The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Leadership Academy

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Our Summer Leadership Academy 2022 application process is now completed -- we are no longer accepting applications. Stay tuned for information on our new cohort of students soon!

The Leadership Academy is an annual online summer and academic year program that is designed to help advance the success of undergraduate students who are traditionally under-represented in technology and engineering as they plan their transition from college and internships to career. This is a professional development opportunity with full scholarships and consists of three components:

  • a six-week synchronous online summer program. The 2022 program runs from July 11 - August 19, 2022
  • a professional development reunion
  • an industry mentorship program during the academic year

It is free of cost for students. 

During the 6-week online program, students develop the professional skills including communication, building your own brand, negotiation skills, and leadership competencies. Students interact with and learn from experienced professionals in tech and engineering careers from diverse backgrounds, grow their own networks, and find internships and employment opportunities. Students who participate in the Leadership Academy during the summer have the opportunity to form mentorship relationships with one or more industry professionals during academic year. In 2020, the Leadership Academy welcomed students from 16 different institutions within Massachusetts. In 2021, we welcomed from 22 institutions nationwide. 

Have Questions? 

Aanchal Setia

Contact Leadership Academy Program Coordinator, Aanchal Setia at


The Leadership Academy program was recently awarded additional student scholarship funding from Reboot Representation, a coalition of technology companies working to close the gender gap in the tech sector. Read more about this development here!


Watch a short video with testimonials from graduates below.

IDS Leadership Academy from CNS UMass on Vimeo.

Read an article about the 2021-2022 Leadership Academy here.

The Organizers & Teaching Team

The Academy is organized by the Institute of Diversity Sciences network of researchers, educators and outreach professionals, business leaders and students funded by the National Science Foundation and housed at UMass Amherst. The network is led by Dr. Nilanjana Buju Dasgupta and a core team from the University of Massachusetts system, in collaboration with the larger Massachusetts community.

The Academy is conducted by Dr. Rati Thanawala, 2018 Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard. Dr. Thanawala spent 39 years in tech. She created and piloted this program with a grant from Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda Gates Company.

The negotiation component of the curriculum is led by Dr. Hannah Riley Bowles, who chairs the Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences area at Harvard Kennedy School.

Program Details

The Summer Leadership Academy is a fast-paced 15 -20 hours/week online professional development opportunity with full scholarships that is an accelerator for you as you plan your journey to thrive in the tech and engineering sectors. It strengthens your capacity to lead by helping you understand:

  • What is fundamentally new when you start your journey in the tech and engineering industry?
  • What are the levers needed for thriving during college years, and later, in early careers?
  • How have “wise” women and men, from groups that are traditionally underrepresented at mid and senior levels in the tech and engineering industry, used these levers to succeed?

The Leadership Academy meets for 3 sessions per week and will run from July 11 - August 19, 2022. Classes meet in the afternoon online (synchronously) for a 3-hour block per session. The course requires a student commitment of 15-20 hours per week, including class time, class preparation, interactive exercises, and invited speakers.

Over the 6-week period:

  • You will learn to sharply identify your unique strengths, and understand how, with the right investment, they can grow into “superpowers.”
  • You will get to sharpen your personal story. Personal narrative is powerful and a critical enabler to impact. You will learn how to guide others to appreciate the value you bring.
  • You will learn solutions to limit the impact from stereotype threats such as micro-aggressions and isolation.
  • Through working in small groups with facilitation and coaching, you will see yourself improving in a key skill area – Negotiating -- and you will apply it to specific challenges in college, during internships, and in transitioning to the workplace.
  • You will engage with industry leaders in online chat sessions, specifically designed to answer your questions on leadership skills, how tech and engineering managers assess potential and performance of interns and new hires, and other questions that you generate through class discussions.


This professional development opportunity is free of cost for students, with scholarships available to offset the costs of declining paid work to attend the course, to improve wifi access, or buy equipment (tablet, camera) needed to attend the course.


Eligible students are those who meet all three of the following requirements:

  1. Undergraduate students who have declared (or intend to declare) majors in computer science, technology or engineering fields.
  2. Students from groups which are underrepresented in tech and engineering: all women, men of color who are Black, Latinx, Native American or Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, LGBTQIA students, first-generation college students, and students who are differently abled.
  3. Students enrolled at a college or university in the U.S.

The Leadership Academy was made possible through corporate and academic partnerships.

Reboot logo






Academic partners:

Past sponsors:



Rati Thanawala

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Email Address

Hannah Riley Bowles

Image of Hannah Riley Bowles

Nilanjana (Buju) Dasgupta

Image of Buju Dasgupta
Email Address