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Knight-Hennessy Scholars

Application Process Overview

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All Big 10 candidates work with Scholarship Opportunities Program (SOP) staff, who run the campus advising processes. Read this document while you complete the Pre-Application and refer to it throughout the application process.


Be a UCI Undergraduate

The SOP is funded to advise current UCI undergraduates only. Students at other universities must work with representatives on their campuses.

UCI Alumni Exceptions

In some cases, SOP staff may coach highly motivated recent UCI alumni IF they meet all eligibility requirements and intend to take/are taking a gap year (i.e. year off) before enrolling in a graduate program.


Knight-Hennessy candidates may be citizens of the United States or of any country in the world.

Submit a Pre-Application by 4/3/17 (NOON)

You must complete and submit a Pre-App to begin the application process.

Be a Junior, senior, or recent alumnus

Submit a Pre-Application the spring before your final year on campus. The full application process lasts six months, so by the time you complete it you’ll be in your final year of study at UCI. If you win a scholarship, you will travel to Stanford shortly after graduating.

You may also submit a Pre-Application in spring of your final year if you plan to take a gap year after graduating.

Be Goal-Focused

This award only funds graduate study in graduate programs at Stanford University in California.

Be Available in Summer 2017

Candidates must participate in draft writing, SOP advising, and correspondence with recommenders and attend an August campus interview for their application(s) to earn UCI endorsement consideration.

Be Willing to Work Hard

You will submit a series of application drafts to SOP staff and receive advising and editing suggestions. You will also share drafts of application essays with the faculty who will write your letters of recommendation.

Be ready to devote a minimum of 10 hours/week to the process; the commitment is equivalent to that of a part-time job.

Be Deadline-Oriented

You are responsible for ensuring SOP staff receives all application components -- including letters of recommendation written on behalf of your application(s) -- by SOP deadlines.

Late materials will result in dismissal from the SOP draft feedback process.

Communicate with SOP Staff

Candidates must maintain regular communication with SOP staff and with recommendation letter writers.

Email ALL staff to submit drafts or ask questions.

Applying for Multiple Awards

Candidates may apply for multiple scholarships simultaneously. However, consider the work required to apply for each, the variances in application components, letters of recommendation and interview scheduling and the time constraints you’ll face this summer.


Selecting a program and institution

Knight-Hennessy Scholars must be admitted to the Stanford graduate program of their choosing (any discipline) and will also participate in a “multidisciplinary community of Stanford graduate students dedicated to finding creative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.” Activities will include group workshops and team exercises, participation in the King Global Leadership Program, engagement with Fellows in Residence, mentoring from the Distinguished Careers Institute.

Factors TO WEIGH

Consider location preference, strength of particular overseas programs and institutions, field of study, long-term academic focus, and eligibility requirements relating to GPA and age.

kNIGHT-hENNESSY = leadership development, STANFORD UNIVERSITY

Funds full-cost of graduate study, travel, supplies and living expenses.

Candidates can be citizens of any country

Approximately 100 annual winners (50 in the first year).

All Knight-Hennessy Scholars must also be admitted to their Stanford graduate degree program through its regular admissions process.

Selection criteria

Application components

  • Online application forms

  • 1-2 page resume

  • Two non-academic letters of recommendation (currently enrolled candidates will receive an endorsement from SOP as one of their letters of recommendation)

  • 2 essays (prompts to be released)

  • Video introduction

  • Unofficial transcripts and test scores

  • Separate Stanford Graduate Application

Winner characteristics

“As Phil Knight would say, we’re seeking Scholars who can out-think, out-work, and out-care others.”


Submit a Pre-Application by 4/3/17 (NOON)

You must complete and submit a Pre-App to begin the campus application process.


All students who have submitted pre-applications are required to attend one of three information sessions regarding the application process. (Students who are abroad or have unavoidable scheduling conflicts will watch a video of the presentation and pass a quiz.)

At this meeting, you will receive your Student Deadline Table and crucial information about the scholarship process.

Review Pre-Application feedback

You will select a personalized advising appointment time to discuss your plan for crafting a strong application. If you will be abroad, email SOP staff in advance to make arrangements for a virtual meeting.

Submit signed letter of intent and consent form to SOP

You will be provided a letter of intent and consent form to return with signature and must also register for an appointment to view past winning scholarship applications in EEE.

Read PAST winning applications

On file in the SOP office, past winning applications demonstrate successful methods used by past UCI winners to produce compelling and concise research/study proposal and personal statement essays. They also showcase successful formatting amid each application’s unique space constraints. You must request an appointment in advance to view these files, as we will select the most closely related applications from our extensive archive and have them ready for you.


After submitting your Pre-Application, meet in person with your non-academic reference writer(s) and other faculty whom you would like to attend your endorsement interview.

Discuss Your Plans/Project Ideas

Explain that you’ll furnish him/her with drafts of your application essays as they evolve, and let him/her know when to expect these. Detail your ideas for potential study/research proposals. Ask for advice in narrowing your topic.

Request Letters of Recommendation

Your reference writer(s) will send SOP staff two drafts of unique letters for each relevant scholarship. This enables the SOP to complete the process of application evaluation and feedback. Candidates are responsible for ensuring writers have submitted their letter drafts to SOP staff by the deadlines. Ask if s/he is willing to write a comprehensive letter of recommendation on your behalf and participate in the letter draft process. State that SOP staff will follow up with award-specific content and formatting information.

For more information, please see our handout on letters of recommendation.

Solicit Interview Participation

Faculty and letter writers are enthusiastically encouraged to serve on your campus endorsement interview committee, which is led by Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education. Faculty participation complements the expertise of SOP staff and the Dean; your professors are uniquely able to support you by providing discipline-specific commentary and offering feedback on the feasibility of your study or project.

Please also identify potential alternate committee members, such as other faculty or teaching assistants in your field of study. If your letter writers cannot attend or decline to participate in the endorsement interview, we may solicit participation from your suggested alternates.

You will be provided with a form to collect contact information (names, titles, department, email, phone) and availability for August dates on which we will schedule your endorsement interview.


After you submit this information, SOP staff will email a packet to your reference writer(s) about the program(s) to which you are applying, deadlines & formatting requirements for letter drafts, and examples of letters written for past scholarship winners.


Confirm scholarships to which applying; list proposed program(s) & institution(s) for each.

Email essay rough drafts and updated CV to SOP staff, Writing Specialist and your reference writers.

register and begin application

Begin the application form to apply to Knight-Hennessy. Do not enter letter writer contact information yet.


Tips for practicing and recording your video introduction:

  • Dress formally as for a job interview.

  • Choose a neutral or professional background like a blank wall or tidy bookshelf. Avoid distractions like pets in the room or any messes (laundry, unmade beds).

  • Do not complete the video at the last minute. Plan what you will say ahead of time. Allow time for technical problems.

  • Demonstrate the qualities of a future leader, such as confidence, maturity, professionalism, friendliness and openness to new experiences, and eloquence. Refer to SOP’s interview tips handout for other tips.

  • If you do not have recording equipment, email ALL staff to request an appointment to record your video at the SOP office.

You may wish to work with a Writing Specialist at the Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication and/or utilize the Presentation Studio at the Multimedia Resources Center to improve your oral communication skills and become more comfortable on video.

Submit 1st application draft(s)

Email a complete draft of your application (including forms and essays) to SOP staff for review and feedback by the deadline. DO NOT HIT SUBMIT when saving draft in electronic system. If there is a PDF export feature, you can use it to obtain a fully copy; otherwise, use screenshots or copy-paste the text to provide a copy for SOP staff and your letter writers.

You will also need to provide a copy of your video introduction. The file size may be too large to transfer by email. You can use a web service like Google Drive, Dropbox, Youtube or Vimeo, or drop off a copy on flash drive or CD/DVD at our office (193 Ayala Science Library).

What happens next

You’ll receive feedback from SOP staff and your Writing Specialist. Incorporate this feedback into your second draft.

Submit 2ND application draft(s)

Email a complete draft of your application (including forms, essays, and video introduction, incorporating feedback from your previous draft) to SOP staff for review and feedback by the deadline. DO NOT HIT SUBMIT when saving draft in electronic system.

Confirm that your recommenders have submitted letter drafts to SOP by email. Do not enter letter writer contact information in the application system yet.

Submit application(s) for interview

Email full, revised application, including video introduction, to SOP.

What happens next

We will distribute your materials to the members of your interview committee for their review.

After your interview, if the committee decides to endorse your application, you’ll receive feedback to incorporate into your final draft.

CAMPUS INTERVIEW: Earn Campus Endorsement

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program will not accept applications directly from current undergraduate students. They will only review applications that university officials have endorsed (nominated). The SOP evaluates candidate applications and, for endorsed candidates, provides a unique, personalized, comprehensive letter of institutional endorsement.

Each candidate is interviewed by a personalized campus committee in August for approximately 60 (for one award) to 90 minutes (if applying for multiple scholarships). The committee evaluates application strength(s) and determines whether it merits endorsement.

Candidates MUST attend in person. If you plan to study abroad or otherwise be outside the U.S. during Summer or Fall 2017, alert SOP staff immediately to discuss alternatives.

submit auxiliary inforMATION

Email to SOP details of your future academic & career plans; familiarity with your Stanford graduate program; senior thesis title, topic, findings & relation to your graduate studies; and plans for engaging in community service. Using information you provide, SOP staff will complete your campus evaluation.


Ensure all supplementary application documents, such as essays, resume, and video introduction have been uploaded. Email to SOP screenshots or copied text of full application including forms, essays and all supplementary materials. Provide a copy of your final video.

Ensure recommenders have submitted final draft letters to SOP by email. Enter letter writer contact information in the application system.

FiNal Deadline

E-submit complete application via electronic system by September 27, 2017.

TIP: Submit several days earlier to avoid last-minute technical difficulties from heavy server traffic.

What happens next

SOP staff will confirm receipt of a copy of your complete application and supplementary materials (letters of recommendation, etc.) and will upload your campus endorsement letter.

AFTER you receive confirmation from SOP, submit the complete application via the electronic system. You will have submitted your application to the funding agency.

KNIGHT-HENNESSY SCHOLARS & STANFORD Admissions Review Your Application

If selected to interview

Approximately 100 finalists will be invited to interview at Stanford in January 2018 (“Immersion Weekend”) [projected]. Travel to interviews will be fully funded except for passport/visa fees.

Immersion Weekend activities will include individual and group exercises, a campus tour, visits to graduate departments, and social events.

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