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Leadership Program


  • Leadership Program
    (202) 885-2308
    Ward Circle Building, Room 250

    Margaret Marr

Mailing Address
Leadership Class of 2016

The Class of 2016 flashes their animal symbols for the camera during the annual retreat.

Applying to the Leadership Program

Thank you very much for your interest in applying to our four-year Leadership Program in the School of Public Affairs at American University. Before moving on to fill out the short application, please take a few moments to familiarize yourself with our Program by reading this short note and perusing this whole website, especially our course curriculum page and the course syllabi found there.

You will find that this program dedicated to providing students with the knowledge, skills and experience to prepare them for leadership roles in public service has three essential components: experiential learning; classroom studies; and community building events. Experiential learning takes the form of designing and executing social action projects, interning, being mentored and mentoring, and exploring DC as our leadership laboratory.

In the classroom, students meet weekly for six semesters throughout the four years. Our students read, watch, study and discuss materials about leaders, leadership theory, and leadership skills. They write papers and design creative presentations about these materials and their relevance to the student’s own leadership development, including such important contributors to the field as Aristotle, Machiavelli, Lincoln, and Gandhi as well as current public leaders and theorists. In the classroom we also build on experiential learning as students practice essential leadership skills such as public speaking, listening, negotiation, navigating difficult conversations, and consensus building.

To build a strong community of students who are dedicated to social change, we sponsor numerous events throughout the year to build Program cohesion and camaraderie among students of all four years, including retreats, a formal dinner-dance, ropes course outings, laser tag, and tours of the many monuments and sanctuaries in the greater DC area dedicated to admirable leadership.

If you are interested in expanding your leadership skills and talents in this way and intend to pursue an undergraduate major in the School of Public Affairs at American University starting this fall, we encourage you to apply. Applications are posted in early May and are due in mid-July. Admissions are announced in early August.

The application calls for three essays, a resume and an on-line reference. As explained under the admissions criteria page, we seek a wide diversity of students with a demonstrated capacity for leadership, dedication to learning more about leadership, and ability to work well with others. We expect to announce the entering SPA Leadership class in the second week of August.

The retreat for our first-year students this fall will be over Labor Day weekend, Friday evening August 29 to Sunday evening August 31. Please be sure to leave this weekend open so that you can participate in the retreat if you are selected to join our program.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to contact me at marr@american.edu or (202) 885-2308.

We look forward to reading your application!

Margaret H. Marr, J.D.
Director and Assistant Professor

Class of 2019

The application will be available in the early summer of 2015. Read about how to apply »