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 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 for the first semester of the Bachelor’s year
  • 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.

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 summary 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
  • 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 marketing the program

Your application

Application is now open for the Laidlaw program starting in May 2023. Incomplete and late applications will not be considered.

The application deadline is on February 19th, 2023 at 23h59 (UTC+2).

The application must include the following elements:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Motivation letter – detailed info below
  • Leadership essay – detailed info below
  • Official transcripts – detailed info below
  • Contact details of a referee – detailed info below
  • Choice of three EPFL laboratories – detailed info below

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.

Detailed information

Your motivation letter (max. 800 words) 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 laboratories: justify your choices with respect to your profile, interests and study plan
  • What you seek to do in the Leadership-in-Action project, and why
  • How you would contribute to the Laidlaw Scholars Network and to your peers at EPFL

In 400 words or less, write an essay that describes a situation where you had to demonstrate leadership skills. Explain how you felt and how it has influenced you.

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.

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, or a past high school teacher. 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 application deadline. You can follow the status of your reference letter via the application form portal.

EPFL hosts around 500 laboratories 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 laboratories and research groups or look by research domain, choose your three favorite ones, and indicate the name of the laboratory itself and the laboratory’s head in the online application form. In addition to the laboratories in the above list, the Swiss Plasma Center is among possible choices.

To increase your chances of working in the laboratories of your choice, make sure your profile is a good match. Knowing the laboratory’s head in an academic context (course, project, etc.) is an advantage, especially if you stand out in these circumstances.

Once a laboratory agrees to host you, you will have to confirm your academic supervisor and ask them to fill in a statement of support.

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. Pre-selected candidates will be informed by the end of March.

Applications of pre-selected candidates will then be submitted to the laboratories for final selection and recruitment. Laboratories are free to conduct interviews and successful candidates will receive an email of full acceptance to the Laidlaw Program by April 30th at the latest.


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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