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Learn to Lead

Established in 1990, the Leadership Program prepares students to lead in public service.
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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.

Jessica Waters, Assistant Professor, Department of Justice, Law & Criminology and Director SPA Leadership Program,

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

Program Overview

Welcome Class of 2027!

Class of 2027 infograohic

This year, we warmly and proudly welcome 23 exemplary first-year students into the American University SPA Leadership Program. These 23 incoming Leadership students come to American University from 12 states and Washington, DC. 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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SPALP January 2024 retreat to Verdun

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. Learn more about our program goals.

Class of 2027 Numbers

23 Students Admitted

12 States and Washington, DC

17 took AP exams & scored at least a 4 or 5

18 took Honor courses

18 Held leadership positions

17/20 17 Held jobs & 20 volunteered