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Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program

Transforming the lives of low-income, first-in-family to college students.


Applications for the 2021 Crossroads Emerging Leadership Program are open!  

Applications closed March 22, 2021. Next cycle opens next year.


Who is it for? 

This program is for students who are from backgrounds of social and financial adversity. All applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • First person in their immediate family, or the first member of a generation, to attend university.
  • Low-income background
  • Ages 18-26

For more details about eligibility, please see the FAQ below.

What will I learn?

Through the program, students will gain the following knowledge and skills:

  • Build connections with other Crossroads students from around the world
  • Access mentorship and internship opportunities from industry leaders
  • Participate in practical skill-building workshops (data visualization, grant writing, etc.)
  • Receive guidance, affirmation, and critical feedback to fulfill academic and professional aspirations

The deadline for applications is March 22. Students who apply by this date will receive priority access to subsequent rounds of the program. The Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program is highly competitive, and we strongly encourage you to submit the application at your earliest.

Students who qualify for the first stage of the Crossroads program will receive access to free HarvardX courses hosted by Harvard faculty members from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. Course enrollment is rolling, which is why we encourage you to submit your application before or by the priority deadline.

Once accepted to the Crossroads program, students will continue through a multi-stage selection process, culminating in the finalist program in June, delivered virtually due to COVID-19.

What are the outcomes?

CELP’s academic and professional development offerings will tangibly support the next steps of your journey as a leader in your local community and beyond. The Crossroads alumni network is a dynamic and diverse group composed of program finalists spanning 100 countries. Membership in this group provides access to regional cohorts and affinity networks.

Frequently Asked Questions

For technical questions or trouble with the application platform, please visit the Submitter Resource Center or reach out to Submittable’s Customer Support team here.


Can I apply if I have already graduated from university?

Yes, we accept students that are between 18-24 years old, who are going to begin an undergraduate program soon OR are enrolled an undergraduate university program OR who are recent graduates of a university within the last 3 years. If you graduated exactly three years ago, you also qualify.

Can I apply if I am in a postgraduate program (Master’s degree, PhD, etc.)?


If I am currently working and not enrolled as a student, do I qualify?

We accept recent graduates of university, graduating from an undergraduate program within the past 3 years.

If I am about to begin my first semester of university this year, do I qualify?

Yes, as long as the other criteria are met. 

I am currently studying outside of my country of origin. Do I still qualify?

No, students must be in studying in their country of origin to qualify.

I am older than 24 because of an alternative education timeline. Do I still qualify?

Yes, on a case-by-case basis, as long as other criteria are met. We realize that extenuating circumstances may have altered your path.

If my parents went to an undergraduate or professional college, do I qualify?


How do you define “first member in family?”

This refers to the first person in the family or a person of the first generation of a family. Family includes adoptive and/or biological members of your immediate family.

If my sibling or cousin is already enrolled or has already graduated from university, am I still eligible?

Yes, the stipulation for “first member in family” refers to the first generation of a family to attend university.

Do I need a TOEFL or IELTS score to apply to the program?

No. While fluency in English is required, shortlisted candidates will only need to demonstrate fluency during the application process.

If I attended the Crossroads program in the past, can I go again this year?

You are not eligible for the Dubai sessions. You are eligible for the online program. 

Is there assistance for applicants with disabilities?


Visiting Dubai

Will there be an in-person finalist program for this cycle?

Our team is closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Safety is our highest priority. Should there be an in-person program, the following guidelines apply.

About the Finalist Program

What should I expect from the program? What topics will be covered?

Participants will gain exposure to a variety of experiences, such as a Harvard classroom environment, case-study discussion groups, sessions led by Harvard faculty, mentor workshops, and talks led by Harvard admissions. This extensive, multidisciplinary curriculum has been curated by Harvard faculty. Most uniquely, finalists will connect with a diverse, hard-working, and talented group of future leaders spanning continents and intellectual curiosities.

Using HarvardX

Do I need to pay for HarvardX courses / I accidentally paid for the HarvardX course? 

Please do not pay for HarvardX courses. CELP curates a number of HarvardX courses available to Crossroads students for free. If you qualify for the program, our team will reach out to you with details on how to access these HarvardX courses.

I was not able to enroll in the HarvardX course of my first choice. 

Students who apply by the priority deadline of February 15 can ensure they will be able to enroll in the courses of their first preference. Course enrollment will operate on a rolling basis afterwards. We highly encourage you to apply by the priority deadline in order to secure enrollment in the courses of your preference.

How many HarvardX courses do I need to complete?

In order to move onto the second round of the program, Crossroads candidates must complete one or more courses on HarvardX. We encourage you to take full advantage of access to these courses.