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Massachusetts Institute of Technology Legatum center for development & entrepreneurship

Legatum Center Blog

Below is an article from the Legatum Center


Applications ARE NOW CLOSED

The Student Fellowship is a competitive program designed to provide the space and knowledge for MIT students, who are interested in building ventures in global growth markets, to pursue the design of their ventures in a cohort of like-minded peers with the support of world-class advisors.

Each year we build a cohort of 20-25 students, all of whom have demonstrated passion about the problem they are trying to solve, a deep understanding of the growth market they are trying to serve, and a commitment to being a principled entrepreneur focused on systems level change.

Since its founding, the Legatum Center has supported over 350 Fellows, and we take great pride and care in growing this community of entrepreneurial leaders each year.


This Fellowship is intensely action-oriented and is suited to a candidate who is fully committed to becoming a principled leader and improving the lives of others through entrepreneurship in a global growth markets.

  • Curriculum: Through our customized educational experience, students develop practical skills for navigating complex business environments, making principled business decisions, setting and reaching venture milestones, and building and leading teams globally.
  • Mentorship: We have an Entrepreneur-in-Residence dedicated to helping our Fellows navigate their entrepreneurial journey at MIT. We have also built a network of domain experts and mentors to provide guidance, encouragement, and professional advising.
  • Community: MIT has a rich entrepreneurial ecosystem of faculty, investors, potential partners, new technologies, aspiring entrepreneurs, and experienced business leaders. The Legatum Center serves as a community hub, helping students navigate the pockets of MIT to secure the precise expertise and resources to optimize your entrepreneurial journey.

Financial Support: Each Fellow receives between $10,000 and $25,000 that can be used to support their school tuition and stipend. Fellows may also receive grants to support travel to emerging markets during the summer and winter breaks to build professional relationships, conduct primary market research, test prototypes, or run pilot studies.


In order to be eligible for the Fellowship, applicants must either be:

  • A current MIT Student who will still be enrolled for the year-long duration of the fellowship


  • Admitted to begin a (full-time) degree program at MIT in the fall semester of the coming academic year


Student Fellows are expected to be fully engaged participants in the Legatum Center community. Expectations include:

  • Completion of a for-credit management seminar that focuses specifically on the challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the emerging markets.
  • Completion of one additional MIT course related to entrepreneurial leadership development.
  • At least one trip to the intended country of implementation to either conduct primary market research, test a prototype, or pilot the business model.
  • Participation in peer-to-peer training sessions.
  • Demonstrated willingness to learn and adapt the venture as necessary.
  • Participation in pitch events at the end of each semester.
  • Regular check-in meetings with the Legatum Center staff and advisors.
  • Participation in MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through student-organized clubs and conferences.
  • Commitment to being an entrepreneurial leader in a growth market post-graduation.


We are looking for principled, innovative leaders who have a track record of driving change and can demonstrate a commitment to improving lives in emerging markets.

The ideal candidate will bring a deep level of know-how to his or her venture (whether related to a technical field, geographic area and/or industry sector) and thus has a competitive edge to lead their venture to success. This candidate is dedicated to experimenting, learning, and growing in order to maximize their entrepreneurial success and impact over the course of their career.


We evaluate ventures based on three key criteria:

Stage: We are looking for ventures that are ready to be deployed on the ground. However, for students in their first year at MIT or enrolled in one-year programs, we also consider ventures at an earlier stage provided the applicant has identified a problem and developed a plan to test key hypotheses in preparation for launch. We want our Fellows to be beyond the “exploration phase,” theorizing about a problem or challenge they think exists. Fellows should understand their customers’ pain points and be confident in their ability to solve customer needs through their product or service. Considerable primary market research (PMR) and/or a pilot is highly desirable before applying. During the Fellowship, we will challenge students on their current business assumptions, requiring them to test and adapt their business models, products, and team, so that they are ready to implement their ventures full-time upon graduation.

Impact: We are looking for emerging market ventures that improve lives. This will be achieved through the venture’s innovative technology or service and through increased economic prosperity, local job creation, and improved ecosystem conditions. We have a preference for for-profit business models but are open to all venture concepts that have the potential for considerable scale, sustainability, and impact.

Innovation: We are looking for venture concepts that build competitive advantage through an innovative product, process, or business model. Innovation-driven entrepreneurs face great risk, but when they succeed, the payoff for both the entrepreneurs and the regions they serve are even greater as their scaling operations lead to exponential growth in revenue, jobs, and impact.


Student Fellows will be eligible to receive between $10,000 and $25,000 in tuition/stipend support, as well as access to additional travel and prototyping funds. If a student is not in their graduating year when they receive the fellowship, will continue their education at MIT, and demonstrate ongoing commitment to entrepreneurial leadership in growth markets, there is also the opportunity to apply for follow-on funding.

The amount awarded to each new Fellow is determined by several factors including individual need, progress in your degree program, the total number of Fellows accepted, and the pool of available funding for that academic year.

As funding is limited, we encourage applicants to explore external sources of funding as well. For more information on financial aid at MIT, please visit the Student Financial Services website.

The Student Fellowship financial award can only be applied towards MIT educational expenses, such as tuition, stipend, and/or medical insurance. Funds from the Legatum Center may supplement, but not duplicate, financial awards from other MIT departments or from other foundations, institutions, or organizations. The combined financial award from all sources may not exceed the maximum limitation as prescribed by MIT’s cost-of-attendance budget.


Applicants must complete all required fields in the online application form.

  • The online application form will also require you to submit the following:
    • References: Please provide the names and contact information for 3-5 professional references. They should be able to speak to your potential as a principled entrepreneurial leader and/or your commitment to impacting change in growth markets. Legatum staff will only contact references if you are invited for an interview.
    • Resume/CV: We ask that you provide the most updated version of your resume or CV (2 page max).
  • Applications will be reviewed by Legatum staff, as well as a committee of MIT faculty and industry experts. Evaluations will be based on the eligibility, applicant, and venture qualifications described above.
  • Applicants who make it to the final round will be contacted for an interview.
  • Interviews are by invitation only. Whenever possible, Fellowship finalists are interviewed in person. For those finalists based outside of the United States or unable to visit campus, interviews will be conducted by phone or Zoom.

If you have any questions regarding the Fellowship, please email with the subject line “Fellowship Inquiry”. 

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