Applications Open for Young Social Entrepreneurs at Watson University

Deadline: November 1, 2016

Watson U is a new model of higher education designed to maximize the impact of the next generation. Promising young leaders from around the world are convened in Boulder, Colorado, where they start and advance ventures aimed at alleviating some of the world’s most urgent problems. The program consists of:


  1. Training: award-winning curriculum taught by the world’s foremost social entrepreneurs focused on venture development – business modeling, fundraising, scaling, etc; as well as personal development – confidence, resilience, grit, creativity, etc.
  2. Mentorship: each scholar is matched up with two mentors from our network of 50+ top practitioners in the social impact space who meet up, mentor, advise scholars on a weekly basis over the course of the semester.
  3. Community: a highly vetted group of the world’s top young entrepreneurial talent living together in a national historic landmark lends itself to cross pollination, emergence of new ideas, philosophies, inspiration, and life-long professional partnerships and friendships.

Students can come to Watson U for one semester, or for the full degree program and receive an accredited Bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship through our collaboration with Lynn University and Naropa University. Watson U has graduated 67 alumni from 30 countries who have raised over $12.5 million and have impacted thousands of people around the world or the ventures they have founded/co-founded.


Watson U is looking for 18-23 year old early stage social entrepreneurs with a bias towards action. We evaluate each application using three main criteria:

  • The Person
    Gritty Idealism: Watson scholars are idealistic in the sense that they believe they can make the world a better place, but gritty in the sense that they aren’t afraid to start and bootstrap a solution in a resource limited environment.
    Entrepreneurial Courage: Ideal candidates protect their courage- by demonstrating they aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone with a bias towards action and prototyping- while also protecting the courage of their fellow scholars- through support and peer to peer mentorship.
    Motivation: We look at applicants’ key influences and motivations behind the creation of their ventures and their interest in attending Watson U, as well as their overall character. Competitive applicants are willing and able to dedicate themselves fully to this program as well as to their venture. They are communicative, open-minded and curious.
  • The Venture
    Addressing the Root Cause: We evaluate the extent to which the idea the scholar is developing addresses the root cause of the problem they are choosing to solve – and how well have they articulated both their solution and the problem – rather than simply putting a band-aid on a problem.
    Viability of Idea: We look at how likely it is that the applicant’s venture will succeed. Does the scholar have a solid idea and model to develop, advance, and eventually scale?
  • The Stage
    Age and Life Stage: Students can apply to Watson’s semester program before (gap year), during, or immediately after their undergraduate studies, or come to Watson U for their Bachelor’s degree, which can be completed in as little as 2.5 years. Watson scholars are between the ages of 18-23.
    Venture Stage, Early Prototyping: The students we select are early stage in the development of their ideas, but in most cases a strong applicant has already implemented at least a prototype of their idea. This means that they are typically past idea stage.


Partial and Full scholarships are available. See above for the full program description.

Venture Advancement and Personal Development:

  • Pro Bono (free) international legal support during and after time at Watson U;
  • Access to two different co-working spaces in Boulder;
  • Weekly Watson Lab with workshops led by scholars, preceptors and master course teachers;
  • Opportunity to pitch to partners and funders in end of semester Summit;
  • Access to funder and investor feedback and financing during Funder Week;
  • 2:1 mentor : scholar ratio;
  • 1:1 coaching sessions with Watson U preceptors;
  • Exclusive Watson master courses and mentorship sessions with world renown entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Residential Life and Community:

  • All scholars live in rooms or cabins on campus equipped with bathrooms and kitchens;
  • Scholars form a close-knit global community of 18-23 year-old social entrepreneurs who gather to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges;
  • Campus located at historic Chautauqua Park in Boulder CO, situated next to the beautiful Flatirons and Rocky Mountains;
  • Park access to dozens of hiking trails;
  • Driving distance of Rocky Mountain National Park;
  • Walking distance of downtown Boulder;
  • Free local gym membership;
  • Discount for on-site Chautauqua dining.

Apply Now!

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