Knight-Hennessy Scholarship

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford University aims to prepare a new generation of leaders with a deep academic foundation and the broad skill set to develop creative solutions to effect positive change. Each year, the program provides full funding to 100 exceptional students from around the world, making it the largest fully endowed graduate fellowship in existence. The world needs leaders in government, business, and nonprofits who think beyond silos to creatively address society’s thorniest problems. Stanford University—with seven world-class graduate schools that foster service, collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship—is uniquely positioned to fill this need. The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program will empower an exceptional cohort of graduate students to effect large-scale positive impact across the globe.

This award does not require university endorsement. However, the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship is exceptionally competitive. We strongly recommend that you work closely with NCA as you prepare your application.


National Deadline: October 11, 2023 @1PM Pacific Time

Funding is available for any graduate program at Stanford. This includes the JD, MA, MBA, MD, MFA, MS, and PhD programs, as well as joint- and dual-degrees. The program funds up to the first three years of graduate education. If the degree program exceeds three years — such as an MD or PhD program, or a Stanford dual- or joint-degree program — then the Stanford home department(s) will fund the remainder of your education to the extent consistent with its standard funding commitment for that program.

Eligibility Criteria

To apply, you must:

  • have completed your bachelor’s degree before enrolling at Stanford and be within five years of graduating (graduated 2016 or later)
  • submit a separate application to a full-time graduate program at Stanford (this includes joint- and dual-graduate degree options), which includes any standardized tests that it requires and separate letters of recommendation

There are no restrictions for citizenship, age, or GPA.

Please refer to the Knight-Hennessey website for a detailed list of the eligibility criteria.

Selection Criteria

Knight-Hennessy Scholars are united by their shared potential for leadership, their belief in positive change, and their humility and kindness. They can out-think, out-work, and out-care others. In addition to academic excellence, Scholars will have a record of meaningful, impactful leadership and impressive engagement and service. The core selection criteria reflect this

  • Independence of Thought
  • Purposeful Leadership
  • Civic Mindset

Please carefully review the detailed descriptions of the selection criteria on the Knight-Hennessy website.

  • Background information
  • One-page résumé
  • Transcripts
  • Short-answer responses (3)
  • Essay 1: Connect the dots. How have the influences in your life shaped you?
  • Essay 2: How will your Stanford education and your Knight-Hennessy Scholars experience prepare you to realize your intentions?
  • Recommendation letters (2): candidates should provide this page to their recommenders. Note: if you seek UC endorsement, your endorsement letter will be ones of those recommendations
  • Standardized test scores appropriate to your program
  • Video (post-application submission): Teach something to your cohort of fellow Knight-Hennessy Scholars in two minutes or less

Visit the website for more detailed information on each of these components. 

  • In the spring, attend an NCA Learning Series session on the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship
  • Complete two NCA forms:
  • Launch your online application (application opens in August)
  • Complete and submit application by National Deadline: October 11, 2023 @1PM Pacific Time
  • If not applying through university, then application only need to be completed by national deadline
  • Attend a webinar (filter by Online Events)
  • Remember that you must also submit your Stanford graduate program application. It is up to you to keep track of key deadlines and take the necessary standardized test scores.
  • Competition for this program is keen. To give yourself the best chance of being a competitive applicant, allow yourself time to work through multiple drafts of your materials.
  • Information on this page is intended to supplement, not supplant, your own careful review of the official Knight-Hennessy website. If you find any discrepancy between the two, the Knight-Hennessy website takes precedence.
  • Though you should seek out others’ advice and feedback on your application, the essays should be your original work (no one should be writing your essays for you). UC’s Student Code of Conduct applies.