Fellowship Mission Statement

Our vision is to develop transformational leaders in all fields of communication and the arts in support of building a more just and equitable society. 


Emerson’s Transformational Leaders Graduate Fellowship is a one-year fellowship focused on developing future leaders committed to building a more just and equitable society. The purpose of the program is to nurture diverse and transformational leaders in communications and the arts; to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion among Emerson’s graduate programs; to enrich and transform the graduate student experience at Emerson, and to effect positive change in the broader communication and arts industries.

Cohort Details

A small cohort of first-year graduate students will be selected to participate in the year-long fellowship program. The program will commence in the Fall semester and conclude with a day-long symposium in the Spring semester. The program will commence in the Fall semester and conclude with a day-long symposium in the Spring semester. All fellows are required to attend the symposium in person.

As a group, the cohort works together to cultivate leadership skills that engage the Emerson Graduate Community. 

The Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies will serve as your mentor, hosting monthly meetings with the entire cohort and also holding one-on-one sessions with each Fellow. 

Each Fellow will also have the opportunity to be paired with an external mentor via Emerson’s Board of Advisors


In addition to the Leadership Development, Participation, and Mentoring opportunities, students receive a financial scholarship* that includes:

  • $5,000 stipend in the amount of $2,500 increments each semester they are enrolled as a Fellow
  • A 20% scholarship applied toward your graduate program's tuition

*Note: The Fellowship is a separate arrangement from any existing employment relationships. No teaching, research, or other current or future services are required to receive the stipend. As a non-qualified scholarship, this is taxable. Non-resident alien Fellows will require withholding and reporting on Form 1042-S, subject to any applicable treaty exemptions.

Leadership Development and Participation 

Fellows participate in a short-term, self-paced leadership development course offered by an external party and meet monthly as a cohort with the Dean to discuss course materials and discuss related topics. 

During the monthly cohort meetings with the Dean, Fellows will discuss: 

  • The leadership development curriculum and talk about key elements of leadership. 
  • Any pressing issue of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, either relating to Emerson or to the larger society. 
  • Fellows will be expected to arrive prepared to discuss how the issue (agreed upon beforehand) impacts their graduate program, the College, the city or their chosen field/industry
  • Planning for the end-of-year symposium 
  • Opportunities to hear from guest speakers, attend events, or other special learning opportunities

Fellows will also meet one-on-one with the Dean at least once during the year for mentorship. The Dean will make connections with other internal and external partners depending upon the Fellow’s field of interest and career trajectory. 


Fellows work closely with a Board of Advisors/Trustees Mentor at the beginning of their program and will meet with them at least twice throughout the program. The mentorship gives students access to:

  • Expanded career and personal network.
  • Professional development opportunities.
  • Introduction to/expanded knowledge of industry or field of interest.


The Fellowship culminates with a symposium that is developed and hosted by the Fellows and offered to the Emerson community at large. 

Fellows will be given a budget to work with to select and invite a keynote speaker for the symposium and will be charged with developing and leading two interactive workshops. Fellows from all programs, regardless of modality (in-person, online, or hybrid), are required to attend the Symposium in person.


  • Courage: Forging a path through stagnation, resistance and fear requires persistence and a willingness to bear pressure. Leading others along the path requires compassion and understanding.  
  • Character: Leading others in the right direction requires a strong moral compass, along with the willingness to stop when necessary and self-reflect. 
  • Perseverance: Transformational change requires not only passion but tenacity, the willingness to keep going when the going gets tough.
  • Adaptability: The challenges of the day are complex and evolving. Motivating others to find collective solutions to these challenges requires discernment, critical thinking, flexibility, continuous learning and the willingness to change.

Application Information


Students must be entering their first semester of graduate school during the fall or summer term at Emerson College. Students must be enrolled in an eligible program.*

Fellows must maintain good academic standing during their program, including:

  • Maintaining a GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Full-time enrollment during your first fall and spring semesters. 
  • Attending all monthly meetings. Absences from more than 1 meeting may jeopardize a Fellow’s status.
  • Participation in the planning and execution of the ending Symposium.
  • Fulfillment of all other requirements and duties of the fellowship.

* All programs except the Communication Disorders MS Online and the Marketing MA programs are eligible to apply for the Fellowship.

Application Requirements

In addition to the materials required for admission to your chosen degree program, you will be prompted to respond to the essay prompts listed below. Ideal candidates will demonstrate a commitment to the program's mission, a strong connection to our pillars, a capacity for self-development and the potential to lead change for the common good. 

Essay Prompts

  1. Question 1; (500-700 words). Identify a current issue of equity access or social justice related to your field of study. Why is this a concern? What is the real-world impact of this issue and why does it matter that it be addressed/changed/rectified
  2. Question 2; Case study (500-700 words). CASE STUDY: In Memphis, TN, debate coaches are surprised when the school district informs them that they’re not allowed to use a debate question from the National Debate Coaches Association focused on the question of environmental racism as revealed by lead in the water supply. This issue is especially relevant to many students, as many residents of Memphis deal with contaminated water, particularly Black and low-income residents. The school superintendent wishes to preempt any complaint under the state’s new anti-CRT law, believing it will distract from more pressing needs and concerns of the student body. But some coaches are skeptical about the level of caution being applied and what it means to restrict this information from students. The local debate league’s leadership board needs to reach an agreement about how to respond to the district’s decision.
    • Questions:
      • As a member of the leadership board, how do you help the board reach a decision about how to respond?
      • What values, principles, and practices guide your thinking?
      • How do you help build consensus around whatever decision is reached?


Applications are due by the priority deadline for your chosen Graduate Program. 

Applications can be submitted at the same time of application to your degree program or after submission. 

Applicants will be notified of selection for the program in early April prior to the deposit deadline.