Changes are coming to the Wilson Leadership Scholar Award (WLSA)

Canada: Theory Meets Practice

Get a sneak peek of what the WLSA experience is like at this case study series in Winter 2022.

Learn about the case studies
August 26, 2021

The leadership experience award will now be open to more students

  • McMaster president and vice-chancellor David Farrar has committed to continuing the award.
  • Permanent residents, international students and domestic students are eligible.
  • There are up to a total of 10 awards available each year, valued at $12,000 in direct funding and up to $2,000 in experiential funding. Each cohort will include both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Up to three of the seven undergraduate spots will be reserved for students whose proposed projects align with the Wilson Foundation-funded Future of Canada Project research themes (themes to be announced in late Fall 2021).

All Wilson Leaders participate in both group and individualized components.

As a group, Wilson Leaders…

  • Lead problem-based learning (PBL) sessions and learn from visiting speakers on national issues related to democracy, the economy, education, healthcare, the impacts of technology and public policy.
  • Learn skills, such as reading balance sheets, working with government officials and more.
  • Discuss shared readings related to knowledge gaps.
  • Develop group coaching skills through community project sessions.

Individually, Wilson Leaders…

  • Work towards individual development goals.
  • Meet with mentors.
  • Develop and execute an applied community project that helps address a significant issue in Canada, and that has the potential to be scaled up.

The Wilson Leadership Scholar Award (WLSA) wouldn’t be what it is without…

  • The directness that guest speakers bring to small-group discussions
  • The tight-knit, supportive community that develops in a small cohort

Have questions about the award?

Contact wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca or learn more about the program and get application tips by watching the Instagram Live recordings on @MacSSC.

How to apply (McMaster students)

Deadline for undergraduate and graduate students: 11:59 p.m. ET on January 30, 2023

Apply on AwardSpring, McMaster’s online award platform, if you’re a current McMaster student. Contact wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca if you have questions or need support.

Note: You don’t need to email your application if you’re a current McMaster student and you’ve applied on AwardSpring.

To be eligible for the award, you must…

  • Be in your second-last year of an undergraduate program or in any year of a graduate program
  • Have a full-time or equivalent course load for both Fall and Winter 2022–2023
  • Have a 7.5 or higher cumulative GPA
  • Be willing to spend 15 hours per month in the program, including time for synchronous group events between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET
  • Have approval from your dissertation supervisor or graduate chair (applicants to the grad stream only)

Completing the personal statement

Write a personal statement describing how this award will fit your career and education journey. Draw on your personal experiences and clearly demonstrate why it makes sense for you to devote your time and effort to participate in the award program.

  • Which parts of it will be of the most value to you?
  • How do you think you’ll use the experiences going forward?
  • How will you measure your success in the program?
  • If you have an idea for a community project, please briefly state what problem your project would address and how you plan to address it. If your project relates to a Future of Canada Project research theme, please state the theme.

Reviewers will use this information to determine if you get an interview, so make it count. We recommend that you…

  • Use plain language.
  • Avoid using bold font to highlight words or phrases.
  • Write a statement that would give a stranger an understanding of what motivates you.

Your statement should be no more than 1,000 words. Statements beyond 1,200 words will be disqualified.

Letters of reference

  1. You can include non-academic references. Choose writers who can comment on your strengths, leadership capacity, what you can gain from and contribute to the WLSA, and your character.
  2. Referees should not be relatives, close friends or peers.
  3. Letters submitted by the applicant for their referee will not be considered. Referees will automatically be invited to submit their letters once you have saved their name and contact information in your AwardSpring application.

How to apply (external prospective graduate applicants)

Apply via email by 11:59 p.m. ET on January 30, 2023

Review this section to find out if you’re eligible as an external applicant and learn how to prepare and submit an application. Contact wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca if you have questions or need support.

To be eligible for the award, you must be…

  • Be a full-time or equivalent McMaster graduate student for both Fall and Winter 2022–2023
  • Be willing to spend 15 hours per month in the program, including time for synchronous group events between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET
  • Have approval from your dissertation supervisor or graduate chair

This award requires a time commitment — it’s part of what makes the experience so rewarding. So, applicants who move forward in the selection process must provide a letter of support from their supervisor or, if a supervisor is unavailable, their department’s graduate chair.

What’s in an application?

  1. Candidate cover sheet
  2. Personal statement
  3. Letter of reference

Submitting a complete application

  1. The candidate cover sheet, personal statement and letters of reference are submitted by email to wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca no later than 11:59 pm ET on March 28, 2022.
  2. The cover sheet and personal statement are submitted together as a single PDF or Word file saved as: “LAST NAME, FIRST NAME – WLSA GRAD 2022.” The subject line of the email submission should be the same: “LAST NAME, FIRST NAME – WLSA GRAD 2022.”
  3. The letters of reference are submitted directly by their authors as PDF or Word files saved as: “APPLICANT LAST NAME, APPLICANT FIRST NAME – REFERENCE LAST NAME – WLSA GRADpdf”. The subject line of the email submission should be the same: “APPLICANT LAST NAME, APPLICANT FIRST NAME – REFERENCE LAST NAME – WLSA GRAD 2022.pdf”

Completing the candidate cover sheet

The cover sheet is simply an administrative tool — it’s not weighted in the application review. It should state:

  1. Last name, given name (preferred name)
  2. Email (McMaster address if possible)
  3. Preferred phone number
  4. McMaster student number (if possible)
  5. Anticipated Faculty, program and degree for 2022–2023
  6. Date you started or will start your degree at McMaster University
  7. Expected completion date of your degree at McMaster University

Completing the personal statement

Write a personal statement describing how this award will fit your career and education journey. Draw on your personal experiences and clearly demonstrate why it makes sense for you to devote your time and effort to participate in the award program.

  • Which parts of it will be of the most value to you?
  • How do you think you’ll use the experiences going forward?
  • How will you measure your success in the program?
  • If you have an idea for a community project, please briefly state what problem your project would address and how you plan to address it. If your project relates to a Future of Canada Project research theme, please state the theme.

Reviewers will use this information to determine if you get an interview, so make it count. We recommend that you…

  • Use plain language.
  • Avoid using bold font to highlight words or phrases.
  • Write a statement that would give a stranger an understanding of what motivates you.

Your statement should be no more than 1,000 words. Statements beyond 1,200 words will be disqualified.

Letters of reference

  1. You can include non-academic references. Choose writers who can comment on your strengths, leadership capacity, what you can gain from and contribute to the WLSA, and your character.
  2. Referees should not be relatives, close friends or peers.
  3. Letters submitted by the applicant for their referee will not be considered. Referees must submit letters directly to wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca.

What’s next?

Selected applicants will receive an email after applications have been reviewed, inviting them to complete an online interview; applicants who are not advancing will be advised of the decision. Please check the inbox and spam folder of the email address you have listed in your cover letter or AwardSpring application.

Due to the volume of applications, feedback on applications and interviews will not be provided.

The online interview consists of a short series of questions that applicants respond to via video, and may include a timed written response. Detailed instructions for recording responses will be included in the email invitation. Applicants will be given approximately one week from the time when the email invitation is sent to complete their online interview. All applicants will be notified as to whether they have been selected for panel interviews, tentatively set for March 2022 for applicants to the undergraduate stream and June 2022 for applicants to the graduate stream. A final interview will take place within the month following, and interviewees will be notified of the results shortly afterwards.