A founding department

Jane and Leland Stanford open their “university of high degree” on their Palo Alto stock farm. The emerging academic field of education is one of its departments, exemplifying the founders’ vision of practical and progressive schooling. 

Stanford University's opening ceremonies, Oct. 1, 1891. Jane and Leland Stanford sit beneath a portrait of their late son, Leland Jr., in whose memory the school is built.
Stanford University Archives


Popular from the start

Practice teaching joins the curriculum. The department has 50 majors, and 20 percent of the Stanford student body takes coursework in the department.

More than two-thirds of Stanford seniors expected to go into teaching in 1896, including Frances Tucker, right, who shot the winning basket for the Cardinal that year in the world's first intercollegiate women's basketball game. Other teachers on the team included Jessie Ryan, second from right, and Agnes Morley, fourth from right.
Stanford University Archives


Ellwood P. Cubberley arrives

Cubberley, a former school superintendent with an avocation for science, becomes department chair. Under his leadership, Stanford forges a tradition of data-driven research balanced with theory and practical training.

Education for most Americans in 1888 meant a few years in a one-room school like this one taught by Ellwood P. Cubberley, then 19 years old, in Huntington County, Indiana.
Stanford University Archives



The Education Department has 100 majors.

Among Stanford's education majors in 1916 was junior and multisport athlete Helen Greening, top left. She joined the inaugural teaching staff at Los Angeles' Fairfax High School.
Stanford University Archives


The School of Education is born

Stanford trustees elevate the Education Department to a School of Education with Cubberley as founding dean. They aim to create a training institution of high standing comparable to schools of law and medicine. Undergrads enter in their junior year after two years of discipline-based coursework.

The School of Education faculty circa 1930.
Stanford University Archives


More growth

The school has 509 students: 432 in graduate status and 77 undergraduate majors.

Herbert Hoover prepares to accept the Republican presidential nomination Aug. 11, 1928 at Stanford Stadium.
Stanford University Archives


The hall that textbooks built

Cubberley retires. He and his wife, Helen, give Stanford the invested proceeds from his many books – some $367,000 – for a School of Education building and the Cubberley Lecture Series, which continues today.

Elwood & Helen Cubberley watch the building they funded rise on Lasuen Mall in 1936.
The Stanford Daily


Hanna and his house

Paul Hanna arrives at Stanford in fall 1935 as an associate professor of elementary education. He immediately commissions his hero Frank Lloyd Wright to build him a radical new home on campus, planned on a hexagonal grid. The Hanna House raises eyebrows for its audacity. So does Hanna, who eventually proves his worth to Stanford as a networker as well as an educator.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hanna House under construction in 1936. Later donated to the university, the house is now a National Historic Landmark.
Stanford University Archives


Disciplinary research focus

Historian of education Isaac James Quillen joins the faculty. As dean starting in 1954, he will bring world-caliber social scientists to the School of Education and raise its reputation for research.

Stanford University Archives


Lasting legacy

Cubberley's building opens. The massive structure expands Stanford’s classroom capacity by 15 percent and, as the Depression lingers, sends a message as to the status and impact of the School of Education at Stanford.

With other construction halted by the Depression, the Cubberley gift makes a huge visual and institutional impact on the university.
The Stanford Daily


The Baby Boom

GI-Bill veterans and their families, including hundreds of would-be teachers, begin to flood the campus.

School of Education enrollment hits a record 600, fraying faculty nerves and straining resources. Dean Allen Bartky emphasizes training teachers and administrators. The school designs a five-year MA/credential for undergraduates that runs between 1951 and 1964.


Students relax outside the School of Education building.
Stanford University Archives


Research funding

A grant is received to fund the Center for Research and Development in Teaching.

The campus in 1965 from Hoover Tower, with the School of Education at bottom left.
Stanford University Archives


Policy and research

H. Thomas James becomes dean. He furthers the school’s reputation in advanced training and social-science research, and his close connections with Stanford administration help secure its standing and funding within the broader university.

With such hires as Michael Kirst, a Washington policy analyst who later leads the California Board of Education, James adds a focus on policy that distinguishes the school today.

Hear Kirst's oral history, conducted by the Stanford Historical Society.

Prof. Michael Kirst, right, in 1988 with former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare John W. Gardner, '33, MA '36.
Ed Souza/Stanford News Service


Taking the mic

At a university panel on response to Martin Luther King’s assassination, 70 members of Stanford’s Black Student Union take the microphone from Provost Richard Lyman. Frank Omowale Satterwhite, a doctoral candidate in higher education, reads 10 demands to boost African-American representation at Stanford.

Nine of the 10 demands are accepted with guidance from Prof. Robert Hess, an expert in urban education whose research before coming to Stanford laid the foundations for the federal Head Start program. Hess offers to guide Stanford’s initiative to increase and support African-American undergraduate enrollment. 

Joyce E. King, ’69, PhD ’74, then an undergraduate, is inspired to enter education after working in the Stanford president's office as a liaison to experimental admits, a program that was one of the 10 demands. King later became president of the American Educational Research Association.

Frank Omowale Satterwhite, PhD '77, at podium, reads the Black Student Union's 10 demands for educational and institutional reform at Stanford. Satterwhite became a leader in community development.


Joint MA/MBA

The school confers its first joint degree with Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, launching an era of interschool collaboration to produce entrepreneurial education leaders.

Eduardo Briceño, MA/MBA '07, founded Mindset Works to provide growth-mindset training to educators and students.


CERAS opens

The Center for Educational Research at Stanford initially houses labs for quantitative research, school planning and child development. It remains a vital research and social hub for the GSE. 

The Center to Support Excellence in Teaching, the Center for Education Policy Analysis and STEP are among GSE programs housed in CERAS today.


Champion for cultural democracy

Alfredo Castañeda, an expert in multicultural education, joins the school’s faculty. He is the first Chicano appointed full professor at Stanford.


Schools hit the news

After public outcry over “A Nation at Risk,” a federal report lamenting the state of U.S. education, University President Donald Kennedy joins other education leaders in pledging his institution’s resources toward improving public schools. 

Kennedy and Atkin follow through with Stanford and the Schools, a three-year, $1.1 million study of local K-12 districts that the School of Education publishes in 1987.

Literacy-education expert Prof. Robert Calfee coauthored Inside Schools, a layperson's version of the 1987 study. He later founded Project READ and helped develop the LeapPad learning tablet.
Ed Souza


Gardner Center opens

The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities, honoring one of Stanford's most influential alumni, opens with Milbrey McLaughlin as founding director.

As U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Gardner, ’33, MA ’36, founded the Title 1 program for low-income children. He served as president of the Carnegie Corporation; as chair of the National Urban Coalition, and as founder of Common Cause. His views and activism shaped groundbreaking endeavors including the White House Fellows Program, public television and Medicare.

John W. Gardner "was very committed to youth and to young people and saw them as really the resource for community-building, but he said you’ve got to go beyond those institutional boundaries," McLaughlin remembers. "The role of the Gardner Center is to look across those institutional boundaries.”


Rising to the challenge

Partnering with East Palo Alto, Stanford education leaders open a charter high school. Later known as East Palo Alto Academy, the school employs innovative methods and yields graduation rates above 90 percent, far exceeding the state average for low-income students of color.

2005 East Palo Alto Academy graduate Loa Toki celebrates with family. Commencement on the Stanford campus is an academy tradition.


Charting tech’s role in education

The Learning Sciences and Technology Design PhD concentration enrolls its first students.

Susie Wise, PhD '11, explains the learning environment she helped design for Hillsborough's Nueva School.
Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service


Elementary STEP

The Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), hitherto focused on secondary education, adds a master’s program in elementary-school training.

Elementary STEP graduates at 2014 Commencement.
Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service


Barnum Center opens

Barnum Family Center for School and Community Partnerships opens.

Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service


Shulman honored

Lee Shulman, education professor emeritus and director of the Carnegie Institute of Education housed at Stanford, wins the Grawemeyer Prize for his 2004 book The Wisdom of Practice: Essays on Teaching, Learning and Learning to Teach.

Hear Shulman's oral history, conducted by Michael Kirst for the Stanford Historical Society. 


IREPP opens

The Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice (IREPP) is established. Its rigorous and systematic research and analysis is informed by the realities of educational settings.

Prof. Susanna Loeb, a specialist in the economics of education, directed IREPP and its successor, the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA), from 2006 to 2015.


Open-source research

Faculty members unanimously decide to make their scholarly articles available online for free to the public, becoming the first education school in the nation to do so.

Psychologist Carol Dweck, professor by courtesy in the GSE, is renowned for her work on growth mindset and its value against educational inequity.


Undergraduate minor

Responding to student interest, the School of Education forms an undergraduate minor to prepare students for careers in teaching, crafting policy and managing schools.

Seniors who earned undergraduate honors in education receive blue honor cords to wear with cap and gown at Commencement 2013.


Innovating for Brazil

The school and the Lemann Foundation open the Lemann Center for Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Brazil, a 10-year venture headquartered at CERAS that develops new approaches to learning, especially among low-income students, both in and out of the Brazilian school system.

Martin Carnoy, the Vida Jacks Professor of Education and a specialist in comparative international education, speaks at the Lemann Center's 2012 opening.


The MOOC era

Prof. Daniel McFarland puts his Organizational Analysis class on the web as a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and draws 44,501 participants from 70 countries. 

“I gained a lot of respect for TV actors,” McFarland notes. “Every minute they watched, I wanted to give them something meaningful and succinct.”

Dan McFarland's research suggests ways to discourage cliquishness in schools and to form enduring adult professional collaborations.
Stanford Video


A new name: The GSE

The school is renamed the Stanford Graduate School of Education, reflecting its mission of advanced training in research, policy and leadership. 

GSE staffers celebrate the Jan. 22, 2013 renaming.


Funding future teachers

STEP announces its Teaching Fellowships, which underwrite the full cost of tuition starting with the MA Class of ’16 for up to five students pursuing a teaching career.

STEP Teaching Fellows David Morales, Priscilla Chang and Carrie Moore, all MA '16.


Training entrepreneurial leaders

The first Executive Program for Education Leaders, latest in several joint ventures of the GSE and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, helps superintendents develop entrepreneurial leadership skills.

School-district leaders in EPEL's inaugural cohort in 2015.
Marc Franklin


Alumni excellence

In partnership with the school, a group of dedicated alumni launch the Alumni Excellence in Education Award to recognize the outstanding contributions of GSE-trained teachers, principals, scholars, innovators and education leaders.

Fresno State University President Joseph Castro, PhD '98, was honored in 2016 for fostering inclusion among all the school's stakeholders and for helping lift barriers to graduation.
CSUF President's Office


Graduate School of Education celebrates its first 100 years

The school rooted in Stanford's earliest days marks a century of leadership in teaching and learning.