Columbia Journalism School - Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program

November 01, 2021

Opportunity begins:

Jan 10, 2022

Opportunity ends:

May 27, 2022

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Trainings & Fellowships

Location (s):

  • United States of America
Pulitzer Hall, Room 203 2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027


The Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program trains leaders of the world’s most respected news organizations and promising media start-ups to lead innovation and solve strategic business challenges in a time of rapid transformation, uncertainty, and opportunity. Fellows use the 20-week program to launch, accelerate, and implement a real-world project that is critical to the mission of their organizations and integrated into their day-to-day work.


The program begins with a two-week intensive at the Columbia Journalism School campus in New York City, where fellows form a tight-knit cohort through an immersive venture design bootcamp that serves as the framework for their projects, and then dive deeper into executive MBA-level topics led by experts from across Columbia University and industry. Fellows then return to their organizations to immediately implement what they learned through topic-focused design sprints. For the next 17 weeks, they are supported through a weekly virtual cohort meeting that rotates between project feedback and intimate conversations with industry speakers, complemented by individual coaching with the Director. The program culminates back at Columbia for a final week-long intensive, including final project presentations.

The Program

Fellows in this five-month low-residency program spend three weeks at Columbia Journalism School in New York City, starting with a 10-day residency from January 10-21, 2022. Fellows then work on their project and assignments back at their organizations and attend a weekly virtual cohort meeting. Fellows return for one final week of residency, May 23-27, 2022.

Note: In-person sessions will adhere to CDC Covid-19 safety guidelines as well as all Covid-19 regulations and protocols required by New York City and Columbia University. Should any of these public health measures prevent in-person instruction, programming will be held virtually.

The program focuses on:

  • Leadership and Building a Culture of Innovation
  • Venture Design Innovation Process
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Audience and Trends
  • Product and Marketing
  • Business Models and Strategy
  • Negotiations and Pitching

Each fellow is required to bring to the program an individual project of strategic importance to their news organization and of critical importance to their own role.

What Sets the Program Apart

  • Concentrated timeline: News executives no longer have the luxury of a full year to work on a project. The Sulzberger Program serves as an accelerator for mission-critical projects delivered at a pace that maximizes project success and real-world impact. Participants experience a year's worth of executive education in a focused, concentrated 20-week timeframe.
  • Innovation-Focused: For executives in journalism navigating an industry facing constant disruption, traditional management training won’t suffice. Media industry leaders need to build cultures and create processes within their media companies that don’t just help them come up with “the next big thing,” but enables the organization to understand and anticipate the changing needs of their audiences, experiment with emerging technologies, and seek sustainable business models as the world rapidly changes beneath their feet. They need to proactively recognize opportunities for innovation and persuade their stakeholders for the resources to pursue them. The Sulzberger Program specifically focuses on building leaders who will thrive under these conditions.
  • Experiential Learning with Immediate Organizational Impact: Leaders learn by doing. The Sulzberger Program, redesigned in 2020, maximizes personal growth, retention, and real-world applicability through active, experiential learning. Our unique venture design boot camp is an immersive experience that has fundamentally transformed how executives approach building and leading their organizations. Our project focus means that participants create measurable outcomes throughout the term by working on regular assignments and checking in with faculty, ensuring that what they learn in the classroom translates to their newsroom.
  • Leverages Columbia, Industry, and Alumni Networks: The Sulzberger Program leverages the assets of Columbia University, pulling instructors from the Columbia Journalism and Business Schools, drawing industry innovators working in one of the world’s great media capitals, and tapping into the powerful Columbia Journalism School and Sulzberger alumni networks. This community gives Sulzberger Fellows a broad perspective and powerful network as they take their place leading innovation in media and journalism.

How It Works

  • Week 1: The program begins with a five-day immersive project-based Venture Design Bootcamp at the New York City campus. The bootcamp is rooted in the program that was taught to hundreds of entrepreneurs and media executives at Matter Ventures, an early-stage media startup accelerator. In small teams, fellows are tasked with launching a new venture from scratch. Over the course of the week, fellows will focus on different facets of the venture’s design, from the end consumer to the requisite technology to the revenue model, before they close out the group work and turn the lessons learned to their own individual projects.
  • Week 2: In the second week on the Columbia campus, the program moves from the bootcamp model into workshops, case studies, and guest speaker events that dive deeper into concepts introduced in the first week. Taught by faculty in Columbia's Journalism and Business Schools, topics covered this week include: Leadership, Trends, Audience, Product, Business Model, Marketing, Strategy, Negotiations, and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.
  • Weeks 3-20: After two intensive weeks in New York, fellows return to their newsrooms and begin to apply the lessons learned. The fellows complete two-week sprints, in which they interrogate, test and apply learnings to their own projects, using the same set of topics that they used in their group work in Week One. Fellows have a weekly virtual meeting that rotates between getting feedback on their project deliverables and having intimate conversations with industry leaders. Fellows also have one-on-one coaching sessions with the Director.
  • Week 21: The final week brings the fellows back to New York City for reinforcement of the tools and approaches learned and final project presentations that prepare the fellows to seek support and resources from key stakeholders at their organizations.

Opportunity is About:


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate:

Who Should Attend

The Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program is designed for senior and rising newsroom and business-of-news practitioners who are poised to take on more significant leadership challenges in their current organization and across the industry. Fellows come from a wide variety of news organizations, from the U.S. and internationally and from large national media to those that are small, local, nonprofit, or start-ups. Fellows are expected to have from 7-15 years of relevant experience, including some people management skills or past roles in which working across teams was key to organizational success. Titles from the past cohort include Editor-In-Chief, Managing Director, CEO, Co-Founder, Assistant Managing Editor, Executive Editor, VP of Product, Director of Growth, and Publisher.

While the program is primarily designed for one Fellow from each organization working as an individual on a project, increasingly we are seeing organizations send a cross-functional team of 1-3 fellows to work on the same project to great success. We encourage organizations interested in fostering multidisciplinary collaboration to consider sending a team, as this approach is a strong fit for the ethos of the program.

The Sulzberger Program is dedicated to creating and promoting a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment within the program and in the journalism industry at large. That starts with the cohort we assemble. We strongly encourage applications from and nominations of rising leaders who self-identify as being from groups typically underrepresented in journalism (link is external). We are also actively seeking funders who want to financially sponsor Fellows from these underrepresented groups.


Deadline: November 01, 2021

Program Starts: January 10, 2022

Program Ends: May 27, 2022

Cost/funding for participants:

Financial Requirements

Tuition is $20,000 for the complete program. Fees include course training, daily breakfast and lunches, and a few group dinners during the residency weeks. All other expenses, including travel and lodging, are the responsibility of participants and/or their sponsoring organizations. Participants can take advantage of Columbia discounts at area hotels.

The Sulzberger Fellowship is open to any leader in journalism and media from anywhere in the world to apply to directly. Most fellows are sponsored directly by their employer or by a donor to their employer. Available scholarships are listed below, and new scholarships may become available throughout the application period. Individuals without a sponsoring organization or relevant scholarship may also choose to apply directly and self-fund. We encourage all interested individuals to apply directly to the program regardless of their current sponsorship status.


Below are available scholarships that individual applicants can apply to directly. To apply to any scholarships, applicants should fill out the standard application by the standard timeline listed below, check the box for the scholarships they are interested in, and complete the supplemental questions about their eligibility for the scholarship(s).

The deadline for all scholarships is November 1, 2021.

Note: This list will be updated as we add new scholarships. Applicants who have already completed an application will be notified of any new scholarships as they become available. If you would like to provide a scholarship, please reach out directly to the Program Director.

Google News Initiative (Underrepresented Leaders, Global)

Google News Initiative sponsored four scholarships, including tuition and travel, for leaders from groups typically underrepresented in journalism to attend the 2021 Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia Journalism School. Any leader in journalism across the world who self-identifies as being from a group typically underrepresented in journalism was eligible to apply. All tuition and travel costs for three weeks in New York City was covered. It is not yet confirmed whether this scholarship will be available again for the 2022 cohort, but you can preemptively apply for it if it does become available.


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