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Learn to Lead

Established in 1990, the Leadership Program prepares students to lead in public service.
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The application process for Fall 2023 is now open. Learn how to apply.

Greetings from the American University, School of Public Affairs, Certificate Program in Advanced Leadership Studies! Created in 1990 this Program offers students the opportunity to learn leadership theory, practice, and prepare them for leadership roles. After a competitive application process students complete a 15-credit course of study to achieve their Certificate. We encourage you to stay curious in your leadership journey, and please let us know if you have any questions.


Jason D. Fabrikant, J.D., Interim Director, School of Public Affairs Leadership Program & Senior Professorial Lecturer,, 202-885-3397, MS Teams Meetings Welcomed

James Helms, SPA Leadership Program Coordinator & Administrative Assistant, SPA, Department of Government,, 202-885-6203

Program Overview

Welcome Video

Interim Director Jason Fabrikant introduces the SPA Leadership Program.

Welcome Class of 2026!

An infographic summing up incoming class facts.

This year, we warmly and proudly welcome 37 exemplary first-year students into the American University SPA Leadership Program. These 37 incoming Leadership students come to American University from 11 states, Washington, DC, and Mexico. They each bring individualized skills and perspectives from an impressive list of leadership positions including, but not limited to, Speech and Debate, Model United Nations, Affinity groups, student government, Boy and Girl Scouts, Track and Field teams, and Tennis teams. These students excel in various extracurricular, employment, and academic positions: enrolling in AP/IB programs, being accepted into honors societies, volunteering in their communities, and working as lifeguards, tutors, food servers, camp counselors, nannies, and much more. The SPA Leadership Program eagerly anticipates welcoming these new members to our community as they grow and lead us as changemakers in our complex world.

Building Social Capital

Social Action team

All members of the Leadership Program complete two leadership projects designed to build social capital. These projects help each student understand how individual leadership functions to make society a better place.
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Leadership students in audience

John F. Kennedy speaking at American University

Bringing Leadership Theory to Practice

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." Quote from the speech that John F. Kennedy had planned to deliver in Dallas before his assassination on 22 November 1963.

Program Goals

Class of 2024 Numbers

44 Students Admitted

20 States, Canada, & India

170 total leadership positions

34 Students employed while in school

41 enrolled in AP/IB Programs