Student leadership

Developing leadership skills is critical for your professional development at MIT and beyond. Your time as a graduate student is the perfect opportunity to advance your skills.

In-person learning opportunities

    • GWAMIT Annual Fall Leadership Conference
      The Fall Leadership Conference, started fall 2010, seeks to provide graduate women with the opportunity to gain communication and leadership skills. The organizing committee comprises women from across MIT departments and has invited top experts to share advice.
    • MIT Graduate Student Leadership Institute (MIT GSLI)
      The MIT Graduate School Leadership Institute is a first-of-its-kind, peer-led collaboration across all MIT graduate schools to further develop the leadership skills, experience, and network of outstanding MIT graduate students who have exhibited strong leadership capacity. Out of the hectic pace of studying at MIT, the program carves out dedicated time for purposeful, authentic reflection and connection. MIT GSLI is supported by the MIT Leadership Center, the Student Activities Office, the MIT Sloan School, and the Office of Graduate Education.According to past participants, this is a deeply rewarding program. A kick-off retreat on Cape Cod and mandatory weekly meetings build strong friendships, leadership skills and reflections, and a peer network bolstered by alumni events that continues after the MIT GSLI semester is over. For more information, contact the program student leadership at
    • MIT LeaderShape
      A four-day leadership development program run by MIT’s Division of Student Life (DSL) with support from the MIT Leadership Center for MIT students (graduate and undergraduate) every January.
    • Graduate Student Council (GSC) programs
      The GSC offers Professional Development Skills Workshops each year to help graduate students develop career skills including communication, leadership, conflict management, improv and networking. See their site for current offerings.
    • IAP Workshop: Developing Leadership in Yourself and Others
      Workshop designed specifically for MIT graduate students who are interested in “making a positive difference” in their chosen fields. Grounded in leadership research but experiential and engaging in delivery, these workshops will build practical skills that apply to engineering and technology environments.
    • IAP Workshop: 15.339 Distributed Leadership Workshop: 4 Capabilities
      Instructors:  Tom Malone and Wanda Orlikowski, MIT Leadership Center faculty
      3 day workshops offered in 3 sections of 30 introduces students to the four capabilities central to effective leadership:

      • Visioning
      • Sensemaking
      • Relating
      • Inventing new ways of organizing

Dynamic, personal and interactive, each 4 Capabilities Leadership Workshop features role playing, case studies and group work. Participants learn more about their own values, goals and vision through introspective exercises. They engage one another, practice new skills and reflect deeply on leadership and life.

  • IAP Workshop: 15.S20  Leadership Lessons Learned from the Military
    Instructor:  Leigh Hafrey and Deborah Ancona, MIT Leadership Center faculty
    3 day workshop, 80-100 studentsWhat is it about the military that so frequently produces adaptable and well-rounded leaders in a variety of civilian settings?   How can we leverage military leadership principles to plan for our own leadership development here at MIT Sloan?   In this seminar, military, government, and industry leaders, along with MIT Sloan faculty, will address the skills and leadership qualities that can help prepare you to lead in the 21st Century.    The purpose of this seminar is to teach students the leadership practices, traits, and mindset that have been successfully used by military leaders and to show how those tools can be applied to civilian leadership and management challenges.  Teaching will be done through a combination of methods including lectures, interactive case studies, guest speakers and training exercises.
  • IAP course: Cultivating Your Leadership Presence
    (sponsored by MIT Leadership Center, Sloan School of Management)
  • IAP course: Making to Think: Leadership through Art Making
    (sponsored by MIT Leadership Center, Sloan School of Management)
  • IAP course: Immunity to Change: Understanding Why Change is So Hard for Individuals and Teams
    (sponsored by MIT Leadership Center, Sloan School of Management)
  • MIT graduate subject: Leading Creative Teams (cross listing 16.990/6.928)
    Prepares students to lead teams charged with developing creative solutions to challenging problems. Grounded in research but practical in focus, covers the development of basic leadership capabilities, such as motivating and influencing others, delegating, managing conflict, and communicating effectively; how to create, launch, develop, and adjourn teams; and how to foster creativity in small groups.
  • Student group retreat development support offered by the Student Activities Office (SAO)
    SAO staff are available to assist students in formulating retreat schedules, determining goals and agendas, using icebreakers and teambuilders, creating meaningful conversations, and anything else that goes into planning for and implementing a great retreat.

Online learning opportunities

  • MIT Leadership Center
    Here you will find:

    • Profiles of innovative leaders across campus
    • Videos of conversations with influential leaders
    • Blog entries about leaders and leadership
    • Research papers and academic perspectives on leadership
    • Leadership Development Tools including videos on 4 Capabilities Assessment, Innovators DNA Assessment, System Dynamics, and Self Assessment; Case studies on leadership and ethics; and System Dynamics Simulations
  • Student Leader Toolkit from the MIT Division of Student Life (DSL)
    This “toolkit” is meant to provide students and student organizations with leadership resources at your fingertips. The Student Activities Office also has a number of books, materials, and activity ideas.

Funding opportunities

  • Graduate Student Council (GSC) Professional Development Exploration Grant
    The Professional Development Exploration (PDE) Grant offered by the GSC is designed to support MIT graduate students from all schools and departments in their pursuit of local professional development opportunities outside their area of study or research. Specifically, this fund is allocated to cover registration fees that are not currently funded by the student’s advisor or other funding sources. Registration would be covered, up to the $200 cap, for professional development activities including but not limited to seminars, workshops, conferences, and meetings.

Become a student leader