M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy

Shape Your Future and the World Through the M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy

Transform your vision into action. The M.A & Lila Self Leadership Academy supports current and prospective Illinois Institute of Technology undergraduate students who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential by giving them the tools they need to better impact the world around them.

Admission to the M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy involves a comprehensive assessment process that evaluates the academic performance, community impact, and leadership potential of each candidate. An interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff evaluates each application using a standardized scoring rubric. Finalists are invited to a half-day simulation designed to assess their current leadership abilities and potential; professionally trained assessors from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Department of Psychology observe, record, and score the simulation exercises.

M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy alumni hold roles in high-impact positions across various sectors, serving in leadership roles within federal agencies, founding venture-backed startups, researching at leading medical schools, and other positions. Recent graduates of our program have pursued graduate studies at Johns Hopkins, MIT, and the University of Toronto, and/or secured roles at companies including Google, Microsoft, and Cisco.


The M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy Experience

The M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy has nurtured highly motivated students since 2000. Through generous financial support and tailored coaching, scholars graduate with the skills they need to effect change globally and within their communities. Beyond these foundational offerings, we provide numerous networking opportunities, real-world experience in leadership, and access to a diverse, impactful network of alumni. This holistic approach to leadership training ensures graduates have the skills they need to make a difference in their fields.

Near Full-Tuition Scholarships

Near full-tuition scholarships are provided for undergraduate students, including international students, incoming first-year students, and current Freshmen/Sophomores as well as third-year architecture majors currently attending Illinois Tech. Visit the scholarship page for application information.

You can also learn more about the current and alumni scholars.


Individual coaching and mentoring is provided by the executive director and program manager. In addition, scholars are paired with alumni mentors or leaders in the Chicago community to enhance their professional development, gain real-world insights, and build lasting networks. This unique opportunity equips scholars with guidance on how to make a lasting impact on their communities and build a successful career as a leader.

M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy


The Leadership Academy offers several leadership development seminars across the academic year. Open to any student at Illinois Tech, the academy holds seminars that aim to provide attendees with an opportunity to learn about specific leadership topics in a fun and engaging way. Each seminar focuses on a particular topic in leadership and is led by a presenter who has expertise in that area.

The goals for each seminar are:

  • To teach attendees about the topic utilizing a non-lecture style through active learning, discussion, critical thinking, and group collaboration
  • To prepare attendees to utilize the knowledge, skills, and tools learned in the seminar in the classroom, workplace, or everyday life

Check out upcoming seminars on our events page.

M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy Students


The senior capstone project is designed to display what senior scholars have learned since entering the academy with the wider community. Seniors work in small groups over the course of the year to complete an approved project of their choosing. At the end of the academic year, seniors present the results and implications of their project, along with the leadership theory that informed their project.


Fall Leadership Retreat—Open to sophomores, juniors, and transfer students, this retreat focuses on building leadership and team skills.

Scholar Retreats—Designed specifically for Leadership Academy scholars, these retreats help to foster the Leadership Academy community and further develop the skills and knowledge of our scholars.



Scholars are invited to attend Chicago civic group meetings, meetings with members of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees and administration, participate in regular alumni panels, and attend an annual in-person event with alumni of the academy.


Rooted in a model of servant leadership, all scholars are engaged in volunteering either on campus or within the broader Chicago community. Scholars are required to complete community service hours during the semester are be provided opportunities in the Bronzeville community.

M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy Students