum TOEFL score for most graduate programs at Stanford is 100iBT or 600PBT. All Stanford graduate degree programs accept the TOEFL, and the MBA Program also accepts the IELTS and PTE. If you have a degree from a university at which 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. You may read more about this policy on the Graduate Admissions website.

It's helpful and preferred if you provide your standardized test scores when you apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, but this is not a requirement. You must, however, have these test scores by the graduate degree program’s deadline. This means, for instance, that if you are applying to the JD program, the last eligible LSAT date is September 2017; the December 2017 test is too late since it comes after the November 15, 2017 deadline to submit your JD program application.

​4. One page resumé / C.V.

You will include a resumé or curriculum vitae that provides an overview of your education, personal activities, and professional experiences. Our rule is one page for every decade of experience after secondary school.

5. Two recommendation letters

Through the online application, you will select two individuals who know you well to write letters of reference providing specific examples, anecdotes, and evidence of your ability and determination to make a difference. You obtain a total of two letters; we explain the types of letters in 5a and 5b.

You register these recommenders through your online application. The application then sends 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.

  • 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 degree program shares its feedback with the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, we also will 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 department and for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, but ensure that he/she submits distinctive letters of reference that address the questions each application requires.

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

  • Please explain how you know and interact with the candidate. 
  • Tell us about a time the candidate did something that benefited others. 
  • Tell us about a time the candidate did something that surprised you. 
  • Is there anything else (positive or constructive) that we should know about the candidate?

5a. If you graduated from college more than a year ago

  • Your two letters of reference should address your leadership experience and potential  your professional competence and personal character. You may request these recommendation letters from current or past supervisors, advisors, mentors, peers (but remember there's a difference between a friend and a peer), etc. Select individuals who know you well, who believe in you, and who are willing to share insights and experiences that will help the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program understand you better.

  • If you graduated from college within the last few months, then you should follow the advice for applicants who still are in college. (Applicants enrolled in graduate programs sometimes ask which path to follow. It depends on your situation; use your best judgment. Some graduate students may wish to follow the college-student path.)

5b. If you are still in college or graduated within the last few months

If your college or university has designated a campus contact, then please consult with that individual/office before you decide how to proceed. If your college has no campus contact (which is often the case for international institutions) then follow the guidance on the campus contacts page.

  • Some universities will provide an institutional assessment or an institutional endorsement from a Fellowship Advising Office or similar university-wide central office (e.g., career advising, dean of students)

    • In this case, you will submit one recommendation letter and one institutional assessment or institutional endorsement.

    • Colleges that provide institutional endorsement letters often require you to submit a draft of your Knight-Hennessy Scholars application to your campus contact and then to interview with a campus committee. Your college may set an internal deadline that occurs well in advance of the September 27, 2017 Knight-Hennessy Scholars submission deadline.

  • Other universities will not provide institutional assessments, and instead may give you guidance on how to select a second recommender.

    • In this case, you will submit a total of two recommendation letters.

Please be assured that either approach works for Knight-Hennessy Scholars: neither inherently puts you at a disadvantage or gives you an advantage.

6. Two personal essays

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. Tell us how the influences in your life have shaped you.
  2. Describe three different paths for your career and life. To prepare for them, what do you need to learn at Stanford as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar?

While there are no word limits for these questions, we believe a combined total for both essays of 750 to 1,750 words will suffice for most applicants.

7. Two short-answer responses

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

  1. Please tell us eight improbable facts about you.
  2. If you could take any course or study with any instructor at Stanford, what would you take or with whom would you study, and why? (No, you can't pick John Hennessy. You'll already spend plenty of time with John as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar. And please don't contact Stanford faculty to answer this question.)

8. Video story

We would love to interview every applicant, but it's not feasible. Instead, the online application allows you to record a video of no longer than two minutes. This medium gives you a chance to introduce yourself and present a different view of the person we've "met" in your application. We are not worried about "production value" for this; we just want to get a chance to meet you. You choose one of the following three questions to answer:

  1. Tell us about something for which you are grateful.
  2. Tell us about your Crazy Idea. (Nike was Phil Knight's Crazy Idea!)
  3. Tell us about your most meaningful commitment.

9. In-person assessment

We will invite the finalists for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program to visit Stanford, at our expense, for Immersion Weekend on January 19-21, 2018.  Immersion Weekend will give you a chance to learn more about your graduate degree program, about the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, about Stanford University, about your fellow Scholars, and about yourself.

Application Two: Graduate Degree Program

Don't forget that you still will need to apply separately to the specific Stanford graduate degree program that you want to pursue for fall 2018. This is essential! The deadline for your graduate degree program depends on the specific program, but will be earlier than that program’s standard admission deadline in almost all cases (see the table below for details). When you submit your application to your graduate degree program, all materials must be complete.

Graduate Degree Program Application Opens  Application Deadline
Stanford MD Program Now available. Due through AMCAS a couple of weeks before the official deadline of September 29, 2017. The MD Admissions Office requires that you submit the Knight-Hennessy Scholars application before you submit the Stanford MD supplemental application. This allows you to include your Knight-Hennessy Scholars application number (available upon submission) in your Stanford MD supplemental application, which is necessary for processing of your application.
Stanford GSB MBA Program Now available. Due by the first-round submission deadline of September 19, 2017
Stanford GSB PhD Program Now available. Due November 15, 2017
Stanford Law School JD and advanced degrees Now available. Due November 15, 2017
Any other Stanford graduate degree program Now available. Due November 15, 2017


  • If you are NOT applying to be a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, then the standard deadline for the degree program applies. These standard deadlines typically are in early December through late January.
  • If you are applying to be a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, then the above deadlines apply, regardless of the standard deadline for the degree program.
  • The Stanford Honors Cooperative Program is not eligible for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.

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.

Are you an international student? See how Stanford assesses international academic credentials.

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.



Last modified September 27, 2017

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