Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is one of the most prestigious and highly sought-after scholarship programs in the world. Offered by Stanford University, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program aims to develop a new generation of global leaders who are committed to working for the greater good.

this guide will cover everything you need to know about the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program, including eligibility requirements, application timeline, selection process, benefits, alumni profiles, and frequently asked questions.

Overview of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program was established in 2016 with a $750 million endowment from Philip Knight, founder of Nike, and John Hennessy, former president of Stanford University.

The program aims to identify and support future leaders who have the potential to tackle complex challenges and create lasting change in the world. Each year, up to 100 high-achieving students from around the world are selected as Knight-Hennessy Scholars to pursue graduate studies at Stanford University.

The Knight-Hennessy scholarship covers the full cost of tuition and fees for pursuing any graduate degree offered by Stanford. Scholars also receive a stipend for living expenses, fully-funded summer internship opportunities, leadership development workshops, and more.

The program embodies Stanford’s spirit of multidisciplinary collaboration and values diversity of experiences and perspectives. Scholars are selected based on their demonstrated leadership potential, commitment to public service, and intellectual creativity.

Eligibility Requirements

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is open to applicants from all backgrounds and nationalities. Here are the basic eligibility criteria:

  • Education: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent before starting the program. You can apply in the final year of your undergraduate studies.
  • Experience: No minimum work experience is required, but most successful applicants have 2-3 years of full-time work experience.
  • TOEFL/IELTS: If your native language is not English, you must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. The minimum TOEFL score is 100 and IELTS is 7.5.
  • Graduate program: You must apply and gain admission to a full-time graduate degree program at Stanford University to become a Knight-Hennessy Scholar. The scholarship can be used for any master’s or PhD program.
  • Citizenship: The program is open to citizens of any country. You must have a valid passport to apply.

In addition to these requirements, you will also need strong letters of recommendation, a personal statement, resume, and transcripts. The minimum GPA requirement is 3.8 out of 4.0.

Knight-Hennessy Scholarship Timeline

Here is an overview of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars application and selection timeline:

  • April: Application opens
  • Early September: Application deadline
  • September to November: Selection committees review applications
  • January: Finalist interviews and assessments
  • Mid-February: Finalists are notified
  • April: Admission results from Stanford graduate programs
  • Late May: Scholarship offers are announced
  • September: New cohort of Knight-Hennessy Scholars enroll

The application requires significant effort, so make sure you give yourself at least 2-3 months to work on the essays, recommendation letters, transcripts, etc.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars Selection Process

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program receives thousands of applications from around the world every year. Only 100 scholars are selected annually through a rigorous three-stage selection process.

  • First stage: All applications are evaluated by global readers and regional selection committees. They review each applicant’s leadership skills, potential for impact, intellectual abilities, and personal qualities. Approximately 200 semi-finalists are identified.
  • Second stage: The semi-finalists participate in video and in-person interviews with Knight-Hennessy selection panels. The panels assess qualities like communication skills, social awareness, resiliency, and judgment. About 100 finalists are selected.
  • Third stage: The finalists go through additional assessment center exercises and panel interviews. The selection board chooses up to 100 scholars by evaluating their strengths holistically.

The selection process is highly competitive. Applicants are assessed against the program’s core values of civic-minded leadership, problem-solving abilities, independence of thought, purposeful vision, and perseverance.

Benefits of Being a Knight-Hennessy Scholar

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program provides a range of benefits to empower the scholars and amplify their impact. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Full financial support: The scholarship covers tuition and fees at Stanford as well as room and board. Scholars also receive a stipend for living expenses, books, travel, and health insurance.
  • Leadership development: Scholars participate in seminars, workshops, coaching, and mentoring focused on developing leadership skills, social purpose, and self-mastery.
  • Global network: Scholars become part of an influential community of current scholars and Knight-Hennessy alumni who collaborate to make an impact.
  • Public service: The summer practicum program matches scholars with internship opportunities at major public sector organizations across the world.
  • Innovation: Scholars can access Stanford resources like labs, accelerators, and entrepreneurship support to turn their ideas into reality.
  • Multicultural immersion: Cultural literacy, empathy, and collaboration skills are built through experiences like the annual Scholars Retreat.
  • Lifelong learning: After graduating, scholars gain access to alumni education events, reunions, lectures, and continued mentorship.

The Knight-Hennessy scholarship empowers world-changers by removing financial barriers and providing holistic support. Scholars gain access to incredible resources and a global network.

Profiles of Notable Knight-Hennessy Scholars Alumni

Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program

Since the first cohort in 2018, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program has supported over 400 students from across the world. Many alumni are already making remarkable contributions in diverse fields. Here are the stories of five impressive Knight-Hennessy scholars:

  • Marlene Ngo Asatou (Cameroon): A computer scientist researching artificial intelligence fairness and accessibility. She pioneered tools that detect bias in AI systems.
  • Juan David Arteaga (Colombia): A medical doctor using technology and data science to improve community health outcomes in underserved populations in Latin America.
  • Tamisha Walker (USA): An engineer designing sustainable infrastructure solutions and policy reforms to address environmental justice issues in marginalized communities.
  • Pragya Lohani (Nepal): A conservation biologist using drones, AI, and thermal imaging to protect endangered species. She co-founded the Grassroots Conservation Initiative.
  • Sultan Oraz (Turkey): A social entrepreneur who launched YouthSpark in the Middle East and North Africa to empower young changemakers. The organization has reached over 100,000 young people.

These inspirational examples demonstrate the diversity of backgrounds, interests, and vision that Knight-Hennessy scholars bring. The program propels scholars as leaders who create knowledge, develop innovations, and drive change across disciplines.

Top Questions about the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program Answered

Here are answers to some common questions about the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program:

What degrees can I pursue as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar?

You can pursue any of Stanford’s 79 master’s and PhD programs, including popular choices like Business, Law, Medicine, Education, Engineering, and Public Policy.

Can Knight-Hennessy cover a second graduate degree?

Yes, the scholarship funding can be used for a second master’s or PhD at Stanford if you choose to pursue another degree later.

How many scholars are selected each year?

Up to 100 scholars are selected annually. Since 2018, over 400 scholars from 79 countries have joined the program.

What is the acceptance rate?

In 2021, the Knight-Hennessy program received over 4,000 applications and accepted around 100 scholars, making the acceptance rate less than 3%.

Do I need to apply separately to Stanford’s graduate programs?

Yes, you must independently apply and gain admission to a full-time graduate degree program at Stanford before getting the Knight-Hennessy scholarship.

Can Knight-Hennessy be deferred?

Deferrals are usually not allowed, but exceptions may be made for compulsory military service and certain gap year opportunities.

Does the scholarship require me to stay in the USA after graduation?

No, there is no requirement to stay in the USA or anywhere else after completing your Stanford graduate program. The scholarship aims to develop global leaders.

How long does the Knight-Hennessy funding last?

The scholarship funds your entire standard length of your graduate program at Stanford. For master’s degrees, funding is for 1-2 years. For PhD programs, it covers 4-5 years.


The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program opens the door to a life-changing opportunity for ambitious, purpose-driven students to maximize their potential and accelerate their impact as global leaders. Overcoming the highly competitive selection process is challenging but worthwhile for access to Stanford’s world-class education and resources.

I hope this guide provided a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about the eligibility criteria, timeline, selection process, benefits, scholar profiles, and FAQs. The Knight-Hennessy scholarship can empower you to gain the knowledge and connections to tackle the world’s complex challenges.

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