Learn to lead with Cornell University's Leadership Minor!
Do you have a passion to lead—both now as a student and when you enter the workforce?
- Do you want to identify and grow your strengths so that you can develop better professional skills?
- Do you want to learn and use the tools you’ll need to develop mutual trust and respect to build and lead diverse teams?
- Do you seek to understand the complexities and impact of engaging with communities of people within and outside the university?
No matter your major or your college, the Cornell Leadership Minor will help you explore these facets, grow self-awareness, and help you uncover the linkages between how you and others live, work and lead. You will become a more actively engaged, reflective and effective citizen with a deeper understanding of the complexities, dynamics and interdependencies of life. You’ll develop the specific professional skills employers say college graduates lack.
The Leadership Minor features new courses and integrates existing courses with community activities and co-curricular experiences in a guided pathway that will help you develop the skills necessary to become a true leader and engage with diverse communities.
In a nutshell, this pathway requires completion of 11 to 16 credit hours spread out over four tiers of learning, including completion of an ePortfolio.
View course options and learning outcomes for the four tiers and the ePortfolio requirement in the accordion below.
If you are a student without any previous leadership courses, you can select from a number of introductory leadership courses or participate in an approved leadership development program to meet Tier 1 requirements. The foundations of these courses include self-awareness, personal development, self-management, career planning, networking, and exploration of community engagement.
There are four ways in which you can fulfill the requirements of this introductory tier: an in-major or cross-college course, a co-curricular activity, or a previous leadership course.
1. In-Major Course
Currently a version of this course is offered in two CALS majors:
- AGSCI 1125, Guided Explorations: Growing You and Your Path in the Agricultural Sciences (1 credit, fall)
- FDSC 1102, Leadership and Career Skills in Food Science (2 credits, spring)
2. Cross-College Course
Since the above courses are open only to students in those majors, the CALS Leadership Minor will also accept the following courses as satisfying the Tier 1 Leadership Essentials requirement:
- ALS 2000, Leadership for Sustainability (3 credits, spring)
- ALS 2200, Make Your Mark: Essential Professional Skills to Launch Your Career (1 credit, spring)
- EDUC 2610, The Intergroup Dialogue Project (3 credits, fall or spring)
- HADM 1150, Organizational Behavior and Leadership Skills (3 credits, fall or spring)
- ILROB 1220, Introduction to Organizational Behavior (3 credits, fall, spring or summer)
- LEAD 2020, Greek Leadership Academy (1 credit, fall or spring)
- MILS 1102, Foundations in Leadership (1 credit, spring)
3. Co-Curricular Activity: LEAD 1960, Leadership Training Practicum
This introductory course is limited to students who are involved in formal training provided by the Office of Engaged Initiatives (Stage 1 activity for Certificate in Engaged LeadershipLinks to an external site. plus retreat), Public Service Center, Greek leadership, Cornell Outdoor Education, or other approved program. Topics covered in the approved program should include: Reflection on what it means to be a leader; various models/styles of leadership; assessing personal strengths and weaknesses; team building and group values; motivation and engagement; managing conflict; and leading with authenticity and a personal leadership philosophy. Approximately 15 hours of formal classroom instruction is equivalent to one credit hour.
4. Previous Leadership Course
Once you have completed a leadership course or professional development program, you are eligible for Tier 2: Foundations in Leadership. If you take a course found on the Tier 3 Electives list first, you can substitute that course for the Tier 1 course requirement. However, you will still need to complete at least 6 additional credits of coursework from the Tier 3 list to satisfy the Tier 3 requirement.
By successfully completing this requirement, students will:
- Examine campus support services available to support learning, career planning, stress management, etc.
- Become self-aware through analyzing personal style, and assessing personal strengths, weaknesses, and motivations
- Be able to practice critical reflection and apply it to learning from experience
- Examine possible courses of study, career options, service learning and community engagement opportunities, and how theses align with personal affinities
- Demonstrate basic study skills for setting priorities, time management, and stress relief.
- Employ career prep skills including resume writing, conducting job interviews, business etiquette, and networking
- Initiate their e-leadership portfolio, which will be used throughout the minor
- Apply basic leadership skills of conflict resolution, ethics, appreciating diversity, working effectively in teams
Fall or Spring, 3 credits
In this course you’ll do an in-depth investigation into your personal mastery and the development of your reflective self along with a broad introduction to leadership theories, skills, and practices as they apply to interpersonal influence, conflict resolution, working in teams, leading systems change, and community engagement.
The course is required for the minor. It begins with the inner work of leaders of becoming reflective practitioners of personal development but then turns to the outer work of leaders working effectively with others, in organizational systems and in teams.
By successfully completing this course, students will:
- Develop a critical understanding of contemporary leadership theories, styles, approaches and roles.
- Examine and clarify personal inspirations, values, and purposes in careers and life.
- Learn to align those inner motivations with personal actions, decisions, and communications in order to become more authentic, effective, and influential.
- Build skills for communicating effectively, especially in difficult conversations such as delivering feedback, resolving conflict, and influencing others.
- Practice skills for building effective teams and leading group planning, decision making and problem solving processes.
- Create a personal learning plan and leadership portfolio for supporting personal development.
- Establish a habit of reflection to promote continuous learning and effective leadership.
Minimum of 6 credits
Complete at least six credits of leadership-related courses from across the university that interest you. These courses will help you to deepen your knowledge on specific topics such as organizational behavior, ethics, diversity and inclusion, negotiation, conflict resolution, decision making, sustainability, and communications, and to understand the broad contexts in which leaders operate.
If you use a Tier 3 course for your Tier 1 requirement, keep in mind you will still need to take an additional 6 credits of coursework from the list below to satisfy Tier 3.
Many courses from across the university can be used to meet the Tier III requirement. For the most up-to-date list of course options, please visit the minor Canvas page.
By successfully completing additional elective courses from the approved list of offerings, students will:
- Examine in depth, critically evaluate, master and apply one or two of the specific skills identified in the learning outcomes of Tiers 1 and 2, including:
- Self-reflection and self-understanding – thinking about thinking
- Learning from experience – becoming a reflective practitioner of personal effectiveness
- Conflict resolution and dialogue – creating two-way meaning in overcoming differences
- Interpersonal power and influence
- Decision making – collaborative tools and overcoming biases
- Leading teams
- Leading organizations and change – building empowered cultures
- Diversity, inclusion, inter-cultural competence
- Strategic thinking
- Special topics in leadership – public service, women in leadership, leadership in sports, Greek leadership etc.
- Demonstrate an appreciation for the various contexts of leadership in which informed decisions must be made. This includes topics of environmental sustainability, global thinking, and socioeconomic trends.
In Tier 4, you’ll apply the leadership and academic skills and knowledge you’ve acquired so far through a community engagement experience under the direction of a mentor. This should generally occur after you have completed the requirements for Tiers 1 through 3, but can be completed simultaneously with other Tier 3 requirements. Your experience will include establishing personal development goals, reflecting on challenges you face and feedback you receive, identifying ongoing personal development needs, and reflecting on attitudes and lessons you learned by engaging in the community. You will summarize and reflect on this experience through your ePortfolio (and enrollment in LEAD 4925 following completion of your capstone).
A capstone experience is one in which you are in a position to lead a group of people to accomplish a certain goal over an extended period of time, such as a semester or over the summer. For the Leadership Minor, we ask that you participate in a capstone experience, either as part of a class or of your own design, after most of your leadership coursework is complete. Students completing the Certificate of Engaged LeadershipLinks to an external site. and Dyson FellowsLinks to an external site. program will complete a capstone experience with an ePortfolio as part of their respective programs.
Examples of appropriate roles in which you can serve in an extended leadership capacity include captain of a sports team, community volunteer, residential life leader, officer in a club, fraternity or sorority, etc. If you are not sure whether an experience you have participated in is sufficient for your capstone requirement, contact ljv4 [at] cornell.edu (Dr. Lawrence Van De Valk), leadership minor advisor.
Before you begin the capstone experience:
- Send a description to your faculty advisor in the Leadership Minor, with a copy to the lm747 [at] cornell.edu (minor program coordinator), of what you plan to do and identify two or three learning outcomes related to leadership that you want to achieve during the experience.
- Design your capstone experience so that at the end, you will be able to respond to the prompts found in this LEAD Capstone RubricLinks to an external site..
- Identify a mentor/coach (not a student) who can help you if you need someone to bounce ideas off of or consult for advice, and who can vouch for the experience that you had.
After the capstone experience:
- Enroll in LEAD 4925.
- Complete the “Capstone Experience” segment of your ePortfolio in Digication.
- Upload any remaining content into your Digication ePortfolio.
- Get feedback from your leadership advisor on your ePortfolio. Your advisor may ask for changes in the ePortfolio so it can be improved. This should be an iterative process.
Tier 4 requirements include:
- A personal statement of your learning outcomes, leadership philosophy, and principles of community engagement intended for the experience.
- Feedback from peers and others on your performance in the experience based on that statement.
- Your personal reflections on the lessons you’ve learned.
- Mentorship/coaching to approve, support, and monitor the experience.
- LEAD 4925 or the equivalent, such as completing an ePortfolio in another course.
At the conclusion of the leadership minor, students will:
- Demonstrate independence and leadership in applying any of the above learning outcomes – especially those related to reflective practice, ethical issues, team engagement, and conflict resolution as well as those developed in other academic disciplines – in an experiential community engagement endeavor.
- Demonstrate a commitment to service and sense of responsibility for the greater good.
- Submit an e-leadership portfolio that includes summaries of their
- Leadership philosophy including a personal definition of leadership and mission, vision, values.
- Personal leadership development goals and a reflective assessment of progress made
- Feedback from all assessments and the lessons learned from them.
- Leadership development experiences pursued through the minor and the lessons learned.
- Personal reflections on who they are, and how they show up in work and life.
- Engagement experience and how that contributed to their development.
There are four options to satisfy the Capstone experience:
There are several pre-existing, credit-bearing options for completing your Tier 4 requirements. Your leadership experience might be through a course that already has an embedded leadership capstone experience, plus LEAD 4925 following the capstone.
Another option is to do your leadership experience through a pre-approved program such as the Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP), the Certificate of Engaged Leadership or Cornell Outdoor Education, plus LEAD 4925. Cornell’s Public Service CenterLinks to an external site. is another resource you can tap to help you find a leadership opportunity and mentor. Other opportunities could be through the Greek system, athletics, or campus clubs.
The capstone experience should be designed with a member of the faculty or staff who will directly supervise your experience and be pre-approved by the leadership minor advisor. It is NOT required that you earn academic credit (i.e. credit hours) for the experience. (You do NOT need to enroll in LEAD 4970 for the capstone experience to be approved.)
However, in rare occasions, if a student needs to earn credit for a capstone experience completed during the academic year, they may enroll in LEAD 4970, Undergraduate Experience in Leadership. Note that this course is intended for structured activities during which the student is regularly monitored by a supervising faculty member. As per SUNY guidelines, one credit our is generally equal to at least 45 hours of supervised, documented work. If a student wishes to pursue this credit option through LEAD 4970, they should complete a Special Studies form and seek prior approval from the leadership minor advisor. Again, enrolling in 4970 is NOT required to complete the capstone experience.
Applying your leadership skills outside of Cornell is an excellent way to engage with communities in the Ithaca area, perhaps in your hometown, or even abroad. Planning an extracurricular leadership experience is encouraged, but requires more planning than one within a university context. If you want to have an extracurricular experience count towards your minor requirement, then you will need to have a plan endorsed by your host organization, a member of the faculty or staff who will directly supervise your experience, and the leadership minor advisor before beginning the experience. Such a plan should include the Tier 4 requirements below. You will also complete LEAD 4925 following the capstone experience.
Students have the option to complete the Tier 4 requirement for a capstone experience by completing the leadership certificate program through the Einhorn Center.
In your final semester at Cornell or when you are ready to complete the minor, you will enroll in LEAD 4925, Leadership Portfolio (1 credit, fall, spring). This requirement involves creating a digital portfolio–also called an ePortfolio–on the Digication platform. The template for the required content can be found on the Cornell’s Digication website. This will be a guided summary and reflection on your leadership experiences in each of the four tiers, particularly your experience outside of the classroom.
You’ll use the ePortfolio to capture key critical reflections at multiple points during your journey. You will receive assistance and information on how to set up your ePortfolio upon being admitted into the minor. Below are examples of excellent ePortfolios created by recent graduates in the Leadership Minor (shared with their permission):
You can access the Digication platform using your regular Cornell credentials. When you are ready to create your ePortfolio, we encourage you to consult this how-to guide, put together by a Dyson student, on navigating the Digication system.
Development of your ePortfolio should be an iterative process completed with the assistance of the leadership minor advisor. In other words, draft portfolios should be submitted to the advisor for comment, and then revised (perhaps several times) before submission of your final portfolio. Do not wait until the end of the semester to do this! Submit a draft ePortfolio to the advisor early in the semester that you are enrolled in 4925, and then plan to revise it as suggested by the advisor. If a first draft of the portfolio is submitted at the end of the semester (or just as you are graduating), and it does not meet expectations, it may not be approved resulting in you not being awarded the leadership minor.
If you already have an ePortfolio as part of your major or another class, then you can add a tab that encompasses your leadership experiences so you have to maintain only one ePortfolio. You must satisfactorily meet the requirements of the ePortfolio to complete the Leadership Minor.
Your ePortfolio should capture your reflections on your leadership through the lens of your capstone experience. The ePortfolio provides prompts to help guide your reflections, which in turn will examine your assumptions about others and document your personal development during your capstone experience.
If you are interested in pursuing the Leadership Minor, please submit a declaration of intent. Acceptance to the minor is automatic. If you complete the form, the minor will be listed on your internal academic record. Once you graduate and a program audit confirms you completed the minor, your academic record will be updated to reflect that. There is no penalty if you do not complete the minor.
As a Leadership Minor candidate, you will develop an ePortfolio on the Digication platform. You should begin your ePortfolio no later than Tier 2 (LEAD 3100). More information about the ePortfolio, a required component of the minor, can be found In the ePortfolio (LEAD 4925) section above.
Note that Dyson students are no longer eligible to participate in the leadership minor, and should contact their advisor to explore Dyson leadership development opportunities.
For questions regarding course curriculum, requirements, or enrollment in the leadership minor, contact:
- lm747 [at] cornell.edu (Lynn Morris), program coordinator
Or one of our faculty advisors:
- ljv4 [at] cornell.edu (Lawrence Van De Valk)
- ln279 [at] cornell.edu (Laura Niemi) (Dyson students)
No, any undergraduate student at Cornell University is eligible to complete the leadership minor.
See the Curriculum accordion above to learn about course and experiential learning requirements.
To become a candidate for the Leadership Minor, complete the online Declaration of Intent form (click on the big red button at the top of the page). Upon receiving your completed form, the program coordinator will let you know who your faculty advisor is for the program. You should set up a meeting with your advisor to discuss your course plan and capstone project.
It is best to plan for the minor during your freshman or sophomore year. Enrolling in the minor later may be possible if you have taken LEAD 3100 and at least one other leadership course. Get in touch with the program coordinator to discuss the feasibility of your course plan.
After submitting your Declaration of Intent form, you will receive confirmation and be assigned a faculty advisor for the minor -- ljv4 [at] cornell.edu (Lawrence Van De Valk) or ln279 [at] cornell.edu (Laura Niemi). After assignment, you should set up a meeting to discuss your capstone project and any other questions you have about the minor.
The ePortfolio can begin as soon as you are a candidate in the minor. Ideally, it should be a work in progress throughout your development as a leader at Cornell. LEAD 4925 should be taken after the capstone and other requirements are completed, typically during a student’s senior year. This course gives you credit for completing the ePortfolio. However, your ePortfolio will stay with you and can be updated even after you graduate.
- Lawrence Van De Valk, Senior Extension Associate; Director of LeadNY | ljv4 [at] cornell.edu
- Lynn Morris, Global Development Undergraduate Coordinator; Leadership Minor Program Coordinator | lm747 [at] cornell.edu
- Karel Hilversum, Associate Director of Cornell Outdoor Education; The Dan Tillemans Director, Cornell Team & Leadership Center | khilversum [at] cornell.edu
- Laura Niemi, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology | ln279 [at] cornell.edu
- Annalisa Raymer, Director of CLASP (Community Learning and Service Partnership program) | alr26 [at] cornell.edu
- Marvin Pritts, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Plant Sciences Major, School of Integrative Plant Science; Professor, Department of Global Development | mpp3 [at] cornell.edu
- Robert Gravani, Professor of Food Science; Director of the National Good Agricultural Practices Program | rbg2 [at] cornell.edu
- Christopher Bode, Cornell Outdoor Education Program Coordinator | cb896 [at] cornell.edu
There is no paperwork for you to file. After your grades are posted from your final semester at Cornell, we will conduct a program audit and notify your college registrar that the minor is complete and should be added to your academic record and transcript.
Take your leadership skills to the next level: Undergrad-to-MPA Program
Through the Complementary Cornell Undergrad-to-MPA Program, the Cornell Brooks School for Public Policy currently has agreements in place with undergraduate and graduate programs that allow students to apply up to 12 credits of applicable coursework (typically 4000-level and above) from one program to the other. Pursuing this option can reduce the time toward degree completion by approximately one semester.
Explore this informative resource
Pursue a mission-driven and impact-focused career and explore how an MPA can help you achieve your goals.
Preparing for the MPA
Our admission team looks for students with a commitment to public service who have experience in a leadership capacity. To prepare yourself for admission to the MPA program, consider pursuing internship opportunities and student leadership roles that allow you to build your experience.
Learn more about Undergrad-to-MPA
If you are interested in pursuing this accelerated opportunity, please contact the Master of Public Administration program at the Brooks School of Public Policy. The Director of Graduate Studies will meet with you to review your transcripts and discuss a possible course of study. This discussion would best occur in your sophomore or junior year to work out congruence between undergraduate and graduate studies. If you are currently a senior, it is not too late to apply but you should reach out to our office as soon as possible to begin the application process.