Presidents Leadership Class

The Presidents Leadership Class (PLC) is a specially designed academic curriculum that focuses on leadership development, personal development, and community service initiatives. Skills are developed in an interdisciplinary, experiential environment through exposure to government, education, the humanities, business, and science. Students from all of the schools and colleges participate in the Presidents Leadership Class curriculum as a part of their regular course work.

The Presidents Leadership Class is a program of CU-Boulder and the Presidents Leadership Institute, and is overseen by a Board of Trustees representing Colorado business, educational, nonprofit, and government communities.

Admission and Enrollment

Admission to the Presidents Leadership Class is considered one of the highest honors awarded to incoming University of Colorado Boulder students. Presidents Leadership Class students are admitted prior to the beginning of their first year. Selection criteria include academic excellence, demonstrated commitment outside of self, demonstrated leadership potential, and uniqueness of contribution. Each year, 50 first-year students are enrolled, comprising both Colorado residents and nonresidents. A separate admission application must be obtained from the PLC office and returned prior to February 15. Applications may be obtained by visiting the website at or by calling the PLC office at 303-492-4PLC.

Only students who are accepted into the Presidents Leadership Class are eligible to enroll in PLC courses. Students receive arts and sciences core credit in ideals and values for PRLC 1810 Leadership and Ethics; and core credit in contemporary societies for PRLC 1820 Community Issues in Leadership. 

Academic Program

Although there are many unique aspects of each leadership situation, leaders generally follow three basic steps when faced with a leadership situation: 1) try to get a read on the existing situation, 2) set a strategy to achieve a desired outcome, and 3) execute the strategy.

This fundamental human process—read, set, execute—has strong roots in basic psychological processes (i.e., stimulus, thought, response), but the steps can happen with varying degrees of quality. Because PLC’s mission is to develop extraordinary leaders, research was done on the differences in quality between the read-set-execute process that ordinary leaders use and the read-set-execute process that extraordinary leaders use. The research determined that the routes to ordinary leadership are different than those to extraordinary leadership.

Extraordinary leaders need to read situations with insight, generate incisive strategy, and then execute with stunning results. The PLC Strategic Academic Plan is built upon developing six core leadership skills: information literacy, critical thinking, applied quantitative ability, writing, oratory, and group process. The six skills executed in an integrative manner provide the key fundamentals for students to read, set, and execute in an extraordinary manner.

For more information on the PLC Academic Plan and the research behind it, go to

Required Courses

  • PRLC 1810 Ethical Leadership
  • PRLC 1820 Community Leadership
  • PRLC 2820 Multilevel Leadership
  • PRLC 3810 Global Leadership
  • LDSP 4010 Leadership Capstone (only required for Leadership Certificate)

Scholarship Programs and Opportunities

PLC students receive a merit-based scholarship of $1,000 to over $12,000 (dependent upon participation). Students must enroll in PRLC course work to maintain their scholarship.

Scholars are also eligible to be selected for a variety of other merit-based scholarships only available to PLC students, including the FirstBank Colorado Scholarship Fund (base scholarship of $6,000 plus additional funding depending on endowment earnings), the Alvin G. Flanigan Scholarship Fund (annual $1,000 minimum awards), the Walker Family Scholarship Fund (annual $500 minimum awards), the Michael Lee Hoelscher Memorial Scholarship (annual $2,000 award), and additional scholarships available only to the Presidents Leadership Class scholars.

The course code for this program is PRLC.

Certificate Program

University of Colorado Boulder Leadership Certificate

The University of Colorado Boulder offers a certificate in the Study and Practice of Leadership. The certificate is comparable to a minor in leadership studies and is permanently marked on the student’s transcript to certify that he or she has completed a focus in leadership studies at the undergraduate level.

Certificate requirements are as follows:

  • Complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of PRLC courses during year one and two of the program: PRLC 1810, PRLC 1820, PRLC 2820, PRLC 3810.
  • Complete a minimum of 4 credit hours of upper-division PRLC course work: LDSP 4010.
  • Complete 3 additional credit hours of approved upper-division course work outside of PLC. Approved courses are listed at and a student may also petition to have an unlisted course accepted.
  • Participation in practica and/or internships. These may be built into courses or conducted outside of courses.
  • Receive an overall 3.000 average GPA for all required Leadership Certificate courses.