St. Stephen's College, Delhi

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St. Stephen's College
Ssc badge.jpg
Motto Latin: Ad Dei Gloriam
Motto in English
"To the Glory of God"
Established 1858
Founder Rev. Samuel Scott Allnutt
Principal John Varghese
Location University Enclave, New Delhi, India
Campus Urban
Colours      Martyr's Red
     Cambridge Blue
Nickname Stephanian
Affiliations University of Delhi

St. Stephen's College is a constituent college of the University of Delhi located in Delhi, India. It is a Christian college under Church of North India and widely regarded as one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges for arts and sciences in India, producing a line of distinguished alumni.[1] It was established by the Cambridge Mission to Delhi. The college admits both undergraduates and post-graduates, and awards degrees in liberal arts and sciences under the purview of the DU.[2]


The history of St. Stephen's College could be traced to St. Stephen's High School, founded in 1854 by the Reverend M. J. Jennings, Chaplain of Delhi, ran by the Delhi Mission of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. With the closure of Government College, Delhi in 1879 because of financial problems, the Bishop of Lahore, the Reverend Thomas Valpy French, immediately urged the Cambridge Mission, an Anglican mission organised by the alumni of University of Cambridge, to fill the breach.[3] The other major aim for the foundation of the college was response to British Indian Government's policy of promoting English education in India.[4] It was the Reverend Samuel Scott Allnutt of St. John's College, Cambridge, who was mainly responsible for founding the college. Finally on 1 February 1881, in support of the work of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Cambridge Brotherhood founded the St. Stephen's College. The Reverend Samuel Scott Allnutt served as its first principal.[5]

The college's first premises were in Chandni Chowk, Delhi with 5 boarders and three professors, and was an affiliate of the University of Calcutta,[6] but later in 1882, it changed its affiliation to Punjab University. The Punjab University received its charter more than one year after the founding of St. Stephen's College, which became one of the two institutions first affiliated to it and moved into premises in Kashmiri Gate, Delhi.[7]

In 1906, Principal The Rev. G. Hibbert Ware abdicated his post in favour of Susil Kumar Rudra who became the first Indian to head a major educational institution in India. The decision was frowned upon at the time, but Principal Susil Kumar Rudra proved to have a tenure of extraordinary importance for the college.[8]

Reverend C. F. Andrews, a prominent lecturer at the college and member of the Cambridge Brotherhood, was active in the Indian independence movement, and was named 'Deenbandhu' (which means, friend of the poor) by Mahatma Gandhi on account of his work with the needy and with the trade union movement. Currently, a portrait of Reverend C. F. Andrews is hung beside the portrait of his good friend Rabindranath Tagore in the Principal's office. It is also believed that Rabindranath Tagore completed the English translation of 'Gitanjali', for which he was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, while a guest at the college.[3]

With the establishment of the University of Delhi in 1922, the college became constituent college of the University[9]

Women were first admitted in 1928, as there were no women's colleges in Delhi affiliated with the Anglican Church at the time; after the founding of Miranda House in 1949, women were not accepted as students until 1975.[10]


The college was named after Saint Stephen, who was adopted by the Anglican Church as the Patron Saint of Delhi after Christian converts were reportedly stoned to death during the 1857 uprising, as they were the first Christian martyrs in North India and were stoned, parallels to Saint Stephen were obvious.[11]


  • The Reverend Samuel Scott Allnutt, First Principal. 1881-1898.
  • John Wright, Second Principal. 1899-1902.
  • The Reverend G Hibbert Ware, Third Principal. 1902-1906.
  • Susil Kumar Rudra, Fourth Principal. 1906-1923.
  • The Reverend Francis Frank Monk, Fifth Principal. 1923-1926.
  • Satya Nand Mukarji, Sixth Principal. 1926-1945.
  • Douglas Raja Ram, Seventh Principal. 1945-1960.
  • Satish Chandra Sircar, Eighth Principal. 1960-1972.
  • The Reverend William Shaw Rajpal, Ninth Principal. 1972-1984.
  • Dr. John H Hala, Tenth Principal. 1984-1991.
  • Anil Wilson, Eleventh Principal. 1991-2007.
  • The Reverend Valson Thampu, Twelfth Principal. 2008–2016.
  • Prof. John Vargheese, Thirteenth Principal 2016–present [12]


The badge is a martyr's crown on a field of martyr's red within a five-pointed star edged with Cambridge blue. The five-pointed star represents India, the Cambridge blue border of star represents the impact of University of Cambridge on the college, having been founded by the members of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi and the ground is coloured red to represent Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr and Patron Saint of the Anglican Mission in Delhi, in whose memory the college is built, stands the martyr's crown in gold.

Present form[edit]

St. Stephen's College is a co-educational institution of higher learning. It is regarded as one of the best colleges in the country. Nationwide surveys such as those by India Today and The Week have consistently described the college as amongst the best colleges in India for both arts and sciences.[13][14][15] It is one of the three founding colleges of University of Delhi, along with Hindu College and Ramjas College.[16] In spite of its location in North India, the college has always striven to admit students and select teachers from all communities and from all parts of India. It also admits a small number of students from overseas. The college offers a number of scholarships and awards to meritorious students. These are endowed over a period of time.[17][18] As of February 2017, the Governing Body (GB) of St. Stephen’s College has decided to go ahead with the proposal to seek autonomy for the institution.[19]


The college is currently situated on a large and well-known campus in Delhi. Its campus is located in the North Campus of the University of Delhi and designed by the distinguished Welsh architect Walter Sykes George. The construction work was completed in 1941.[20] The college had previously functioned from a campus in Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, housed in distinctive Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture. This is now house for the office of Election Commission of Delhi. In fact, some college playing fields are still located between Kashmiri Gate and Mori Gate.[7] Facilities for a number of sports are provided for on the college campus. The Francis Monk Gymnasium, the Ladies Common Room, and the Junior Common Room provide facilities for indoor sports and recreation. A chapel is open to all members for worship and meditation.[3]

Residence halls[edit]

The college's halls of residence are spread across six blocks, named for former principals, as given below:

  • Allnutt North
  • Allnutt South
  • Mukarji West
  • Mukarji East
  • Rudra North
  • Rudra South

Originally only for male students (termed 'Scholars in Residence') three of these blocks are now allotted entirely to female students.[21] These blocks have a capacity of residing 500 men and women. Each block is supervised by a member of the faculty functioning as block tutor. Porters and other staff who work in residence are referred to as 'gyps' and 'karamcharis' respectively.[22]


The St. Stephen's College has a famous library, one of the oldest in Delhi. The library has rare Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts. It also offers digital services to students and has its own homegrown OPAC.[23]

Admission and Student Body[edit]

The college has its own selection process unlike other colleges under Delhi University. The college has an online application process where prospective applicants are expected to fill in their interests and academic achievements. The college releases a list for students selected to an interview and admission test by the first week of June. Every department has its own academic criteria and admission test/interview process. Candidates called for interview are usually selected in a ratio of 5:1. St. Stephen's generally receives around 30,000 applicants for 400 seats each year leading to an incredibly low admit rate of 1.33%.[24] However, this rate is also offset by reservation for minorities which amount to 50% and reservation for scheduled castes, tribes and other backward classes as allowed by the Indian Constitution. Accounting for all quotas for affirmative action, St. Stephen's admits roughly 40% students from the general category.

The college also has several exchange programs with universities from Japan, UK, Europe and USA. A minor proportion of international students also make up the student body of St. Stephen's, which is one of the highest for an Indian higher education institution.


The departments offering courses include:

  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • English
  • Economics
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Sanskrit
  • Hindi
  • Urdu and Persian

There is also an International Languages School which provides certificate courses in European and Asian languages. Further several departments have their own undergraduate research fellowships to encourage undergraduates to engage in research. These fellowships are in partner with other colleges in some cases or advised by the faculty themselves. There are additional certificate courses offered by the college as well in addition to those provided by the Delhi University.

The curriculum of the courses followed is in tune with those of the Delhi University. Two annual exams are held and internal assessment contributing to 25% marks make up for continuous evaluation during the rest of the semester.

The college has also introduced a one of a kind certificate course in "Citizenship and Cultural Richness" which brings together a series of lectures by eminent Indian academics in a variety of fields ranging from science to literature, economics and social values. This had been touted as outreach by the principal of the college.[25]

Student societies[edit]

Student clubs and societies have always played an important role in the life of the college, and are seen as vital to student development. Each academic subject has a society which sponsors lectures and discussions. The popular extra-curricular societies and clubs engage in activities concerned with debating, dramatics, trekking, film, social service, photography, quizzing and astronomy. In continuance of a long tradition, societies such as- Chemistry society, Planning Forum, History Society, Physics Society Gandhi-Ambedkar Study Circle, Informal Discussion Group; regularly invite distinguished visitors to address and join issue with students on various topical issues.[26] The college also publishes department newsletters, college magazines and yearbooks. Several departments also publish their annual journals aside from the college publications.

The various societies in college are,

  1. Alumni Cell
  2. BA Programme society
  3. Bazam-e-adab
  4. Bengali Literary Society
  5. Campus Placement Cell
  6. Chemistry Society
  7. Choreographic Society- Western and Indian
  8. Cine Club
  9. Civil Service Forum
  10. Computer Science Society
  11. Economics Society
  12. Electronics Society
  13. English Literary Society
  14. Environmental Society
  15. Finance and investment cell
  16. Fine Arts Society
  17. Gandhi Ambedkar Society
  18. Gender Studies Cell
  19. Hiking Club
  20. Hindi Sahitya Sabha
  21. History Society
  22. Informal Discussion Group
  23. Junior Combination Room
  24. Leadership Cell
  25. Malayalam Literary Society
  26. Mathematics Society
  27. Music Society
  28. North-East Society
  29. Philosophical Society
  30. Photographic Society
  31. Planning Forum
  32. Physics Society
  33. Poetry Society
  34. Punjabi Literary Society- Virsa
  35. Quiz Club
  36. Sanskrit Sahitya Sabha
  37. Shakespeare Society
  38. Sabha
  39. Spic Macay
  40. Social Service League
  41. S.O.U.L
  42. The Stephanian
  43. Students Union Society
  44. Web Team
  45. Wodehouse Society


Alumni and students of St. Stephen's College are termed as 'Stephanians'.The college has produced a long line of distinguished alumni, including several Members of Indian Parliament and the Presidents of three countries and one of the largest contributors to Indian Rhodes Scholars. At one point in the 1970s two-thirds of all secretary-level positions in the IAS were occupied by Stephanians. Further 4 of the 13 global firms currently headed by Indians have their education completed in some form at St. Stephen's, which is the most by any single institution.[27] St. Stephen's students have some of the largest industry incomes despite the college not offering any specialised engineering or management programmes. St. Stephen's has also contributed a large number of eminent jurists including Supreme Court justices and lawyers. Students from St. Stephen's also make up a significant proportion of scientists at top Indian research labs at TIFR and NCBS among others and abroad.[28]

Eminent Stephanians may be found in any Indian rollcall such as, politics, media, literature, scientific research, industry, entertainment, military, sports etc.[29]

Notable alumni[edit]

See: List of alumni of St. Stephen's College, Delhi


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  13. ^ "India's BEST science colleges 2013". 18 June 2013. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  14. ^ "India's Best Colleges - 2013". India Today. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  15. ^ Singh, Abhinav (2016-06-09). "Worldly wisdom". The Week. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  16. ^ "About DU". University of Delhi. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  17. ^ "Top Indian colleges that offer sports scholarships". Red Bull. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  18. ^ "Tiara St. Stephen's Special Opportunity Award". Tiara Foundation. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  19. ^ "Despite opposition Stephen's decides to seek autonomous status". Retrieved 2017-02-25. 
  20. ^
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  22. ^
  23. ^ "10 cool facts about St. Stephen’s College". DU Updates. 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
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  25. ^ "Course on ‘Citizenship and Cultural Richness’ launched at St Stephen’s". The Indian Express. 2015-03-08. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
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External links[edit]