Leadership Academy 2024-2025

LA cohort 2023-24

The Leadership Academy is an online (synchronous) interactive professional development program for undergraduate students in computer science and engineering. The goal of the program is to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in these fields by:

  • Creating an inclusive community for students from groups historically underrepresented in these disciplines
  • Teaching students communication, problem-solving, and networking skills, as well as professional norms and expectations in workplaces that are not explicitly taught in college but are key to career readiness—sometimes called the “hidden curriculum”
  • Providing students with opportunities to expand their professional network by meeting visiting speakers from a wide array of tech and engineering industries and learn about various career paths
  • Connecting students with longer-term mentors from these companies to get professional advice across the academic year

The program runs for three weeks during the summer (June 10 – 28) with online sessions taking place Monday – Friday from 12 – 4 p.m. ET. The online portion is followed by a nine-month mentorship program that meets monthly online.

The program welcomes students who: 1) come from an educational, cultural, or geographic background that is underrepresented in engineering or computer science, and/or 2) have experienced financial hardship as a result of family economic circumstances, and/or 3) have demonstrated a sustained commitment to diversity through either: 

  • their efforts to reduce social, educational, or economic disparities based on race, ethnicity, social class, or gender
  • their work experience, volunteerism, or leadership to improve intergroup relations in academic, professional, or civic realms 





Apply Now

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Review of applications will begin February 23 and continue until all seats are filled. 

Questions? Email: leadershipacademy@umass.edu






Participants will join a community of students from diverse backgrounds who are on a shared journey in tech or engineering. You will work closely with each other, develop friendships, learn from each other’s diverse experiences, and build a support network together. Past cohorts of Leadership Academy students have included large numbers of women, Black and Latinx students, first-generation college students, those with LGBTQ identities, and students with disabilities.




Students develop critical skills—negotiation, effective problem-solving, communication—to help them navigate academic life and the workplace. They also learn about the often-unspoken norms, expectations, and etiquette in the workplace that prepare students for success in internships and early career.



Mentorship & Networking

Students have the opportunity to learn from and network with tech and engineering professionals from a wide variety of industries and backgrounds. Through these interactions, they will begin to build their professional network as well as learn about a range of potential career paths that fit their interests.

The three-week summer internship program is followed by a nine-month mentorship program with a focus on career exploration, development of leadership skills, and growing professional networks to access apprenticeship and internship opportunities. Mentorship groups meet monthly to work on specific individual goals.

Organizers & Teaching Team

The Leadership Academy is organized by the Institute of Diversity Sciences, with funding from the National Science Foundation, and housed at UMass Amherst. The Institute of Diversity Sciences is directed by Dr. Nilanjana (Buju) Dasgupta, provost professor in psychological and brain sciences.

The Leadership Academy’s teaching team is led by Dr. Hannah Riley Bowles, chair of the Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences area at Harvard Kennedy School, and Dr. Rati Thanawala, a 2018 Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow with a 39-year career in the tech industry.


Rati Thanawala

Image of Rati Thanawala
Email Address

Hannah Riley Bowles

Image of Hannah Riley Bowles

Nilanjana (Buju) Dasgupta

Image of Buju Dasgupta
Email Address


The Leadership Academy is free of cost for students. Need-based scholarships of up to $3,000are available to offset the costs of declining paid work to attend the course, to improve Wi-Fi access, or buy equipment (tablet, camera) needed to attend the course.  

Student Testimonials

Watch short videos with testimonials from recent Leadership Academy graduates below.


The Leadership Academy is made possible through many corporate and academic partnerships. Past and present sponsors include:



Academic partners: