Featured School: Stanford University

DigitalMBA online education Leland Stanford Junior University

The Leland Stanford Junior University commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is an private research university located in Stanford, California on a 3310-hectare campus near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley) on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately 32 km northwest of San Jose and 60 km southeast of San Francisco.

Leland Stanford, a railroad tycoon, former Senator and California Governor, founded the university in 1891 in honor of his son, Leland Stanford, Jr. The university was established as a co-educational and non-denominational institution. Following World War II, Provost Frederick Terman encouraged entrepreneurial faculty and graduates to build self-sufficient local industry in what would become known as Silicon Valley. By 1970, Stanford was home to a linear accelerator, was one of the original four ARPANET nodes, and had transformed itself into a major research university in computer science, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. More than 50 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize and Stanford has the largest number of Turing award winners for a single institution. Stanford faculty and alumni have founded many prominent technology companies including Cisco Systems, Google, Hewlett-Packard, LinkedIn, Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems, Varian Associates, and Yahoo!.

The university is organized into seven schools including academic schools of Humanities and Sciences and Earth Sciences as well as professional schools of Business, Education, Engineering, Law, and Medicine. Stanford has a student body of approximately 7.000 undergraduate and 8,400 graduate students. Stanford is a founding member of the Association of American Universities. For the 2011-2012 year, the university has a budget of US$4.1 billion, US$1.2 billion in research expenditures, and manages a US$16.5 billion endowment, with $25.1 billion in consolidated net assets.

Stanford competes in 34 varsity sports and is one of two private universities in the Division I FBS Pacific-12 Conference. Stanford’s athletic program has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup every year since 1995. In the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Stanford athletes won 25 medals, including eight gold medals, more than any other university in the United States

Stanford University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Full-time undergraduate tuition was $38,700 for 2010-2011.

The schools of Humanities and Sciences (27 departments), Engineering (9 departments), and Earth Sciences (4 departments) have both graduate and undergraduate programs while the schools of Law, Medicine, and Education and the Graduate School of Business have graduate programs only. Stanford follows a quarter system with Autumn quarter usually starting in late September and Spring Quarter ending in early June.

Other Stanford-affiliated institutions include the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (originally the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) and the Stanford Research Institute, a now independent institution which originated at the university, in addition to the Stanford Humanities Center.


In 2011, The Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked Stanford number 1 in the world for both humanities and social sciences, remarking, “Stanford University knocks Harvard University off the top spot in the arts and humanities subject rankings. With Pulitzer prizewinners and MacArthur Fellows leading its liberal-arts programme, the relative newcomer (founded in 1891) has proved more than a match for its illustrious Ivy League rival.” THES ranked Stanford 2nd best research university in the world in 2011. In 2010, the Times also ranked Stanford 3rd in engineering and technology, 3rd in life sciences, 5th in physical sciences, 2nd in arts & humanities, 1st in social sciences, and 2nd in clinical, pre-clinical and health sciences; no other university places in the top 5 across all broad disciplines studied.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) ranked Stanford 2nd in the world in 2011. ARWU ranked Stanford 6th in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, 2nd in Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences, 6th in Life and Agriculture Sciences, 13th in Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy, and 6th in Social Sciences worldwide. In its subject rankings, ARWU placed Stanford 4th in mathematics, 6th in physics, 3rd in chemistry, 1st in computer science, and 6th in economics and business.

The U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) ranks it fifth among large universities for its undergraduate program in 2012. In the 2012 U.S. News graduate school rankings, Stanford was ranked 1st in Business, 4th in Education, 2nd in Engineering, 4th in Medicine, 2nd in Law, 1st in Biological Sciences, 4th in Chemistry, 1st in Computer Science, 4th in Earth Sciences, 2nd in Mathematics, 1st in Physics, 1st in Statistics, 5th in Economics, 2nd in English, 1st in History, 1st in Political Science, 1st in Psychology, 5th in Sociology. Within engineering, Stanford placed 1st in aerospace, computer, electrical, environmental, and mechanical engineering; 3rd in civil engineering; and 5th in chemical, material, and bioengineering.

In 2011 Stanford was ranked second in the world according to the Human Resources & Labor Review. Stanford places fourth among national universities by The Washington Monthly, second among “global universities” by Newsweek, and tied for 1st with MIT and Columbia University in the first tier among national universities by the Center for Measuring University Performance. In the MINE ParisTech rankings in 2008 measuring the number of Chief Executive Officers among the Fortune Global 500, Stanford is ranked third in the world. According to Forbes, Stanford has produced the second highest number of billionaires of all universities.

Among professional schools, the Stanford Graduate School of Business is ranked 1st, Stanford Law School is ranked 2nd, the Stanford School of Education is ranked 4th, and Stanford Medical School is ranked 4th, according to U.S. News and World Report. Forbes ranked the business school at the top in its 2009 “Best Business Schools” list. In the 2010 QS Global 200 Business Schools Report Stanford placed 4th in North America.

Student life

Stanford enrolled 6,887 undergraduate and 8,779 graduate students in the 2010-2011 year. Women comprised 48% of undergraduates and 37% of professional and graduate students

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. 7% of Undergraduate students and 33% of Graduate students were international students.

The four-year graduation rate is 78.4%, and the six-year rate is 95%. The relatively low four-year graduation rate is a function of the university’s co-terminal degree (or “co-term”) program, which allows students to earn a Master’s degree as an extension of their undergraduate program.

For the class of 2014, Stanford received 32,022 applications and accepted 2300 or 7.2%, the lowest in the university’s history and among the lowest in the country. For the class of 2015, Stanford received 5,929 single-choice early action applications and accepted 754 of them, for an early admission rate of 12.7%. This application season Stanford received more than 34,200 total applications from both the regular and early rounds.

The cost of attendance in 2010-2011 is US$54,947. Stanford’s admission process is need-blind for US citizens and permanent residents; while it is not need-blind for international students, 64% are on need-based aid, with an average aid package of $31,411. In 2010, the university awarded $117 million in financial aid to 3,530 students, with an average aid package of $40,593. Total external and internal aid (including jobs and optional loans) amounted to $172.3 million to undergraduate students. 80% of students are on some form of financial aid. Stanford’s no-loan policy waives tuition, room, and board for families with incomes below $60,000, and families with incomes below $100,000 are not required to pay tuition (those with incomes up to $150,000 will have tuition significantly reduced). 17% of students receive Pell Grants, a common measure of low-income students at a college. 15% of the undergraduates are first-generation students.

Dormitories and student housing

89% of undergraduate students live in on-campus university housing, partially because first-year students are required to live on campus, and because students are guaranteed housing for all four years of their undergraduate careers. According to the Stanford Housing Assignments Office, undergraduates live in 80 different houses, including dormitories, co-ops, row houses, fraternities and sororities.


From a 2010 poll done by The Princeton Review, Stanford is the most commonly named “dream college,” both for students and for parents, a title it has held in previous years. A 2003 Gallup poll, which asked about the best colleges in the U.S., found that Stanford is the second-most prestigious university (behind Harvard) in the eyes of the general American public and roughly equal in prestige to Harvard among college-educated people.


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