Minerva University

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Minerva University
Seal of Minerva University
Latin: Universitas Minervae
Former name
Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute
Sapientia Critica
Motto in English
Critical Wisdom
TypePrivate online university
Established2012; 12 years ago (2012)
FounderBen Nelson
AccreditationWASC Senior College and University Commission
PresidentMike Magee
ProvostVicki Chandler
Total staff
Location, ,
United States

Minerva University (formerly Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute) is a private online university headquartered in San Francisco, California.[1] It was established in 2012 by Ben Nelson using $25 million in venture funding from Benchmark Capital. All classes are conducted as online seminars capped at 19 students. Students travel to and live in a new country each semester, starting their education in San Francisco, USA, and then living in Seoul-South Korea, Taipei-Taiwan, Hyderabad-India, Bueno Aires-Argentina, London-UK, Berlin-Germany and then ending their program in San Francisco, USA.


Minerva Project[edit]

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.[2][3] Stephen Kosslyn joined Minerva in March 2013 to serve as Founding Dean. Before 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.[4]

Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute[edit]

In July 2013, Minerva Project partnered with the Keck Graduate Institute to officially launch the Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute.[5]

Minerva received WASC regional accreditation for five 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, the Bachelor of Science in Computational Sciences, and the Bachelor of Science in business.[6]

Minerva admitted its first class in 2014. The school offered places to 69 students out of 2,464 applications, and 29 students matriculated. This resulted in a 2.8% acceptance rate and a 42% yield.

Starting in 2016, Minerva expanded into postgraduate education by offering a Master of Science in Decision Analysis.[7][8]

In 2020, Minerva created its Visiting Scholars year. The one-year program, completed remotely, offers the four Cornerstone Courses (see Pedagogy) to students accepted into a leading college or university who face challenges attending in residence for the 2020–21 academic year due to COVID-19.[9]

In 2023, Reed Hastings, co-CEO of Netflix, donated $20 million to Minerva University.[10]


Courses are conducted as online seminars capped at 19 students. Minerva applies a 1972 study[11] that shows that memory is enhanced by "deep" cognitive tasks. Such tasks include working with materials, applying it, and arguing about it instead of rote memorization. All classes begin with a short quiz and end with a second one later in the class; this is claimed to increase retention. Student performance is automatically recorded for tracking.

Students initially take four "Cornerstone Courses" that introduce "Habits of Mind" and "Foundational Concepts" that cut across the sciences and humanities. The four "Cornerstone Courses" are Empirical Analyses, Formal Analyses, Complex Systems, and Multimodal Communications. In Empirical Analyses, students learn about evaluating and analyzing scientific methods and use that knowledge to build problem-solving proposal. In Formal Analyses, students learn to evaluate and perform data analyses, and perform design thinking skills using game theory and classification method. In a humanities class, students learn the classical techniques of rhetoric and develop basic persuasive skills. Finally, in social science class, students learn about the characteristics of complex systems (intended to represent social interaction), and leaderships, self-awareness, and negotiation. Minerva encourages students to use massive open online courses to learn what is typically taught in first-year courses.[12]

Professors are trained to use Minerva's proprietary learning platform, the Minerva Forum.[12] Faculty retain intellectual property rights to their research.[12][13]

Accreditation and organization[edit]

The university is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. It first earned this accreditation in 2021 when it became a separate, independent institution under the Minerva Institute, the non-profit entity that was already operating the Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute alongside the Keck Graduate Institute.

Under its first accreditation plan, Minerva's primary academic institution was its School of Arts and Sciences, which included the College of Social Sciences, the College of Natural Sciences, the College of Computational Sciences, and the College of Arts and Humanities. When the Bachelor of Science in Business was approved by WASC, it led to the creation of the School (and College) of Business. In May 2018, the schools were restructured into two divisions: the Division of Arts and Sciences and the Division of Business and Computational Sciences.

In late 2015, Minerva's Master's in Applied Arts and Sciences program received approval and regional accreditation.[14] Students could take this Masters either integrated with their undergraduate studies or following completion of their B.A./B.S. This led to the creation of the Graduate Division. Subsequently, Minerva pivoted to a Master of Science in Decision Analysis program, without the concurrent studies option.


Minerva maintains one residence[15] hall in San Francisco, California, on Turk[16] Street,[17] as well as ones in Seoul,[18] Hyderabad,[19] Berlin,[20] Buenos Aires,[21] London, and Taipei.[22]

Minerva has no classroom facilities, since all classes are conducted through an active learning platform developed by the school, where students participate in seminar classes of up to 19 people.[23][24][25]

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Jade Bowler, British YouTuber known as Unjaded Jade; attended Minerva 2019-2023.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Minerva University - WSCUC". wscuc.org. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  2. ^ Farr, Christina (6 January 2014). "This entrepreneur is trying to create a 'perfect university' to displace Harvard & Yale". VentureBeat. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  3. ^ Buchanan, Leigh (Oct 30, 2012). "A True Elite Education at Half the Price". Archived from the original on 4 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Minerva Project Names Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn as Founding Dean" (PDF). Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Minerva Project and KGI Partner to Launch the Minerva Schools at KGI" (PDF). Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Statement of Accreditation Status Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences". Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Minerva Schools at KGI Offer New Master of Science In Applied Analyses and Decision Making". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  8. ^ "Minerva Master of Science Graduate Program". www.minerva.kgi.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  9. ^ "Minerva Visiting Scholars Year". www.minerva.kgi.edu. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  10. ^ Spangler, Todd (2023-01-12). "Netflix Co-CEO Reed Hastings Donates $20 Million to San Francisco's Minerva University". Variety. Retrieved 2023-08-30. Netflix founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings is donating $20 million to Minerva University, styled as a next-generation institution of higher education.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b c Wood, Graeme (August 13, 2014). "The Future of College?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
  13. ^ Roush, Wade (18 April 2014). "Minerva's Plan to Disrupt Universities: A Talk With CEO Ben Nelson". Xconomy. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  14. ^ KGI, Minerva Schools at. "Minerva Schools at KGI Introduce a Master's in Applied Arts and Sciences Program". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Minerva Quest (May 7, 2022). "Left On Turk (Full documentary)". YouTube. San Francisco. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  17. ^ "Minerva Schools at KGI Annual Security Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  18. ^ Minerva (2018-01-26), "Global Immersion: Seoul", YouTube, retrieved 2018-07-03
  19. ^ The Minerva Quest (2018-05-12), "Cross-Class Vlog: End of Hyderabad", YouTube, retrieved 2018-07-03
  20. ^ Minerva (2017-01-31), "Global Immersion: Berlin", YouTube, retrieved 2018-07-03
  21. ^ Minerva (2017-05-09), "Global Immersion: Buenos Aires", YouTube, retrieved 2018-07-03
  22. ^ "Minerva Schools at KGI". minerva.kgi.edu. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  23. ^ Minerva (2015-09-24), "Active Learning Forum: A New Way to Learn (short film)", YouTube, retrieved 2018-07-03
  24. ^ "DE SIG@Duke presents The Minerva Active Learning Forum". DukeAHEAD.duke.edu. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  25. ^ "a-school-for-the-intellectually-adventurous". BrightSparks E-magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  26. ^ Rumbelow, Helen (2020-06-03). "The studytuber Jade Bowler, aka Unjaded Jade and her virtual uni: no campus, no wild parties". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-01-01.

External links[edit]