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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Eligibility (Eligibility year updated for 2022 Cohort, subject to change)

Q: What if I graduated from an institution outside the U.S.?  What are the eligibility requirements for me?

A: To be eligible for graduate study at Stanford University, you must meet the requirements of the graduate program(s) that you wish to pursue and 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 international applicants. (The Office of Graduate Admissions, not the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, sets these policies.)

Q: If I graduated in 2014 or before, can I still become a Knight-Hennessy Scholar?

A: If you graduated with your first/bachelor's degree more than six years before applying (in 2014 or earlier, for the autumn 2022 intake), 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.

Q: I am an undocumented student. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Undocumented students are eligible to apply for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, but must meet eligibility for the graduate program, including any work requirements. For more information, please visit

Q: I have a graduate degree already. Am I eligible? 

A: If you have earned a graduate degree, you remain eligible to enroll in 2022 as long as you earned your first/bachelor's degree in 2015 or later.

Q: I am an enrolled Stanford graduate student. Can I apply for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program?

A: If you enrolled in a graduate degree program at Stanford in 2021 or earlier, you are ineligible for consideration as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar for your current degree program.

Q: I am a Stanford graduate student applying to a different program at the university. Am I eligible?

A: You are welcome to apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program if you either defer enrollment to 2022 or later, or if you apply for a new graduate degree program at Stanford that starts in 2022 or later.

Q: Can I defer my Knight-Hennessy Scholars offer? 

A: No. Deferral of enrollment to a graduate program is the purview of that department. Most Stanford programs do not offer deferrals, though some - especially in the professional schools of business, law, and medicine - allow deferrals. Regardless of the graduate program's policy, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program does not defer scholar offers. If you are selected as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar and are unable to enroll, you would need to reapply for admission for the year you intend to enroll. We consider exceptions to this policy only under rare and unforeseen circumstances that are beyond your control (e.g., delayed separation from the military, health issues).

Q: Will I be at a disadvantage if I reapply at a later date after I declined an offer from Knight-Hennessy Scholars?

A: There would be no stigma to declining admission in favor of reapplying in a future year, but neither would there be a guarantee of selection for a future cohort.

Q: What if I was accepted this year to Stanford but want to defer my enrollment in the Stanford graduate program until next year.  Can I apply fo Knight-Hennessy Scholars for the following year?

A: If you defer enrollment to a Stanford graduate program, you may apply to start as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar for the year that you enroll in that graduate program. For example, if you have been admitted to the Stanford MBA Program and deferred enrollment to September 2023, then you could apply to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program in 2022 to enroll as a Scholar in 2023 — thus aligning your initial enrollment in the MBA Program and as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar. If you already have admission to one of Stanford's graduate departments and are enrolling in 2022 or later, you may apply to be a Knight-Hennessy Scholar. Simply apply for the year that you would enroll in your graduate program.


Q: As a result of COVID-19, my home institution graded an entire semester P/F. How will this impact the evaluation of my transcript?

A:  We recognize that many institutions (including Stanford University) moved to a pass/fail or credit/no credit grading policy as a result of COVID-19. We will not penalize you for an institutional change that was out of your control. We will continue to review your application contextually.

Q: What if my transcript is not in English?

A: Transcripts and degree documents that are in a language other than English must be accompanied with an official English translation.

Q: Is there a minimum GPA or test score requirement to be a Knight-Hennessy Scholar?

A: Although we expect Knight-Hennessy Scholars to have performed well, there is no minimum requirement for your grades or scores. Please check with the graduate department websites for their requirements to be accepted to the graduate degree program you are interested in.

Standardized Test Scores

Q. Will you be updating your testing policy because of COVID-19?

A: We will be following your graduate school’s lead in any testing policy changes for admission.

Q: I will not have test scores until AFTER the Knight-Hennessy Scholars deadline, what do I do?

A: If you will not have test scores available until after the Knight-Hennessy Scholars deadline, simply leave the test scores section of the application blank when you submit your application. You can provide the scores when they are available via your application status page which you will be able to 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.

Q: Can I update my test score after I have submitted my application?

A: Yes, you can do this by submitting the Test Score Update form available on your status page after you submit your application.

Q:  I am applying to two programs. Do I have to submit the required testing for each of those programs to KHS?

A: Yes, please submit all test scores required by the degree programs to which you are applying.

English Proficiency

You must be highly proficient 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.

Q: Do I need to submit my English proficiency test results to Knight-Hennessy Scholars?

A: If you have to submit English proficiency test results to the degree program you are applying to, then yes, you need to submit to Knight-Hennessy Scholars as well.

Q: What tests do I have to submit for English proficiency?

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

Q: Is there a minimum requirement for English proficiency tests for Knight-Hennessy Scholars?

A: Although there is no minimum test score required for Knight-Hennessy Scholars, you need to meet the minimum requirements, if any, set forth by the graduate school department you are applying to. The minimum TOEFL score for most graduate programs at Stanford is 100iBT or 600PBT. Please check the department websites for information about required English tests.

Recommendation Letters

Q: Can I ask my family or friend to write a recommendation letter?

A: It is inappropriate to ask a family member to provide a recommendation. A friend is different from a peer. A peer is someone who you may have worked with either in a team capacity or individually for a project or collaboration. You may ask a peer for a recommendation.

Q: I have both personal and work email addresses for my recommender.  Which one should I use for the application?

A: For verification purposes, please register your recommenders using her/his work email account, not a personal account such as Gmail, Yahoo!, etc.

Q: Can I ask the same person to provide recommendations for both Knight-Hennessy Scholars and my graduate degree program? 

A:  It is 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.

Q: Do you review the recommendation letters from my graduate degree program?

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

Q: I am ready to submit my application but I am missing my recommendation letter(s). What do I do?

A: Do not delay submitting your application because you are waiting for a recommendation(s). We understand sometimes unexpected situations arise and you may not be able to hear from your recommender in time. Again your application itself must be completed and submitted by the deadline.

Short Answers and Essay

Q: What are improbable facts?

A: Improbable facts are aspects about you - experiences, beliefs, traits, skills, etc. - that  “seem unlikely but are true.” This does not mean a list of achievements. Use this as a way to show a different side of you. And have some fun.

Video Statement

Q: Does my video have to be about something academic?

A: No, the prompt is intentionally broad so that you may teach about a range of topics.

Q: Why can’t I see the video link?

A: You will be able to access the video link after you submit your application. The link is accessible via your application status page.

Immersion Weekend

Q: What if I am not able to travel due to restrictions from COVID-19?

A: We will continue to monitor the travel restrictions and any policy set by Stanford regarding international students. If you are unable to travel for Immersion Weekend due to COVID-19, we will arrange a virtual interview.

Q: What if I have a conflict during the Immersion Weekend dates?

A: If selected as a finalist, barring unforeseen circumstances and/or immediate family obligations, you must attend Immersion Weekend to be considered for selection to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.

Q: I need a visa to visit the US. Can you send me a letter of invitation for the visa?

A: We are not able to provide letters of invitation until you are invited to Immersion Weekend as a finalist.

Q: I need to interview for my graduate program. Can I interview for Knight-Hennessy Scholars then too?

A: No, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program interviews take place exclusively during Immersion Weekend.

Application to Stanford Graduate Program

Q: I earned a degree at an institution outside of the U.S. Am I eligible for graduate study at Stanford?

A: 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.)

Q: Can I apply to Stanford for a graduate program even if I did not study that field as an undergraduate?

A: In most cases, you are eligible to apply to a graduate program even if you did not study that precise field as an undergraduate; please contact each graduate program for specific information about its requirements.

Q: Do I apply only to Knight-Hennessy Scholars to be considered for the Stanford graduate program I am interested in?

A: No. 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 or PTE).


Last updated May 1, 2020


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