The objective of Stanford University, Jane and Leland Stanford wrote in their Founding Grant in 1885, is “to qualify its students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life; And its purposes, to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization, teaching the blessings of liberty regulated by law, and inculcating love and reverence for the great principles of government as derived from the inalienable rights of man to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
California Governor and U.S. Senator Leland Stanford made his money as a railroad entrepreneur. He made history with the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. He spent multiple millions, however, to build a university and name it for his only son, Leland Jr., who died at 15 of typhoid fever. “The children of California shall be our children,” Stanford told his wife.
Leland Stanford Junior University opened in 1891; its first student was future President Herbert Hoover. Stanford’s first president, David Starr Jordan, told that initial class that “[we are] hallowed by no traditions . . . hampered by none. [Stanford’s] fingerposts all point forward.”
Today, Stanford is recognized as one of the world’s leading universities. It seeks to find solutions to the great challenges of the day and to prepare its students for becoming the next generation of leaders. Stanford undergraduates have the chance to participate in a remarkable range of activities: from academic courses taught by renowned professors and opportunities for research, independent study and public service to an extraordinary breadth of extracurricular activities.
Students who derive pleasure from learning for its own sake thrive at Stanford University. The school particularly seeks distinctive students who exhibit energy, curiosity and a love of learning in their classes and lives. Not surprisingly for a school in the heart of California, Stanford also emphatically seeks diversity in its student body. Stanford undergraduates enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of about 5 to 1 and the university provides small classes and opportunities to work closely with faculty from the beginning of the freshman year. Many students become involved in faculty research or develop their own projects and discover the excitement of being at the edge of a field and advancing the frontier of knowledge.
The university emphasizes multidisciplinary research and teaching as demonstrated in recent university-wide initiatives on human health, the environment and sustainability, international affairs and the arts. These initiatives offer faculty and students the opportunities for collaboration across disciplines that are key to future success. Stanford University offers three undergraduate degrees – Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Sciences, and Bachelor of Arts and Sciences. Each degree program is designed to achieve balance between depth and breadth of knowledge and between specialization and exploration.