Robert J. Coury Applied Leadership Program

A highly interactive workshop series whereby Marshall first-year students learn tools and skills to launch their personal leadership plans.

Aspiring leaders apply soon to join the Spring 2024 Coury Leadership cohort. If you are a first-year student (freshman or a transfer student) and want to develop your confidence, character, and courage, this program is for you.

Connor Duncan"The Coury Program has changed the trajectory of both my time at USC and future career for the better! Truly reflecting on my values and strengths has allowed me to reorient my commitments to better align with those."

-Connor Duncan


Talitha Newsom Callan"Participating in the Robert J. Coury Applied Leadership Program was one of the best decisions I made freshman year. This program enabled me to leverage my strengths and feel more confident in presentations, interviews and meeting new people.”  

-Talitha Newsom Callan 


The Robert J. Coury Applied Leadership Program is a free,  non-credit program designed to encourage confidence, character, and courage in first-year undergraduate students within the Marshall School of Business.


First-year students (freshman and transfers) participate in highly interactive seminars and skill-building cohort meetings throughout the spring semester in an effort to identify and develop their strengths and values as leaders. The program culminates in a leadership capstone experience led by students from the Marshall Masters of Business for Veterans program. Program sessions are facilitated by experienced Marshall faculty, staff, and Student Mentors. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will receive a digital badge.

Apply soon to join our Spring 2024 cohort!

Leadership Team:

Rebecca HeinoRebecca ' Becky' Heino, Ph.D. 
Academic Director, Robert J. Coury Applied Leadership Program 
Cyrus the Great Teaching Chair in Timeless Leadership 
Professor of Clinical Management and Organization




Ani HakobyanAni Hakobyan, M.Ed. 
Administrative Director, Robert J. Coury Applied Leadership Program

Student Mentors: 

Upon completion of the program, all participants are eligible to apply and become a paid Student Mentor. Student mentors are sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are trained to help program participants realize their strengths as a leader and manage crucial conversations in both the business world as well as personal life.


Contact Us:

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What is the history of Robert J. Coury Applied Leadership Program?

The Robert J. Coury Applied Leadership Program was founded with the mission of educating, inspiring, and mentoring a new generation of student leaders. In a competitive world, we often find ourselves trying to mimic the actions and leadership of other people to reach the top as soon as possible. The reality is that no two people have the same skills and experience. The Coury Program is designed to combat this idea and create an individualized and strengths-based approach to leadership that will help you to better understand yourself as an individual and a leader. In building your confidence, character and courage, the skills you learn will be beneficial to you in the present on campus as well as in your professional endeavors as future leaders who will make a difference.

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Who is eligible to apply?

First-year, full-time Marshall and Leventhal majors (spring admits and transfers welcome)

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Is there a GPA requirement to apply?

No, there is no GPA requirement to apply.

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Is this program free?

The program is free for all participants.

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Will I receive course credit for completing the Coury Program?

Upon the completion of the Coury Program, students will receive a digital badge. The program does not count as course credit.

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How long is the program?

The Robert J. Coury Applied Leadership Program takes place in the spring, from the beginning of February through the end of April.

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How will this program help me become a better leader?

This program is intentionally designed to introduce you to theories of leadership and positive psychology. Led by the Academic Director and Student Mentors, you will participate in various seminars, workshops, meetings, and mentoring sessions and learn to hone your leadership skills and apply them to your daily life.

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What materials are needed for the application?
  • Application form
  • Resume
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What is the Clifton Strengths assessment and why does the Coury Program use it?

Clifton Strengths is an online personality assessment developed by American psychologist Don Clifton. The assessment focuses on 34 themes and 4 domains that provide the test-taker a tailored, individualized look at their strengths, which can be used for growth and self- development in their academic, personal, and professional lives.

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What are VIA Character Strengths and why does the Coury Program use it?

The VIA Survey is a personality test that measures an individual’s character strengths. The survey consists of 24 character strengths, which participants will discover and eventually apply to work toward their goals and plans.

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What is positive psychology?

According to the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, positive psychology is the scientific study of strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive, and was founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. Positive psychology as an area of study was promoted by American psychologist Martin Seligman during his term as president of the American Psychological Association.

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What will I learn in this program?

We will provide a carefully-crafted and designed curriculum that gives you the opportunity to apply what you are learning in your academic, personal, and professional lives. Through this program, you will learn your strengths, how to have crucial conversations, activate your active listening skills, and wrap up the program in a highly-engaging capstone experience facilitated by Master of Business Veterans students.

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What is the attendance policy?

All participants are required to attend all events in their entirety. For accommodations related to religion, illness, and / or unforeseen events, participants should notify the Administrative Director as soon as possible at

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What is the time commitment?

The Robert J Coury Applied Leadership Program meets 5-7 times in the spring semester. The two main sessions and the capstone session run from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Fridays with breaks and food. The two cohort meetings with your student mentors are catered to your availability during the week, and run for 90 minutes.

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How much work do I have to put in outside the session?

Before the two main sessions, we ask that you complete a self-assessment. The first assessment is the Clifton StrengthsFinder survey, where you will discover your Top Five talent strengths and complete a short reading assignment to better understand your strengths. The second assessment is the VIA Character Survey where you will explore your values and read the descriptions included in your evaluation. Each of these tasks should take no longer than an hour of preparation. Since the program is very much hands-on, we expect you to apply what you learn to the activities you engage with around campus.  For example, you should be leveraging your strengths in your next project team meeting or student organization event to develop your confidence in leading and influencing others. Overall, the program will require a time commitment of about 25-30 hours throughout the spring semester.

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Who are student mentors? What do they do?

Student mentors are sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have already completed the program previously and have received intensive training on coaching, mentorship, and leadership. Student mentors are paid student workers who lead sessions at seminars, mentor student participants 1:1, and support the Academic and Administrative Directors with programming.

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Can I be a student mentor without participating in the program?

To be eligible to become a student mentor,students must have participated in the program previously.

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Will this program teach us to write resumes and cover letters?

While learning about your strengths and developing leadership skills will help your resume and cover letter stand out, we do not review resumes and / or cover letters. For assistance, please contact the Marshall Undergraduate Career Services at

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How can I contact the program?

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at . You can also stay in touch by following us on Instagram and LinkedIn!

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Where can I learn more about Gallup CliftonStrengths?
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Learn More About the Program!

Watch our info session for first-year students who are interested in signing up for the Coury Leadership Program. 

Stretch Your Strengths!

Watch our presentation from Trojan Family Weekend (2020) to hear from Dr. Tolan and our trained Student Mentors about the work we do with first-year students to help them invest in discovering and leveraging their strengths to achieve their goals.