About Knight-Hennessy
Eligibility Requirements
Evaluation Criteria
Campus Endorsement
Application Timeline
USC Contact Person

About Knight-Hennessy

Per the Knight-Hennessy Scholars website: The Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program is designed to build a multidisciplinary community of Stanford graduate students dedicated to finding creative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Each year the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program will identify a group of 100 high-achieving students from around the world with demonstrated leadership and civic commitment to receive full funding to pursue a wide-ranging graduate education at Stanford, with the goal of developing a new generation of global leaders. The Knight-Hennessy Scholars is the largest fully endowed scholars program in the world.

For additional information, visit the Knight-Hennessy website here.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Open to citizens of all countries. Knight-Hennessy expects about 1/3 U.S. Citizens and 2/3 non-U.S. Citizens to make up the first cohort.
  • You are applying to enroll in a full-time graduate degree program at Stanford (e.g., JD, MA, MBA, MD, MS, or PhD) or plan on pursuing one of Stanford’s many joint- and dual- graduate degree options (e.g., MD+PhD, JD+MA, MBA+MS).
  • You have received your first Bachelor’s degree in 2013 or later; You plan to enroll in a Stanford graduate program in 2018 or later.
  • You are eligible for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program as long as you meet the requirements of the Stanford graduate program(s) that you wish to pursue. You must complete the entire application process for your department – including any standardized test that your discipline requires (GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc.) and, if needed, an English proficiency test.

More eligibility information can be found here.

Evaluation Criteria

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).

Knight-Hennessy Scholars primarily looks 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
  • Self-aware
  • Persists and bounces back from adversity

3. Civic Mindset

  • Personally humble and kind
  • Inclusive
  • Respects differences
  • Concerned for and helpful to others
  • Low ego

Where the selection committee find evidence of these criteria is throughout your application materials and, if you are selected as a finalist, at Immersion Weekend.

Campus Endorsement

Due to the highly competitive nature of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program and the anticipated high volume of applicants, the AHF office will only be able to support a limited number of candidates through the internal campus endorsement process. Endorsed candidates will receive an institutional assessment from the AHF office as one of the required letters of recommendation for the Knight-Hennessy application.

Current undergraduate students and USC alumni (up to 3 years post-undergraduate) are eligible for the campus endorsement process.

To be competitive for campus endorsement, you must submit the following materials through the Campus Endorsement Application:

  1. Two (2) strong, in-depth letter of recommendations. Letters are requested through the USC Campus Endorsement application portal. 
    • The first letter should be from a faculty mentor who can speak to your academic capabilities and addresses your competitiveness and readiness for your proposed graduate program at Stanford. This can be the exact same letter you intend to include in your graduate school application. We are asking for a faculty letter because our office does not review your official graduate school application, so this helps to assess your candidacy for the graduate program itself.
    • The second letter should be from a supervisor, mentor, or faculty that speaks to your character and leadership as it aligns with the Knight-Hennessy values This recommendation letter is required specifically by the Knight-Hennessy application, on top of the institutional assessment letter that our office will provide should you be considered as an endorsed candidate.
  2. Demonstrated eligibility for proposed program(s) of graduate study (including GPA & test scores)
  3. Two personal essays and video submission, as required by the Knight-Hennessy application.

Click here to access the USC Knight-Hennessy Campus Endorsement Application. 


To be considered for endorsement, applicants must meet the campus deadlines below. Please note that meeting campus deadlines does not guarantee a USC endorsement. Non-endorsed candidates are still eligible to apply directly through the Knight-Hennessy website but will need to secure another letter of recommendation outside of AHF to serve as the institutional assessment (e.g. departmental head, faculty mentor).

Application Timeline

(USC-specific campus endorsement deadlines are highlighted in red) 

May 1, 2017: Knight-Hennessy Scholars application opens. Your department application likely will not be available at that point, unless you’re considering the MD Program.

May 3, 2017: Campus Endorsement Application opens.

July 14, 2017: Deadline to submit Campus Endorsement Application.

August 1 -4, 2017: Endorsed candidates are announced and provided a feedback session with AHF staff.

September 27, 2017: Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program application due. All Stanford department applications will open by this point, as well.

November 15, 2017: Deadline to apply to your Stanford home graduate program.  Graduate application deadlines vary, but to be considered for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, you will need to have all application materials complete by this date.  MD and MBA programs will likely have an earlier deadline. Please check with your home graduate department for more information.

Winter 2018: Knight-Hennessy committee will select around 100 finalists and invite you to visit Stanford for Candidate Immersion Weekend.This will give you the opportunity to learn more about your department and about Stanford more generally, and also will allow KH to get to know you better.

February 2018: Knight-Hennessy will select and notify the pioneer class of Scholars. Departments also will timely notify applicants selected as Knight-Hennessy Scholars of admission to the departments.

Summer 2018: Pioneer class orientation.

Autumn 2018: Begin at Stanford in home graduate program.


Andy Jones-Liang
Assistant Director, Academic Honors and Fellowships
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