Eligibility criteria and application

The Laidlaw Program is open to regular students at EPFL who show strong leadership potential and interest in community engagement.

Applicants must:

  • Be in the 1st or 2nd year of a Bachelor’s program at the time of registration
  • Prove academic rigor and have an average grade of at least 4.5/6 at the 1st Bachelor’s semester (1st year students) or at the 1st Bachelor’s year (2nd year students)
  • Demonstrate strong motivation to discover research
  • Manifest leadership potential and eagerness to develop these capacities
  • Be sensitive to ethical, sustainable development and social issues

These eligibility criteria are complemented with the below section on the Laidlaw Scholar Commitment. Please read carefully and only continue with your application if you agree to the conditions set out.

Upon acceptance, scholars will be required to sign a commitment form.

Please note that it is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that the Laidlaw Program does not overlap with their academic curriculum, including compulsory inter-semester internships or courses that they may undertake.

Laidlaw scholars must report on their scholarship, research results, and leadership development. All outputs must therefore be shared with your academic supervisor, submitted to the Laidlaw Program coordinators, and publicly published in full on the Laidlaw Scholars Network website.

Your outputs:

  • A research poster following your first summer
  • A research essay (2000-3000 words) accessible to a non-specific audience
  • A Leadership-in-Action layout of the project goals, objectives and outcomes
  • A Leadership-in-Action video or blog post (500-900 words) following your second summer
  • A short video or a blog post reflecting on what you have learnt during the leadership development training, focusing on ethical leadership as well as being a global citizen

Your conduct:

  • Participate in all leadership development activities in person, or, if not possible due to extraordinary circumstances, attend remotely or catch up on the work
  • Attend the Annual Laidlaw Scholars Conference in person, or, if not possible, attend remotely
  • Complete the ethical leadership training taught by the University of Oxford (it includes a session provided during the Annual Laidlaw Scholars Conference and 6 online sessions)
  • Agree to the Laidlaw Foundation terms of the scholarship and request for personal data 
  • Join the Laidlaw Scholars Network, share your experiences, answer questions and act as mentors to new cohorts
  • Reply to the program feedback surveys in due time
  • Keep the program management team updated with your progress and career information following graduation
  • Be open to participate in the production of content to be used on the Laidlaw scholars website, and potentially be used for promoting the program

Your application

Applications for the cohort beginning in 2024 are currently closed.
The next application round will open on December 1st, 2024.

The application must include the following elements:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Motivation letter– detailed info below
  • Leadership thoughts in video format– detailed info below
  • Official transcripts – detailed info below
  • Contact details of a referee – detailed info below
  • Choice of three labs – detailed info below

Incomplete and late applications will not be considered.

The program management team at EPFL can assist you throughout the application process by appointment. Do not hesitate to write to [email protected] if you have any questions or to set a support meeting.

Your motivation letter must contain a maximum of 800 words. It should highlight your interest in pursuing this program and your expectations in terms of outcomes, as well as the following information:

  • Your motivation, interests and expectations in undertaking the Laidlaw Program, and how you will make the most of the experience (e.g. how participation in the program could help your personal and career aspirations)
  • Your choice of labs: justify your choices with respect to your profile and explain why you are suitable for the laboratories – This section is particularly important as it will be reviewed by the laboratories to determine if you are a good fit in their group
  • What you seek to do in the Leadership-in-Action project, and why. What type of project do you want to pursue? Describe your ideal plan or general intention – there is no need to be specific at this stage
  • How you would contribute to the Laidlaw Scholars Network and to your peers at EPFL

Describe a situation where you had to demonstrate leadership skills. Explain how you felt and how it has influenced you.

Guidance – Leadership is defined here in the broadest sense: it is the ability to influence, empower and guide others toward the achievement of a goal. It is also about team work, challenging the status quo and taking risks.

Your leadership thoughts must be sent to us in video format, no longer than 5 minutes. Please note that in the online application form, you cannot submit a video: upload a blank pdf into it and please transfer the video to us via SwissTransfer at the following address: [email protected]. Please compress your video for transmission.

Please upload your official transcripts stating your academic results for all your study semesters at EPFL, including from CMS or MAN.

Transcripts downloaded from IS-Academia are considered official.

If you do not yet have your BA1 semester transcripts at the time of registration, you do not need to upload the document requested in the online application form.
We reserve the right to review your grades directly on IS-Academia when they are published in February for the sole purpose of admission.

Your application file must contain one reference letter.

You will be asked to provide the contact details of a referee in the online application form. A reference request will automatically be sent to your referee after the submission of your application form. Your referee will be asked to describe your strongest skills, particularly in the field of leadership, and to give an example of how you demonstrated leadership potential.

Please note that your referee could be a professor, a past employer, a past high school teacher, or anyone close to you who is not a family member. Carefully select the best option in relation to your application. It is also your responsibility to ensure that we receive your reference letter within the deadline. You can follow the status of your reference letter via the application form portal.

EPFL hosts over 500 labs and research groups with cutting-edge infrastructure in disciplines ranging from mathematics, physics or chemistry to life sciences, architecture or engineering. Browse the list of labs and research groups or look by research domain, choose your three favorite ones, and indicate the name of the lab itself and the lab’s head in the online application form.

Research opportunities at the CybePeace Institute and the Paul Scherrer Institute are also available. If you are interested in these organizations, please mention them in the online application form without the lab’s head. Specific projects will be proposed when you will be short-listed for the program.

To increase your chances of working in the labs of your choice, make sure your profile is a good match. Knowing the lab’s head in an academic context (course, project, etc.) is an advantage but not a requirement.

Application process

The EPFL Central Admission Committee will review all complete applications in February and shortlisted candidates will be contacted for a 30-minute interview in March. Candidates selected for the Laidlaw Program will be informed by the end of March.


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
Station 10
CH – 1015 Lausanne

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