USC LeaderShape

The Institute

Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, May 13-18, 2019

The Institute is a six-day, all student expenses covered program, provided by LeaderShape in collaboration with the University of Southern California’s Division of Student Affairs. Since its inception in 1986, the Institute has developed an international reputation as one of the premier leadership development programs for young adults. More than 60,000 young people from colleges, universities, corporations, and organizations across the United States and around the world have graduated from the program. This year, the Institute will take place at the beautiful Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA.



Transformative Student Experience

Since 2000, USC and LeaderShape have hosted the Institute. The LeaderShape program continues to provide a “transformative student experience” with the support of USC Vice President of Student Affairs and LeaderShape Board of Trustees Chairperson Dr. Ainsley Carry. The Institute challenges participants to lead with integrity while working towards a vision grounded in their deepest values.

Student Benefits:

  • All trip expenses covered
  • Promote leadership experience on resume
  • Opportunity to hear from special leaders and network
  • Transformational leadership development experience

The Program

The program content of the Institute reflects key leadership issues of vision, partnerships, integrity, and results. In addition, all participants leave the Institute with a “Breakthrough Blueprint.” The Breakthrough Blueprint is a well-conceived vision and plan of action for the participants to implement in their organization, community, or workplace.

Participants praise the Institute as a time of great introspection in addition to being an opportunity to develop skills to improve their organizations. The week is structured so that participants first gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their own strengths and weaknesses, ultimately enabling them to be more effective leaders in their organizations. One of our recent participants summarized the experience the following way:

“Leadershape Institute is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that allows you to discover your core values and leadership capabilities at your own pace. With the support of the Leadershape community, you will be placed in a comfortable environment with various tools to excel as you grow along with your colleagues.”

– Subeom Bae, USC B.S. Accounting, LeaderShape Institute participant 2017

“The LeaderShape Institute allowed me to recognize my core values and understand that the foundation of leadership are those personal values and integrity. Through conversation with a diverse group of students we learned that respect and vulnerability leads to an inclusive environment. And once the week of activities and fun ended, I had truly internalized the mantra of having a healthy disregard for the impossible.” 
– Shelby Barnes, USC B.S. Environmental Science and Health Minor in Marine Biology, Institute participant 2018

Specifics of the program include: a Team Challenge Course (a half-day outdoor team-building experience); an evening Guest Leader Forum, in which participants are exposed to “real world” role models in business, industry, and the professions; quality facilitators from a variety of backgrounds; and learning and sharing in small groups called “Family Clusters.”

LeaderShape Faculty

Co-Lead Faculty Facilitators

Cluster Faculty

Visionary Leadership Panel Forum


Students must be available to fully participate for the entirety of the Institute from May 13- 18, 2019. Applications will be reviewed and selected on a rolling-admissions basis. USC LeaderShape Institute participants will be invited to a student orientation and welcome reception prior to the May 13-18, 2019 Institute program.


Sign up to receive more information about the Institute.


Janine Braun
Senior Administrator of Strategic Planning and Analysis
Office of the Vice President
USC Division of Student Affairs
(213) 821-9539

Learn more about LeaderShape.


How long is the application?

The application is 5 questions, each with a 200-word maximum.

Should I apply even if I have pending internship or summer plans?

We encourage students to apply even if they are unsure if their summer plans will conflict with the program. We admit on rolling basis so you will want to secure your seat in order to plan ahead.

How many applications are received every year and how many students are admitted to the Institute?

Every year varies on the application volume however, we received over 100 applications the last few years and admit on a rolling admissions basis to reach the 60-student enrollment target.

When will I be notified of my admission status?

You will be notified around 10 business days after your application submission.

Can I defer enrollment?

We do not allow enrollment deferment; however, we encourage students to apply next year should you not be able to attend this year’s program.

What will I need to pay for this event?

This event is entirely paid for by the USC Student Affairs division. We cover your lodging, transportation, and meals. A $25 non-refundable deposit is required at your orientation and will be returned to you on Day 1 of the Institute.

Do I have to attend an orientation?

Participants are required to attend one of the scheduled mandatory orientation sessions. If there is an emergency or reason you cannot attend an orientation, please contact Janine Braun at

Can I pick my roommate?

You may request a roommate, but we cannot guarantee a pairing.