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General questions

  • What is ZLP’s perspective of leadership?
  • What skills does ZLP give us that are useful in the workplace environment?
  • How much of a business background does the program give you?

ZLP program structure

  • How is ZLP structured?
  • What are retreats like?
  • What are classes like? What is the time commitment?
  • How strict are you with students attending the retreats?
  • Do retreats interfere with summer internships? 

Cost of program

  • What is the cost of the program to the student?

ZLP applications

  • What’s the application process like?
  • Who is eligible to apply?
  • Is the application for freshmen only?
  • What are some characteristics that you are looking for in a ZLP candidate?


Question: What is ZLP’s perspective of leadership?

Answer: Leadership is authentic positive influence and is independent of title or position. This is not to say that titles or positions are unimportant, but they are not necessary for leadership. By broadening our perspectives and deepening our awareness, we open our eyes to new possibilities and a more holistic way of seeing challenges in our organizations. This allows us to make more thoughtful decisions. Our goal is not to produce CEOs, although we know we have future CEOs in our program. Rather, our goal is to empower you to lead authentically and to have the courage to make decisions that are true to your values and will have a positive impact on those around you.

Question: What skills does ZLP give students that are useful in the workplace environment?

Answer: The program helps students develop skills such as self-confidence, empathetic listening, creativity and problem solving that will help them in any industry or endeavor they pursue. They practice critical thinking, teamwork, curiosity and communication. They gain a broader perspective of technical work by learning the fundamentals of business and the free market system. They learn about and reflect on their strengths, weaknesses and natural styles of leadership. Alumni who graduated report that their supervisors commend them on their emotional maturity, poise and confidence. 

Question: How much of a business background does the program give you?

Answer: Business, along with leadership and service, is one of the three pillars of the program. Every semester includes an exploration of the free enterprise system, business fundamentals or ways that businesses can make a positive impact on their employees and communities. We do this by hosting guest lecturers from the Mays Business School, discussing case studies, running business simulations, studying companies, and learning about corporate social responsibility and philanthropy. Students will not receive in-depth business instruction, but will gain a more complete understanding of the organizations in which many of them will work by learning some of the terms and concepts important in business.


Question: How is the Zachry Leadership Program structured?

Answer: The Zachry Leadership Program spans five semesters. Admitted students take a three-credit hour leadership course each semester. Each course includes a mandatory pre-semester retreat (all expenses paid by the program) that is an intensive, multi-day event consisting of experiential learning, interactive exercises, reflection and dialogue. During the semester, weekly class sessions include dialogues with peers, business simulations, personal reflections, case study discussions and conversations with thought leaders from industry, government and nonprofit organizations. Upon completion students earn an academic certificate in holistic leadership. Visit here for more information about the program structure.

Question: What are the retreats like?

Answer: For many students, the retreats are the highlight of the program. The program pays all expenses for each retreat, including food, housing, materials and transportation. There are five retreats, one before each respective semester, and all are mandatory. They take place the week before the semester begins, usually Monday through Thursday. The purpose of the retreat is to jump-start learning on the main theme of the semester that will ensue. The retreats set the tone for the semester and introduce the core leadership topics that the class will cover. Each retreat presents an opportunity for the students to immerse themselves in the theme of the semester and connect with each other before the usual stress of the semester begins. Through shared experiences and dialogue, trusted relationships are fostered within the cohort. 

Question: How strict are you with students attending the retreats?

Answer: The retreats comprise the lab portion of each respective course and therefore attendance is mandatory. They are key experiences in the leadership development process and several of the retreats include external world-class facilitators. Students attend all retreats free of charge.

Question: Do retreats interfere with summer internships?

Answer: We have never had an issue with a summer internship conflicting with the August retreat. We usually know the dates of the retreats 6-9 months in advance and will share those with students so they can coordinate with their companies.

Question: What are classes like? What is the time commitment?

Answer: The classes typically meet once per week for two hours. They are highly experiential and discussion-based and may include case studies, guest speakers from industry, simulations, and discussions or exercises designed to develop emotional intelligence skills. Most semesters include some element of group work that allows students to hone their teamwork and communication skills. The core learning happens during the class. Students should expect to spend 30-60 minutes outside class in preparation.


Question: What is the cost of the program to the student?

Answer: The program comes at no cost to the student. Zachry Group’s generous gift allows for all costs associated with the program to be covered. This covers the cost of the retreats (accommodation, transportation, meals, facilitators, etc.), the costs of the classes (books, guest speakers) as well as other program events and activities throughout the year.


Question: What is the application process like?

Answer: Applications open in April and close in June. A selection of applicants will be invited to interview in October, and the new cohort of 32 students will commence the program the following January. 

Question: Who is eligible to apply?

Answer: All students who are enrolled in the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, Galveston or in one of the engineering academies are eligible to apply, provided that they have at least five semesters remaining from the spring semester that they start the program until graduation. Students must be in good standing with the university (conduct and academic) and have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5, but grades will not factor into the selection process other than determining eligibility.

Question: Is the application for freshmen only?

Answer: Typically, students who are applying for the program are finishing their freshman year and starting in their sophomore year. That’s the usual case, but not always. You need to have five full semesters left starting the spring semester the program begins until graduation. We have accepted students who applied at the end of their sophomore year, but they were on a five-year plan, so they still had five semesters left when they started the program.

Question: What are some characteristics that you are looking for in a ZLP candidate?

Answer: We are looking for candidates that:
  • Demonstrate excellence, passion and a desire to contribute beyond themselves.
  • Are willing to be vulnerable and authentic in searching out their leadership calling, and who understand that it will be a journey.
  • Are committed, who want to learn, who are humble, and who are dedicated to improving.
  • Understand the value of collaboration and are willing to contribute to an environment of trust, respect and openness within the cohort.
GPA is not a selection criterion, but students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 to be eligible. Previous leadership experience is not necessary.