Minerva Schools at KGI

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Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute
Minerva Schools at KGI Seal.png
Seal of Minerva Schools at KGI
Latin: Universitas Minervae
Other name
Minerva Schools at KGI
Motto Sapientia Critica
Motto in English
Critical Wisdom
Established 2012
Type Private
Dean Stephen Kosslyn
Undergraduates 148
Location San Francisco, California, U.S.
Website http://minerva.kgi.edu/
Logo for Minerva Schools at KGI.png

The Minerva Schools at KGI (also referred to as Minerva Schools or simply Minerva) are a four-year undergraduate program founded as a partnership between Minerva Project and Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), a member of the Claremont University Consortium.[1] Minerva’s founder, former Snapfish president Ben Nelson, has referred to it as "the first elite American university to be launched in a century."[2] Larry Summers, former Harvard University President and United States Secretary of the Treasury, chaired its first advisory board, joined by Bob Kerrey, former Democratic senator from Nebraska and president of the New School.[3] The target market is the developing world's rising middle class who aims for an elite American education.[4]


In April 2012, Minerva Project received US$25,000,000 in venture funding from Benchmark Capital to create the undergraduate program that would become the Minerva Schools at KGI.[1][5] Stephen Kosslyn joined Minerva in March 2013 to serve as Founding Dean. Prior to joining Minerva, Kosslyn served as Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and Dean of Social Sciences at Harvard University. Kosslyn was responsible for hiring the heads of the four colleges in the School of Arts & Science and overseeing the development of Minerva's seminar-based curriculum.[6] In July 2013, Minerva Project partnered with the Keck Graduate Institute to officially launch the Minerva Schools at KGI.[7]

Minerva received WASC accreditation for four of its programs: the Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences, the Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Humanities, the Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences[8] and the Bachelor of Science in Computational Sciences.[9] As of May 2015, Minerva's Business program is not yet accredited, though as articulated on the KGI website, Minerva is following established paths to accreditation.[10]

For its 2014 Founding Class, Minerva received 2,464 applications and granted 69 acceptances resulting in a 2.8% acceptance rate making Minerva "the most selective undergraduate program in U.S. history."[11] The school's Founding Class matriculated in Fall 2014, numbering 29 students, each of whom received a full four-year scholarship.

An additional US$70,000,000 in funding to the Minerva Schools at KGI was announced in October 2014.[12]


Stephen Kosslyn is the first Dean of Faculty and was responsible for hiring the first four heads of the School of Arts & Science:[13][14]

  • Dr. Diane F. Halpern as Dean of Social Sciences[15]
  • Dr. Eric Bonabeau as Dean of Computational Sciences.[16]
  • Dr. James D. Sterling as Interim Dean of Natural Sciences and Director of the Minerva Labs.[17]
  • Dr. Daniel Levitin as Dean of Arts and Humanities.[18][19]

In January 2015, Minerva announced the hiring of Dr. Vicki Chandler as Dean of the College of Natural Sciences.[16] Chandler was previously the Chief Program Officer of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and a Professor in the Departments of Plant Sciences and the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona.

In sharp contrast with the elite universities with which it claims to compete, tenure is not available, and faculty are hired under three-year contracts.[16] Professors not only lack job security, they have much less discretion over teaching methods than at traditional universities, thus resembling what are called adjunct professors at traditional universities.[16] Faculty retain intellectual property rights to their research.[16][20]

Minerva does not employ any librarians.[16]


Minerva systematically applies a 1972 study[21] that shows that memory is enhanced by “deep” cognitive tasks. Such tasks include working with material, applying it and arguing about it instead of rote memorization. All classes begin with a pop quiz, with potentially a second one later in the class, that is claimed to increase retention. Furthermore, courses are conducted as online seminars capped at 19 students and traditional lectures are banned. The automation allows fine-grained tracking of student progress. Professors have much less discretion over teaching methods than at traditional universities.[16]

Students initially take four “Cornerstone Courses” that introduce "Habits of Mind" and "Foundational Concepts" that cut across the sciences and humanities. In a science class, for example, students develop a deep understanding of the need for controlled experiments. In a humanities class, they learn the classical techniques of rhetoric and develop basic persuasive skills. The curriculum then builds from that foundation. Minerva encourages students to use massive open online courses to learn what is typically taught in first-year courses.[16]


As of January 2015, Minerva only maintains a residence hall in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, California as a permanent facility. In 2016, Minerva will open residence halls in Berlin and Buenos Aires. Further residence halls are planned to open in Seoul, Bangalore, Istanbul and London.[16] Minerva has no classroom facilities, since all classes are conducted through an active learning platform developed by the school, focused on participation and intellectual engagement. Minerva students have access to the virtual library of the Claremont Consortium in Southern California.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Farr, Christina (6 January 2014). "This entrepreneur is trying to create a ‘perfect university’ to displace Harvard & Yale". VentureBeat. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Weissmann, Jordan (5 April 2012). "Can This 'Online Ivy' University Change the Face of Higher Education?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Empson, Rip (April 3, 2012). "With $25M From Benchmark And Larry Summers Advising, Can Minerva Build An Online Ivy?". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "iVy League". The Economist. Apr 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ Buchanan, Leigh (Oct 30, 2012). "A True Elite Education at Half the Price". Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Minerva Project Names Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn as Founding Dean" (PDF). Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "Minerva Project and KGI Partner to Launch the Minerva Schools at KGI" (PDF). Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Statement of Accreditation Status Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences". Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "KGI Receives Approval from WASC for Three Minerva Schools Undergraduate Programs". Keck Graduate Institute. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "KGI | News and Events | KGI to Partner with Minerva Project to Launch the Minerva Schools at KGI". Kgi.edu. 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  11. ^ "Minerva Schools at KGI Admit Founding Class" (PDF). Minerva Schools at KGI. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "Minerva Project Announces $70 Million in Additional Funding" (PDF). Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  13. ^ "Minerva Project names Dr. Stephen Kosslyn as Founding Dean". 
  14. ^ "Future of Higher Education Forum Features Minerva Schools". Georgetown. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  15. ^ Sara, Hayden (19 July 2014). "Online School for Girls puts focus on connection, collaboration". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wood, Graeme (August 13, 2014). "The Future of College?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  17. ^ Lee, Diane (28 February 2014). "Minerva Schools at KGI to Offer a Global Education". The Student Life. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  18. ^ "Minerva Schools at KGI names Dr. Daniel J. Levitin as Dean of Arts & Humanities". 
  19. ^ Weinberger, Jillian (18 August 2014). "Take a vacation. Your brain will thank you". Public Radio International. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  20. ^ Roush, Wade (18 April 2014). "Minerva's Plan to Disrupt Universities: A Talk With CEO Ben Nelson". Xconomy. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Craik, F. I. M.; Lockhart, R. S. (1972). "Levels of processing: A framework for memory research". Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 11 (6): 671. doi:10.1016/S0022-5371(72)80001-X. 

External links[edit]