Stanford University

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Stanford University Details

  • Country : United States of America
  • City : Stanford
  • Acronym : SU
  • Founded : 1891
  • Students (approx.) : 16000
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Stanford University is a private institution that was founded in 1885.

Tuition fees in Stanford University are $50,000 (Aprox.).

Stanford University’s pristine campus is located in California’s Bay Area, about 30 miles from San Francisco. Stanford offers a wide range of student organizations, including the Stanford Pre-Business Association and Stanford Solar Car Project, which designs, builds and races a solar car every two years. The Stanford Cardinals are well known for the traditional “Big Game” against Cal, an annual football competition that awards the Stanford Axe—a sought-after trophy—to the victor. Stanford also has successful programs in tennis and golf. Only freshman are required to live on campus, but students are guaranteed housing for all four years and most choose to remain on campus. Greek life at Stanford represents approximately 10 percent of the student body.

Stanford University, located between San Francisco and San Jose in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, is one of the world’s leading teaching and research universities. Since its opening in 1891, Stanford has been dedicated to finding solutions to big challenges and to preparing students for leadership in a complex world.

Four of Stanford University’s seven schools offer undergraduate and graduate coursework, and the remaining three serve as purely graduate schools. Graduate programs include the highly ranked School of Education, School of Engineering, Law School, School of Medicine and the top-ranked Graduate School of Business. The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment oversees collaboration between environmental research, teaching and outreach. Stanford has a number of well-known theatrical and musical groups, including the Ram’s Head Theatrical Society and the Mendicants, an all-male a cappella group. Notable Stanford alumni include former U.S. President Herbert Hoover, famed NFL quarterback John Elway, actress Sigourney Weaver and golfer Tiger Woods, who began his professional career at Stanford.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

Business, Graduate School of

Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, School of

  • Earth System Science
  • Energy Resources Engineering
  • Geological Sciences
  • Geophysics



  • Aeronautics & Astronautics
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Management Science & Engineering
  • Materials Science & Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Humanities & Sciences

  • Anthropology
  • Applied Physics
  • Art & Art History
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Classics
  • Communication
  • Comparative Literature
  • East Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Economics
  • English
  • French and Italian
  • German Studies
  • History
  • Iberian & Latin American Cultures
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Slavic Languages and Literature
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Theater and Performance Studies

Law School

Medicine, School of

  • Anesthesia
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioengineering
  • Biology, Developmental
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Chemical and Systems Biology
  • Comparative Medicine
  • Dermatology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health Research & Policy
  • Medicine
  • Microbiology & Immunology
  • Molecular & Cellular Physiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Neurology & Neurological Sciences
  • Neurosurgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Otolaryngology (Head and Neck Surgery)
  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Radiology
  • Structural Biology
  • Surgery
  • Urology


The Birth of the University

In 1876, former California Governor Leland Stanford purchased 650 acres of Rancho San Francisquito for a country home and began the development of his famous Palo Alto Stock Farm. He later bought adjoining properties totaling more than 8,000 acres.

The little town that was beginning to emerge near the land took the name Palo Alto (tall tree) after a giant California redwood on the bank of San Francisquito Creek. The tree itself is still there and would later become the university’s symbol and centerpiece of its official seal.

Leland Stanford, who grew up and studied law in New York, moved West after the gold rush and, like many of his wealthy contemporaries, made his fortune in the railroads. He was a leader of the Republican Party, governor of California and later a U.S. senator. He and Jane had one son, who died of typhoid fever in 1884 when the family was traveling in Italy. Leland Jr. was just 15. Within weeks of his death, the Stanfords decided that, because they no longer could do anything for their own child, “the children of California shall be our children.” They quickly set about to find a lasting way to memorialize their beloved son.

The Stanfords considered several possibilities – a university, a technical school, a museum. While on the East Coast, they visited Harvard, MIT, Cornell and Johns Hopkins to seek advice on starting a new university in California. (See note regarding accounts of the Stanfords visit with Harvard President Charles W. Eliot.) Ultimately, they decided to establish two institutions in Leland Junior’s name – the University and a museum. From the outset they made some untraditional choices: the university would be coeducational, in a time when most were all-male; non-denominational, when most were associated with a religious organization; and avowedly practical, producing “cultured and useful citizens.”

On October 1, 1891, Stanford University opened its doors after six years of planning and building. The prediction of a New York newspaper that Stanford professors would “lecture in marble halls to empty benches” was quickly disproved. The first student body consisted of 555 men and women, and the original faculty of 15 was expanded to 49 for the second year. The university’s first president was David Starr Jordan, a graduate of Cornell, who left his post as president of Indiana University to join the adventure out West.

The Stanfords engaged Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who created New York’s Central Park, to design the physical plan for the university. The collaboration was contentious, but finally resulted in an organization of quadrangles on an east-west axis. Today, as Stanford continues to expand, the university’s architects attempt to respect those original university plans.

The New Century

After Leland Stanford’s death in 1893, the university entered a period of financial and legal uncertainties resulting from federal challenges to his estate. During that time, Jane Stanford took over the responsibility of ensuring that the new university would prosper.

The estate was released from probate in 1898 and the following year, after selling her railroad holdings, Jane Stanford turned over $11 million to the university trustees. What President Jordan termed “six pretty long years” had come to a close. During that time, he said, “the future of a university hung by a single thread, the love of a good woman.”

Jane died in 1905, after having relinquished to the university trustees control over the university’s affairs and having supervised construction of the buildings she and her husband had envisioned, including the magnificent Memorial Church.

Early on the morning of April 18, 1906, a violent earthquake wrecked many of the new buildings and killed two people on campus. Some of the structures were never rebuilt; others, like the church, rose again. Graduation was postponed until September, but by then there was no doubt that Stanford’s entrepreneurial spirit would carry it through whatever obstacles lay ahead. (More about Stanford and the 1906 Earthquake.)

In the following years, Stanford opened professional schools of medicine, business, engineering, education and law. The university lost more than 70 men and women in World War I. In its aftermath, Herbert Hoover, a graduate of Stanford’s pioneer class who by then was working in war relief, donated materials and money to establish a collection of documents on war and peace. That collection would eventually become the Hoover Institution. In 1928, Hoover was elected president of the United States.

In 1934, alumni volunteers formed “Stanford Associates” to raise money for the university and ensure the development of its programs and facilities. From then on, Stanford alumni would play a key role in maintaining the university’s expansion and improvement.

The Rise of Silicon Valley

In 1939, with the encouragement of their professor and mentor, Frederick Terman, Stanford alumni David Packard and William Hewlett established a little electronics company in a Palo Alto garage. That garage would later be dubbed “the Birthplace of Silicon Valley.”

Over the following years, Stanford would be a wellspring of innovation, producing advances in research and the formation of many companies that have made Silicon Valley one of the most innovative and productive high-tech regions in the world.

In 1947, professor William W. Hansen unveiled an electron linear accelerator prototype, and the following year construction began on a new Microwave Laboratory. In 1951 Varian Associates built a research and development lab on the edge of campus that would become the famed Stanford Industrial Park, now known as Stanford Research Park. In 1952, Stanford won its first Nobel Prize, which went to physics Professor Felix Bloch; three years later his colleague Willis Lamb, Jr. also won a Nobel.

Under the leadership of Terman, a professor of electrical engineering who served as provost from 1955 to 1965, the university embarked upon a campaign to build “steeples of excellence,” clusters of outstanding science and engineering researchers who would attract the best students. His role in fostering close ties between Stanford students and the emerging technology industries has led some to consider him the father of Silicon Valley. He created an entrepreneurial spirit that today extends to every academic discipline at Stanford.

Two of the university’s most iconic scientific institutions were built in the 1960s: the 2-mile-long linear accelerator (SLAC National Laboratory); and “the Dish,” a 150-foot diameter radio antenna in the foothills built as a joint venture between the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and the Air Force. Also in the 1960s, Professor John Chowning developed FM sound synthesis to digitally generate sounds, leading to the invention of the music synthesizer.

In the early 1970s, professor Vinton Cerf, known as the “father of the Internet,” developed with a colleague the TCP/IP protocols which would become the standard for Internet communication between computers. In the 1980s, John Cioffi and his students realized that traditional phone lines could be used for high-speed data transmission, leading to the development of digital subscriber lines (DSL). In 1991, SLAC physicist Paul Kunz set up the first web server in the U.S. after visiting Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Internet, of course, is central to the story of Silicon Valley. Google, the web’s most popular search engine and one of the world’s most influential companies, got its start at Stanford when Sergey Brin and Larry Page developed their page rank algorithm as graduate students in the 1990s. Before them, alumni Jerry Yang and David Filo founded Yahoo. Other legendary Silicon Valley companies with strong ties to Stanford include Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard Company, Intuit, Silicon Graphics, and Sun Microsystems.

Changing Times & Campus

The post-war years were a time of tremendous growth and change as Stanford expanded its national reputation as a leading university. A record 8,223 students showed up for class in Fall 1947, including many former soldiers taking advantage of the G.I. Bill of Rights.

As all great universities, Stanford both reflected and acted upon the larger world. Stanford students and faculty were actively involved in the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 70s. They participated in the voter registration drives in the South, and in April 1964, the campus welcomed Martin Luther King Jr., who addressed an overflow crowd at Memorial Auditorium. The university became home in 1965 to the earliest known student group advocating civil rights for gays and lesbians.

Stanford also shared with other universities the political tensions and activities that came about as the result of the Vietnam War. The first antiwar rally took place in February 1965. The years 1968-1971 were marked by turmoil, including strikes and sit-ins; students and faculty were particularly concerned about ROTC training, CIA recruitment and Stanford’s role as a defense researcher.

Racial politics also rose to prominence during those years. In the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination, students successfully demanded that more non-white students be recruited and admitted. The Program in African and African American Studies, established in 1969, was the first ethnic studies program at Stanford, and the first such program at a private institution in the U.S. Stanford also undertook an effort to attract Native Americans to the campus, which coincided with the discontinuation of the “Indian” as Stanford’s mascot. As at other universities, the movement to end apartheid in South Africa mobilized students over a period of a decade or more. The university eventually would divest many of its holdings in companies that did business in South Africa. In 1985, in a singular honor, Stanford was chosen to house the papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Women had formed part of Stanford’s student body from the very start, but neither they nor the female faculty had attained anything close to parity during the university’s first decades. In fact, Jane Stanford had specified that no more than 500 female students ever be enrolled at one time. That was changed in the 1930s, when the Board of Trustees decided that the number could increase but that the proportion of men to women should remain constant. All limitations were removed in 1973. Feminist Studies was established as an interdisciplinary major in 1981, and the Center for Research on Women, today the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, opened in 1986.

As at other schools, traditional Western Civilization requirements came under fire in the 1980s in the so-called “culture wars.” At Stanford, the course was replaced in 1988 by a Cultures, Ideas and Values requirement, which set off a nationwide debate on the humanities canon. The discussion eventually led to the establishment of Introduction to the Humanities, a yearlong interdisciplinary course for freshmen which was offered until 2012. Other measures taken to ensure that Stanford undergraduates would have an educational experience akin to that of far smaller liberal arts schools included the establishment of Introductory Seminars, Sophomore College and a Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.

The Twenty-first Century

The 21st century has proven to be a period of rapid change, with growing demands on research institutions like Stanford, which was founded on the idea that teaching and research could—and should—benefit society.

Throughout the new century, the university’s ability to respond to an increasingly complex and interconnected world has been fortified by the continuing leadership of President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy. They have led the university since 2000, with Etchemendy now the longest serving provost in Stanford history. Under their leadership, Stanford recognized the challenges of a new century as an opportunity to do things differently. With its breadth and depth of scholarship, entrepreneurial heritage and pioneering faculty, the university committed to a research and teaching renaissance by embracing interdisciplinary approaches.

Those efforts were aided by The Stanford Challenge, which, when completed in 2012, raised $6.2 billion. The campaign’s premise was that many of society’s most formidable problems do not present themselves in conventional academic categories. Rather, issues like climate change, sustainable energy, disease and global security require the collective expertise of many scholars.

Support from generous alumni and friends helped the university achieve its interdisciplinary aspirations through an abundance of new and renamed centers, including the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies in 2005; the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Clayman Institute for Gender Research in 2006; thePrecourt Institute for Energy and the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy in 2009; and theSteyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance in 2010.

New facilities

To further support interdisciplinary approaches, much of the physical plant was transformed. New facilities stressing interconnectedness and sustainability have replaced outmoded buildings for engineering, medicine and the sciences, many of which dated back to the 1950s and 1960s. For instance, the new, four-building Science and Engineering Quad places basic scientists side by side with medical researchers and engineers. New homes for the business and law schools promote collaboration and support revised curricula.

A new arts district and a new Arts Institute also emerged, reflecting a growing appreciation for the importance of artistic and creative experiences to a liberal arts education. Exposure to the arts throughout all disciplines enhances creativity and risk taking and aids in the development of problem-solving skills. The district, centered on the Cantor Arts Center, includes the Bing Concert Hall, completed in 2013; the Anderson Collection at Stanford University, which opened in 2014; and the McMurtry Building for Art and Art History, which will open in 2015.

In addition, the world’s largest research building committed to stem cell research—the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building—was opened in 2010, adjacent to the medical school. Ground was broken for an extension to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in 2012 and for a newStanford Hospital in 2013.

As climate change was increasingly recognized as an urgent challenge worldwide, Stanford applied its own research expertise to campus operations. The university committed to becoming one of the most energy-efficient research universities in the world with the Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI). SESI, the largest construction project in Stanford’s history, leverages a range of energy options to cut the university’s carbon emissions in half. Just as significant in light of California’s historic drought, it reduces the university’s water consumption by another 15 percent, on top of the 21 percent reduction Stanford has achieved since 2000. SESI caps a series of sustainability efforts that have included a transportation management program to reduce drive-alone rates among commuters, campus-wide energy retrofits and creation of a habitat conservation area to preserve endangered species.

Undergraduate education

Stanford also turned its attention to honing undergraduate education offerings as it considered what competencies are needed by students facing a more interconnected world. The university, under the leadership of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Harry Elam, instituted new undergraduate requirements. The “Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing” requirement, approved in 2012, focuses on content as well as capacities. Students take 11 courses in eight subject areas, ranging from aesthetic and interpretive inquiry to applied quantitative reasoning. Overseas study opportunities were expanded with new programs in Australia, South Africa and Turkey. A new research and education center was established at Peking University in 2012.

In the new century, concerns about the cost of higher education have reached new heights, prompting Stanford—one of the few universities still need-blind in its admission decisions—to expand an already generous financial aid package. In 2008, Stanford announced a new programunder which parents with incomes of less than $100,000 would no longer pay tuition. Parents with incomes of less than $60,000 would not be expected to pay tuition or contribute to the costs of room, board and other expenses.

The 21st century has also brought people from diverse backgrounds together in new ways, requiring a stepped-up approach to enhancing diversity on college campuses. As a result, Stanford expanded its focus on diversity, augmenting support for the recruitment and support of diverse faculty, graduate student and undergraduate student communities. Today, about half of Stanford’s undergraduate students are members of minority groups. Eight percent are from other countries. Programs such as DARE—Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence—encourage minority graduate students to pursue higher education as a career.

As a result of its many initiatives, Stanford has become increasingly popular among high-achieving high school students worldwide. Applications increased throughout the new century, reaching 42,167 for the Class of 2018. As a result, the university acceptance rate dropped to 5.1 percent, leading to discussions about how the university could expand its capacity to educate undergraduates.

To leverage new approaches to education, the university also created the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning—later renamed the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning. Stanford became an innovator in the burgeoning field of MOOCs, otherwise known as Massive Online Open Courses, offered via the Internet.

Future research agenda

Stanford research programs continue to evolve as a result of the expertise, creativity and initiative of the faculty who set the research agenda. That agenda has begun to focus on the neurosciences and the new field of “optogenetics.” Pioneered at Stanford, the new field uses pulses of light to manipulate brain cells. It provides enormous potential to understand conditions such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. A new Stanford Neurosciences Institute, including experts in neuroscience, medicine, education, law and business, is focusing on understanding how the brain gives rise to mental life and behavior.

The work builds on enhancements made in Stanford’s biomedical research since the early 2000s, thanks to the construction of the James H. Clark Center for Biomedical Engineering and Sciences in 2003. The Clark Center is home to Bio-X, which created Stanford’s model for bringing scholars from different disciplines together to pursue research. Bio-X researchers represent the biosciences, physical sciences, medicine and engineering.

Another promising area of future research is the chemistry-human biology interface. StanfordChEM-H has been established to bring together chemists, engineers, biologists and clinicians to study life at a chemical level and apply that knowledge to improving human health.

Also important in the new century will be the Stanford Cyber Initiative, which will address, through an interdisciplinary focus, the crucial and complex opportunities and challenges raised by cyber-technologies. The initiative is support by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The 21st century also ushered in a new relationship between Stanford and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In 2010, representatives from Stanford and DOE signed an agreement that would allow the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to continue to operate on university-owned lands for decades to come. The new lease was signed at a time when SLAC’s research agenda has been enhanced by the construction of the Linac Coherent Light Source. It produces ultrafast pulses of X-rays millions of times brighter than even the most powerful synchrotron sources to enable scientists to better understand atoms and molecules in motion.

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