Leadership, Certificate in the Study and Practice of

The certificate program in leadership development seeks to expand a students’ capacity to be effective in leadership roles and opportunities during their time at CU and in their future professions. The program enhances a student’s self-awareness, systemic thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills. This development unfolds over a student’s undergraduate career and is maximized by a variety of courses and experiences that challenge, support, and provide students with increased understanding of what they are learning and how it fits into the larger world. The Certificate in the Study and Practice of Leadership integrates the variety of experiences into a context that is likely to be useful when undertaking new leadership roles and responsibilities. Faculty and staff skilled at weaving those experiences and courses in connected and meaningful ways facilitate this developmental process. 

A leadership certificate can enhance the undergraduate experience and better prepare students both as citizens and leaders in whatever profession they might seek to enter. The program recognizes the need for individuals to take leadership roles in all professions and sectors of society. It is the belief of the program that leadership can be learned in formal classes, community-based leadership opportunities, mentoring and internship settings, as well as through a range of collaborative leadership activities. 

For more information about the Certificate in the Study and Practice of Leadership, see leadershipRAP.colorado.edu/certificate-study-and-practice-leadership.

Program Requirements

This certificate program has an 18-credit-hour requirement comprised of lower- and upper-division courses. Undergraduate students working toward this certificate are usually affiliated with one of the following academic programs:

  • Leadership Residential Academic Program 
  • Presidents Leadership Class (PLC)
  • INVST Community Studies (INVST)
  • ROTC programs

Each of these programs has defined particular academic courses within their programs to be certificate requirements. Students may also apply elective courses from other disciplines on campus toward the total credits required for the certificate. Students in the leadership programs at PLC, INVST, and the Leadership RAP are required to do an internship that is overseen by one of the program directors. Students in all four programs participate in either a 4-credit-hour capstone course during their senior year or a capstone project mentored by their academic program director. To qualify for the certificate, students must maintain a 3.00 GPA in the required course work.

Leadership Residential Academic Program 

For certificate requirements, see The Leadership RAP Program.

Presidents Leadership Class

PLC certificate requirements are listed under the Presidents Leadership Class.

INVST Community Studies

  • Selection criteria govern admissions.
  • Four required theory courses plus community based service-learning experiences (18–24 credits).
  • Minimum of 15 hours of upper-division courses.
  • INVS 4932 Senior Capstone Course and/or Project.
  • Minimum total credit hours: 18 with a 3.00 GPA

Reserve Officer Training Corps Programs

  • Admission to CU-Boulder and ROTC required. (Some courses are open to all CU-Boulder students.)
  • Required summer field training program(s).
  • 4–8 required courses in ROTC (12–22 hours).
  • Minimum of 15 hours of upper-division courses.
  • Additional courses from Recommended Leadership Courses to complete the 18-hour requirement.
  • Senior Capstone Course and/or Project (4 hours).
  • Minimum total credit hours: 18 with a 3.00 GPA.

The Capstone Course and Project

The capstone project is designed to synthesize the leadership work students have completed during their undergraduate studies. Together with the program’s faculty, students design a format that demonstrates their cumulative learning and development and reflects their leadership abilities. Like oral examinations at the graduate level, these projects are an opportunity for students to present a body of work that demonstrates what they have learned as they address some of the critical questions associated with leadership development and their role as a leader in the 21st century. 

In the capstone course, Critical Issues in Leadership, LDSP 4010 or PRLC 4010, students explore leadership issues across disciplines. Leadership education is multi-disciplinary and students need to know how to assess research and writing from different perspectives. Students read, discuss, and write critical evaluations of contemporary leadership theory from ethical, military, community building, and business perspectives. 


Internships are an agreed-upon experience in a work setting that is driven by intentional learning goals and accompanied by sustained reflection. The internship provides students with an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge gained through their leadership studies. During the semester students use the concepts and theories learned in the classroom to analyze and understand the host organization. In addition, students are asked to reflect on the complexities of leadership and the personal challenges that they face in practicing and refining their own leadership skills.