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Emerging Leaders Institute

The Emerging Leaders Institute is an in-depth professional development program for Graduate School students and postdocs, designed to prepare you to perform as competent, confident, and effective leaders at Duke and beyond. The program is offered annually in the spring semester.

In five intensive workshops and an individual coaching session over the course of eight weeks, participants work with a team of experienced leadership facilitators and coaches to develop their communication, self-awareness, professional adaptability, interdisciplinary teamwork, and leadership skills.

ELI participants who complete the program receive:

  • experience in project management and interdisciplinary teamwork
  • reports from three assessments of their strengths, preferences, and opportunities for growth
  • individual professional development coaching
  • opportunities to practice and develop their communication skills
  • a certificate of completion
  • the foundation for a lifelong commitment to professional development.

What  Do Past Participants Say?

Three of our 2014 participants blogged about their experiences with the program:


Jordan Schermerhorn shared her impression of the information she gained from the Human Patterns assessment administered during the program: "[T]he time to think about how you act during a crisis is most definitely not during the crisis itself, so proactively developing this awareness during down-time can be vital to success. This, for me, is the true value of ELI: being gifted the time to reflect on our motivations, quirks, and tendencies in a relaxed environment with gentle guidance." Read her full post.

Emily Roberts reflected on her experience with the team project, a core component of the program: "[F]rom the beginning I was focused on the group project – not simply as an exercise in working with others but to develop a concrete product that I can reference in future interviews as a significant accomplishment from those six weeks." Visit the Think Beyond Internships site her team created, and read her full post.

Aaron Towers wrote about his effort to carve out the time to participate in the program, and the way he approached his advisor to support him: "The email from Graduate Student Affairs promised that the opportunity would 'develop participants’ leadership, professional adaptability, communication, self-awareness, and interdisciplinary teamwork skills, preparing them to become successful employees after graduation.' But how could I sell that to my mentor, who was likely more concerned about my success prior to graduation?" Read his full post.

You can meet all our program alumni from 20142015, and 2016 on our website.

What Kinds of Team Projects are Created?

Interdisciplinary teams are asked to design, implement, and present on a project that improves the experience for graduate students and postdocs at Duke. The 2016 ELI participants documented their team projects and experiences in blog posts.

How Can I Learn More?

Register for the Emerging Leaders Institute Information Session on Monday, December 12 from 12-1 pm in Perkins Library room 217.

Apply to ELI

Topics and Schedule

Program Facilitators

2017 Participants

2016 Participants

2015 Participants

2014 Participants


Melissa Bostrom, PhD
Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development
Duke University Graduate School