Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program

EPFL offers its 1st and 2nd year students an unparalleled opportunity to develop their research and leadership skills in innovative and socially engaged projects over the course of a 17-month supervised program.

Founded and supported by the Laidlaw Foundation, the Laidlaw Scholars Leadership and Research Program, also called the Laidlaw Program, aims to develop a new generation of leaders who are skilled researchers, embrace data-based decision making, and believe in responsible change.

Already established in a number of leading universities around the world, the program funds both the research and the leadership-in-action internships over two consecutive summers for up to 25 undergraduate students in their 1st or 2nd Bachelor’s year at EPFL.

Throughout the 17-month journey, Laidlaw scholars will develop their leadership skills through various trainings and community engagement.

With this program, you will…

…gain research experience and analytical skills from an immersion internship during your studies

…develop your leadership skills through training and reflection

…strengthen your resume and your competitiveness for future opportunities

…get involved in a social or humanitarian project and work outside of your comfort zone

…build your network by collaborating with many different stakeholders

…interact with an academically talented community of students at EPFL and across the world

What is the program about?

Laidlaw scholars will go through an exciting and challenging program that includes two summer projects across two years – one focusing on research, while the second emphasizes leadership in action (possibility of building on the research conducted during the first summer). Throughout the 17-month journey, students will develop their leadership skills through training and community engagement.

The Laidlaw Program focuses on these four main dimensions:

During the first summer, students will pursue a first-hand research experience of eight weeks in an EPFL lab, under the supervision of a faculty member.

Laidlaw scholars can choose among the 500 labs and research groups at EPFL according to their field of study, ranging from mathematics, physics or chemistry to life sciences, architecture or engineering.

Leadership training is an essential component of the program. All Laidlaw scholars will engage in leadership development, learn core leadership values and develop their communication skills. As a well-rounded training, topics such entrepreneurship, cultural awareness and ethical leadership will also be tackled.

These practical trainings, courses, seminars and reflection sessions are equivalent to six full days of training and will be spread out throughout the duration of the program in order to fit the student’s schedule at EPFL.

During the second summer, Laidlaw scholars will complete a six-week immersive Leadership-in-Action project, which focuses on work with a community in need in an international context. This second internship aims to encourage students to apply their leadership skills to solving real-world problems.

The Leadership-in-Action internship will take place in a social enterprise, an NGO or a charity who is partnering with EPFL or the Laidlaw Foundation. This internship could also be built on the research that was conducted during the first year and be an on-field application of its findings.

Appropriate internship placements will be provided either by the Laidlaw Program management team at EPFL or by the Laidlaw Foundation.

Laidlaw scholars form a community of like-minded individuals who are driven by values advocated by the Laidlaw Foundation such as ambition, curiosity and determination. Students who join this program will be part of a robust and ever-expanding international network, the Laidlaw Scholars Network.

This network gathers scholars, alumni and faculty members from Laidlaw’s partner universities, which are composed of Ivy League and Russell Group universities. Alumni from the program remain closely in contact and often connect with each other around the world.

Why choose this program?

The Laidlaw Program requires an important commitment but it offers tremendous benefits.

Eligibility and application

This page outlines the application process for EPFL students who are interested in the program.

Program calendar

Here are the key dates and deadlines to keep in mind throughout the program duration.


Find answers to the most frequently asked questions here.


For further information on the Laidlaw Program, please contact us:

[email protected]

Centre Midi – CM2 348
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