Colleges for Students Who Want to Change the World

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of student smiling at each other while talking.

These Are the Perfect Colleges for Students Who Want to Change the World

What makes a great leader? It’s tough for many people to quantify the attributes, skills, and character of a highly effective leader, but there are some colleges and universities that have taken a stab at it. Read on to see our review of some of the best colleges with undergraduate leadership programs in the entire country.

There are many schools that offer undergraduate leadership programs specifically aimed at providing students with the instruction, guidance, and support they need to develop skills and gain experience that will prove beneficial in their development as leaders.

If you’ve always been interested in taking a leadership position in academics or in your future professional career, attending the best schools with undergraduate leadership programs is a great choice. You’ll get everything you need to position yourself as a future leader.

1. The University of North Carolina at Asheville

The University of North Carolina at Asheville offers undergraduate leadership programs that help students develop the skills they need to make a difference in their community.

Leadership Asheville has a strong sustainability program, which promotes community leadership, inclusivity, and sustainability for all.

The University of North Carolina at Asheville signage

Leadership Asheville also aims at developing, connecting, and engaging its nationals throughout the region to address the challenges and opportunities that are part of their lives. Leadership Asheville offers the following programs:

  • The Power of Self-Leadership aims to increase emotional intelligence for those ready to lead with greater internal authority, clarity, and authenticity.
  • The Leader as Coach – This program is designed for organizations that understand the value of people development and are ready to create a culture that seeks to equip the next level of leaders for success. This program helps you expand your ideas about coaching and how you can apply it in your organization.
  • Creating Team Synergy and Building High Performing Teams – This is a highly dynamic workshop designed to help leaders increase the productivity and effectiveness of their teams.

2. Oberlin College

Oberlin College is another great school for students who want to make a difference in the world. Oberlin has a wide range of programs, including The Office of Student Leadership and Involvement, which focuses on creating a sense of community within the school environment and providing opportunities that support the student’s holistic development in and out of the classroom.

The Office of Student Leadership and Involvement provides prospects for learners to enhance leadership skills and abilities and boosts opportunities for creativity and the free exchange of ideas and opinions.

The two most significant sources of information concerning Student Union services and activities are the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement in Room 111 and the Hales Annex.

3. Macalester College

Macalester College is a school that has a long history of social justice and activism. Macalester’s motto, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” reflects the college’s dedication to preparing students to make a difference in the world.

The Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE) at Macalester College provides opportunities for students to get involved in their community. The CCCE offers service-learning courses, an internship program, community-based research opportunities, and more.

Macalester College signage.

Students at Macalester can also take part in protests and movements on campus and off-campus through the Twin Cities Social Justice Organizing Coalition.

The Civic Engagement Center offers learners various entry points to community involvement. These include:

Bonner Scholars – The Bonner Scholars Program aims to transform students’ lives by providing “access to education and opportunities to serve.” Over 40 Bonners participate in sustained partnerships in the local community.

The activities of the Bonner Foundation promote student development, community impact, and campus infrastructure. Furthermore, it strengthens civic engagement, community building, diversity, international perspective, spiritual exploration, and social justice.

Lives of Commitment – Lives of Commitment is for students who want to get involved in the Twin Cities and build a strong community with other first-years who are passionate about making an impact in society. Students volunteer weekly to teach English to immigrants and refugees or tutor a child.

4. Clark University

Clark University has The Office of Student Leadership and Programming provides members of the Clark community with opportunities in leadership to express their creativity and engage in co-curricular learning.

Through the leadership program, collaboration personal and professional development are nurtured. Student leadership is also empowered to create change in the community. The student leadership and programming office is also responsible for major campus events, International Gala, Senior Week, and Spree Day.

To further develop student leadership, the Student Leadership and Programming cooperates with Residential Life and Housing to provide dynamic and robust leadership opportunities for all students.

5. Furman University

Furman University offers undergraduate leadership programs under its Shucker Center for Leadership Development. The Shucker Center for Leadership Development is a unique opportunity for Furman students to develop their leadership skills in an intentional and structured environment.

View of Furman bell tower.

The center offers the following programs: Shucker Leadership Institute, the Furman Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), Furman Student Leadership Awards, Strengths Development Strategies programs, and Team Building Services for the Furman community.

6. Brown University

As part of its talent development programs, Brown University offers a Leadership Certification Program. Students can earn certificates that demonstrate their engagement with the University’s leadership training activities through these programs.

The Leadership Certification Program equips new and existing leaders with the skills necessary to lead at Brown effectively. To become certified, leaders must first attend An Orientation to Leadership at Brown.

All newly-hired and promoted managers are required to certify and will be automatically registered in the program. Existing leaders are also encouraged to certify to refresh their skills and provide valuable insights while participating in the program.

7. University of Colorado – Boulder

Leadership in the community is a fundamental value at CU Boulder. Looking for a university offering undergraduate leadership programs? University of Colorado offers a Core Leadership Program (CLP).

The program covers effective communication, leadership styles, identity, moral development, coalition building, etc. This introductory leadership development program helps you grow into a strong, efficient leader. CLP is free to all CU Boulder students. Any student enrolled in at least one credit hour is encouraged to apply.

8. Carleton College

Carleton College offers a Gettysburg Leadership Seminar every year. The three-day seminar is designed to help students address the difficult challenges of leadership in a diverse world.

Students get the opportunity to participate in both self-assessment and group exercises that include interactive learning activities, games, debates, simulations, small group discussions, and role play.

Macalester College signage.

The seminar also provides an opportunity for students to develop strategies on how they can make their voices heard while serving as leaders within communities.

Students get a better understanding of their leadership abilities, make a personal commitment to continuous leadership development and understand the different leadership dimensions in the professional world.

9. Middlebury College

Middlebury College offers a Civic Leadership Certificate Program. The program is designed to develop a student’s leadership knowledge and capacities, connect with other passionate leaders, and design cohesion across their community-based learning experiences.

In this year-long cohort-based program, there will be workshops and tons of activities aimed at equipping students with practical competencies in leadership, a better understanding of their leadership skills, and collaboration skills.

10. Wheaton College

If you’re in search of undergraduate leadership programs, The Wheaton College Leadership Institute offers a leadership certificate that aims at developing competent and effective leaders throughout their communities, businesses, and organizations globally.

Additionally, the learners will gain perspective on leadership dynamics in various contexts through practicums, internships, elective coursework, incorporation with their major, and access to adept professionals in these fields.

Upon completion of the leadership certificate, the learners are expected to have:

  • A clear understanding of the dynamics and complexities of leadership and leadership development.
  • Been part of a collaborative leadership team in which they participated in leadership, solved problems, conducted meetings, gave and received feedback, and worked to achieve a shared mission and specific aims.
  • Practically applied leadership theories to various settings in government, business, education, and general community activities.

11. University of Dayton

The University of Dayton Center for Leadership has been in existence for over 20 years. The Emerging Leader Program is a year-long leadership and business skill development program offered at the Center for Leadership. It targets high potential future executives in corporate, government, and non-profit business organizations.

Among the programs offered by the Center for Leadership at the University of Dayton include:

  • Supervisory Leadership Certificate – A six-month program for aspiring supervisors seeking to develop their leadership skills
  • Executive Development – A one-day program for senior leaders to drive change and improve organizational results.
  • Emerging Leader Certificate – A one-year program that prepares top-performing mid-level leaders for success in executive roles.
  • Professional Development – A one-day workshop that addresses the most significant skills and challenges today’s professionals need to help their organizations thrive.
  • Women Lead. Certificate – A seven-month program for women leaders to develop and refine their own brand of leadership further.

12. University of Denver

The University of Denver offers undergraduate leadership programs under the Pioneer Leadership Program (PLP). PLP is a unique academic minor and Living and Learning Community at the University of Denver. It highlights leadership fueled by the community, curiosity, courage, and action.

The Pioneer Leadership Program selects 88 incoming students annually. They must be ready to embrace the ever-increasing challenges of the world. The vision of PLP is “Building inclusive leadership for a just world.”

What to expect as a PLP student

  • Deep insights about you and others
  • Primary focus on equity, social justice, and citizen-leadership
  • A thriving alumni and community network for career development and life beyond campus life
  • Leadership perspectives grounded on ethical awareness, global understanding, and social responsibility.

13. Emory University

Emory University Leadership Programs offer students a unique learning experience to prepare them for their career paths. The programs are guided by the philosophy that leadership is an ongoing journey of self-reflection and discovery.

The Excellence Through Leadership (ETL) Program is the University Leadership program. It provides development for the University’s senior leaders through a nine-month program, steered in collaboration with Emory’s Goizueta School of Business.


To qualify for the Excellence Through Leadership at Emory University, you must meet the following:

  • Hold the position of Director (or equivalent) or higher.
  • Have served full-time for at least one year with Emory University
  • Demonstrate high performance in professional experience
  • Be a high-potential applicant for future advancement.

To determine potential candidates, the Senior Director for Learning and Organizational Development and the Vice President for Human Resources meets with Deans and Vice Presidents to analyze their talent and seek nominations.

14. Stanford University

If you’re looking for undergraduate leadership programs and aiming to evolve as a leader in an executive education program that reinvigorates and ramps up your professional journey, Stanford Executive Program offers you an excellent opportunity to realize your ambition.

The SEP offers holistic diversity in terms of cross-industry insight experience to stimulate leadership change-making discussions. The SEP curriculum is always evolving, looking forward to shifting through collaboration and discussion to evolve organically.

This is an excellent option for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in business, entrepreneurship, or a related field.

15. Lawrence University

Lawrence University offers undergraduate leadership programs as Student Leadership Challenge Certificates for students seeking to improve their leadership competence.

The Winter Student Leadership Challenge certificate covers leadership skills and concepts laid out in the best-selling book The Leadership Challenge by Barry Posner and James Kouzes.

The certificate will focus on time-tested strategies to build high-performing organizations through empowering relationships explored in discussion and active learning activities.

16. Tufts University

If you’re looking for certificate, Master or undergraduate leadership programs, Tufts University offers a variety of options.

Below are the most popular Management and Leadership Programs

  • Community Environmental Studies Certificate
  • Management of Community Organizations Certificate
  • Manufacturing Engineering Certificate
  • Environmental Management Certificate
  • Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning and Business Administration Dual Degree, Masters
  • Nutrition Science and Business Administration Dual Degree, Masters
  • Global Business Administration Masters
  • Health Informatics & Analytics Masters
  • Economics Masters
  • Engineering Management (Online or Hybrid) Masters

17. Colorado College

The Colorado College has a leadership program; Community Engaged Leadership (CEL). This program aims at developing civic leaders by enhancing learners’ ability to integrate and apply learning toward solving complex social problems.

The program also focuses on students’ academic studies and extra-curricular experiences toward a capstone project that culminates their campus experience and impacts their public interest.

Colorado college building

The leadership program runs for three years. In their first year, learners actively participate in intentional social engagement, attend educational conferences, and attend CCE Coalition workshops.

The three-year program is divided as follows:

Sophomore Year:  Enroll in two programs that comprehensively explore the causes, consequences, or context of a common problem in the community.

Junior Year: Take a program that enhances your understanding of how to effect social change. This is either through giving you skills to assess needs and solve social problems or offering more comprehensive strategies and models of Community changes.

Senior Year: By the end of the third year, you must complete your Capstone project and all relevant submissions for the program.

In every year of the program, you must submit a course defense.

18. Lewis & Clark College

Lewis & Clark offers undergraduate leadership programs for passionate leaders who want to change schools from the inside out. The Leadership program at Lewis and Clark College is the Educational Administration Program.

Programs at Lewis and Clark are responsive to the changing nature of schools globally and focus on the work that you’re expected to do as a leader.

Whether you are becoming a school leader for the first time or continuing a decades-long career, you will make lifelong connections with peers founded on a shared sense of calling to the field and a commitment to serving whole communities.

Boost your chances of getting into your dream school.

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