Used under license from iStockPhoto

    Used under license from iStockPhoto

    Used under license from iStockPhoto

Stanford University, properly the Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private university, located 37 miles southeast of San Francisco, just outside of the town of Palo Alto. The sprawling, 8180-acre campus offers a variety of undergraduate and undergraduate degrees and is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the west. Current enrollment is approximately 15,000, with about 60 percent of those students seeking a post-graduate degree.


Stanford University was founded in 1885 by railroad magnate and California governor, Leland Stanford, in honor of his son, Leland Jr. who died as a teenager of typhoid. The university opened in 1891 with an enrollment of 559, free tuition, and 15 faculty members. Stanford has been co-educational from its inception, although for many years the school placed a cap on female enrollment.

The Campus

The Stanford University is spread over 8180 acres. The general layout of the campus was planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of New York's Central Park. The campus is noted for its quintessentially Californian architecture -- sandstone mission-style buildings, topped with red clay tile roofs. Much of the original architecture was destroyed during the 1906 earthquake, but the university still retains the Quad, the Old Chemistry Building, and Encina Hall from the original campus. The Old Chem Building, although still standing, has been closed following damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Notable later additions to the campus include the Rodin Sculpture Garden, Frank Lloyd Wright's 1937 Hanna House, and the 1919 Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover House.

Courses and Colleges

Stanford University is divided into seven colleges, three of which -- the colleges of Earth Science, Engineering, and Humanities and Science -- offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The other four -- Business, Education, Law, and Medicine -- offer graduate courses of study. In addition, Stanford excels in offering continuing education courses for business, professional, and K-12 education needs. The school's library is one of the most extensive on the West Coast, with over 8 million volumes.

Notable Stanford University Alumni

The many accomplished alumni of Stanford University include President Herbert Hoover, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, golfers Tiger Woods and Tom Watson, astronaut Sally Ride, Senator Diane Feinstein, and football player John Elway.

Visiting Stanford University

Stanford welcomes visitors to its campus. Guest may pick up a map and other information on the school at the Visitors Center, located in Memorial Auditorium. Stanford offers free one-hour tours of the campus during the academic year. These tours depart from the Memorial Auditorium between 11am and 315pm. In addition, private walking tours are offered for groups of 10 or more persons. The private tours are $5 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 650 725-3335.

Those interesting in touring the campus and meeting an academic advisor should call the office of admissions at 650 723-2091 for an appointment.

Stanford University offers a wealth of cultural sights. Among the most popular are:

  • The Arizona Garden - Originally planted by the Stanfords in the 1880s, it was to be the garden for their home that was never built. The restored garden is filled with cacti and succulents, and is open to the public free of charge.
  • Hoover Tower - This 285-foot high tower offers sweeping views of the campus and the Santa Clara Valley beyond. The Lou and Herbert Hoover rooms contain a variety of memorabilia from the former president and his wife's lives. The observation deck is open from 10am to 430pm daily. Admission to the deck is $2 for adults and $1 for seniors and students.
  • Hanna House - Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the mid 1930s, this bungalow-style house has been restored. Tours of the house are offered on the 1st and 3rd Sundays and the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Tours are $10 per person and children under 12 are not permitted.