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.

© The Laidlaw Foundation

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 includes a research project and a leadership-in-action internship 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 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 social change through leadership (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 a 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. Research opportunities are also available with our partner institutions.

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

A custom-designed ethical leadership program offered by the University of Oxford will complement the training and give scholars the opportunity to think about integrity and ethical questions, explore the different facets of character in the role of a good leader, and reflect on their contributions to the society. A certificate of completion will be delivered by the University of Oxford for this specific element.

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- to eight-week immersive Leadership-in-Action project, which focuses on positive social change 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. Alternatively, it could also be built on the research that was conducted during the first year and be an on-field application of its findings.

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?

Discover the highlights of the Laidlaw Research & Leadership Program.

Eligibility and application

Interested in the Laidlaw Program? Find out how to prepare your application.

Program calendar

Learn more about key dates and deadlines throughout the program.

Research internships

Dive into the world of research with a lab internship.

Leadership-in-action (LiA)

What is the LiA project? Find out all the details and how this immersive, hands-on project works.


Here you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions.


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

[email protected]

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