Leadership Development program

Undergrad minor

Get leadership training for any career path

Learn. Be. Do. That is the method behind UW-La Crosse’s Leadership Development Minor. Based on best practices in leadership development, students in the minor not only gain knowledge of core leadership theories, they also explore who they are, how that connects to different approaches to leadership, and develop their own unique leadership philosophy.

The program is an asset to add to any major and aims to increase students’ confidence and self-perception as a leader. The ultimate goal is to help students become more authentic leaders.

How can a leadership development minor advance my career?

Students who participate in the program often use experiences they've had to pursue leadership positions on campus whether in athletics, theater, student organizations or their major program of study. At times, the minor has also helped graduates find a faster track into leadership opportunities in their career post-graduation. This is because graduates can draw from leadership experiences both in and outside of classroom that the minor facilitated.

The minor is housed within the Communication Studies Department, but it was created with help from multiple departments across the university. Its interdisciplinary nature makes it an asset to students in any major who are looking to advance within their careers.

What distinguishes UWL's Leadership Development Minor?

Explore your leadership style and apply knowledge

Students will take several personal assessments, reflect on their results, and identify how they may develop as a unique, authentic leader. Students then explore theories of leadership to begin to understand all of the ways they may be challenged as a leader.

Have a leadership immersion experience

All students in the minor are required to have a leadership immersion experience where they hold a position of leadership or initiate a new program or approach as part of their capstone course. Assignments challenge students to consider their experience as it relates to content covered in the course.

Participate in a one-of-a-kind program

UWL is the only university in the UW System with an academic minor dedicated to leadership studies.

Practice leading in a low-stakes environment

Learning and practicing leadership in a classroom environment provides opportunities to explore and test different strategies to find what works best in a variety of challenging situations. Most students gain four or five leadership experiences throughout the minor, including on and off-campus experiences. Testing leadership practices is significantly harder once students have launched a career and may not feel secure making decisions with the potential real-world ramifications.

Learn about and experience the importance of diversity in effective leadership

The minor embraces social justice and diversity by addressing the challenges and tremendous opportunities of leading in a dynamic, diverse, and ever-changing world.

Get teamwork experience

Students will engage in a lot of group work within the minor, helping them understand how the strengths of different people can work together and what makes the most effective team.

Connect with community

About half of students in the program explore off-campus leadership opportunities as part of their curriculum. These experiences allow networking opportunities with local businesses and organizations, which at times result in job offers post-graduation.

Sample courses

CST 280 Introduction to Communication and Leadership This course is an introduction to the study, skill and practice of leadership from a communication perspective. Students will take a variety of surveys and instruments in order to understand their unique leadership style and characteristics. Planning and practicing leadership will involve developing leadership skills, creating a vision, setting organizational tone, listening to organizational members, and overcoming obstacles to effective leadership. Prerequisite: CST 110. Offered Annually.

CST 380 Communicating Leadership An in-depth exploration of the communicative phenomenon of leadership. Theories and research methods used by noted communication and leadership scholars will be discussed and critiqued. Topics covered may include notions of leadership and organizations as places of leadership. Additional topics will focus on leaders as communicators, creators and sustainers of organizational culture, decision makers, change agents, and facilitators. Offered Annually.

CST 481 Applied Leadership Experience The applied leadership experience course is a capstone to the leadership development minor and designed to guide students through a leadership immersion experience. As such, students are required to be the designated leader of a group, lead an implementation of a product, process, policy or procedure, or have an important role on a change-oriented/social justice group or team. Students will reflect on their leadership experiences in terms of course content covered in the core and emphasis area classes of the leadership development minor. Students who are eligible for this course will complete an application and description of their leadership immersion experience for approval and permission to enroll. Prerequisite: CST 280, CST 380. Consent of instructor. Offered Annually.